How to Fix a Rearview Mirror: An In-depth Guide and More

Every aspect of your car is designed to keep you safe while on the road. Of course, this includes the rearview mirror. Even though we take it for granted, this hanging glass plays an important part. While you can glance at the wing mirrors or turn your head to look behind, that’s not always the case, and it can be more dangerous than it seems. The rearview mirror provides the necessary visibility you would need to stay safe on the road.

While you might be annoyed at first with your mirror falling off, this piece of glass is one of the easiest to fix. All you need is a sturdy windshield – which I hope you have – and the best glue there is. After that, the steps are pretty simple.

How to Fix a Rearview Mirror

Unless your rearview mirror is nailed to the roof, chances are, it will fall off sooner or later. That’s because most use some form of adhesive to stay in place. The adhesive degrades with time, and although they typically last around 2 years, an increase in temperature is all it would take to shorten its lifespan. Not to worry, though! All you need to fix it is a window cleaner, microfiber cloth, hairdryer, razor, and replacement mirror or kit – of course, you will also need strong glue.

Step 1: Remove the Old Mirror

When removing a rearview mirror, I like to mark its location with masking tape. This is entirely optional, but I still recommend going through with it. Once you know where the replacement mirror should go, it’s time to get rid of the old one. Remove the wiring harness if it has one. If it doesn’t, look for a screw or a clip to slide off. Next, we will need to grab a hairdryer to soften the mounting bracket. You can heat the exterior of the windshield, although I recommend a second pair of hands. Just be careful because too much heat will crack the glass, and you will need to find a replacement. After that, all you have to do is use your razor or a thin wire to make removing the bracket a bit easier.

Step 2: Clean the Area

This is the most crucial step of the whole process. If even a smidge of dirt or glue is left, the replacement mirror won’t stick properly. Grab your glass cleaner or a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and go over the whole area. Next is your razor blade – be careful not to scratch the windshield, and remove the old adhesive. After that, use your microfiber cloth, or paper towels, to wipe the area squeaky clean. Let it rest for a while, and it’s time for the new rearview mirror.

Step 3: Install the Replacement Mirror

From here, you should follow the instructions of the reattachment kit. Each kit is slightly different from the next, but to generalize, apply an activator to the windshield and metal bracket if your kit came with one, and wait a few minutes for it to dry. Next, apply the adhesive to the mounting hardware but not the windshield itself, and this is where the tape comes in. Move the bracket in place, and wait for the glue to cure. Finally, attach your brand new rearview mirror, and enjoy a safe ride.

Step 4: Repeat the Process

Now that you have your replacement mirror installed, you can forget about it for a year or two, after which you will need to repeat everything we did here. You can’t buy a rearview mirror that lasts forever – at least not yet. However, you can learn what causes your glass to keep falling and maybe extend its lifespan.

Why Does My Rearview Mirror Keep Falling Off?

Rearview mirrors are feeble things; anything from extreme weather to increased stress can shorten their life. That’s why it’s vital to know when and where your glass is most likely to fall off. 

Reason 1: Temperature

Any extreme change in temperature, hot or cold, can weaken the adhesive holding it in place. No one likes the scorching heat of the summer and neither does your rearview mirror. When the sun falls directly on the windshield, the glue holding your mounting bracket in place will weaken, causing the glass to fall face first – same with the cold and even moisture.

Reason 2: Stress

You don’t have to worry about this if you only drive on nicely paved roads. However, if you live somewhere with many potholes or like to go off-roading, you should consider the strain that places on your rearview mirror. Every time you go over rugged terrain, the adhesive bond will degrade a bit faster. There is a way to minimize the damage with stress-relief primers, but those can get somewhat expensive compared to similar products.

Reason 3: Age

The last reason is the most simple. The passage of time is something no one and nothing is immune to – rearview mirrors are no exception. With age, the bonds holding the metal bracket in place degrade, and there isn’t anything you can do apart from trying to avoid the other two reasons and extend its life.

What Can I Do?

Apart from trying to avoid extreme temperatures and dirt roads, there is nothing to do. You can try and prevent additional stress with a primer, but that is not a permanent solution. To extend the life of your replacement mirror, you can be extra careful during installation, as any leftover dirt or adhesive can shorten its lifespan. When the time comes, the most valuable knowledge to have is the cost of a replacement.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Rearview Mirror?

This question is not so simple to answer. The cost varies depending on what type of mirror you have and what damage it has sustained. Even the windshield itself can affect the price, as more advanced glass, such as a heads-up display, can make the installation process a bit more challenging.

The first thing to consider is whether you need to glue the mirror back on or buy an entirely new one. If it has simply fallen off, then any super glue or gorilla glue should do the trick. If you are, however, buying an entirely new mirror, then your first choice should be whether you want an OEM or aftermarket product. Some rearview mirrors also have extra features, such as a built-in compass and even heating. Of course, these types are way more expensive, and the price can reach nearly a thousand dollars.

As for the standard mirrors, they range between ten and twenty dollars. Same with most remount kits, they come with a rearview mirror bracket and glue. Everything else you need, you already have, and if you don’t, a quick trip to the grocery store should fix that. At the end of the day, when compared to everything else in your car, repairing a rearview mirror is pretty easy and cheap. However, there is one final thing to consider: how to reattach the mirror.

What Can You Use to Put Your Rearview Mirror Back On?

There are a few ways to go about reattaching your rearview mirror without using glue. Each one of these has its charm and drawbacks, but at the end of the day, they still get the job done.

Suction Cups

Suction cups are a clean way to attach your replacement mirror, and you won’t have to deal with removing a metal bracket or any leftover adhesive. There is a reason why people still prefer super glue – suction cups are not as strong. Instead of replacing your mirror every 2 years, you will have to buy a new one every 2 months. 

Super Glue

This is the most common method and with good reason. Super Glue forms a strong bond between the objects, and it’s widely available. You can find it on Amazon or Walmart and under brand names like Gorilla Glue – this comes as no surprise given how effective the adhesive is.

Epoxy

By far, this is the best way to reattach a replacement mirror. Epoxy is more robust than its counterpart because it’s more reactive to other chemicals, such as hardening or curing agents. It will extend the life of your mirror a great deal; however, epoxy is not as available as Super Glue. If you want to get the quality stuff, you will need to spend ten times more than your typical Gorilla Glue bottle. Even then, you will be buying a gallon of epoxy resin, which only works when combined with a hardener. While this option is best by far, I would recommend it only to fellow DIY enthusiasts.

What Should I Use?

Every person is different. What if you want to get your mirror reattached and get on with your life? The best option is Super Glue. What if you don’t have the time? Then Suction Cups are the answer. If you want to get your hands dirty, epoxy will always be there. All of these options are great for different people, but as I always say, “it’s important to stay educated.” Suction cups are easy enough to understand, but how does adhesive like glue or epoxy work?

What Is a Rearview Mirror Glue and How Does It Work?

A rearview mirror glue is any adhesive that will hold a metal bracket onto a glass windshield. This includes your Gorilla Glues, 3Ms, and Permatex – most of which come in small bottles, anywhere from 0.02 fl oz to 1 fl oz. They tend to be strong as well as fast-curing – well, for the most part. Some of the more prominent brands, such as Permatex, are OEM-approved, so you certainly are getting your money’s worth.

How Does It All Work?

Products like Gorilla Glue are a form of acrylic resin. It forms strong bonds almost instantly and requires water to set. That doesn’t mean you should go spraying the inside of your car with a hose. Every object has tiny amounts of water on its surface that is more than enough for Super Glue to do its job. Thanks to those tiny droplets, the adhesive hardens and prevents the strands of mesh from moving around. However, if the glue doesn’t absorb enough water vapor, it won’t set, and the bonds will be weak.

This also means that you should take the warnings on the bottle seriously. Sadly, Gorilla Glue is not smart enough to tell the difference between your fingers and the windshield. Human skin is the perfect surface for the adhesive to grab onto, and it’s filled with cracks and crevices, not to mention a lot of water. That being said, as long as you don’t get it on your fingers, there are quite a few benefits.

Benefits of Rearview Mirror Glue

Here are several benefits of having great rearview mirror glue:

  • Lifespan – Unlike suction cups, even the cheapest Gorilla Glue will hold your mirror in place for quite some time. In this case, the longer, the better, as it’s critical for your safety. 
  • Availability – Everywhere you go, you can find affordable Super Glue. Whether you visit a local supermarket or order from Amazon, the rearview mirror adhesive is cost-effective in every way possible. This is in contrast to Epoxy, which is more robust but harder to find.
  • Easy of use – It’s not as easy as suction cups, but at least you don’t have to mix any chemicals to get it. Most products come with instructions, and even if they didn’t, there is always this article to fall back on.
  • Resistance – During the summer, your windshield is constantly blasted by UV rays when driving, especially when parked. This can cause the glass to heat up and shorten the life of your adhesive. However, high-end Super Glue products are resistant to that heat. On top of that, some are resistant to stress, while others maintain a strong bond even in humid conditions.

Should I Buy Super Glue?

For most people, glue is more than enough. Depending on where you live, you might want to consider a product with some resistance, but either way, you are getting the best of both worlds. Super Glue is more available than epoxy and works better than suction cups.

Windshield Replacement