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Repair 101: Replacing Side View Mirrors

Broken side mirror

Bam! Someone sideswipes your vehicle. The only major casualty? You now have a broken mirror to deal with. If it’s semi-detached, you’ll need to pull over immediately to secure it in place or remove it until you get a new one. Lucky for you, replacing side view mirrors is one of the easier jobs in automotive maintenance.

Replacing Side View Mirrors

Side view mirror replacement is a straightforward job on most cars & trucks. If your mirror is dangling from an electric cable, don’t cut the cable. Instead, use duct tape to secure the mirror until you acquire a replacement. The tape may leave some residual gum on the paint surface when it is pulled off, but you can usually buff this out. Besides, duct tape beats the damage a mirror can cause when it slaps repeatedly against the side of your car, causing scratching and denting.

The next step is to purchase a mirror and if necessary paint it to match your color scheme.

If you have a manual mirror, remove the mirror trim panel with a door panel remover tool, pull out the insulation and unfasten the retainer clips or screws holding it in place. You’ll then swap out the broken mirror assembly for the new one, put the insulation back in place and refasten the retainer clips.

For a power mirror, you’ll need to go beyond the steps outlined for the manual mirror and also remove the door panel to access the electrical connector. This means finding the fasteners holding the panel in place, what are usually located behind door handles, on the door arm rest, underneath ornamentation and at the base and side of the door.

A pick with a 90-degree hook is useful for prying ornamentation loose. Remove the screws and the fasteners, lower the window and detach the door panel.

Next, disconnect the electrical connector, attach the new mirror and reconnect the electrical connector. Retrace your steps to put the door back together. Don’t forget to install the fasteners and screws, before snapping the ornamentation and other parts into position. Lastly, clean up and recycle the old mirror.

Broken Glass ConsiderationsBroken side view mirror

If the damage to your side view mirror is minimal, such as cracked glass, then you’re dealing with a much simpler repair. Here, you’ll want to wear work gloves and protect your eyes before removing the loose pieces of glass. Once the shards has been removed, then wipe out the remaining pieces with glass cleaner and a rag.

Order a replacement for the broken glass and be sure to specify whether it’s for the left or the right mirror, as well as the make, model and year of the vehicle. The new glass will be part of a kit containing either double-sided tape or a backing plate. Follow the included instructions to ensure the glass is securely in position.

Finish the Job

With a replacement mirror in place, you’ve resolved the problem. As for damaged paint that won’t buff out, invest in a chip and a scratch-repair kit.

Check out all the Body & Accessory products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on replacing side view mirrors, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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