Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Triumph of Form Over Function...

The side-mounted rear-view mirrors on our new FJ Cruiser are roughly rectangular in shape, mounted with the long side vertical (usually the long side of these mirrors is horizontal).  Debbie and I both immediately noticed the poor vision to the rear, especially when compared with our Tundra trucks. 

With a little analysis, it's easy to see why.  I won't bore you with the trigonometry, but...with the driver sitting 30" from the 5.5" wide left mirror, the field of vision is only about 10° wide.  On our Tundras, with their 8.75" wide mirrors, it's about 17° wide – definitely a noticeable difference!

So today I installed some wide-angle “blind spot” mirrors on both sides of our FJ.  These are from ICU, and they use mirrors made of glass (most of these sorts of mirrors are made either of plastic or polished metal, both of which get roughened surfaces quite quickly).  

A driver's-perspective view of the left mirror shows how much this improves the field of vision.  My rough estimate is that I now have a 40° field of view, a vast improvement over 10°

If we drive with these for a while and still don't like them, I may commit FJ sacrilege: install big-rig style tripod mirrors on both sides.  Those mirrors are hell on the drag coefficient, and would probably drop our highway mileage significantly, so I'm hoping I don't have to resort to that.  One other possibility occurred to me: cameras installed on the mirror mount (perhaps on the bottom of them), displaying on screens over my head.  That might work as well.

Why did the FJ designers make such a wacky choice for the mirrors?  The only reason I can think of is that some designer thought the vertical mounting looked better, and didn't care what that choice did to the driver's visibility.  We curse this designer daily...

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