When towing a wide camper or a trailer behind a truck or an SUV, regular mirrors often aren't enough to give the driver a good view of the whole towing setup. This is why Ford and aftermarket manufacturers offer F-150 truck customers an option to upgrade to towing mirrors. So how do you install these towing mirrors? We've done the research for your convenience.
Towing mirrors can come either as snap-on mirror extensions or as full replacement assemblies for the original side mirror. Clip-on or snap-on mirrors come with brackets and straps that fit on the original mirror housing. Tow mirror assemblies, on the other hand, need to be mounted in place of the original mirrors.
Clip-on mirrors do not need any electrical wirings. However, most aftermarket tow mirror assemblies come with electronic features that need to be connected to your F-150's original mirror wiring.
Would you like to know more about the features and benefits of towing mirrors? Do read on, because we've also prepared a list of aftermarket mirrors that you can choose from for your towing needs.
How To Install F-150 Towing Mirrors
Installing tow mirrors on your F-150 may either be easy or moderately challenging, depending on the type of tow mirrors that you want to use.
Snap-on or clip-on tow mirrors are quite affordable, easy to install, and easy to detach as well. On the other hand, towing mirror assemblies need a bit more work because they will replace your vehicle's original side mirrors. Either way, we've prepared some detailed instructions for you.
How To Install Snap-On Tow Mirrors
Snap-on or clip-on tow mirrors attach to your existing side mirrors to give you additional visibility of your towed trailer or camper. They do not need any bolts or screws, so you won't have to damage any of your vehicle's original parts. Sometimes, they also come with adjustable straps for a more secure fit.
Check out this video to see how easy it is to install snap-on or clip-on tow mirrors.
F-150 Tow Mirror Assembly
Aftermarket or even OEM tow mirror assemblies are more permanent towing visibility solutions compared to the snap-on variants. These tow mirror assemblies were designed to replace your original, regular-sized side mirrors, so, therefore, you will need to remove the latter before you can install the former.
Check out this video on how to install aftermarket towing mirror assemblies on a thirteenth-generation (2015 to 2020) Ford F-150.
How To Check If Your F-150 Has 8-Pin or 22-Pin Mirrors
First, you need to check the type of connection that your Ford F-150's side mirrors have. These mirrors have lighting and power adjustment functions that may use either an 8-pin or a 22-pin connector. To check this, you can either confirm your mirrors' existing features, or you can dismantle the mirror's interior plastic trim cover and see the connector physically.
If your original mirrors have puddle lamps (you can see this at the bottom side of the mirror) and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), then you have a 22-pin connector. Lower-end mirror assemblies like those that have blind spot mirrors use 8-pin connectors because they have fewer power functions.
However, if your existing mirrors are already aftermarket ones with unknown connection types, you may need to check the actual connectors. Just remove a side mirror's plastic trim cover from the inner door panel and check how many pins the socket connector has.
How Do You Remove The Side Mirror On A Ford F150?
Once you know the type of connector, you can go ahead and purchase your towing mirrors. You may choose to go with Ford's original accessories, or you may also save some money by choosing aftermarket tow mirror assemblies. We'll discuss these options a bit more later.
Based on some F-150 owners' testimonies, it's best to get tow mirror assemblies with similar power and lighting functions as your original side mirror. This way, you'll still enjoy all the benefits that your truck mirrors have been wired for.
With your new tow mirrors ready, you can now begin by removing your original, regular-sized mirrors from your door panels. Here are the tools that you'll need.
- Plastic trim piece remover
- A 10-millimeter socket wrench
Start with the driver-side mirror. Use the plastic trim piece remover to pry the black plastic trim cover from the door panel on the opposite side of your side mirror. This should expose your mirror's wiring connector as well as its mounting nuts and bolts.
Next, remove the wiring connection by pressing on the connector plug's middle tab and gently pulling the plug away. Set the plug aside to get unobstructed access to the mounting nuts and bolts.
Finally, use a 10-millimeter socket wrench or power tool attachment to remove the four mounting nuts and bolts. Take care to support the mirror from the outside before you remove the final bolt. Once all bolts have been removed, pull the side mirror assembly away from the door.
How Do You Install Ford Tow Mirrors?
Once you've removed your original side mirrors, you can now install your new tow mirror assembly.
First, align and insert the tow mirror assembly's four mounting bolts to the appropriate mounting holes. Next, using the 10-millimeter wrench, tighten the nuts and bolts carefully to secure the mirror assembly to the door. Take care not to overtighten to avoid any damage to the plastic components.
After mounting the tow mirror, connect the tow mirror assembly's wiring plug to the designated 8-pin or 22-pin socket. Don't forget to reattach the wiring harness clip to keep the wires in place.
Next, test the functions of the tow mirror. Depending on your trim or add-on vehicle features, your tow mirror may be power-folding, power-extending, or even heated. You may also want to check if all the original mirror lighting features work.
- Task light
- Mirror running lights
- Turning signal lights
- Puddle lamps
Some tow mirror assemblies also come with external temperature sensors. You may also want to check if these are working as intended.
Once you've confirmed that all power functions are working as intended, you may now re-install the plastic trim cover.
Why Do I Need Towing Mirrors?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 50,000 accidents related to towing occur every year in the U.S. Aside from distracted driving, blind spots are also among the top causes of accidents related to trailer or camper towing activities.
Because of the added length and width of some trailers, drivers may misjudge the safe distance between the towing setup and other vehicles, objects, or even persons on the road. Regular-sized side mirrors may be sufficient for experienced drivers towing small pop-up campers, but these mirrors may not be sufficient for towing 20-footer or larger trailers.
Aside from safety concerns, you should also consider some legal requirements. Although rules may differ depending on which U.S. state you're in, most areas require drivers to see at least 200 feet past the rear of the vehicle, regardless of the trailer size.
What's The Best Towing Mirror
Not all F-150 owners have the same towing needs. Some may only pull a camper or travel trailer once a year. On the other hand, some outdoor enthusiasts or business owners may do towing activities on a regular basis. Because of these differences, the best towing mirror may depend on the owner's towing frequency as well as budget.
If you intend to tow a pop-up camper or a small boat trailer only a few times a year, then you may want to explore snap-on tow mirrors. They are less expensive, less bulky, and easy to detach when you don't need them anymore.
On the other hand, if you tow larger trailers quite frequently, then you would benefit from investing in a towing mirror assembly. These mirrors offer better visibility and power functions that will help you tow more safely compared to snap-on variants.
Finally, for the most tow mirror power functions for your F-150, then you may want to fork out a bit more for Ford's Powerscope mirrors.
You may choose from snap-on tow mirrors or full tow mirror assemblies for your Ford F-150. Snap-on tow mirrors can latch on to regular-sized side mirrors using plastic clips and/or adjustable straps. Alternatively, tow mirror assemblies completely replace the existing regular-sized side mirrors.
You can install many snap-on tow mirrors by yourself easily with no tools required. However, replacing your regular side mirrors with tow mirror assemblies will require you to disassemble some parts of your F-150's door trims and disconnect some of its wires.
Thank you very much for reading. We hope we were able to help you find and install a good towing mirror for your Ford F-150.
For more interesting reads about towing and other automotive topics, you may also check out these great articles below.