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Wing mirror – what is it? Importance, types, replacement

A wing mirror, also known as side view or door mirror, is one of the most critical safety features on your vehicle. This vital car part is what keeps you aware of vehicles and other obstructions around your car. Wing mirrors are so vital that most countries consider it illegal to drive without them.

Why do you need a wing mirror?

Having a wing mirror on your car is like having eyes on the back of your head. Whether you’re reversing or changing lanes, this handy little car accessory tells you about the obstacles around.

With the advent of the BSW (Blind Spot Warning) systems, some believed the side-view mirrors would become obsolete. However, over time these assumptions turned out to be wrong. While BSW technology does make your journeys safer, it does not replace wing mirrors.

Types of wing mirrors

Door mirrors have undergone some drastic changes over the century to get where they are today. But despite that, they stuck to three main styles.

Manual mirrors:

Manual mirrors look the simplest of all. However, they’re not the easiest to use since you need to correct them by sticking your hand out the window. They aren’t common these days because the modern wing mirrors have taken their place in most parts of the world. However, if you’re on a budget and need a quick and easy door mirror replacement, this is the type of mirror you should go for.

Manual remote mirrors:

This type of wing mirror glass is a step-up from the regular manual mirrors. You still have to adjust them manually, but you do not have to pull off any dangerous maneuvers, such as sticking your hand out the window. There is a control lever attached to the mirror on the inside of the vehicle.  You move this to fix the mirror positioning. Much like manual wing mirrors, these have gone extinct too.

Power mirrors:

These electric door mirrors are a serious upgrade from the two other types. They come with an electric switch near the driver’s seat and are quite nifty. Power mirrors may come with several cool features such as: 

Heated mirrors:

Electric mirrors with a heating option keep them clear of fog and ice in cold weather. To find out whether your car’s wing mirrors come with heating, look for a “heat symbol” on the glass.

Folding mirrors:

Some electric mirrors automatically fold inwards when you lock your vehicle. This feature keeps your mirrors safe from mishaps while parked. Occasionally, some mirrors can only perform this operation when you press a button either inside the car or on the remote key.

Memory mirrors:

Memory mirrors will self-adjust to the setting they were in when you last used them.

Puddle lamps:

Also known as curb lamps, these lights are present under your wing mirror glass. They shine on the ground below preventing you from accidentally stepping into a puddle when you get out of the car.

Wing mirror indicator lights:

This feature was initially only available on luxury vehicles but has become more common in recent years.

With time, the side view mirrors have not only become more convenient to use but also more sophisticated. While manual mirrors and manual remote mirrors are simple to replace, power mirrors require more knowledge and expertise.

Wing mirror replacement

Smashed wing mirror

Due to the positioning of these side-view mirrors on the car, they're prone to damage and accidents. However, on the bright side, these are usually simple enough to replace, and you can perform the task yourself at home.

Depending on if the wing-glass is broken or its back-cover, there are two methods to fix it.

Method 01: Mirror glass replacement:

When you find your wing mirror broken or fallen off, it is easy enough to repair.

Find the right-wing mirror replacement glass according to your vehicle model and make. Identify if you need a passenger-side mirror or a driver side mirror. The passenger-side mirror is more concave to give you a more rounded view, while the driver side mirror is flatter.

If the glass isn’t too smashed, simply clear off little splinters to get a smooth surface and attach the replacement on.

In case the mirror is heavily damaged, remove as much of the glass as possible from the backplate to get an even and clear surface. You could use a hairdryer to warm up the adhesive behind the glass for easier removal.

Peel off the adhesive backing sheet from your replacement mirror. Carefully align the mirror in place, and gently press down to ensure secure application. To keep the glass from popping out later, make sure it's firmly in place, and then rub it down with a cloth.

Method 02: Back Plate Replacement

In case the wing mirror’s backplate has jolted off, the replacement method is a little more complicated.

Carefully insert a screwdriver between the backplate of your mirror and the mirror case. It needs care to avoid damaging the mirror’s cover.

Pop-out the backplate and glass. If you’d like to reuse the mirror, secure it before popping the backplate out.

Detach any electric wires connected to the plate. Label each as you remove them to remember where each goes when you fix the new plate.

Attach the wires to the new plate and put it back into place. The insertion of the plate should be gentle; do not use excessive force.

Method 03: Replacing the wing mirror cover

Fixing the entire mirror casing is slightly trickier than the other two replacements. We advise to get the assistance of a professional; however, if you’re handy with car repairs, here’s how you can fix this:

Open the door which side-view mirror you want to change.

Using a flat head screwdriver, pry away the trim panel from the upper corner of the door. Set this aside.

Remove the screws that are holding the door mirror in place and take the glass off.

Detach the electric connectors from the old glass and plug them into the new wing mirror.

Put the new side glass into place and secure the screws to hold it in place.

Check the electric mirror to make sure it’s working.

Place the trim panel back and press it down to snap it into place. 

Driving without a side view or broken mirror is a legal offence in the UK. Finding out that the replacement process is both easy and inexpensive, you should never jeopardise your safety.