How To Adjust The Side View Mirrors In The Car

Q: What is the proper mirror adjustment for side mirrors? I usually adjust it so I can just barely see the side of my car. How big of a blind spot does this cause? I have seen several places online say that you should push the mirrors out further than this to eliminate blind spots. Which is the best side mirror adjustment?

If you don’t know how big your blind spot is you should sit in your car and get someone to walk around it in an entire circle and watch the mirrors to see when they disappear.

There has been a lot of debate about this over the years and in my opinion I really don’t think there’s a right or wrong or yes or no answer, keep in mind when you go for your ICBC road test Class 5/7 the examiner is going to expect you to shoulder check regardless of what you’ve done with your mirrors – so what does that imply?!

I have seen the information on positioning your mirrors farther out so that you can ‘reduce or eliminate’ the blind spot apparently, but I couldn’t get used to having them that far out. I found that when I went into a parking lot and tried to reverse in or out of a space I had no idea if I was going to hit stuff because my mirrors were so far out and I had no idea where the back of my car was in relation to the car beside it. Ok I had an idea, but I couldn’t actually SEE it.  And this would be fine if you have a fancy car that automatically adjusts the mirrors for you but if it doesn’t? Then you have to adjust your mirrors manually every single time you park your car? And that just seems obnoxious to me. I’d rather do a very short and quick shoulder check before my lane changes etc.

Personally when I’m driving a car I have them set up something that looks like this. Usually I am not looking at any of my own car whatsoever, or maybe just a tiny bit of it. There really is no need to stare at your own car since you will not run into yourself, will you? But how far you tilt it out after that is up to you.

Vetter_Left Mirror
How To Fixing Driving Sideways, Rea...
How To Fixing Driving Sideways, Rear Axle Alignment

This globe and mail article talks about the alternate ways to set the mirrors, but at the very end of the article says that the AMA (Alberta Motor Association) and the CAA both still recommend good old fashion shoulder checks – Hmmm!

Read here what a Young Drivers instructor thinks about this.

I think that as long as you keep track of what’s going on around you all the time when driving (by using all of your mirrors) and you know how to shoulder check correctly then there is nothing wrong with setting up your mirrors this ‘normal’ way. New drivers sometimes are guilty of the ‘extended shoulder check’ where they are actually looking over their shoulder for a long time while driving down the road, and that is an entirely different issue (and very dangerous).

Whatever method you use just make sure you are confident in its ability to prevent a collision, since that is what this is all about.


Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada and is an experienced writer, blogger, photographer, artist, philosopher, certified day dreamer and generally complicated human.

Recent Posts