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By Brian Turner
Broken door-mounted automotive mirrors are the bane of many vehicle owners’ wallets. The sheer fact that we’re still stuck with these antiquated appendages, well into the era of dependable camera and monitor systems, is enough to drive any driver ’round the bend.
Don’t blame the carmakers for this one. They’ve been petitioning U.S. regulators since 2014 for the ability to toss bolt-on side mirrors and replace them with HD camera systems. But knowing the glacial pace of legislated automotive evolution, perhaps some more timely tips and advice might be of more use.
Cracked glass is one of the top issues with door mirrors, either due to an impact or harsh use of an ice scraper. Many automakers sell replacement glass panels for their products, often at a fraction of the price of a complete mirror replacement. Note that you’ll only be able to use one of these replacements if the plastic mounting tabs that the glass panels snap into are still intact.
Anyone with photo-sensitive “auto-dimming” exterior mirrors can get a little price shock when shopping for replacement glass panels, because these often run into figures of $250 and up. And cracks aren’t the only problem with these higher-tech mirrors. Their finish can degrade over time, leaving them unusable with a brassy-coloured haze obscuring the view.
For cases such as these, and for those times when the cost of glass replacement from the dealer is a little too dear, you might want to call your local auto-glass shop. Most of these specialty facilities have access to mirrored-glass panels with self-adhesive backings. They’re made in a variety of shapes and sizes to cover a wide range of mirror styles, and usually run less than $60.
If you’re not fussy about the fit, you can achieve even more savings with some universal kits from Canadian Tire. Either way, you need to have enough solid glass remaining on the mirror for the replacement’s adhesive backing to grab and stick onto. Also remember that any heated-mirror option your ride might have had will be less effective, since it now has to work through two layers of glass. And, of course, any icons that appeared on the glass for a turn signal or lane warning functions will be gone.
Used but not abused
When a mirror casing is damaged, there’s pretty much only one treatment and that’s complete replacement. Depending on the vehicle and equipment, door mirrors can run from $250 to well over $1,000. It may mean dialing up an auto recycler to get a quote on a used one, who will generally charge 50 per cent of a new unit’s list price for a good pre-owned one.
There are also new alternatives for popular mainstream vehicles from companies such as Dorman, which can bring substantial savings.
Check with your favourite non-original auto parts supplier. If your mirror is colour-matched to the body, and the cost estimates to paint a replacement mirror are a little too steep, consider having the new mirror and the existing opposite one vinyl-wrapped in a contrasting colour. This can be much cheaper than painting, while giving your ride a unique look. And most importantly, you’ll be able to see, as well as be seen.