How to replace car side mirror (glass only)

Before following the advice of the article below be aware that:

  • It will be less work for you if you find a complete mirror at a car scrap / salvage yard.
  • Mirror that I have received was front-surface reflecting, meaning that the reflecting surface is on top of the mirror. That will make the mirror be prone to scratches.
  • It may take several tries to order the correct size and shape of your mirror
  • You must specify the side of the mirror (driver or passenger)


If you are not lucky that your mirror can be bought whole from a junk yard, then it may be too expensive to buy the whole mirror assembly (plastic and all). I had an Audi, so "cheap" was not an option.

Update: I saw several VW cars with the same problem. So, this problem with peeling layer is not only on Audi.

You can, however, buy just the glass mirror part and swap it yourself. This page will show you how to do it.

Warning: this will take about 2 hours, and your car will not be driveable for about 24 hours.

I bought this mirror from Origin Auto Glass. When buying from this site or any other, make ABSOLUTELY SURE that the picture matches your original mirror. Don't go from memory - go outside, take a picture of your original mirror, and compare it on your computer to the picture provided on the seller's site. There's also a direct seller of these mirrors - Burco and others.

Warning: you need to make absolutely sure that the mirror you will receive will match your car. The first one that I received did not match my car. Be especially careful if the online picture does not match your mirror, but seller claims that you will receive the correct mirror anyways.

Before picture:

AFTER you have received the correct mirror, you can start taking yours off.

Wear cotton gloves so that you do not cut yourself. Warning: this is a very gentle and time consuming part. Do not try to use force when taking the old mirror off. DO NOT try to pull on the mirror. DO NOT push on the mirror. You will most likely break something. DO NOT try to push a screwdriver between the mirror and the backing. Your car might be equipped with a heating element for the side mirror. If you push or wedge a screwdriver you will nick or cut it. You can see I have barely avoided doing that on the picture below (nicks on the upper left corner).

Use a putty knife instead, and SLOWLY push it in, and pull on the mirror. The only way to remove the mirror from the adhesive is to slowly and persistently pull at it with the putty knife bent away from the backing plate. Wear gloves and safety glasses because mirror will snap and send chips flying.

On this picture you see a) the heating element strips, b) the brown adhesive, and c) the remaining part of the mirror.

After the remaining piece of mirror was removed:

Do not follow stupid advice online and try to use a thinner to remove this adhesive. You are more likely to stain or damage the plastic or body paint in the process. Instead, use a hair dryer, and gently pull on the adhesive with the putty knife while applying the heat. This must be a slow and gentle process. When all adhesive has been pulled off, clean the backing plate with rubbing alcohol.

Another online stupidity: every says to use an "urethane CAULK" but noone tells you where to buy it and under what name. I have decided to use the commonly available Liquid Nails Mirror adhesive. It claims to not damage the silver backing.

Apply the adhesive in thin strips, and then spread with the putty knife until the mirror is evenly coated with a thin layer of the adhesive. Quickly press it against the backing plate, and insert spacing to keep the mirror evenly spaced from the plastic housing. Then tightly secure it in place with a block that will not scratch the mirror, and tape it over to the plastic hosing. Observe this picture for proper support.

Leave it alone for 24 hours.

"After" picture. Note the blind spot mirror applied. Another thing you should not listen to is instructions telling you to stick that mirror on the side of the mirror close to the car. I always apply the blind spot mirror on the upper left corner of the mirror. Don't buy the Wal-Mart mirror. They are cheap and stupid poorly made pieces of crap.

˅˅˅ Additional valuable information is available at one of the links below: ˅˅˅


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Page last modified 12-Apr-12 21:06:43 EDT
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