Replacement wing mirror glass: a complete guide

We use our wing mirrors every time we drive, without giving them a second thought. Well, not unless they’re covered in snow, too dirty to see anything through, or broken.

If you’ve got a broken wing mirror, then it depends how badly broken it is as to what you’re going to do with it.

If hit pretty hard and the body of the component and mechanical operation was severely damaged, you’re probably going to need to fit a replacement. For lesser damage, let’s say everything is still mechanically sound, but the wing mirror glass becomes cracked, then that’s a much simpler job to take care of.

A little info about your wing mirrors

Your wing mirrors, side mirrors or door mirrors—whichever you prefer to call them—will, more than likely, include a range of handy features.

Remote adjustment

Practically all modern wing mirror mechanisms will have remote adjustment. Operated from the driver’s seat, the switches will be traditionally located somewhere on the door. Often, right next to the wing mirror but inside the car, or on the driver’s door armrest.

The switches control both the driver and passenger side wing mirrors. This makes it possible for all shapes and sizes of driver to obtain the best view from their seating position.

In older cars, you adjusted your wing mirrors manually. You would have to lean out of your car to depress either side, top or bottom with your hands until you achieved the desired line of vision.

Mirror glass electric heater

The electric heating element in your wing mirror is designed to clear the glass of snow, water or dew on a morning, allowing a crystal clear view as your car gets underway.

Electrochromic dimming

You may not even know you’ve got this handy feature, as it will operate pretty much undetected. Electrochromic dimming changes the reflective properties of your wing mirrors to reduce glare from the headlights of the cars behind you. Clever, huh?

Wing mirror damage

Most wing mirrors are designed to snap back into place if they hit something at low speeds. It depends on how fast you’re travelling and how hard you hit your mirror against the offending article. These are the most likely candidates to dictate how much damage you suffer.

Sometimes you’ll receive cover damage—with a few scrapes or a crack. Other times perhaps only the car mirror glass gets smashed. The least lucky will find the full mechanical component hanging off the car door by its wires.

Sadly, it’s also a common case to leave your car parked and come back to find your wing mirrors damaged. They’re the most likely things to get hit by passing traffic or bad parking offenders.

Losing your car wing mirror glass

It doesn’t happen very often, but if your car wing mirror glass hasn’t been pushed into place properly, they can pop out again if you hit a speed bump, kerb or a pothole at speed.

The vibration or shock can be enough to jolt the backing plate or insufficiently adhered glass out of its holder. So when you fit a replacement, check it’s firmly seated in place.

Fitting a new wing mirror mechanism

Given the amount of electrical componentry inside a modern wing mirror, this can be a complicated job that’s often best left to an expert.

If you’re a pretty handy home mechanic, however, and have the manual or a good YouTube video to guide you, it’s not out of the way to buy and replace one yourself.

Car mirror glass replacement

Replacing your car wing mirror glass is an effortless and straightforward procedure.

Stick on wing mirror glass

  1. Find the correct replacement mirror glass for your vehicle. Make sure to buy the correct option for the driver or passenger side mirror.
  2. If the cracks on your wing mirror aren’t too severe, clear off excess glass splinters (carefully) to obtain as smooth a surface as possible to stick the replacement to.
  3. If the wing mirror is very badly damaged, (again, carefully) remove as much of the glass as possible from the backing plate. A clever trick is to use a hairdryer to heat the adhesive behind the glass. If the adhesive is softer, you should find it easier to remove any stubborn shards.
  4. Using the sucker provided with the replacement mirror glass, hold the mirror and peel off the adhesive backing sheet. Place the glass on top of the damaged glass or backing plate. Once stuck in place, make sure you have a good contact by firmly rubbing the new glass with a cloth (or wearing gloves) to ensure the best possible adhesion.

That’s it. Easy, right?

Fitting a new backing plate and glass

  1. Protecting the wing mirror cover with a cloth, insert a screwdriver or lever behind the wing mirror glass. Make sure to get it behind the backing plate and not just between it and the glass.
  2. Lever it out—it should pop out pretty easily.
  3. There will be a couple of electrical connectors that are responsible for the heating element in your mirror. Slide the wires off, making sure to remember, or label, which one goes on which connector.
  4. Slide the wires onto the new backing plate and securely pop it into the fixing points.

Give the glass a polish, check the alignment, and you’re good to go.

The cost of replacing wing mirrors and car wing mirror glass

Replacement wing mirror glass

If you can get away with a simple glass replacement, and fitting it yourself, basic wing mirror glass shouldn’t cost you much more than £10. For example, if you shop savvy, you can buy a 2009 Vauxhall Astra wing mirror glass for as little as £6.99.

If the glass is designed and shaped to incorporate blind spot coverage, then you’ll pay a little more; possibly around £20 to £25.

Wing mirror backing plates

A backing plate can cost as little as around £10 too. You shouldn’t expect to pay more than £15 to £20 for a typical family car.

Wing mirror replacement

Having a new wing mirror mechanism fitted can cost you anywhere from £150 to £500. As always, it depends on the car you drive. You wouldn’t expect them to cost the same if you drive a Ford Ka or a Mercedes S-Class.

Your wing mirrors and the law

If you choose to ignore a damaged wing mirror or tape it back in place with the broken glass still in place, you could be heading for a fine.

Driving with a cracked wing mirror is a safety risk and against the law. On top of that, it will fail an MOT.

Given how little replacement glass costs, it’s better to take care of it straight away and avoid any of unnecessary headaches.