How Does the Side Mirror Control Switch Work?

Older vehicles and cars with base trim levels may have manual mirror adjustment. The most basic method is adjusting the mirror glass directly on the mirror assembly, or it can be adjusted by a manual cable toggle control. While manual mirrors are not totally extinct, they are becoming extremely uncommon.

Virtually all new vehicles are equipped with power mirror adjustment. The workings of a power mirror system include:

  • Side mirror power adjustment motors
  • Electrical connectors
  • Mirror switch with directional control
  • Fused power mirror circuit

If any one part of the system is faulty, the whole system won’t work.

How does the mirror control switch work?

Only the side mirrors are controlled by the power mirror switch. The inside rearview mirror is manual adjustment. The power mirror switch has three positions: left, off, and right. When the switch is in the center position, neither mirror will be adjusted if the button is pressed. This is to ensure that the mirrors don’t move if the directional control button is accidentally hit.

The directional control button has four directions that the mirror motor can move: up, down, right, and left. If the switch is moved to either the left or right side, that side mirror motor circuit is powered at the switch. When you press the directional control button on the switch, the mirror motor inside the mirror housing will pivot the mirror glass to the selected direction. When you release the button, the mirror stops moving.

The mirror motor has a limited amount of travel that is allowed to prevent damage to the mirror glass. Once the travel limit is reached, the motor will continue to click and bind until the directional control button is released. Continuing to press the button when at its limit will cause the mirror motor to burn out eventually, and it will cease to operate until it is replaced.

Making sure your mirrors are adjusted for proper rear and side-view visibility is extremely important to safely operating your car. You need to be able to see the traffic beside and behind you to make informed decisions about your driving. Check your mirror adjustment every time you start your car to make sure they are positioned properly for you.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

How Long Does a Courtesy Light Bulb Switch Last?
The The courtesy light bulb switch controls the courtesy light. When you open and close the doors of the vehicle, the courtesy light comes on to allow you to see better. This is both convenient and much safer for you...
How to Replace a Horn Switch
Your car horn works through the horn button. A faulty button can be hazardous and usually should be replaced by a professional.
How to Replace a Cruise Control Vacuum Bleed Switch
Cruise control slows when the vacuum bleed switch activates. It fails if the cruise control deactivates automatically or will not hold the speed.

Related questions

How do you turn on the rear defogger and heated mirrors?
Your car is equipped with both a front and rear defogger. The front defogger is tied into your air conditioning system, but the one in the back is different (and uses a different control). If your car is also equipped...
How do I clean the rearview mirror?
The rearview mirror can be damaged easily, so glass cleaner should never be applied directly to it. Instead, you should wash the rearview mirror with a very soft towel that has been dampened with water.
neutral safety switch
In your application, the switch is in the passenger compartment. Of course, prior to replacing it, be sure it is really faulty. There is a test protocol in the Factory Service Manual and you can request that those steps be...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com