A Class A Mirror Option That Needs To Be Designed And Offered

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February 19, 2009

There is always room for new innovative ideas for motor homes and recreational vehicles. Each year the manufacturers seem to come up with, and deliver, something new to the market.  Items such as side cameras, power tilt and telescopic steering wheels, full wall slides, one piece windshields, hydronic heat, and more, have shown up over the years.  But there is one option that has not been introduced that has been available on some SUV’s for years and could really benefit a class “A” coach.

That option is “Power Folding Mirrors”. A control that when activated, folds the outside mirrors back and into near flush with the coach sides, or in some cases forward to rest in front of the windshield.  Then, at the push of a button, the mirrors power back to their normal driving position.

This option would save many owners from damaging the mirrors while traversing narrow toll booths, customs gates, or any other large vehicle non-friendly obstruction areas.  In addition, folding at least the driver mirror during times when travelling on narrow roadways, tunnels or bridges could help reduce the chances of striking the mirror on an oncoming vehicle or vehicle’s mirror.

It is strange that the mirror makers and the coach builders have stopped further development and enhancements to these large mirrors.  They made them power adjusting, they gave them the ability to heat for adverse weather and they incorporated L.E.D. directional lighting within the mirror face.   Never the less, none of them introduced a power folding option.   This is an option on a vehicle that could really benefit it, far more than that of a SUV.  Hello!  I hope some mirror or motor home designer is reading this.

One of the, “not so good”, mirror design features, that recently has been seen on some coaches, is the inverted mirror.  These are those mirrors that are fastened from the top with that hang down look.  Part of the reason that this was done was to eliminate the “head banging” events that many owners experienced with the lower mounted units. Well, guess what?  There would be no head hitting if these appendages could be powered in upon arrival into camp.

Well, it certainly appears that there may be several good applications to support the need for such a mirror design. Will we see these in the near future?  In my opinion, yes.  It just makes too much sense and only makes one think, “Why didn’t they think of this before?”

So, what about it! Would folding mirrors benefit the operation of your vehicle?  Would you pay extra for such an option?

Reflecting On Mirror Design   –    Lug_Nut   –    Peter Mercer

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  4. Lug_Nut

    Ken Costello, Mirrors that I have seen on some delivery trucks for watching corners and rhe vehicles back may work for you. I don’t know about clearance to mount them Thanks for the input.

  5. Lug_Nut

    David Ahn, In my experience side view cameras don’t come close to the requirement handled by the mirrors. A sports car does not rely on the need for backing as with a coach. Yes, a class A is about as aerodynamic as a brick. Thanks for your great input.

  6. Ken Costello

    I would like to have a mirror that mounts above the windsheild on both side of a class A so that I can see the front bumper when in tight spots!

    Any help here would be great!


  7. David Ahn

    Sorry about the late comment, but I just found this post.

    Why can’t mirrors be replaced by side view cameras? I know high end sports cars do that to reduce drag. And speaking of drag, why doesn’t anyone build a more aerodynamic coach? I’m sure drag is a significant factor in fuel efficiency. Semi trucks have done it for years, and I’ve seen some smaller rigs like the Winnebago Via and the Damon Avanti that attempt it, but why don’t the larger class A’s seem to care about aerodynamics?


  8. John, The issues, and I mean several, are certainly apparent on the Newmar coaches with the inverted mirrors. I would say that most, if not all, issues are probably present in most of the makes that went to these, not so great, mirrors. Wow, I hope Christmas comes early this year for you. Thanks a bunch for your participation and always very fitting comments.

  9. John

    I never tried the high mount mirrors like you’ve got on your coach but, thought that it may present a problem especially when the sun is higher in the sky. Went to look at an ’08 Dynasty in Phoenix yesterday and after reading your article on Friday, I made a point of checking the mirror positioning and field of view. After using the long and narrow west coast mirrors for so many years, I felt spoiled with the ones on this coach. I guess that’s one good thing I can look forward to being retired. All I can wish for now at Christmas is the Eaton Vorad system! Hope to try one out when I’m in Tucson this week.


  10. Lug_Nut

    Paul, I believe those are the inverted type. They may work well in a tour bus application because the driver wears sunglasses and does not have side and front sun blinds like many motor coaches do. The power sunvisors and the power side shades on my coach are almost useless. If you lower them only slightly, down the huge windshield, they block the high mounted mirror view. If they were mounted lower, but still the inverted type, you really would get a dangerous front blind spot. Even as is, they still stick out nearly 6″ a side. Making them power swing in would help in the width issue also. Thank you for bringing up the Volve europeon type and for your participation on this topic.

  11. Paul Sandler

    In Europe, most passenger and tour buses have an arrangement (see the Volvo website) whereby the mirrors are arranged in the front of the cab. This automatically eliminates the problem you mentioned, and would probably eliminate most of the potential mechanical issues that may be associated with making the mirrors electrically movable. It seems it might also have the added advantages of reducing blind spots and would probably be less expensive.

  12. John, I’ve been up that way on the Dempster Hwy. I bought a truck in Prudhoe Bay and had to drive it down into Idaho a few years ago. Deadhorse was an interesting place. Like the narrow roads there, I’ve been on very narrow paved roads in various states. On some of these, I have had the need for such a feature. It is amazing that logging truck’s mirrors are always right in-line with my mirror set. Thanks for bringing back memories of the Alaska north, and for your always great participation and input.

  13. John

    Hi Lug_Nut,
    Brilliant idea! I could have used this type of mirror when trucking up to the Arctic going onto the Dempster highway years ago. The road was narrow and overplowed in the winter requiring all trucks to pull the driver’s mirror in as far as possible before meeting other trucks. Going off the road would amount to thousands of $ tow bill if you survived.

    As some readers mentioned above, forward mounted convex mirrors are great. Had some mounted in conjunction with 90 degree mirrors on various pieces of equipment I’ve operated over the years especially cab over tractors. There are a variety of convex mirrors available including one that is rectangular & mounted at the top of the passenger door to view the ground below the door by the front wheel. Easiest sounds like cameras but, more expensive compared to a convex mirror. I try to stay in the right lane to cover that blind side. Hope the mirror manufacturers read this article!


  14. Grampa Fireman, Actually many DP’s are, and have been, that way for some time. The inverted mirrors, like the one shown in my article is an exception. The driver mirror has to be viewed through the side window. Forget the need to turn your head, the double glass makes it impossible to view due to glare at times. That’s just the tip of the iceberg on the issues of that style, but we are talking folding here. Thank you for your valued input.

  15. Grampa Fireman

    I have been driving Firetrucks for the last 50 years. There has been all kinds of changes & improvements over the years. The latest has been mounting the mirrors to the front of the truck. This sets the line of site to the mirror on both sides through the front windshield. It is a great advantage to not have to rotate your head to see out the right window & as they are forward of the truck you get better vision down the side. Dont see these on Class A’s yet.

  16. julie rea, Sounds like you really would support this option. It really does make sense and would probably have a high take rate as far as add-on options are concerned. Thank you very much for your input, it is appreciated.

  17. julie rea

    Folding mirrors would be a fantastic option. We have scratched mirrors at the border crossing into Canada, and at many toll booths in Mexico. The further south you go in Mexico, it seems the more narrow the toll booths. The roads there are also extremely narrow in some places, and we had a branch hit our right mirror, while avoiding the mirror on an on-coming bus on the left. The right mirror was then a dangling mirror!

  18. Ski Oleski, There is a blind spot in the majority of coaches on the right, ahead of the mirror view. Side cameras can solve this in many cases, pending on installation angle. An additional convex mirror, similar to those seen on many school buses, may also be a suitable solution. Thank you for your participation and input on this topic.

  19. Ski Oleski

    My problem is the Right mirror, I still have cars sneek up on me real close to the couch, that I do not see them until I almost hit them, I would like to see a 3 mirror configeeration for the right side, beside folding, and turn signal indacator that people can see when they are talking on the phone and not paying attention

  20. Leo, You are absolutely right. There are coaches that have the right hand mirror such that you must look through the side window. And many are too far back. The better ones are viewed through the right side of the windshield. Great observation and thank you for sharing it with us.

  21. Leo

    Good idea but I think there is a more serious problem with mirrors. My right hand mirror is located too far back. I need to turn my head 90 degrees to the right to see the mirror. If my wife is reading a book it blocks my view of the mirror. High end motor homes place the right mirror so the driver can view it with a quick glance of about 30 degrees. The 90 degree mirrors are a real safety hazard.

  22. Truman, Vibration is certainly always a possible issue. I would think they could be built to work as planned with that issue. I mean that basically, on the smaller one on an SUV, flying down a bumpy road at high speed, and they still work without vibration. Thanks for the input.

  23. John, You raise a good point. But, I think we are talking about gaining inches yet only need a half inch or so. They could even be made, or programmed, to retract only to the minimum of the awnings or other obstruction. Thank you for your input on this topic.

  24. Art, Well I would sure like to bring ’em on. But, I guess we will have to wait for the mirror makes to think this one through. Thank you for your input.

  25. Truman

    How bout the possibilty of the mirror shaking seems the more you move them the more they get loose!! Power or manually operated

  26. John Shelton

    Great idea BUT……… outside mirrors are similar to a cat’s whiskers. It is said that if a cat’s whiskers clear an opening, the cat can get through. Mirrors on a large vehicle are kinda the same way. Would a driver not tend to be a bit over confident regarding clearance if they could push a button and mirrors were no longer the factor that determined whether the vehicle would clear or not? I can see a lot of awnings destroyed by this procedure. One would have to be VERY cautious!!!

  27. Art & Janie Armstrong

    I also have inside storage for my coach at my residents. I have adequate side to side clearance, but I have very limited front to back clearance. Folding mirrors would be a BIG selling point with me.

    Bring’em on!


  28. James, Glad to hear your thought on the power folding mirror. Hopefully we will see one in the future. Thank you for your comment.

  29. Bill, Yes it would give you a narrower coach at the touch of a button. Thanks for your input.

  30. James S. Arpaia

    Absolutely Great Idea!!!!

  31. Bill Hailey

    Sounds like a great idea to me. I park my coach in inside storage and the fit is a little close.