Purpose of Cars' Folding Side Mirrors

Many fancy cars now have side mirrors that automatically fold flat(ter) against the side of the car when it’s parked.

This seems to me to be mechanical complexity and cost without any benefit. At least the hidden headlights of the late 60s - early 70s had an element of styling to them. This doesn’t even do that.

So the GQ: What do the manufacturers purport to be the actual problem these things solve?

And the IMHO: do the motorheads & automotive pros here agree or disagree with my assessment of pointless frippery? Or is this an invention like smartphones: something you just never knew you needed until you had it, and now you can’t live without it?

First encountered on a 2005 Volvo XC90. I think I’ve folded the mirrors about five times, each time out of bored self-amusement.

I suppose it’s useful. Somewhere. For something.

Frippery? Never forget that LIncolns had power coat hooks. And Caddies had power trunk latching. Or that far too many SUV/minivan/suburbanite vehicles are saving energy daily with power hatch open and close…

It keep idiotic drivers from knocking your mirrors off. I wish my car has that too b/c it would had saved me $$ having to replace a side mirror b/c some jackass broke it while my car was parked . People don’t leave their info if they damage your car while it parked . :mad:

It’s useful for shipping the car in a container 'round the horn. Pack em in closer. That’s just a guess tho. Also, when you sideswipe all those stupid cyclists, you don’t have to worry about replacing your mirror anymore.

On the tight streets in the cities of New England, lots of people parallel park and leave just barely enough room for two lanes of traffic on the road. I’ve seen more than a few mirrors banged by passing cars. With non-automatic folding back or forth, usually the mirrors aren’t harmed and can be popped into place, but a good whack will still pulverize a mirror. Some people also, as a matter of habit, manually fold their mirrors whenever they parallel park. I never bother myself, but if I had to pay to repair or replace a few mirrors I might pick up the habit myself.

IMO an automatic folding mirror is mostly, but not entirely, pointless frippery.

Parking spaces are tight. These allow people to walk between cars and not knock your mirrors out of alignment. Also when parking on a narrow street other cars can pass by without hitting your mirrors.

It’s to protect the mirrors while the car is parked and while going through automated car washes.

How much you consider that a benefit is up to you.

Yes. At least here in Panama parking garages have tight spaces, and when parking on narrow streets in the old part of town it’s routine to fold your side mirrors back to avoid having them knocked off.

Maybe parking is easier in most of the US, but they would be pretty useful around here.

One way street, one lane, parking on both sides of the street. If someone double parks you can squeeze by, but some people squeeze better than others. I have personally seen a delivery truck smash an unfolded mirror and keep on going. I fold my mirrors every day in NYC.

A lot of people who have only street parking in big cities have lost a mirror at some point. I always fold the traffic-side mirror in when I park on narrower streets. Having it fold automatically when I park would be nice, but it’s not too onerous. I’ll probably change my mind next time I forget and some truck takes it off.

I use it when I have to take the garbage to the street; we have a narrow driveway and they give me extra room to maneuver.

I’ve also used it when I’ve parked in a tight spot and was afraid of someone knocking my mirror off. It happened to me once (while I was driving), and I can see the advantage.

A great invention here in Mexico. The streets are skinny. A folded mirror extends the life of the mirror. Today’s mirrors have a lot of electronics, turn signals, lights. I imagine they are quite pricey.

Europe, Asia and pre-20th century US cities have narrow spots—even in places like malls, new apartment buildings, etc.

Folding mirrors + rear cameras and/or parking sensors are very useful.

and cars today are noticeably wider than in the past, so very likely that a random car from today with folding mirrors is wider than the equivalent car from 1980.

All of the above, plus it is a useful sign that I locked my car.

Makes sense. I’ve even had a car that had manually folding mirrors. Which I saw demonstrated by the salesman and never touched again.

I sorta had my blinders on when I asked this. I just couldn’t see the use in a place where parking spaces and driving lanes are made for F-250s and on-street parking is only found in old areas with no curbs where folks park mostly on their the grass anyway.

Those things stick out far enough in any vehicle to often be a nuisance in parking lots and street parking and the first point of contact for anything that comes too close. I came out of the grocery store yesterday to find a gigantic Ford F-150 or F-250 with a humongous side mirror parked beside me, and I couldn’t load my car where it was parked because the stupid mirror was literally right in my face.

I’ve never had my side mirrors broken but have occasionally found the mirror assembly jostled out of its normal centered position. Folding mirrors eliminate this hazard, and allowing them to manually pivot has the additional benefit that minor impacts will merely knock them out of their normal position rather than breaking them off.

You wouldn’t ask that question if your wife had scraped a mirror of on the side of the garage door opening.

My wife’s car has these and it makes it easier to move around in the garage with the mirrors folded back.

We take a car ferry pretty often and it’s great for when they pack the cars in tightly.

You’d know if you had a narrow garage.