Looking Behind

Scott Heiman — 3 September 2020
Side mirrors are integral to check the traffic around you and reversing. Here Scott Heiman shows you how to replace them yourself.

As overlanders we travel further and see more of Australia than most other Aussies — we probably spend more time looking in our rear-view mirror too. With our homes-away-from-home attached to our tow-hitch, reverse parking is a routine part of life for many of us. But even if we’re adept at it, sometimes mistakes can occur and accidents happen. 

Recently, we found ourselves reversing the rig into our carport, a task we’ve done hundreds of times before without incident. With rear-pointing cameras and reversing guide, it’s usually a pretty straightforward task. Regrettably, too much concentration on the guide and too little on the wing mirrors, meant that we neatly pruned a rosebush along our own driveway — with the passenger side-mirror. 

As we said, accidents can happen, even to James Bond …

The end state was a side-mirror snapped off at the mount, dangling down the side of the tow tug. It’s enough to make you want to cry. It would be easy to assume that fixing the problem would be the job of a professional. After all, the mirror is electronically operated, and the wires are hidden behind the door panel. It doesn’t look too straightforward. 

But, think again. It’s actually quite easy to replace a side-mirror, and it’s a lot cheaper if you do it yourself. 

While the specifics will depend on the make and model of your vehicle, our intent here is to give you a good understanding of the task. With a bit of additional research, and things going your way, you may be looking at a mere 15–20-minute fix and a saving of up to two–three hundred dollars. That could get you enough fuel to fuel to travel almost 1800km on your next holiday. So it’s worth giving it a shot.

The first thing to consider is whether you want to replace your mirror with a genuine part or with a reproduction. The price difference is around $110. At this point don’t forget your local wrecker and you could get a used genuine part for less again. Alternatively, this may be the time to upgrade to an extendable towing mirror assembly available on the market. After that, the job can be achieved with the following simple steps. At least, it was for a seventh generation 2005–2015 Toyota HiLux!


Remove the cover directly behind the mirror on the inside of the door. If you’re lucky, there may be enough slack in the electrical cable to disconnect it at this point. If so, you’ll be straight onto step 8 without needing to remove the interior door panel.


In our case the cabling didn’t have enough slack, so the door panel needed to be removed. So, remove the screw in the door handle recess.


Remove the electric window winder panel inlayed to the arm rest. A simple $2 putty spatula should do the trick, otherwise there are custom tools available at auto shops for around $15. Don’t use a metal spatula or you’ll risk scratching your panel or trim, and then you’ll really be kicking yourself. After this, disconnect the electrics, there will be a locking mechanism so don’t use brute force. Look for the latch.


Remove the screw in the handle recess of the arm rest.


Remove the button clip. Note: some push clips have a button in the centre to help you remove them. Simply push in the centre of the clip and it will come out without any force or the need for a customised door clip tool.


Grasp the lower forward corner of the interior door panel and pull. The first of the door clips should ‘pop’ open. Then gently open the door clips up the forward edge before returning to bottom of the panel and opening the other clips that come back around and up the opening of the door.


Now gently lift the door panel upwards as there’s a flange that recesses down the inside of the top of the door panel.


Here you’ll see the electrics that connect to the mirror. Detach the connection. Again there will be a latch.


In our case, there were three nuts connecting the mirror frame to the outer door panel. These were 10mm meaning that some care and a second set of hands was helpful to ensure we didn’t lose the nuts inside the door panel or drop the mirror where it would smash on the driveway.


Now it’s time to fit the new mirror. Simply remove it from the packaging and follow the steps above in reverse order. Then you’re done, except if….


The repro mirror you bought, like ours, doesn’t share the same connectors as the OME! The ‘08/‘09 variants of the HiLux were in a state of flux involving some minor adaptations in the electronics. We’ve found this previously in the main fuse assembly and we found it here with the electronics connection of the side mirrors in the door. This will happen from time to time. So, if you have the same trouble, check your wires carefully for the right number and the right coloured wiring. If they match, leaving plenty of slack, cut off the connector from both the original and the replacement parts. Then get hands on with the soldering iron, ensuring you cover all joins with a good dose of ‘lecky’ tape. Then refer to Step 10. 

Funnily enough you need most of these steps to replace the speakers in your Tow-Tugs doors, but we will leave that for another day.


Technical DIY Side mirrors Replacement how to


Scott Heiman