Should You Get Trailer Tow Mirrors on Your F-150?
Published May 25, 2016
When you look at all of the options that Ford makes available on the F-150, it can be overwhelming. The decisions you have to make on options are on top of the already complicated choice between trim levels that we discuss in our 2016 F-150 buying guide.
Lost in all the options are the trailer tow mirrors. You would think that these would be included in the towing package but they are not. In the past, these mirrors were part of the max towing package. In this article, we are talking about the OEM mirrors supplied by Ford, not the iffy third party parts where you don't know what kind of quality you are getting. You will find a dizzying array of possibilities to choose from in aftermarket products.
The picture above is the standard mirror for the Ford F-150.
What are Trailer Tow Mirrors?
Trailer tow mirrors are designed to give you a view of whatever you are towing all the way to the back corners. This increased visibility increases safety while you are towing.
Some people "in the know" affectionately refer to these mirrors as "dumbo ears" or "wings." If you hear those terms, you'll know what they are talking about.
There are two aspects to the mirror design that give you the increased field of view. First, the mirror is split into two. On the top is the standard side view mirror. Underneath that, is a convex mirror to give you a very wide angle view. You can see what this mirror looks like in this picture.
The second piece of the design is that the mirrors telescope further out from the sides of the truck. Since they are extended further out, they give you the ability to see past the sides of the trailer you are towing.
How Much do They Cost?
When looking at the Lariat trim level, the power telescoping mirrors are only a $165 option. If you have chosen the 501A equipment group, they will have black skull caps and if you have the 502A equipment group, the skull caps will be chrome.
If you want to add them to a truck that didn't have them equipped at the factory, it can get a bit pricey. You'll find everything from clip-on mirrors all the way up to the OEM power telescoping versions from Ford.
The clip ons can be found for around $50 for a set while the full power telescoping Ford versions will cost $1,200 or more ($1,300 for chrome). These top of the line mirrors will preserve all of the features of your current mirror (BLIS, heated mirror, puddle light, etc.) Keep in mind that in order to use the power telescoping feature, you will need to change the mirror switch. Since the standard mirrors don't have this feature, the standard switch can't activate the feature.
This picture shows the standard mirror switch.
In the next picture, you will see the switch for the power telescoping mirrors. Notice the slightly different graphic and little dot. The little dot is the indicator LED.
Why You Want Them
Even when you aren't towing a trailer and don't have them extended, you get a much better view at the sides of the truck. Many people think that with the trailer tow mirrors, you really don't need the blind spot warning system; the view is that good.
When you are towing a trailer, it gives you much better visibility than the standard mirrors. You will be able to clearly see the edges of your trailer when changing lanes or when making turns. This improved view will greatly increase safety while towing.
If you order these mirrors as a factory option, the cost is minuscule. When you are buying a truck that costs over $40,000, an extra $165 for all the benefit you get makes this option almost a no-brainer.
Why You Might Not Want Them
The main reason not to get this option is aesthetics. Some people don't like the look of the truck with such big mirrors sticking off the sides.
In addition, the larger mirrors will slightly hurt the fuel mileage, especially at highway speeds. It won't be a huge reduction but you will spend slightly more on gas if you do a lot of highway driving. It probably reduces you're mileage by 0.2 or 0.3 MPG.
People Upgrade and Downgrade
With this option, people seem to have buyer's remorse both ways. Some people that have the trailer tow mirrors want to change them out for the standard mirrors and others that didn't get them, want to switch to the towing mirrors.
If you are looking to change your standard mirrors over to the trailer tow mirrors after you have already bought your truck, you may be able to offset the cost by selling the standard mirrors. Even better, you should check craigslist and try to find somebody looking to buy standard mirrors that might agree to a trade.
One complication in the process of changing mirrors is if your truck has body color skull caps. If you do, it will be much harder to sell them because the buyer has to have the same color truck as you.
The same advice can work for you if you are trying to bring your truck back to the standard mirrors.
Before you buy an F-150, you should read our complete 2016 F-150 buying guide. It will help you figure out which trim level you want (Ford refers to them as models). It is a lot more complicated than you would think to decide.
About The Author: Lyle Romer is a consumer advocate, Founding Contributor and Vice President of CarBuyingTips.com. A 20 years veteran of the auto industry with a high level of expertise, Lyle has been researching all aspects of the automotive sales industry.
Lyle's expertise and research played a vital role during the creation of CarBuyingTips.com in 1999 after years of industry research. He carefully observed every aspect of his own car buying experience as the internet began to take a foothold in the process. He also designed the site to make sure that consumers had easy access to the best consumer advocate education.
Lyle has been an auto industry insider since 1999. He also has worked with other automotive websites to help improve their offerings based upon feedback from CarBuyingTips.com users. He covers important industry events and gathers off the record sources while attending industry conventions.
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