When towing a caravan or having a slide-on camper the tow
vehicle internal rear view mirror is of little use as the
view is obstructed. For some tow vehicles the fixed
external side mirrors on your door may not have the capacity
to provide a clear view of any following vehicle.
A reversing camera fitted to the rear of your caravan and
connected for viewing on a display screen in the tow vehicle
cab will also provide a good rear view but may not
adequately provide good vision so you can see down both
sides of your caravan or trailer. You need to consider
if the tow vehicle mirrors are adequate to supplement the
rear view camera.
Rules and regulations for tow vehicle
After searching the various state and territory
transport websites and The Australian Road Rules
website only the following information about towing
mirrors was located (as at 10/7/09):-
Australian Road Rules site states - "Extra
mirrors may be needed for the towing vehicle if
towing a large trailer"
The RTA New South Wales (NSW) website states – ‘Where the
trailer is wider than the towing vehicle, side mirrors on
the towing vehicle may project beyond the width of the
trailer. However, when the trailer is detached, these
mirrors must be removed if they project more than 150 mm
beyond the extreme width of the towing vehicle. [In the case
of vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass
(GVM), collapsible mirrors may project up to 230 mm beyond
the width of the vehicle provided they are capable of
collapsing to 150 mm]”. NB: Any towed vehicle is
referred to as a trailer in their publication.
The South Australian (SA) website ,The Driver’s Handbook 7th
Edition states – “At least one rear vision mirror must be
fitted to each side of any vehicle towing a trailer that is
wider than the towing vehicle”.
Queensland (QLD) Transport website, Safe Towing booklet
simply states ‘Extra mirrors are required for towing
Victoria (Vic Roads) website states –
“It is important to
have adequate rear vision when the caravan is attached.
Depending on the width of the caravan, you may need to fit
extension mirrors to the towing vehicle”.
Northern Territory (NT) website Road User’s Handbook states
“At least one mirror must be fitted to each side of any
vehicle when towing a trailer that is wider than the towing
The common factor is the driver must have an unrestricted
clear view of the road to the rear of the caravan or camper
trailer and be able to view any overtaking or following
vehicles. Extended (external) rear view mirrors should be
used where the trailer is wider than the tow vehicle to
What are the best types of towing mirror?
There are various bonnet, guard, door and clip on mirrors
available. The cost of the towing mirrors can range from
$23 to $150 per mirror and as the saying goes ‘You get what
you pay for’.
They should be stable and as rigid as possible as any
bouncing or vibrating effect can make it difficult for clear
Bonnet towing mirrors
A metal cross bar extends from one side of the tow
vehicle bonnet to the other. The bar straddles the
bonnet and is held by a clip inserted on each side
of the bonnet near the wheel arch. A mirror is
attached to each end on either side. Some brands
have a bracing arm for extra support.
The disadvantages of this type of mirror are that it
can take some time to set it up on the tow vehicle
and adjust the mirrors. When you are seated in the
tow vehicle the mirrors are beyond your reach to be
able to adjust them whilst you are driving.
Clip-On or Strap On towing mirrors
As the name suggests these either clip on or strap
on, together with suction clips, to the tow
vehicle’s external door mirrors. The mirror can be
swivelled horizontally or vertically and the arm can
be extended to accommodate the desired viewing
position. Some brand names are Ora, CIPA Clip-On
Mirror and Coast Deluxe 4 x 4 Towing Mirror.
As you are no doubt aware, the tow vehicle external
mirrors have an adjustment so they can be pushed in
against the body of the vehicle. So one
disadvantage of these type of clip on or strap on
mirrors is the force of the draft from an oncoming
semi-trailer as it passes can cause the tow vehicle
mirror to flip back in against the vehicle. For
those who have not experienced this, it can make one
loud noise when this occurs and can startle you.
To overcome this occurring some brands , such as the
Ora ‘Big Red’, come with a bracing arm which is
secured to the tow vehicle door by a magnetic pad.
Clearview Mirrors make great caravan, boat or
trailer towing mirrors. They are full replacement mirrors,
in other words, you remove your current side mirrors from
the vehicle and fit the mirrors into the same fitting. The
electrics for the mirrors on your existing vehicle will work
for the Clearview Mirrors and it is possible to do the fit
yourself (instructional DVD provided) A single Clearview
Mirror has two mirrors - the top glass in the mirror will
operate electrically and it is flat glass. The bottom mirror
is a manually operated mirror and is convex glass, it allows
you to see into the lane beside you, removing most of the
you hitch up your caravan you simply pull the mirror head
outwards and it will slide out an additional 100mm (giving a
total extension of 200 mm) allowing you to see down the side
of your van. When you arrive at your destination you simply
push your mirrors back into the closed position.
When fully extended, the outer edge of the
mirror is 46 cm from the vehicle window. This is measuring
directly out from the window and not along the angle of the
mirror arm. Compare this to the Aussie Truck Mirrors and
they measure 51cm to the edge of the glass so the extended
Clearview Mirror would be 5cm narrower.
the plus side for Clearview Mirrors, there is the
convenience of the mirrors being permanently affixed
(replacing the vehicle's standard mirrors), simply pulling/
extending them out when required, no stowage problem and no
scratching on the vehicle's side glass window. The
Clearview Mirrors do extend out further than the standard
vehicle mirrors but they do fold forward against the vehicle
body for any tight parking spaces.
The company is extending their range to suit
various makes and models of vehicles and offer a 12 month
Door Mounted towing mirrors
These type of mirrors are reported to be more stable and are
considered to be the best performers. They also cost more
than the clip-on type.
Three such brands are Aussie Truck Mirror, Ora ‘Enzo
Magnetic Mirror’ and CIPA Delux Door Mount Towing
Mirror. The Aussie Truck Mirror brand has had
excellent feedback on caravan and camper trailer
forums. As the name suggests, Aussie Truck Mirrors
are Australian made (Keysing Holdings Pty Ltd).
These brands of door mounted towing mirrors operate
similarly. The adjustable arm attached to the
mirror has a piece that slides into the window
cavity of the tow vehicle once the window is down.
The adjustable strap (similar to a seat belt) has a
non-scratch mounting pad that rests against the door
and a clip at the bottom of the strap attaches to
the bottom of the door. A winding ratchet system at
the top tightens the strap.
Ora Mirrors (made in Italy) have added the ‘Torino’ to its
range of towing mirrors. The Torino is a door mounted mirror
to suit all cars and most 4WD vehicles. One of the new
features is the mirrors are able to fold in. The Torino
mirror doesn’t fit the Toyota Prado without an adaptor which
is available. The Torino mirror clips into the window
cavity and the rubberised strap (to protect the painwork)
clips onto the bottom of the door. The strap is tensioned
by a ratchet mechanism. The mirror is available from Ora
Products and most caravan parts and accessory stores.
Take care when closing the window of the tow vehicle after
you have secured the door mounted towing mirror. Make sure
the mirror strap has been tightened. Close the window
slowly to avoid any scratches to its surface particularly if
it has been window tinted.
One disadvantage of the door mounted towing mirror is they
are larger to store away than say clip-on towing mirrors.
Also, as the arm may be hinged, be careful not to catch your
fingers when folding away for storage.
Where can I get towing mirrors?
Towing mirrors are available from caravan accessory stores,
on-line caravan accessory and trading stores, TJM 4WD
Megastores and ebay.