How to temporarily re-attach a car's side mirror?
August 30, 2009 11:01 PM   Subscribe

I smashed my car's passenger side mirror against some scaffolding leading into my garage tonight. The mirror and plastic casing are still intact, but now dangling from a wire still attached to the car. I have to drive somewhere early tomorrow morning. What should I do until I can get to a garage? Duct tape it back in place? Will that damage my car's paint? Should I cut the wire and remove the mirror? TIA...
posted by Majorita to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
Best answer: Cut no wires. Really.

Use duct tape. It won't pull off paint but it could leave some gum behind.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:21 PM on August 30, 2009

Best answer: Practicality first aesthetic fourth (to illustrate a point). Who cares if you damage your paint, those mirrors are there for a freakin reason. Duct tape, super glue and rubber bands are all viable options to keep you from turning into a Mac truck. Drive safe.
posted by pwally at 11:23 PM on August 30, 2009

Best answer: Yep, the answer is duct tape. Due to a similar incident, I've got my side mirror attached by that method at this very moment. It's not sexy, but it will do the trick. Especially if the weather is hot, the tape won't stick indefinitely, so keep it in the car in case of necessary touch ups.
posted by mostlymartha at 11:25 PM on August 30, 2009

Best answer: What dunkadunc said. Removing the mirror may violate roadworthy laws, depending on where you are. Duct tape is your best bet. I'd use Eucalyptus oil to remove the gum later on.
posted by Duke999R at 11:26 PM on August 30, 2009

haha, i feel your pain. i've lost two passenger side mirrors on my current car. what type of car is it? are you handy with hand tools?

usually, there's a small triangular interior trim piece on the inside of the car directly where the mirror is. you can pry that off, carefully so you don't break the plastic clips, and then there will likely be some bolts to unscrew the mirror. from there, i'm willing to bet there's a wiring harness connector that you can simply unplug (the plug will be on the exterior side).. and then the mirror's free.

however.. if this one is anything like mine, the mirror is probably beyond repair and will need replacement. i say this because even a slight forward or backward force will usually be enough to crack off the plastic screw threads on the inside of the housing.

either way, once you remove the mirror, you can tape off the hanging end of the harness and tape over any hole in the door and get it fixed when you can.
posted by ninjew at 12:03 AM on August 31, 2009

Best answer: Duct tape will work fine though will leave a residue when you remove it that can be easily removed with WD-40.

Legalwise your passenger side mirror is not required in Canada or the US as long as you have a functional rear view mirror.
posted by Mitheral at 12:10 AM on August 31, 2009

Thick rubberbands work pretty well.
posted by idiotfactory at 2:30 AM on August 31, 2009

Packing tape works better than duct tape for things like this. Stays on much better if it gets wet. However, it will deteriorate and break after a few weeks to a few months.
posted by dilettante at 3:22 AM on August 31, 2009

This EXACT thing happened to me two weeks ago, and I secured the whole thing together - wires, mirror and all - with two very fat and deluxe hair elastics. Used nothing sticky. It worked a treat for me.
posted by lottie at 3:41 AM on August 31, 2009

Better than tape:
Zip ties. Go to Lowes or Home Depot and get a handfull of really beefy ones and zip tie the whole thing back together.
I would avoid cutting any wires, also. Like ninjew said, there's a little panel that can pop out to reveal the mounting hardware for the mirror. However, the harness connector is usually located behind the larger door panel. Most mirrors I've replaced, I've had to either take the door apart to free up the wiring or pry the interior door trim open to fish the harness out.
posted by Jon-o at 3:54 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've been there before and used packing tape, as dilettante suggests.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:01 AM on August 31, 2009

Best answer: use duct tape, make especially sure there are no air gaps in the front where the wind can get in and tear it off. Keep it out of direct sunlight when parked because the heat is what will make the duct tape leave the most residue. This is one of the many reasons I ALWAYS keep a roll of duct tape in my trunk you never know when your muffler is going to give way, your power windows will stop working in a rain storm or minor accident will force your trunk latch to stop working.
posted by any major dude at 6:04 AM on August 31, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Duct tape was all I had and I needed to be on the road first thing the next morning. So far, it's working like a charm.

And extra thanks to mostly martha and any major dude -- I'm now keeping a roll in my trunk in case of emergencies.
posted by Majorita at 9:27 PM on September 1, 2009

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