Does a cracked mirror need to be completely replaced?
To determine if a cracked mirror needs to be completely replaced will depend on a few factors.
Let’s start with the interior mirror, or what is typically called the rear-view mirror. Generally this mirror is only replaceable as an entire new unit if the glass of mirror assembly itself is broken. If it is a manually adjustable type which you operate by flipping a small lever to correct the angle of the mirror reflection to reduce glare or if it has integrated auto dimming features with such accessories as a compass or temperature display, it will certainly need to be replaced as an entire assembly. If the rear view mirror becomes detached from the windshield, it can usually be reattached by using a special glue to rebond it to the windshield.
The exterior mirrors are susceptible to damage from impact from another object, usually another vehicle. A manually or even electrically operated (as far as the adjustment angles is concerned) mirror can be repaired if the mirror unit itself is intact and the actual mirror glass is the only part that is broken; the glass mirror can be removed carefully and a new mirror can be glued in place. This can repair the mirror assembly without requiring the removal of the unit from the vehicle.
Damaged exterior mirrors that are heated, have lane alert signals, or have auto dimming, are again generally replaced as an entire unit due to the complexity of the assembly. The construction and nature of the heating elements or the display which will show or alert the driver when a vehicle is in their blind spot is integrated into the mirror and is not serviceable separately.
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