What Are The Best Towing Mirrors? (2019 Review Guide)
Hauling cargo with your vehicle presents special challenges. You need to adjust your driving style to ensure you, and what you’re hauling, stay safe on the road.
Rear visibility is often significantly impaired whether you’re towing a large RV or a small trailer. Towing mirrors present a clearer picture of what’s behind you on the road. Mirrors can range from simple clip-ons to feature-filled replacements.
Not sure which mirrors are best for your vehicle? Take a “look” at our complete guide for towing mirrors including our five favorites for 2019:
Quick Picks: Compare The Best Towing Mirrors
- Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Towing Mirrors
- Vibration Control
- LED Direction Arrows
- Heated Mirrors
- Installation Ease
- Field of View
- Best Overall – Fit System Deluxe Universal Clip-On Towing Mirror
- Best Cheap Option – CIPA Universal Clip-On Towing Mirror
- Best Value for the Money – Towing Mirror by Fit Systems
- Honorable Mention – Dometic Milenco Aero3 Towing Mirror
- Also Consider – Yitamotor Tow Mirror
- What are the Different Types of Towing Mirrors?
- Manual vs. Automatic
- Automatic Mirrors
- Universal Clip-On Mirrors
- Permanent Replacement Mirrors
- Custom Clip-On and Slide-On Mirrors
- Extendable or Telescopic Mirrors
- Hot Spot or Suction Cup Mirrors
- What are the Benefits of Towing Mirrors?
- How Do I Find the Best Towing Mirror?
- Final Thoughts
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Towing Mirrors
Towing mirrors have four different types:
- Universal Clip-On
Each type has different pros and cons. We’ll discuss the specifics as we go.
The type of glass used is arguably the most important part. Make sure the glass is tempered and scratch-resistant, so it stays protected against road debris.
Two types of glass are available:
- Flat Glass – Creates a traditional 1:1 reflection
- Convex Glass – Curved glass with a wide-angle view which reduces blind spots
Extra cargo weight often leads to increased vehicle vibration. Unfortunately, this shaking blurs the images in your vehicle’s mirrors.
Vibration control helps stabilize the reflection. It increases image clarity which reducing blur. Most people want a towing mirror with vibration control. They’re especially useful if you’re hauling heavy loads using a large truck.
LED Direction Arrows
These mirrors feature an LED lighting system wired to your vehicle’s turn signals and brake lights. When you use your turn signal, a direction arrow flashes on the mirror. It also displays a red light when you’re braking.
While your trailer will have brake lights and turn signals, LED direction arrows on your mirror provide additional safety. Large towing mirrors sticking out from the side of the vehicle are usually easy for other drivers to see. LED direction arrows help other drivers understand where you’re going.
Mirrors can have a built-in heater to help remove ice and snow. A temperature sensor behind the mirror automatically heats the mirror when it detects cold temperatures.
A heated mirror is a must if you live anywhere with cold weather. Keep in mind, any existing heating element for your tow mirrors won’t connect to your towing mirror.
Mirrors are either portable or permanent.
Portable mirrors are usually the easiest to install. They clamp or slip onto your existing factory mirrors. Installation usually takes a few minutes.
Permanent mirrors have a more complicated installation. You’ll need to remove your original mirror. Plus, you’ll need to connect your vehicle’s electrical wires to the new mirror.
Field of View
You want as large of a field of view as possible. However, the mirror itself should fit securely onto your vehicle.
If you want a large field of view without having a large mirror, choose a convex mirror. They use curved glass to magnify the reflection.
Best Overall – Fit System Deluxe Universal Clip-On Towing Mirror
Our favorite option is this extra-large towing mirror which clips-on to most vehicles and greatly enhances your field of view.
- Extra-large convex mirror
- Secure, clip-on installation
- Fits most makes and models
- Excellent vibration control
- Installation can be complicated
- The mirror is difficult to turn
- Extra mirror for passenger’s side sold separately
Choose the Deluxe Universal Towing Mirror from Fit Systems if you want a strong, reliable mirror which is easy to install. It fits all mirrors up to 11.5 inches tall.
A ratchet lock system and rubber pads keep the mirrors secured with a minimum of vibration. They’re reliable in all driving conditions.
The mirror is five by eight inches. However, it’s slightly convex, so the actual viewing area is 5 1/8 by 7 3/4 inches. It’s a mirror extension, so it doesn’t block your view of your existing mirror.
Once attached you can turn the mirror horizontally or vertically, although turning does require a bit of elbow grease.
Installation requires no drilling or permanent alterations to your car. On the downside, setting up the frame and attachment mechanism can be a little complicated. You’ll need the instructions for sure!
Best Cheap Option – CIPA Universal Clip-On Towing Mirror
Although not designed for long-distance use, CIPA’s clip-on mirror is a safe, quick to install, and affordable option for light towing.
- Affordable clip-on mirror
- Perfect for short-term use
- Extends field of vision by seven inches
- Fits most makes and models
- Prone to vibration
- Not made for permanent use
CIPA’s clip-on towing mirror snaps right onto your existing mirror requiring no tools. It fits just about any vehicle. Once installed, the field of vision extends up to seven inches. It doesn’t obscure your existing mirrors.
Clip-on mirrors aren’t a permanent solution for campers or other large vehicles. Instead, they’re for short-term use such as taking a boat to the lake or renting a U-Haul trailer for the weekend. The mirror is position-free so that you can use it on both the driver’s and passenger’s side.
Unfortunately, they vibrate easily. You’ll want to use them during wind-free days and on paved roads. Also, remove the mirrors when not in use.
Although they’re not in the same league as the other mirrors on our list, they’re a reliable and affordable option for short-term use.
Best Value for the Money – Towing Mirror by Fit Systems
A shatterproof towing mirror which can be installed in less than a minute on a wide range of Ford, Chevy, and Toyota models.
- Easy installation
- Folds back when not needed
- Blends into auto’s existing style
- Doesn’t have a heating element
- Can vibrate
Fit Systems’ towing mirrors combine easy installation with quality design. They snap right onto your original mirrors. Once attached, they have a modern look made to blend in well with your vehicle’s factory style.
Even though they take less than a minute to install, they’re secure when attached. When not needed, you can fold them away instead of removing them completely. Installation requires no tools or drilled holes.
The mirror is a good choice if you drive long distances in various types of weather and conditions. The scratch-resistant glass withstands pebbles, dust, and other road debris.
On the downside, they don’t have a built-in heating element, so you’ll have to brush snow off manually at times.
Honorable Mention – Dometic Milenco Aero3 Towing Mirror
The Aero3 excels at vibration resistance, making it ideal for driving in high winds and on the highway.
- Fits most mirror types
- Adjustable mirror head
- Top-notch resistance to vibrations
- Easy installation requires no tools
- Adjustments can be difficult
- Plastic clips not as well-made as rest of mirror
Dometic’s Aero3 enhances visibility while also offering a full range of flexibility. The mirror head rotates 360 degrees so you can minimize blind spots and adjust for cargo of different sizes.
Clamp attachments allow for fast and secure installation. It slides onto most types of standard side mirrors, including curved ones.
These mirrors are made to last. The chrome safety glass resists breakage, chips, and discoloration over time. Additionally, the stainless steel screws and brass inserts resist corrosion and physical damage.
Finally, they excel at vibration resistance. A balanced design pushes airflow around your car to minimize shaking. You’ll want these if you drive on the highway frequently. They also minimize vibrations caused by large commercial vehicles.
Also Consider – Yitamotor Tow Mirror
These high-end mirrors have quite a few cool features, including built-in signal lights and heat sensors.
- Packed with high-tech features
- Includes signal lights
- Includes glass defroster
- Durable, vibration-resistant construction
- Requires connection to the vehicle’s electrical system
Looking for a mirror packed with features? Yitamotor’s towing mirrors have automatic heating, arrow signals, manual telescoping, and more. It provides the ultimate in reliability and convenience.
Their durability is a major plus. Their textured ABS plastic construction with an aluminum base is built to last. They’ll hold up well even in consistently wet and snowy conditions.
They have a dual-glass design consisting of both plate and convex glass. You gain a slightly increased field of view but can still maintain an accurate assessment of rear distances.
On the downside, the installation gets tricky. They require direct wiring into your vehicle’s electrical system. Although installation is potentially a DIY project for an accomplished at-home mechanic, the manufacturer recommends professional setup.
The set includes both driver and passenger mirrors. They’re compatible with a wide range of Chevy and GMC vehicles including the Silverado, Sierra, Avalanche, and Tahoe.
What are the Different Types of Towing Mirrors?
As mentioned earlier, towing mirrors have several different types. Here’s a closer look at each:
Manual vs. Automatic
Side mirrors are either manual or automatic.
Manual mirrors don’t connect to the car’s power system. Instead of using a switch inside the car, you move the mirror with your hand to adjust it.
Reaching out the window to adjust a tow mirror is usually no problem. However, adjusting towing mirrors isn’t always so easy because they’re larger, heavier, and further away from the side of the vehicle.
Manual Mirror Pros and Cons
On the plus side, manual mirrors are highly adjustable. You can adjust them within one degree. However, you’ll need to stand outside the parked vehicle to make fine adjustments.
Additionally, manual mirrors are usually the most affordable option. They’re also the easiest to install and maintain. You don’t need to deal with your car’s electrical system.
Also called power mirrors, automatic mirrors connect to your vehicle’s electrical system. They operate via buttons located inside the car. You can easily move the mirror while you drive – and you don’t even have to roll down the window!
Unfortunately, they’re far less precise than manual mirrors. Adjustments happen in broad strokes, not single degrees.
Also, the installation gets trickier. The mirrors need access to your car’s electrical system. Installation isn’t incredibly complicated but does still requires some mechanical know-how.
Some power mirrors include an automatic defrost system. Electric warming is not only easier than manually scraping away ice and snow; it also protects your mirror from accidental scratches and damage because you don’t have to use a scraper.
Universal Clip-On Mirrors
Universal clip-on mirrors are the most popular type. They’re versatile and easy-to-attach. You slip them onto your existing mirror with special clips or straps.
Some clip-on mirrors cover your existing mirrors completely or partially. However, the best ones attach to the side of your factory mirrors. You still use those factory mirrors as normal only now you have an extended field of view with the clip-on mirror.
Mounting clip-on mirrors is usually simple. However, they’re also susceptible to theft. You don’t want to use clip-on mirrors as a permanent solution. They’re better for a temporary event such as hauling a trailer during a move.
Additionally, because they’re designed to fit almost any vehicle, they look a bit odd when attached. Is that the biggest drawback in the world? Of course not, but don’t expect the mirrors to blend in with your vehicle’s existing style.
Universal Mirrors are Ideal for the Following Situations:
- You want the cheapest option
- You only tow cargo a few times each year
- You want to use them on multiple vehicles
Permanent Replacement Mirrors
Replacement mirrors are a permanent option. They’re a larger, often sturdier, replacement for your vehicle’s factory mirrors.
Replacement mirrors are made specifically for your vehicle’s make and model. Some vehicle manufacturers make towing mirrors. Third-party options are also available. Most are designed to fit in with your vehicle’s existing style.
You’ll need to remove your old mirror and replace it with the new one. In most cases, this is a fairly simple operation. You’ll remove about three screws.
If your new mirror is the automatic type, you’ll need to connect it to the auto’s electrical system. Usually, this involves connecting the mirror to a simple plug. Installation shouldn’t take more than half an hour.
Even if your tow mirrors were manual, most cars have an electric outlet near the mirror for aftermarket upgrades. You can find replacement mirrors with other powered features like heating elements and turn signals.
Permanent Replacement Mirrors are Ideal for the Following Situations:
- You want a permanent mirror
- You want the mirror to blend in with your vehicle’s look
- You only use one vehicle to tow
- You tow only one size of cargo
- You want to prevent mirror theft
Custom Clip-On and Slide-On Mirrors
Custom clip-on mirrors are a third option. They’re clip-on mirrors custom-made for specific vehicles. They attach with clips or snaps. Like universal clip-ons, they extend your view without blocking your existing mirrors.
They’re as easy to attach as a universal clip-on mirror only they look much better. They’ll fit right into the existing style of your vehicle. However, they still have the drawbacks of every other type of clip-on. Namely, they’re easy to remove (by anyone, even a thief). Also, they’re not secure enough for permanent use.
If you’re looking for a balance between clip-on mirrors and permanent ones, choose a slide-on mirror. They attach via a threaded tightening knob. As long as the locking screw remains tight, the mirror stays securely attached, even in fast winds and heavy vibrations. Although not completely theft-proof, slide-on mirrors can stay mounted on your vehicle for extended periods.
Custom Clip-On and Slide-On Mirrors are Ideal for the Following Situations:
- You don’t want to replace your factory mirrors
- You want your towing mirrors to fit your vehicle’s style
- You mainly use one vehicle for towing
- You want more secure attachment than a universal clip-on
Extendable or Telescopic Mirrors
These are the newest type of mirror. They look like normal side mirrors, but they have an interesting twist. A separate section extends to increase your field of vision.
Telescopic mirrors are either manual or powered. Although cheaper, manual mirrors require you to pull the extension out by hand, which isn’t always possible when driving. Powered mirrors extend after you press a button inside the vehicle.
Telescopic Mirrors are Ideal for the Following Situations:
- You’re not concerned about the price
- You tow infrequently
- You use one vehicle for towing
Hot Spot or Suction Cup Mirrors
These small mirrors stick to your factory mirror with a suction cup or special adhesive. You’ve probably seen them; they’re frequently circular shaped. They have a convex shape to help expand your field of view.
Installation is the easiest of all types. You stick them to your existing mirror. However, they don’t always stay in place for long. Rain, high speeds, and wind can all knock these tiny mirrors loose.
Additionally, while they do expand the view behind your vehicle, they might not provide enough coverage to comply with state regulations.
What are the Benefits of Towing Mirrors?
Some benefits are plain to see – literally! – while others are less obvious.
First, towing mirrors extend your field of vision when driving. You have a clearer view beyond your trailer or cargo. A towing mirror lets you see the traffic behind you. Increased visibility improves the safety of everyone on the road, including yourself.
Also, towing mirrors let you keep an eye on your cargo. You can quickly notice if the trailer starts to sway or cargo spills.
Towing mirrors increase your vehicle’s maneuverability. You’ll have an easier time reversing. Without mirrors, you’ll need a second person standing outside the vehicle to guide your moves.
Each state has its own rules regarding the placement and size of vehicle mirrors. You’ll need to check the laws for any state you plan to drive through.
Usually, requirements depend on a ratio between the size of the mirror and the size of the trailer. Almost all states require a minimum visibility distance of 200 feet behind the vehicle regardless of trailer size.
How Do I Find the Best Towing Mirror?
No one type of towing mirror is perfect for every situation. Instead, you’ll want to find the mirror best suited for your vehicle type and towing needs.
First, check your state’s local regulations. You want to comply with the laws in your area. Otherwise, you’re risking a ticket, which is the last thing you want when you’re trying to haul cargo. (Is there anything more annoying than a ticket on moving day?)
Next, assess the dimensions of what you’re towing. Pulling an RV requires a larger mirror than a small trailer. You can either calculate the size ratio or test out the mirror by hooking up your trailer.
Once you’ve determined the size, you’ll want to choose the type. Buy a clip-on or snap-on mirror if you only tow a few times a month or less.
A custom clip-on mirror is best if you tow regularly but infrequently. For example, it’s a good choice if you tow your boat to the lake a few weekends during the summer but don’t tow anything else for the rest of the year. Custom clip-ons match your vehicle’s design. Plus, they’re also more secure.
However, a universal clip-on mirror is the best option if you only need a mirror for a specific project. For example, a universal mirror is useful if you’re towing a trailer during a cross-country move or taking a trip with a rented RV.
A permanent towing mirrors are the easiest to use, but it’s only a good idea if you use the vehicle primarily for towing. You probably don’t want to add large mirrors permanently to your everyday driving vehicle.
Also, consider the environment where you’ll drive. If you’ll encounter snow and rain, a mirror with built-in heating helps increase visibility. You usually can’t reach a towing mirror to clean it off with your hand while driving. In many cases, defogging systems are the only way to remove ice and snow without stopping.
Consider mirrors with built-in turn signals if your route goes through busy cities or dense traffic. Remember, most trailers obscure your vehicle’s brake lights. While your trailer will have brake lights, they’re often low to the ground and not always easy to see. Adding signals to the large mirrors on the side of your vehicle helps make other drivers aware of your actions.
Don’t pull a trailer without the right towing mirror watching your back. It’s a simple but powerful piece of gear. Plus, in many states, a towing mirror is legally required.
Fortunately, plenty of options are available whether you need a mirror for a one-time trip or on-going driving. Expand your view behind the wheel – and behind your vehicle – with a towing mirror!