Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Towing Mirrors Work

Towing Mirror Installation
Convex hot spot mirrors are the simplest to attach to your existing side mirrors.
Convex hot spot mirrors are the simplest to attach to your existing side mirrors.
George Clerk/istockphoto

The time and complexity of installing a towing mirror depends on the brand and type you purchase. Usually, portable towing mirrors require minimal assembly, while you may want to consider professional installation for permanent models. Whether dealing with portable or permanent options, however, secure installation is important to reduce the added drag on the car and the chance of a towing mirror flying off while you're cruising down the highway. For that reason, read the directions before attempting to attach one to your car.

Hot spot mirrors are the simplest to install. You only have to peel off an adhesive strip, find the appropriate spot on your side mirrors and stick them on. Slide-on mirrors are customized for car makes, models and years, which should make their installation process quick and easy. You simply slide the towing mirror onto the frame of the side mirror and hook it into place with the tailored hardware that comes with the towing mirror.

Bulkier universal fit mirrors that strap to your fenders aren't necessarily harder to set up but may take a couple minutes to assemble since they may not come in one piece. Clip-on universal fit towing mirrors shouldn't call for any tools. Basically, you clip the towing mirror to the top and bottom of your existing side mirror, then pull the strap tight to mount it securely to the vehicle. For fender mount mirrors, you'll have to pop the hood of your vehicle to affix the mounts to the fender at the hood line. Then, attach the bottom mount to the fender above the front tire. Some brands also include straps that you pull taut to hold the mirror in place. Door mount mirrors work similarly, except that you attach them at the passenger and driver doors.

Things get more complicated with permanent mirrors. Permanent towing mirror installation often involves removing your driver and passenger door panels, which may be tricky to do without damaging the car. Permanent mirrors with LED lights and heating functions will also entail rewiring. For that reason, manufacturers recommend professional installation for permanent towing mirrors.

After your towing mirrors are properly installed, you're on your way to safe towing. To learn more about towing and auto information, visit the links on the next page.