Do I Need Towing Mirrors for a Travel Trailer?

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Updated April 15, 2024

Purchasing a travel trailer is a big decision to make. It requires a significant financial commitment and a lot of research to ensure that you get the right trailer. However, purchasing the travel trailer is only the start of your adventure.

After you make your purchase, you may need to make several other purchases including towing mirrors to make sure everything is functional and to make sure that you are fully abiding by the law.

One question many new travel trailer owners have is, do I need towing mirrors for a travel trailer? It is the law in most places that you do need to have towing mirrors installed if you are towing a travel trailer.

It is the law because regular mirrors just do not cut it. They do not give you enough vision because they are obstructed by a trailer. As a result, you need special towing mirrors so that you have the vision behind you that you need.

How Do Travel Trailer Towing Mirrors Work?

Mirrors vary in use depending on size in shape. In certain situations, you may need a large full-body mirror, and in others, you may only need a small mirror. However, when you are towing a travel trailer there are certain laws in place that you need to follow.

Although the exact laws and regulations may vary from state to state, there is one thing that is generally the same in the entire country. You need to be able to see the entire length of your travel trailer and beyond the traffic behind it. Unfortunately, it is not possible to see this much with regular rear-view mirrors, so you need towing mirrors.

There are several types of towing mirrors that we will discuss later, but they all do the same thing. They extend the vision you have behind your car. This gives you added safety as you drive. There is nothing more dangerous than having no vision behind you while you drive. So, you need to have towing mirrors so that you are as safe as possible.

Why Do Tow Mirrors Have Two Mirrors?

Tow mirrors extend your rear vision to include the side of your RV, the back, and just a hint of visual aid behind the rig. They also improve the widened blind spot limitations that standard mirrors on the towing vehicle lack. 

After all, standard mirrors already have difficulty covering the blind spot directly next to your vehicle, much less the blind spot running alongside your rig. When you change lanes on the highway and you’re hauling a 30’+ rig, you had better be absolutely certain no one is in the lane for you to sideswipe with your RV.

Towing mirrors help with that, along with a general observation of your RV itself. For instance, maybe one of your hatches swung open, much like leaving the gas door open on the side of your truck, except a lot bigger. These mirrors also help when you’re backing your RV into a tight spot—you can better observe the clearance along your sides. 

Are Travel Trailer Towing Mirrors Mandatory in Some States?

Although the exact rules and regulations may vary from state to state, you do need to have towing mirrors when you are towing a travel trailer. They are mandatory in the United States.

Although it might be annoying to purchase them and get them installed, they are necessary to have. It is better to have them installed and go through the hassle of installing them than to not be safe because you do not have them. So, do not risk it, abide by the law, and get your towing mirrors installed.

Are Travel Trailer Towing Mirrors Mandatory in Some States?

Tips for Using Mirrors While Towing

You will be used to using regular rearview mirrors while driving. Unfortunately, you do not use towing mirrors in the same way. So, we have a few tips on how to use towing mirrors while you are towing your travel trailer.

The first thing you should do before you head out onto the road with your travel trailer is make sure that your towing mirrors are clean. Towing mirrors can collect dust and dirt very quickly because you will typically be taking your trailer to more rural environments and on dirt roads. So, before you take a trip, make sure everything is clean so that you have good visibility.

Additionally, when you purchase your towing mirrors, you need to take the size of your travel trailer into account. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that for every 10 feet of your vehicle’s length, you need one inch of mirror. That means that if you have a 50-foot trailer, you need a 5-inch mirror.

If you have a large travel trailer, having longer mirrors may be a worry for you. There are some situations where you might be worried about scraping your mirrors along a wall when you are in a tight squeeze.

To avoid these situations, you should purchase mirrors that fold back to the side of your vehicle. This way you can get through tight squeezes if you need to. Otherwise, there may be places you cannot go when you have large mirrors.

To adjust your mirrors, you should make sure that you can see 200 feet or more behind your vehicle. You should test both mirrors before you start driving. This way you have as much knowledge and vision as you need while driving.

What Types of Towing Mirrors Are Available?

Before you can purchase new towing mirrors, you need to learn about all the different types of towing mirrors available to you. The first thing you need to know is that there are both portable and permanent options for you to choose from.

Portable mirrors are quick and easy to install. They attach to the side of your vehicle in addition to your regular rear-view mirrors. These are good options for people who will not be towing their trailers that frequently because you can remove them when they are not needed.

Permanent mirrors are a better option for people who have towing jobs, or for people who take their travel trailer out frequently. These mirrors replace the standard mirrors on your vehicle. They are more difficult to install, and it takes a longer process. They are also generally more expensive.

Portable Mirrors

There are three major types of portable mirrors, convex mirrors, custom slip-ons, and universal fits.

Convex mirrors are small mirrors that have an adhesive on the back that sticks to your side mirrors directly.

Custom slip-ons are towing mirrors that are made custom for car makes and models. You attach them by sliding them over the existing mirror and locking them in place.

Universal-fit towing mirrors can fit on any vehicle. They can clip onto the mirror or be mounted on the window. However, with these mirrors, there may be an increase in your drag. This can cause wear and tear to the body of your vehicle if you do not mount them properly.

Permanent Mirrors

There are also three major types of permanent mirrors, telescopic trailer tow, LED mirrors, and heated mirrors.

The telescopic mirrors enlarge the view of the end of the trailer. LED mirrors can be useful because they are wired to light up with your braking and turning signals. This gives you and the drivers around you some added safety. Finally, there are heated mirrors. These mirrors often include LED features, and they warm up melt frost, ice, and snow.

Are Aftermarket Towing Mirrors Universal?

No, aftermarket towing mirrors are not universal. You’re dealing with a wide variety of trims, models, shapes, sizes, etc. Not to mention the mirrors themselves, which come in different configurations, such as snap-on, slide-on, shape, size, and weight. 

The thing is, there are aftermarket towing mirrors out there that carry the label, “universal.” The problem lies in the fact that they are anything but. It’s hard to be universal with so many differences in mirror styles, reach, shapes, and sizes. 

The best thing you can do, when ordering an aftermarket towing mirror, is measure the dimensions precisely, along with the place you want the mirror to be. Some aftermarket mirrors attach using an extension arm, so you’ll have to carefully review the attaching mechanism and be sure it will fit onto your existing mirror or mirror arm. 

How to Choose Towing Mirrors

When you purchase your travel trailer, you will need to decide what towing mirrors you want to go with the purchase. However, this decision is not easy. There is a lot to consider.

The first thing you should consider before you purchase your mirrors is how often you are going to be towing the trailer. If you are going to be towing it all the time, you should consider purchasing permanent mirrors. Otherwise, you should purchase portable mirrors.

You then need to measure your trailer so that you know the length of the trailer. The length of your travel trailer will affect the size of the towing mirrors you purchase. The larger the trailer, the larger the mirrors you will need.

Once you figure out those factors, the decision is up to you. Everything else is up to personal preference. Do you want bendable mirrors? Do you want mirrors with LED lights? These things are not a necessity and are entirely up to you. So, do your research and you will be able to figure out what the best fit is for you.

Best Towing Mirrors

Here we will be looking at some of the best towing mirrors for each type of mirror. You should note that although this is a numbered list, we did not rank the products. They are listed in no particular order.

1. Fit System Driver Side Lower Towing Mirror

The first towing mirror we will be looking at is a portable convex towing mirror. Not only is it a great mirror for people who need a towing mirror, but it is also a great replacement mirror if you crack your mirror glass. The glass measures 3 1/8” tall by 6 ¾” wide and 7” diagonally.

The mirror does not have heating capabilities, but it can fit on mirrors that have manual and heated power functions. It comes with mounting tape so that you can install it with ease. There are also instructions so that you do not have any issues with the installation process.

2. Longview Towing Mirror

The mirror from Longview Towing Mirror is a slip-on mirror. It extends the towing vision without obstructing the existing mirror. The mirror fits the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 from 2019 to the present. It should slip right on without needing any tools.

3. Fit System Deluxe Clip-on Trailer Towing Mirror

The Fit System travel trailer towing mirror should fit all mirrors up to 11.5” tall. It has secure mounting hardware, so you do not need to worry about it falling off. Unless something drastic happens, the mirror should be secure. The mirror will provide you with the extra vision you need to tow a large travel trailer without obstructing the original mirror.

4. Telescopic Arm Towing Side Mirror

This mirror from Auto Dynasty is a telescopic towing mirror. It has reinforcement brackets to prevent vibration while driving. Additionally, it makes it incredibly easy to see what is going on behind you while driving. The mirror is a non-powdered mirror that extends by telescoping. Finally, it is also foldable, so if you are in a tight space you can fold it back and get through the area.

5. Ford Towing Mirrors with Turn Signal Lights

This towing mirror from Autodayplus is built for 2007 to 2014 Ford F150 trucks. The main mirror has power adjustment and the spotter mirror has manual adjustment.

Furthermore, the mirror has a heat function so that you can melt any ice that is stuck to the mirror. This should also help prevent fogging.

Additionally, there is an amber turn signal with a high-intensity lamp under the face of the mirror. This way other drivers can see your turn signal and brake lights from a long distance away.

Finally, the mirror can be extended with its telescoping function. This way you can see around your trailer with ease and see other cars coming.

6. Chevy and GMC Towing Mirrors with Turn Signal Lights

This towing mirror with turn signals is from Aftermarket is for a variety of cars from Chevy and GMG. The towing mirror has an amber turn signal that is attached to the underside of the mirror. It also has a power mirror adjustment that lets you change the face position of the mirror. This can be done from inside your vehicle.

Additionally, the mirror can be heated. This is very helpful in the winter when you may have a build-up of snow or ice. However, it can be helpful in other months as it can reduce fog build-up on your mirror as well.

Can I Use A Rear View Camera In Place Of Tow Mirrors?

Your rearview camera is a separate tool with a similar purpose. However, you should use it in combination with your tow mirrors. The reason for this is that no system will present you with the perfect visual aid, capturing everything around you at once. 

Plus, though rear-view cameras are great, there’s always the possibility that the view you are seeing is ever-so-slightly lagging. Besides, while traveling, the tow mirrors are always going to be your fastest, go-to reference points when you need to maneuver

Get on the Road After Purchasing the Perfect Towing Mirrors for You

After reading, we hope you have all the information you need about towing mirrors. We know there is a lot of information to absorb, but it should all be useful to you. As we mentioned above, it is against the law to tow a trailer without towing mirrors.

However, the exact rules and regulations regarding the type of towing mirrors you need vary from state to state. As a result, you need to do your research so that you have all the information about the laws in your home state. Otherwise, you could end up breaking the law without knowing it, and you do not want that.

Once you purchase your trailer and figure out what types of mirrors are legal in your state, you can start your search for towing mirrors. The most important thing to consider in this situation is how often you are going to be towing your trailer.

This will help you determine whether you will want permanent or portable towing mirrors. You also need to know the length of your trailer so that you can purchase mirrors that are the right size.

We wish we could tell you what the best towing mirrors for you are. Unfortunately, everyone has different needs, and for us to assume that we knew yours would be irresponsible. However, we can say with confidence that all the mirrors listed above received positive reviews. So, if they fit your vehicle, you cannot go wrong with them.

Are you a new or experienced travel trailer owner? Are you going to purchase permanent or portable towing mirrors? Interested in any of the products listed above? Let us know in the comments!

Related Reading:

10 Best Travel Trailers Under 5000 lbs
Should I Grease My Trailer Hitch Ball or Not?
5 Best Generator Mounts for a Travel Trailer
10 Most Googled Travel Trailer Camping Questions

Mike Scarpignato – Bio

Mike Scarpignato created over five years ago in 2018 to share all we have learned about RV camping.

Mike is an avid outdoorsman with decades of experience tent camping and traveling in his 2008 Gulf Stream Conquest Class C RV and 2021 Thor Challenger Class A motorhome.

We attend RV Shows and visit RV dealerships all across the country to tour and review drivable motorhomes and towable trailers to provide the best evaluations of these RVs in our blog articles and YouTube videos.

We are 3/4-time RVers who created to provide helpful information about all kinds of RVs and related products, gear, camping memberships, tips, hacks and advice.

Mike and Susan from RVBlogger at an RV Show touring reviewing and rating RVs

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