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How to replace a car wing mirror

How to replace a car wing mirror

If you drive in urban environments, chances are sooner or later you are going to get a wing mirror broken off by another car getting too close, or a bicycle, or even a parking meter. Luckily, modern cars make replacing the glass of a broken wing mirror easy.

In fact, in many cases you can do it in minutes without any tools at all. Even in the case of a serious incident that knocks the whole wing mirror clean off, it seldom takes more than a few screws to attach a new one (though you may need to remove a few bits of trim to get to them).

Most cars made in the 21st-century feature mirrors made to breakaway, and pivot in the event of being hit or hitting an obstacle. In order to knock the wing mirror and its housing off, on most cars, you'd need to get close enough to damage the door it is mounted to as well. This is a feature designed into modern cars to lower the cost of insurance claims by making these very minor repairs less expensive.

Every car is different mechanically, but making minor repairs to the body of them is nearly universal. If you want to improve the looks of your car, check out our how-to articles on fixing a deep scratchpatching rust damage, or pulling dents with a stud welder.

plastic pry bar

Replacing broken mirror glass is one of the truly simple repairs; in many cases you don't need any tools at all!

1) Pry the broken wingmirror off - Get behind the wing mirror with a plastic pry bar. On some cars there is enough room to get your fingers behind it, and you won't need a tool at all, but watch out for broken glass. It should only take moderate effort to get the mirror to pop off the clips.

If you have heated mirrors, or the type with turn signals built in, unplug the wires connected to the wing mirror.

mirror clip from behind

1a) Pry the broken wing mirror off (another view) - We removed the decorative cover from the back side of the mirror (it also pops right off easily) to point out how the clips on the mirror snap onto the plate it pivots on.

Mirror back and mounting pad

2) Inspect clips and tabs - With the magic of Photoshop, we can look at all 4 taps and clips in this photo. Number 1 snaps into A, 2 into B, and so on. Every manufacturer uses a slightly different system (this is a Toyota RAV4). Make sure all the tabs or clips on the mounting plate are still in good shape, if not order a new part to replace the broken one from the dealer.

Replacement mirrors are available from many sources, but the mounting plate is likely a dealer only item.

line up clips and tabs

3) Line up tabs - If you have wing mirrors with turn signal repeaters built in, or heater elements, reattach the wires to the mirror. Now, line up the taps and clips, and move the mirror into its proper position on the mounting plate.

press into place

4) Press firmly until wing mirror snaps into place - Press firmly, but carefully, and the clips should snap into place with a noticeable click. Confirm it is attached by prying with your fingers

fixed mirror

5) Clean and readjust mirror - That is all there is to it! Don't forget to readjust the wing mirror so you can properly monitor what is behind you, then wipe off any finger prints and smudges.