Your mirrors are definitely more fragile that your windows, windshield, or rear glass. They’re thin, and the two side view mirrors are exposed to threats on a daily basis ranging from shopping carts in the parking lot to other cars. What happens if one is cracked? Do you have to replace the entire thing?
First, if the glass is just cracked and isn’t broken, you don’t need to do anything (legally speaking). However, it does obstruct your view and constitutes a safety hazard.
Second, you can replace just the glass portion on most side view mirrors, rather than the entire housing. Even powered mirrors can have just the glass replaced in most instances, although you’ll probably want to let an experienced mechanic handle it.
However, if the housing itself has been damaged, you’ll need to replace it entirely for safety purposes. Replacement side view mirrors and housings aren’t that expensive, but they can be difficult to replace if you have no experience in this area.
Stay safe and get it replaced
Legally, as long as you have two mirrors that provide an unobstructed view of the rear, you don’t have to replace the mirror or the housing. That’s risky, though. As mentioned, a cracked mirror is already a safety hazard and it will only take a little jolt for the entire thing to shatter. Then you’ll be without a mirror completely.
When everything’s said and done, it’s best to stay on the safe side. Side view and rearview mirrors might not seem like much, but they’re integral to your safety on the road and provide you with a more accurate view of other cars behind and to the side of you.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Do I Need to Entirely Replace a Cracked Mirror? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.