DRIVING/TOWING - TOWING
The towing mirror specialist’s Next Gen edition has built on the success of the original model, with improved dimensions and compatibility with most cameras, indicators and puddle lamps.
We didn’t rush to report on Clearview’s Next Gen mirror in late-2020, because we wanted to see what the market thought of this revised-design product. The original ones we fitted to one of our test vehicles (see below) have performed well, but many buyers had corrosion problems. Clearview has since upgraded its corrosion protection process.
There was also criticism of Clearview’s after-sales support and the company assures us that has been streamlined.
Typical complaints we’ve seen with the 2021 Next Gen models relate to electric functions not operating correctly and we suspect some of those could be related to fitting problems.
The attraction of Clearview mirrors is the fact that they can be DIY fitted, but we know many people we’ve encountered in the scrub who shouldn’t attempt DIY fitment – or even 4wding, for that matter!
When we installed the original Clearview models, we found it helpful to have the installation video playing during the process and avoided any haste.
The Next Gen mirror replicates the original model’s telescopic design and has three positions: non-towing; first towing position and extended towing position. A shape change means the outer frame is smaller and offers less wind resistance.
The Next Gen model sits closer to the door when not in towing modes, extending 351mm from the vehicle, or 76mm closer than the original mirror. Total extension length remains 531mm.
As before, the primary mirror each side is flat glass that most people prefer, because it gives accurate depth perception, compared with the ‘distancing’ effect of a convex mirror.
The convex bottom mirror has been repositioned, to sit higher above the window line.
Both manual-fold and power fold models are available, but the telescoping action remains manual, in the interests of safety and simplicity.
The standard mirror light is a ‘2 in 1’ Category 5 LED indicator light/puddle light. (Installation requires hard-wiring if the OEM mirror doesn’t have lighting.) A Category 6 LED light that operates as a legally-compliant side marker lamp is available as optional extra, for vehicles that have a GVM upgrade above 3500kg.
The Next Gen range comes in a choice of chrome, black textured or gloss black that can you can paint to match your vehicle colour.
Previous model experience
The original Clearview design incorporated a powered, vertically-oriented, flat-plane main mirror each side, with a convex spotter lower section that was manually adjustable. Manual fold-flat function remained, but was not able to be powered.
The mirror housing was connected to the mounting flange at the leading edge of the vehicle’s side window by twin struts. The housing telescoped 110mm on these struts, thus widening the mirror stance, which was already some 90mm wider than standard. When the vehicle wasn’t towing, the Clearview mirrors could be pushed inwards on the struts, to narrow the overall vehicle width.
The Clearview mirror bases were all similar in design, but specifically kitted to suit different vehicle models. The idea was that the standard mirrors and mounting flanges were removed from the vehicle intact and replaced by the Clearview units. The job was reversible, so that the stock mirrors could be refitted at any time.
We checked out replacement mirrors for a 200 Series LandCruiser and helped the owner fit them.
Each Clearview pair came with wiring harness adaptors and an excellent instructional DVD that took the buyer through easily followed steps in removing the standard mirrors and fitting the Clearview units.
They were not cheap, being $700 plus for LandCruiser units, but the quality is indistinguishable from the originals and functionality is better than that of clip-on types.
The Clearviews arrived in a well-packed cardboard box, with an instructional DVD, so that’s where the job started. We watched it through once and then restarted the DVD, stopping when we thought we’d digested enough work and then resuming watching it after performing the various steps.
Fitting time was said to be 15 minutes each side, but we took twice that, being extra careful when prising off interior door trims and switch panels.
As promised, the kit parts fitted perfectly and the instructions were accurate. When fitted they looked like original parts of the vehicle, other than for the fact that vision was much better, with and without a trailer on the back of the vehicle.
Clearviews were among the most expensive towing mirrors on the market, but you got what you paid for.
Our experience continued to be a happy one, but this vehicle was garaged all its life and didn’t suffer any corrosion issues.