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Changing Mirrors: Everything You Need To Know

Changing Mirrors

Vehicles require maintenance and care and it’s down to you to ensure every part is in working condition. Mirrors are an essential part of your vehicle, as without them, you won’t be able to see any obstacles in the road. 

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Although this is common sense, it might require some research and practice for changing mirrors and ensuring you’ve positioned them correctly and safely. 


Signs You Need to Change Your Car’s Mirrors


Not sure if your mirrors need a makeover? The most significant sign is that the glass is broken, chipped, or cracked. This will put yours and other people’s safety at risk as it’ll impede your vision.


Mirrors are important for overall safety, so if you can’t make adjustments to them, it’s likely that there’s an electrical fault. If your electric mirrors have a heating function and you’ve noticed this has begun to fail, this could also be a clear sign that you need to change the mirrors.


Some mirrors adjust via a switch rather than a manual lever. If the mirrors don’t respond to the direction you move the switch in, the mechanism might have failed.


How Much Does it Cost to Replace Side Mirrors?


Generally speaking, car mirror replacements will cost between $120 and $350 depending on the model needed. This price includes the parts and the labor when replaced professionally at a car garage. Alternatively, for a cheaper price, you can opt for a used mirror or use third party mirrors as opposed to the official parts for a budget-friendly fix.


How to Replace an Exterior Electric Car Mirror


If you need to replace an exterior car mirror, there are several steps you’ll need to take.

Remove the Door Panel


Begin the process by removing the door panel on the side for the mirror you need to replace. This allows you to access the mirror’s electrical connector. Although it might sound daunting, with the correct tools, patience, and a willingness to get the job done right, it’s not too challenging.


Fortunately, removing the door panel isn’t as vigorous as it may sound, because they’re manufactured to be removed for all types of repairs. Remove all of the screws, which are usually hidden so they’re not all on show. Most vehicles will have around four screws. Check under the armrest, the finger pull area, and behind the speakers.


After this step, remove the fasteners from the door—feeling around to pry around the corners of the trim panel. Pop the fasteners out of the hole using a removal tool for easier access. You should then leave the trim panel against the door.


Disconnect the Cable

Using your hands, guide the cable from the mirror to the electrical connector and remove any screws that are holding the mirror to the door. At this point, you can attach the new mirror. You’ll then need to reconnect the electrical connector and ensure you rest the mirror before placing the door panel back on.


To secure the door back on, use your hands or a rubber mallet to place the trim panel fasteners back on and replace any screws back onto the door.


How to Correctly Set Up the Side Mirrors


When changing mirrors, you’ll need to bear in mind their positioning to ensure you can see objects approaching you from a wide range of angles. 


Right Door Mirror


For the right door mirror, begin by sitting in your driving position and adjust the mirror so that the horizon is in the center of the mirror. You can determine the horizon by the point at which the road turns into a point in the distance.


There should only be a small amount of the car in the left side mirror. It’s important that you can see some of the vehicle’s body to see more of the road behind you. This position will also act as a guidance for when you’re parking. 


You may need to adjust the mirrors if you adjust your driving seat so you can clearly see any obstacles behind you.


Left Door Mirror


For the left door mirror, you should use a similar technique as the right side and take a seat in the driving position once the seats are adjusted.


You should adjust the mirror slightly lower than the right side to provide a better view of the curb and road while making some maneuvers around a corner. However, don’t position the mirrors so low that you can’t see the end of the road through them. 


Can You Simply Replace the Glass on Car Mirrors?

Whether you’re searching for a cheaper or easier solution, you may have wondered if you can replace the glass on a car mirror instead of the entire item. The quick answer is yes and it will typically cost you around $20 and less than 30 minutes to complete.


If the glass is broken on your mirror but the plastic casing is fine, it seems a waste of money and time to invest in an entire mirror. Fortunately, many car manufacturers sell precut glass mirrors to fit a range of vehicle makes and models.


Remove the Broken Mirror


Your first task is removing the broken mirror. Wearing protective gloves and eye protection, pick away the loose pieces of broken mirror. Leave any adhesive in place, as this will help the new glass to stick. Follow on by cleaning the mirror with a glass cleaner to remove any debris and ensure the area is safe to work with.


Apply Glue


Next, apply a few dollops of a sealant onto the plastic base. Although your new glass will come with adhesive strips on the back, these aren’t enough to rely on a secure stick. Apply the new mirror to the base and position it according to the plastic shape and design. Hold it firmly in place so it sticks. You may even want to apply some masking tape to the mirror so it remains in position; you can then remove once the sealant has dried.


How to Tighten a Loose Side Mirror


If your side mirror requires some TLC because it’s been knocked loose, you’ll be pleased to hear that it doesn’t require much work. Pry away the mounting hardware behind the mirror’s plastic panel. Then, tighten the screws holding the mirror in position. It’s likely that they’ve just become loose from a slight collision or general wear and tear.


Cleaning Car Mirrors


Like the rest of the outside and inside of your car, the mirrors can become dusty and have specs of dirt that affect your vision. Stick to wiping down the mirrors whenever you notice marks that make it difficult to see or each time you wash and vacuum your vehicle.


The first thing to do is to move your car into a shaded area with limited heat. If the air is hot, this will leave spots and streaks behind. You should also avoid using a multipurpose cleaner as these can leave suds behind. Instead, use a glass cleaner that’s free from ammonia as this can cause issues when the mirrors are dried.


Spritz a microfiber cloth with a glass cleaner. Wipe the mirror with small circles as opposed to diagonal or horizontal angles. Only spray the mirrors if there’s a large build-up of dirt as doing this can leave streaks behind.


Can You Replace a Manual Mirror with an Electric One?


Yes, this is possible. To do so, you’ll need to order an electric mirror that fits your vehicle’s make and model. Before you get too excited about making the transition to electric mirrors, ask yourself if your car manufacturer has put a power-window option on your vehicle or if it allows for one. You should also research that there’s enough room to install the mirror in your vehicle to accommodate for extra wiring under the dash and space on the armrests.


Features of Electric Mirrors


There are many benefits to having electric mirrors compared to the manual version. For example, they come with LED signal lights that come as a standard. This provides an extra safety feature to your car, enabling other drivers and pedestrians to see that you’re turning.


Electric mirrors also have a concaved shape that provides a better view of the road behind and next to you. However, concave mirrors aren’t standard for electric types, so you may have to fork out a few extra dollars for this feature.

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