If it were up to most people, side mirrors would never get ripped off a vehicle pulling in or out of a garage, never get banged or damaged at the drive thru, never get whacked by a passing car when parked on the side of the road, etc. But here we are - your vehicle needs a side mirror, and you're wondering "How easy is it to replace the mirror myself?"
The short answer: Not too bad. You'll need some basic tools, some time, and a little patience. Here's how you go about it.
First, Don't Ignore A Damaged or Missing Side Mirror
If your vehicle has a damaged or missing side mirror, you might be tempted to put off replacement. We don't recommend that - it's a good way to get a ticket (let alone get into an accident).
The ticket risk is due to the fact that, in most states, it’s illegal to drive a car without a side mirror. Doing so can earn you a "defective vehicle" or "mechanical malfunction" ticket, which is always a fine and often comes with a requirement to fix your vehicle and get it inspected.
The accident risk is due to the simple fact that mirrors help us avoid accidents while changing lanes and merging.
So, it’s smart to get a broken or missing side mirror fixed right away.
Tools and Parts You'll Need
First, you're going to need a replacement side mirror. Then, you're going to need some tools:
- A socket set
- A screwdriver (handheld is probably best)
- A trim pin remover
As for parts, you have some options:
- If your side mirror housing is intact, and it's only the mirror itself that's missing or broken, you may be able to buy and install a replacement piece of glass (only this is less and less common on newer cars)
- If the housing is not intact, but the attachment point isn't significantly damaged, a whole new unit must be ordered
- If the housing and the attachment point are damaged or obliterated, you might need to visit a body shop. If the door is damaged, that's a good sign this is a body shop problem. However, this is relatively rare.
The mirror housing for this F-150 is available both as an entire unit, and also as separate parts (including replacement mirror glass).
Basic Steps to Replacing Your Side Mirror
The steps may vary slightly between models, but here’s the general process:
- Open the door, take off the trim cover if needed, and then use a socket to remove any fasteners you may find in the door panel.
- Remove the trim pins across the bottom of the door panel with the trim pin remover.
- Disconnect the wiring harness from the lock and window switches (if there are any).
- Remove the door panel.
- If you don’t see the mirror mounting studs, pop the trim out of the door where the mirror is.
- Use the pocket screwdriver to disconnect the wiring harness (if there is one).
- Use a socket to remove the mirror mounting studs.
- Gently pull the side mirror off the door.
- Install the new side mirror by reversing the process listed above.
- Test the new side mirror to see if it's working properly.
That’s all! The hardest part of the whole process is finding the hidden fasteners. Be careful not to scratch or nick the trim or door panel with the pocket screwdriver or the trim pin remover.
Tips and Tricks
Finally, here are three tips and tricks for anyone that needs to replace a side mirror.
- Buy it online. Dealerships will sell replacement mirrors over the counter for 20-30% more than we do here online.
- YouTube it. YouTube has a video for nearly every replacement, but mirror replacements are so common that finding a video should be easy.
- Don't file a claim if you can fix it yourself. Depending on how much your mirror costs and your insurance deductible, it might be cheaper to pay out of pocket for a mirror and fix it yourself. Just remember that, when you file a claim, your insurer will probably 'ding' you later and increase your rates.