Your rear view mirror does much more than help you back up.

How to Replace a Rear View Mirror

Your rear view mirror does much more than help you back up.
Your rear view mirror does much more than help you back up.

When you go to adjust your rear-view mirror as you are leaving work in your parallel-parked car, and it breaks off with the slightest pressure, it can be tremendously frustrating. In fact, your rear view mirror snapping off would be more than just inconvenient. Fortunately, the rear view mirror can be easily repaired if you set aside the time to take care of it. What does repairing your rear view mirror entail?

  • First of all, you want to pick up a rear view mirror adhesive kit from an auto parts store. The kit includes super-adhesive glue (not to be confused with superglue), an accelerant, and some basic instructions. You will also need a couple of tools, including a razorblade scraper, a small Allen key or screwdriver, for the screw on your mirror, a grease pencil or masking tape, isopropyl alcohol, if not included in the kit, possibly a tape measure, and a heat gun or hair dryer.
  • The second thing you want to do in the process of repairing your rear view mirror is getting your car outside and the windows open, as the fumes from the adhesive kit are something best not breathed in. Any old glue from the mirror’s last position should be scraped off, but first make sure to mark the spot, on the outside of the windshield, where it’s at for reattachment of the rear view mirror. (If you scrape it off before marking it, don’t despair, just measure halfway across the windshield and measure 3-4 inches down from the headliner, and mark it.) Make sure to scrape the glass before you heat it as it will be far more difficult to scrape off when it’s warm. Once you have scraped off the old glue, wipe the area down with isopropyl alcohol to clean it completely. Also, clean the back of the mirror plate so that both surfaces are ready for the next step.
  • Now that the glass is clean, the third step is to slightly warm the glass. The glue cures more rapidly when heated, and if it is a cold day, you will need to use a heat gun or hair dryer to warm the glass, but only slightly. Heating the glass too much can actually crack the windshield. When warming the glass up, do it gradually by moving the gun or dryer back and forth across the glass. You can also move your vehicle to face the sun and allow that to heat the glass up as well.
  • The fourth step involves the use of the accelerant. After cracking the inside wall of the vial, allowing the accelerant to flow freely without making a mess, apply the accelerant to your mark. Let the accelerant dry, about five minutes. Separate the mirror and baseplate. Attaching the baseplate by itself makes the job far easier than attaching the rear view mirror as a whole. Apply the accelerant to the baseplate, as well, and let it dry for five minutes. Do not touch either the base plate or the windshield, to avoid contamination. The two surfaces that the accelerant has been applied to are now ready for the adhesive glue.
  • In this fifth step, put one or two drops of glue around on the baseplate and then press it onto the glass. Keep pressure on the plate, against the glass, for at least two minutes. Then, let it cure for at least fifteen minutes. You can use the heat gun or hair dryer to help the process if it is colder outside. You can even let it dry overnight, if you don’t plan on using it, because letting it cure for as long as possible before attaching the mirror is best.

Once the glue is cured, you are ready to attach the mirror to the back plate. Carefully adjust your rear view mirror to match your driving position, and you are good to go! As you can see, if your rear view mirror breaks off, all is not lost. You have the ability to fix it and make your vehicle safe to drive once again.