Nearly everyone who owns a truck has had an opportunity to tow a trailer at one time or another. Driving complexity is significantly increased when a trailer is hitched to the truck. With the additional weight (trailer and cargo), stopping requires increased distances. Due to the extended length of the truck and trailer, we find it difficult to easily maneuver through traffic. Add in a handful of distracted drivers zipping behind, in front, and around your rig augments the towing challenges. Driving a truck with a trailer requires your head to be on a constant swivel.
Left: The American Trucks Trail Ridge tow mirrors have two mirror surfaces to provide excellent vision. Center: The mirrors flip up to increase the side view around a trailer. Right: The connectors power the mirrors, defroster/heater, blinker, and puddle lights.
Early on, we towed our drag race ’69 Dart on an 18-foot open trailer, and we had a decent view of what was behind and beside us. However, when we upgraded to a 24-foot long, 96-inch-wide enclosed trailer, the factory-installed rearview mirrors provided no sight of what was behind us, and it was not easy to see what was passing us on either side of the trailer. Finally, upgrading to a 30-foot long, 102-inch-wide enclosed trailer nearly eliminated all chances of seeing what was behind or beside the trailer with the stock mirrors.
Left: The factory mirrors are sufficient for daily driving or towing an open trailer. Center: Our Ram 2500 came from the factory with chrome covers on the mirrors. We wanted the same appearance with the new mirrors. Right: Somewhere up there is the mirror (green arrow). With the factory mirror, the driver cannot see past the front of the trailer.
With our rearview mirrors on our 2012 2500 Cummins Ram proving useless when towing, we contacted American Trucks for a pair of Trail Ridge towing mirrors (part no. HR108330). The mirrors are similar to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) mirrors; however, the manual-folding mirrors (when rotated to the upright position) provide increased visibility of what is on either side of the trailer. Not only can the mirrors be positioned manually, but each housing also comes with a dual mirror surface, which includes a large traditional mirror and a smaller convex mirror. The two mirror designs provide an outstanding side view of the trailer.
Left: Swapping the mirror required the removal of the door panel. Center: We started by removing the mirror flag with a plastic removal tool. Right: Three fasteners hold the mirror to the door, but all the wiring is buried deep under the door panel.
The Trail Ridge mirrors arrived with the correct wire harness connectors for our power-adjustable mirrors. Additionally, there were proper harness wires for the heater/defrost, turn signals, and puddle lights. The Trail Ridge mirrors are durable automotive-grade ABS plastic with an OEM textured black finish and chrome mirror covers to mimic the factory appearance.
Top Left: The door window control switch needed to be removed. Top Right: The connector was disconnected from the underside of the control switch. Bottom Left: The door release handle’s bezel has an access cover that we opened with a pick. Bottom Right: Under the cover, we unthreaded a single screw and removed the bezel.
The installation of the mirrors required hand tools and some finesse. Starting with the passenger side door, we removed the mirror flag (Mopar term) from the door with a plastic removal tool, which exposed all three mirror support fasteners. Although the fasteners were visible, the harness connectors were snapped in place deep under the door panel.
The removal of the door panel started with the window control switch. We carefully popped the control switch bezel from the door panel using a door panel removal tool. Next, the wire harness connector was unclipped, and the switch bezel was removed.
Top Left: The door panel has six plastic screws around the parameter. We used a Torx bit to back out each screw. Top Right: Under each screw was a retainer, which we removed with a panel removal tool. Bottom Left: An upward pull on the door panel freed it from the door. Bottom Right: With the door panel out of the way, we had access to the electrical connections of the mirror.
Moving to the door handle bezel, we used a small pick to open up a hinged cover concealing a Phillips screw head. After backing out the screw, we used a combination of door panel removal tools to release the bezel. Once unfastened, we slipped the bezel around the door release handle and removed it from the door panel.
Left: At the door module, we removed two mirror connectors. Center: The wire harness has a single clip that retains the harness. Right: With the harness clips disconnected, we removed the three mirror fasteners. There is a clip that also holds the mirror onto the door. A swift pull will pop the clip and release the mirror.
At the parameter of the door panel, we located plastic fasteners. We used a Torx bit to back out the plastic screws. With the screws removed, we gently pried the retainers from the door panel with a removal tool. Once all the retainers were out of the door panel, we pulled the panel upward. We continued to lift the door panel until the door lock knob slipped from the panel.
We disconnected the two mirror wire connectors from the door control module with the door panel removed. Further up the harness, a retainer clip held the harness to the door liner. With the assistance of a pair of needle-nose pliers, we squeezed the clip and used a removal tool to pop the retainer from the liner.
Top Left: The Trail Ridge mirror (top) is similar in size and appearance to the factory mirror (bottom). Top Right: To install the American Trucks mirror, we snapped the clip (underside of mirror anchor – green arrow) into the door. Bottom Left: We pulled the harness through the door and tightened all three mirror anchor fasteners. Bottom Right: We pushed the mirror connectors into the door module.
While supporting the mirror, we removed all three mirror fasteners. A single retaining clip on the mirror base was snapped free with a slight tug, and the mirror was separated from the door. After fishing the two harness connectors through a hole in the door, we removed the mirror from the truck.
Left: We transferred the door liner clip to the new harness. Center: Before we installed the door panel, we tested the mirror. On the underside of the mirror is the puddle light. The light comes on when the door is opened, just like the factory light. Right: The mirror blinker light is on the outer edge of the mirror. It works with the blinker switch and the hazard switch.
The installation of the American Trucks’ mirrors was the disassembly process in reverse. First, we fed the wire harness and connectors through the door. Next, the mirror’s clip was snapped into place, and the three fasteners were threaded to locate the new mirror. We plugged in the two connectors to the module, and the wire harness was clipped to the liner. Lastly, the clip had been transferred from the original wiring harness and taped onto the new harness.
Left: The door panel was reinstalled onto the door. Using the proper tools kept us from breaking or damaging any part of the door panel. Right: All these tools were required to remove the door panel. The paperwork was our removal/installation procedures.
Before reinstalling the door panel, we tested the mirror’s operation. The up/down and left/right switch commands moved the mirror surface. The blinker and puddle lights operated correctly, and the mirror defrost function worked perfectly. We were pleased with the results, so we slid the door panel over the door lock button and engaged the panel onto the door.
Left: When viewing down the trailer, we were able to see the American Trucks tow mirror (green arrow). Center: The passenger’s side mirror was flipped into the upward tow position. Right: When the mirrors are in the tow position, the mirrors provide a great view of each side of the trailer.
All six door panel retainers and Torx screws were installed on the parameter of the door panel. The door release handle bezel was snapped in place. We tightened the retainer screw and popped the bezel cover over the screw. Next, the wiring harness for the control switch was installed, and we pushed the bezel into the door panel. Lastly, we clipped the mirror flag to the door.
We followed the same procedure for the mirror installation on the truck’s driver’s side. The control switch on the driver’s side had an additional harness to remove, but the remainder of the process was the same as the passenger’s side. Like we had done with the passenger’s side after the mirror installation, we checked the power mirror function, blinker and puddle light illumination, and the heater/defrost operation. The mirror, just like the passenger mirror, worked flawlessly.
Left: The towing mirror allows for a nice view of the side of the trailer (top mirror surface). Right: The convex mirror (lower mirror surface) provides an additional perspective.
With the mirrors in the normal position (down), the Ram looks nearly stock. The chrome cap on the mirror is so similar to the factory units most people will not even notice that the mirrors are aftermarket pieces. The mirrors provide an excellent rear view without the trailer attached.
However, when flipping the mirrors to the towing position (upright), the view of the trailer sides is greatly improved. An additional benefit is the mirrors can be folded inward to allow more clearance for narrow openings, such as garage doors.
Left: The tow mirrors can be folded back out of the way to allow access to narrow spaces, such as a garage. Right: We have used a rear-mounted camera on the trailer for over a year. It gives a good view of the traffic behind the trailer. The new mirrors will complement the camera.
We cannot wait for the towing season (race season) to start, so we can enjoy the increased rear visibility the mirrors will provide. Along with our previously installed rear-mounted trailer camera, the mirrors will give us a great view of what is happening behind and beside us. Now with the increased rearward visibility, we will be better prepared for a quick maneuver if an emergency should ever arise.
Above: The mirrors are manually moved from the down to up locations. There are detents that hold the mirror up or down.
If you are experiencing difficulties seeing behind your truck due to a trailer, check out American Trucks’ extensive line of Ram 2500 tow mirrors. We are incredibly pleased with our pair of mirrors, and we are sure you will like yours just as much.