Why should I replace my mirrors?
Whether an accident’s cracked your wing mirror or left it hanging off, mirrors are a must-fix item you should take care of right away so you can monitor your rear and sides, safely change lanes, and avoid annoying fix-it tickets.
Over the past few decades, aftermarket mirrors have greatly evolved alongside the development of mirror designs set forth by major automakers to include advanced safety features like built-in turn signal lights (either in-housing or in-glass), blind spot detection, and more. If your mirrors come with features like these and they’ve stopped working, you’ll want to make sure you get your mirrors replaced right away so you can make full use of those nifty functions again in no time. We offer a wide selection of aftermarket mirrors that can provide the right fit and functionality without busting your budget.
What exactly do I need to replace?
In some cases, you may be able to just switch out your mirror glass, which is a relatively simple, cost-effective fix. Depending on your application, your new mirror glass may come with or without the backing plate. If it comes with the backing plate, you’ll simply need to take out your old glass and backing plate and snap your new piece in. If your new mirror glass doesn’t come with the backing plate, you’ll need to take a couple extra steps to install it in your existing backing plate (see Installing Mirror Glass without Backing Plate below). If your backing plate is missing and compatible replacements don’t come with one attached, or if your housing, motor, wiring and/or other components are damaged, you’ll need to replace the entire assembly. Find out what parts need replacing and research your options going from there.
If you just need to replace your mirror glass and aren’t sure what kind your vehicle requires (i.e. whether your mirror glass is heated, has auto-dimming, etc.), be sure to check your owner’s manual, look up online guides according to your vehicle’s year, make, model, submodel, and body type, or consult a professional to find out what options are compatible. Before you place your order, make sure you get the correct side (i.e. driver or passenger side). Typically, driver’s side mirror glass is flat, while passenger’s side mirrors are made of convex glass to expand your visual field on the right. This is why passenger’s side mirror glass tends to have a note such as, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” at the bottom.
If you’re only replacing one mirror assembly, make sure you get whichever side you need (i.e. driver or passenger side rear view mirror). If you’re replacing both mirrors (e.g. if you’re doing an upgrade), you’ll want to make sure you purchase one driver’s side mirror and one passenger’s side mirror.
What are the differences between OE replacement and OE upgrade mirrors?
OE (or original equipment) replacement mirrors are designed to offer the same fit and function as your factory mirrors for plug-and-play installation and fully restored, OE-style performance. These are geared toward customers who are looking for a cost-effective, straightforward replacement with the best value. Kool Vue, for example, is a great option that delivers OE-style fitment and performance at a fraction of the cost of going to the dealership. Dorman is another excellent choice that’s renowned as a value line offering good quality and a direct fit, while K-Source and Muth are good go-to brands since they specialize in automotive mirrors.
OE upgrade mirrors from brands like CIPA, Rugged Ridge, and Street Scene offer a custom look along with upgraded features, ranging from towing and telescopic mirrors (which we’ll get into in a bit) to aerodynamically designed sport mirrors. If you’re looking to upgrade your mirrors, be sure to double-check that the ones you choose are compatible with your vehicle before purchase.
What should I keep in mind when shopping for mirrors?
One of the first things you need to keep in mind when you’re shopping is whether you need a manual, manual remote, or power mirror.
Manual mirrors involve no electrical components and are operated—you guessed it—manually, meaning you need to angle them by hand. Likewise, manual remote mirrors don’t involve electricity, but allow you to position them remotely from inside your car, usually via a steel cable that snakes through a hole in your door and ends in a small lever, knob, or joystick located inside your vehicle on the driver’s side.
Power mirrors, on the other hand, are operated via electricity so you can adjust them via a button or switch inside your vehicle. Some power mirrors are equipped with extra functions, like heated mirror glass that defrosts in cold weather, auto-dimming glass that automatically darkens when it’s bright out to minimize glare, and memory settings that adjust your mirrors to pre-set positions with the push of a button. Some power mirrors are engineered with even more special features, including turn signal lights built into their housings and/or the mirror glass itself, puddle lights at the bottom of the mirror that light the ground when you open your car door, built-in colored LEDs that act as running lights when your car or headlights are on, or even blind spot detection which alerts you if other vehicles, bikes, or pedestrians are in your blind spots when you try to switch lanes.
Another thing to look out for is whether your mirrors are fixed (non-folding), or feature manual folding or power folding. Most late models come standard with manual folding mirrors to help prevent damage in tight spots, but some luxury models take it a step further with power folding mirrors so you can fold them in with the push of a button.
If you regularly tow, you’ll want to look into towing mirrors and telescopic mirrors. Towing mirrors typically involve two mirrors, with one enabling you to see the lane next to you, and the other made with curved glass to let you check on trailers and the like. Telescopic mirrors extend out either manually or via power (depending on their application) to expand your rear visual field. Similarly, if you go off-roading often, there are off-road mirrors available that widen your rearview and provide greater clearance when you’re out on the trails.
Side-view mirrors tend to come in a black paint-to-match finish, textured finish, or chrome finish. If you want to bolt on your mirror as is, we recommend getting one in a textured, matte, polished, or chrome, etc. finish as opposed to one that’s paint-to-match. If you want to paint your mirror, a DIY project can save you a lot of money, but might get tricky if your vehicle’s paint job has faded with age and exposure to the elements. Professionals are usually able to mix paint to account for changes that a vehicle’s color can undergo over time. If you decide to go the professional route, which we highly recommend, be sure to research how much your job would typically cost and come armed with that information when you get quotes from multiple shops. If you decide to paint your mirror yourself, be sure to get detailed, application-specific instructions, along with the right color paint, which you can look up according to your vehicle’s factory color code (located in your glove box, driver’s side door jamb, firewall, or hood, etc., depending on your application).
As you’re shopping, you may be eyeing cheaper mirrors if you have a tight budget, or heated mirrors with built-in turn signals for their upgraded style and performance. Here we must stress again that application by far is the most important factor you need to consider when buying new mirrors. Check what your vehicle’s equipped with and note your vehicle’s year, make, model, submodel, and body type in your search so you can make sure you’re getting the correct replacement. Some vehicles have different mirrors based on submodel (e.g. Toyota Sienna L vs. Toyota Sienna Limited) and even body type (e.g. BMW E36 coupe vs. sedan). In any case, before you make your purchase, make sure your new mirrors are perfectly compatible with your application (fit- and wiring-wise), with all the features and components you need included.
What should I keep in mind when installing new mirrors?
• Installing Mirror Glass with Backing Plate
– This will simply involve removing your old mirror and backing plate from your housing and snapping your new piece in.
• Installing Mirror Glass without Backing Plate
– Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection before you remove your old mirror glass and clear out any remaining broken pieces off your backing plate with a putty knife or comparable tool. You should also place a bin under your mirror to collect falling glass.
– Once you’re done removing your old mirror glass, clean the mirror base with a non-ammonia-based cleaner (like an ammonia-free window cleaner). If you have a hard time removing the old adhesive from your backing plate, you can use a blow drier to help loosen it.
– Although new mirror glass typically comes with adhesive on the back, you should also use black rubber sealant to doubly ensure a firm hold. Just be sure you don’t apply sealant wherever the mirror glass’s adhesive pads will attach to your mirror base.
– While the new adhesive sets, use masking tape to secure your new mirror glass in place.
• Installing Mirror Assemblies
– Removing your old mirror assembly will typically involve removing the door panel or trim panel that covers the mirror mount, then removing the screws or nuts that hold the mirror to the door, and then disconnecting the mirror wiring harness. Installing your new mirror assembly will basically be the reverse of that process.
– Test your mirrors (i.e. the adjustment, turn signal lights, and/or other functions they’re equipped with) before putting your door panels back on so you can make sure everything’s in order.
• If you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, you could visit an auto glass shop and have a professional perform the replacement for you.