From Experience – How NOT To Install A Rear View Mirror!

As you would assume, this story comes from experience. What a horrible experience this was! In fact, the experience was such a pain that I decided to share it with you. Hoping someone, even one person, might be able to learn from my mistake – saving you the trouble that I went through.

You see about two weeks ago I got into my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a hot summer day. I went to adjust the rear view mirror and it fell down! After cursing (just a bit), I disconnected the plug in the back of the mirror for the auto dimming function.

After all, I didn’t want the mirror just dangling there, possibly damaging or breaking the wires. I made a trip to my local auto parts store. For me the closest is O’Reilly Auto Parts. I bought a rear view mirror glue kit and headed home (note – the guy in front of me at the check out was complaining that the cheapest brake pads they had were still $19.99…which was way too expensive….).

Upon coming home, I am feeling confident. This will be a piece of cake right? Yeah….right. The old glue from the metal mirror button (I will refer to this as the button going forward) was still on the inside of the windshield. Before cleaning that off, I took a Sharpie and on the outside of the glass colored where the glue was on the inside of the glass. This showed me from the inside where to re-glue the button.

I removed the metal button from the actual mirror and used a knife blade to scrape off excess glue. Then using Goof Off I removed the remaining glue. I used Goof Off and glass cleaner to clean the inside of the windshield. GREAT! Now we are ready to re-glue and be on our way.

At this point I received a phone call. Being the multitasker that I am, I stuck my bluetooth (no, I don’t talk on it in the department stores) head set in my ear and went to work. First applying the glue to the button, I waited 60 seconds and then went to apply the button to the windshield. I held the button on the windshield for another 60 seconds. At this point I sit back to make sure I have placed the button in the correct spot. Huzzah! I got it in the right spot the first time. Terrific! Now I let the glue dry and in the morning I will re-hang the mirror.

In the morning I come out to stick the mirror on the button. I grab the mirror, a screw driver and the screw and go to slide the mirror on the button. Problem is, it’s not working – it just keeps sliding off the button. What the heck is going on? Now, remember how I was on the phone? Well yeah – I installed the button upside down. No, not the easy upside down – like wrong side facing up. I placed it with the tapered edge facing up! Crap! Well I have a meeting to get to, so no time for this stuff.

That evening I went back to O’Reilly Auto Parts and bought another glue kit. The same guy checked me out and definitely gave me a look of “how did you screw this up.” Regardless, I went home and started in on trying to remove the button.

Remember, the tapered side is facing up so I have nothing to grip. I don’t want to crack my windshield (cause that’s no fun). I start by putting some Goof Off around the edges of the button trying to let it soak into the sides. Then I use a knife trying to get under the button – that clearly wasn’t going to work. Then I tried the same routine with Lacquer thinner – and clearly that wasn’t going to work either. At this point I am frustrated and pretty ticked. So what do I do?

I turn to Twitter and Facebook! I posted my issue and the responses started flowing in. Let me tell you, the sledgehammer idea was killed quick. So was the hammer idea and the golf club. Then came the heat idea….this intrigued me.

I grabbed my girlfriend’s hair dryer and heated both the area on the inside of the windshield where the button was, and the outside. I then again tried to pry off the button. No luck. My patience is wearing thin. Maybe I should just take it to a windshield replacement shop tomorrow?No forget that, I don’t have the time and I don’t want them to look at me like I am stupid (quit making that face!).

I then grab my little torch and went to work. I avoided the glass at all costs, as this is much hotter then a blow dryer. I sat on the spot with the torch….just sat there…..and finally the torch ran out of fluid. The button was ridiculously hot, too hot to touch. I hadn’t cracked the glass.

I took the knife and tried getting under the edge to pry it off. No luck. Now I’m done for. I’m out of fluid in the torch. I decided to try and get the torch going one last time! I got it to go for a little longer. I held it in the same spot. It finally died. I went at it with the knife one more time and it went flying off. I quickly went to find it as it was hot enough to burn something.

I let the button and the windshield cool down. I got lucky! The windshield didn’t crack. I cleaned everything the same way I did the night before and re-glued the button. This time I was NOT on the phone. I gave my full attention to gluing the button and guess what, I did it right!

The next morning I put the mirror back up and was good to go. All of this experience was chronicled on Twitter and Facebook. Many friends and followers got involved and were mostly helpful. What was the lesson here? Pay attention when doing a simple task. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

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6 Responses to “From Experience – How NOT To Install A Rear View Mirror!”

  1. Jesse #

    Another tip from a former mechanic: take a Sharpie and trace the glue residue on the exterior of the window. You know right where to put the button on the re-install then.

    09/13/2010 at 3:31 pm Reply
    • You know I did that step, I even wrote about it 😉

      09/13/2010 at 3:32 pm Reply
  2. timmy t-rex #

    you are such a great story teller. I am LMAO off, you should write a book about nothing… just random thoughts it would bring you good fortune.

    09/16/2010 at 1:23 pm Reply
  3. James Shuman #

    How can i remove the metal piece that is stuck to the base of the mirror with the adhesive? what it looks like is the previous owner re-glued the mirror and the metal piece while gluing it to the windshield (metal piece, mirror together glued to the windshied)

    06/25/2013 at 3:24 pm Reply
    • James, I’m not sure you can. You might have to buy a whole new mirror. You also might try finding a used mirror. That will likely be cheaper than a new one.

      06/28/2013 at 10:37 pm Reply
  4. Ben W. #

    the key to regluing a rear-view mirror is to,1.use a good quality two-part adhesive(like versachem) remove all the old adhesive from the button and windshield with a blade(dont bother with solvent,as it might inhibit bonding)3.clean the spot with 91% alcohol or glass cleaner, apply the adhesive only when the temp is 75 degrees or above(but in a shady place)and finally to attach only the button or base of the mirror as the adhesive is setting and to not attempt to expedite the curing process.Put it on there for the prescribed length of time and dont touch it until the mirror is ready to attach.And,of course,as others often mention,start by using a sharpie or dry erase marker on the outside of the windshield to mark where the button goes.Many people attempt to mark from the inside,forgetting that the spot will have to be cleaned.Quite amazing that these things stay on from the factory so long.I had a vehicle for twenty years before the mirror finally came off while i was at work.

    01/13/2014 at 4:10 pm Reply

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