There are a wide number of safety systems on your vehicle, and the rearview mirror is a part of that broad system. Poor rearview mirror design has been the cause of many automotive deaths as they can be positioned in such a way that your car has additional blind spots; potentially causing you to pull out in front of an oncoming car or truck.
A good rearview mirror does several things: reduces blind spots and shows as much of the road behind you and to the sides as possible, has a reduced glare so you can see even in the night when car lights behind you can tend to blind you to subtle signs on the road, and it should be clear enough to reflect vivid colors, lights, and details. In the case of road accidents, the mirror should also break away so it doesn’t cause additional damage to passengers.
When buying a rearview mirror, consider choosing one of the following types:
OEM mirrors: OEM rearview mirrors are created just like the one installed in your current vehicle, so they are incredibly easy to swap out and are optimized by the vehicle manufacturer to give you the best possible view taking into account the variety of different issues like vehicle head restraints, etc. Their placing is already optimized, so all you have to do is make a simple swap.
Electrochromic mirrors: Electrochromic rearview mirrors auto-dim, and are made up of several lenses that are sandwiched together with a gel that is color-sensitive (electronic color-changing gel). These mirrors are pricier, but offer the added benefit of a forward sensor to determine outdoor light as well as a rearward light sensor to see when they need to change to reduce the glare. Darkness brings additional functionality: the mirror gets darker based on a function not only of glare but also of ambient darkness.
Bluetooth-enabled mirrors: Bluetooth-enabled rearview mirrors also offer new functionality – you can see information from your phone such as caller ID or phone numbers. Since the mirror is generally right at eye level and has buttons, it allows you to connect with or receive a call as well as includes a speaker in the back that can isolate noise while you’re driving.
GPS mirrors: GPS rearview mirrors are great for those who are always getting lost. They provide you with turn-by-turn directions through an audible voice, so you don’t have to be working your phone or glancing down to see where you next turn is.
Regardless of the type of rearview mirror you go with, the main function of the mirror is to keep you safe on the road and be sure you see obstacles coming at you from all directions.
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This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Good Quality Rearview Mirror and was authored by Valerie Johnston.