How to Replace a Side View Mirror

Car in rear view mirror

 Walter Giordani / Getty Images

If your car or truck has suffered a damaging blow to the rearview mirror assembly on either one of your doors, you're not a happy driver. In a worst-case scenario, the mirror was knocked clean off and not only have you lost the sense of safety and security you get with having a properly adjusted side mirror; you're forced to drive around with a gaping automotive wound on the side of your car door. If you're slightly less unlucky, your mirror was knocked loose, and the housing was broken, but at least it's still there for you to check before a lane change. You might have even been forced to make a hasty, temporary, and ugly repair using duct tape. Yikes.

If you've already taken your car to the dealership service center or an independent repair shop for an estimate on getting your door mirror replaced, you know how expensive it can be to get the work done. The good news is you can save a lot of this money by replacing the mirror yourself. It may seem like a very involved repair, but it's much easier than you're probably expecting. Follow these simple steps, and you can repair your door mirror quickly and far less expensively than if you paid to have it done professionally. Take your time, and you'll be more than happy with the result.

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Replacing the Entire Mirror Assembly

Broken rear view mirror


Before you shell out full price for a new side mirror at the dealer parts department, there are other avenues to check out. For some popular models, you can buy a replacement mirror from an aftermarket company. While not a factory replacement part, often these aftermarket mirrors fit and function just as well as the factory part. They are much cheaper. Another alternative is to source a used mirror from a junkyard (both online and old school versions are great) or check for parts on eBay or your local Craigslist site. There's always eBay! All of these can save you money.

Be careful! Be sure to buy the exact replacement mirror your car or truck calls for! The owner of the Hyundai featured in this article bought what he thought would be the same mirror from a different model year, only to discover that all of the mounting points were different, and he was stuck buying another one. Ouch. Your repair manual may be able to help you determine which model years used the same part.

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Accessing the Broken Side Mirror Assembly

Access the bolts


Before you can install a new rearview mirror in your door, the old broken one has to come out. This is the part of the job that will intimidate you, but don't sweat it. These parts are made to be replaced, and it's as easy as jacking your car up to change a tire. Bite your lip, take a breath, then carefully pry away the plastic cover that hides the mirror's mounting screws.

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Unbolting the Rear View Mirror

door mirror removal


With the access cover removed, you can now see the bolts that need to be removed to get the broken mirror off the car. Before you start wrenching on these screws or bolts, if your vehicle has electrically adjustable mirrors (most do) or a heated mirror, you will need to pull out an electrical plug. This is also a good time to compare the replacement part you bought with what is still in the door. If anything looks different, stop working and get the right part in your hand.

With the electrics unplugged, you can remove the screws or bolts that attach the mirror to the door. It probably won't fall out when you remove them, but if you have a helper handy to catch, or you can put a hand underneath it while you work, do this. Your mirror may already be broken, but you'd feel stupid if it scratched your paint as it fell to the ground. You don't want to have to do ​bodywork next.