Need a car window or side-mirror replacement? Here’s what you should know.
Helpful tips on car window replacement, car window repair and side-mirror replacement.
For safety reasons, your car's windshield is made out of laminated glass, which cracks upon impact but remains intact. Not so for the windows in your doors. They’re made of tempered, heat-treated glass, which is designed to shatter into hundreds of tiny pieces when struck by a hard object. That way, it protects you and your passengers from major harm. Also vulnerable to damage are your protruding side-view mirrors, especially if they smack into a mailbox or narrow garage door opening.1
Protect your car from further damage
With a shattered side window, your car’s interior is a sitting duck for rain damage, and even worse, theft of any valuables left in the car. If you can’t get your car window repaired or replaced right away, it’s a good idea to cover the hole in your car window with a plastic garbage bag until you can drive to a repair shop. Here’s how to do that:
First, check with your local police department to see whether you can legally cover your broken window with plastic and still drive your car while you find a repair shop.
From inside the car, place the plastic garbage bag over the hole in your window and hold it tight to affix the bag to both sides of the window frame.
Put another layer of duct tape around the window frame for reinforcement.
Test the hold from outside the car by tapping on the plastic-covered window. If the plastic sags inward, you will need to re-do your window covering and ensure that the plastic bag is taut.
For an extra-strong hold, tape over the middle of the plastic bag until the entire window is covered by duct tape.
Make sure there are no gaps in the tape, otherwise moisture from rain or melting snow can leak into your car. 2
Wearing gloves and safety glasses, use a shop vacuum to aggressively clean up stray glass from the seats, doors, dash, carpet, and center console. Most likely, the car window repair shop you choose for the window replacement will also give it a thorough vacuuming.3
Side rear-view mirror damage (or watch out for that mailbox)
The importance of side-view mirrors to safe driving can’t be overstated, as they let you see cars behind and beside your vehicle, a real help in showing what’s in the “blind spot.” Side-view mirrors are usually mounted on your car’s driver-side and passenger-side doors or on fenders. Because they stick out, they’re easily damaged (or broken off) in collisions with other vehicles or fixed objects, like mailboxes.
Most states require you to have two mirrors that provide a view behind you. Your inside rear-view mirror counts as one. So technically, while it may be legal to drive without one of your side-view mirrors, it’s not particularly safe. In fact, don’t be surprised if a police officer pulls you over if he or she notices that your mirror is missing or damaged. Needless to say, you should repair or replace a damaged side-view mirror as quickly as possible.4
Tip: To check the mirror laws in your particular state, visit: http://ecomodder.com/wiki/index.php/Mirror_Laws_by_State_(U.S.)
Do-it-yourself (DIY) vs the repair shop
While replacing door glass or side-view mirrors by yourself is doable, it can be a somewhat daunting job to the novice DIYer. Both replacements require special tools and the removal of the door trim panel. Additionally, you’ll have to source and buy replacement window glass and/or a new mirror housing. To find out more about the steps involved, click here for car window replacement or here for side-mirror replacement.
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