You are crawling along in traffic when suddenly BAM! Someone sideswipes your vehicle. Of maybe you parked on a narrow side street only to come out later to a hit-and-run. The only major casualty? You now have a broken side view 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. Of course if it was destroyed and completely missing you don’t need to worry about securing the leftover pieces. Lucky for you, replacing side view mirrors is one of the easier jobs in automotive maintenance.
How to Replace a Side Mirror
Luckily learning how to replace a side view mirror is a straightforward job on most cars & trucks. If your mirror is dangling from an electric cable, don’t cut the cable. Depending on your vehicle’s options there could be several wires bundled inside the cable and would require a mirror harness replacement if cut. 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 car side mirror repair step is to purchase a car side view mirror and if necessary paint it to match your color scheme. You can have the mirror painted by a professional body shop, or you can use spray touch up paint and do it yourself. If you go this route make sure to take your time and follow the proper surface preparation steps for best results.
If you have a manual side view 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 side view mirror replacement, 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. It is a good idea to use a vehicle repair manual for when you replace side view mirrors as many interior panels use hidden fasteners. If you do happen accidently break a plastic interior panel it is possible to repair it.
There are a specific interior trim panel remove tools available. Also a pick with a 90-degree hook is useful for prying ornamentation loose. Remove the interior door panel 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. Take a moment to test the power mirror before putting everything back together again. Now is the time to find out if there is additional damage to the power window wiring or system. 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.
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 side mirror, if it is heated, 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.
New Technology Considerations
Many modern vehicles now have technology packed into the side view mirrors like sensors and cameras. These high-tech advanced driver assisted system components need to be calibrated to work correctly. Replacing a side view mirror that is equipped with camera means the system will need to be taught what the new camera sees and to make it line up with what the onboard computer expects to see. This kind of calibrations is usually far beyond the DIYer and required special visual aids, so check with your local NAPA AutoCare Collision Center for advice.
Finish the Job
With a replacement mirror in place, you’ve resolved the side view mirror repair problem. As for damaged paint that won’t buff out, invest in a chip and a scratch-repair kit. You may also consider adding a blind spot mirror to help widen your field of vision.
Check out all the body & accessory products available on NAPAOnline or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on replacing side view mirrors or how to fix a hanging side mirror, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
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.