10 Sep 2006
A few weeks ago the manual driver’s sideview mirror on my 1993 Honda Civic stopped working correctly and I ordered a replacement from an online store. As expected, when the mirror arrived it didn’t come with installation instructions and I couldn’t find any with a ten minute Google search so I winged it. Near the end I snapped some pictures and thought I’d stick them on the website to help others. This isn’t a super step-by-step set of instructions but I’ll bet it helps a bit. Please be sure to scroll down and read the comments section, as a reader named Bart took the time to write in with some additional tips which may speed your repair (and preclude some of my former advice). I have amended this post to reflect Bart’s suggestions, thanks Bart!
The good news is that the only thing holding the sideview mirror to the car are three bolts. Take a look at the metal stalk that you use to aim the mirror. See that black plastic triangle that it’s poking out of? That’s the piece we need to remove to access those three bolts. To do so we must move the interior door panel away from the metal structure of the door.
Let’s go ahead and remove the crank handle for the window. If you’re lucky enough to have power windows there are a few steps that are different from my situation and unfortunately I don’t know what they are. (If you have one of those and know the steps please post the instructions in a comment to this article.)
Here’s a photo of the removed handle and the crank post on which it fits.
The handle is held on with a keystone shaped retainer clip that I’ve seen referred to elsewhere as a kotter pin, though it doesn’t seem to be a true kotter pin. To remove this retainer clip you’ll need a hook tool which can be easily made from a wire coat hanger. Look at the photograph below for the shape into which you should bend your wire. The retainer clip you need to remove is slipped around a circular sheath built into the plastic handle, a sheath with cutouts along two sides that allow the clip to ‘pop’ into place, riding in a channel encircling the metal crank post. It’s very simple engineering and very simple to remove once you find the ‘fat’ end of the retainer clip. Note that there are two plastic ‘nibs’ on either side of the circular sheath built into the plastic handle, so the ‘fat’ end of the retainer clip could be slipped on from either of two sides. Once you find the ‘fat’ end of the retaining clip just slip your hook tool around the ‘fat’ end of the retaining clip and gently pull. Note that the retaining clip will want to ‘spring’ off the sheath on which it fits so you might want to cup your free hand around the area so that you don’t lose the clip (something I almost did).
With the retaining clip removed the plastic handle will easily slip off the metal crank post. Set it and the retaining clip in a safe area.
Now it’s time to finish loosening the door panel. With the door open, look beneath the mirror control stalk and you’ll see a plastic screw. Remove it and place it in your ‘safe’ parts holding area. Note that the black plastic triangle is already removed in my pictures, in your process it will still be in place.
With that screw removed the door panel should be a little floppier, but you probably need to pop one more retaining clip which is hidden from view farther down the door panel. Just slip your fingers in place behind the door panel where you removed that plastic screw and start working your way down, gently tugging at the door panel until you feel it ‘pop’ out at you a bit.
Move back to the top of the door panel now and see if you can lift it up and away from the structure of the door. It doesn’t need to move away a lot. Just a bit.
Time to replace the mirror!
Turn your attention back to the black plastic triangle where the mirror control stalk (mirror adjusting rod) is located, prying at it gently until the one and only retaining clip pops loose. Work it gently, ever so gently, away and out of place. You’ll need to manipulate the plastic element, the control stalk of the old mirror and the loosened door panel in unison to remove the black plastic triangle. A reader (Bart) suggests making this part of the repair easier by removing the plastic handle/knob of the control stalk. To do this, simply pop off the plastic end cap of that plastic handle/knob (make every attempt to catch the end cap so that it doesn’t go zinging off into oblivion) and loosen the concealed screw revealed beneath. Once done, move the plastic triangle to your safe parts storage area (also do this with the control stalk knob if you have removed it).
Ta Da! You can now see the three retaining bolts for the mirror. No, I have no idea what size socket I used because I didn’t think about writing an article until after I was nearly finished (thanks to reader Bart for letting us know that it’s an 8mm socket!!). Suffice to say that it’s small. I don’t expect you’ll be doing this unless you have some tools anyway, so I trust that you’ll figure it out. Feel free to post the bolt size in a comment if you’d like.
As you remove each bolt be careful to keep one finger on it to prevent it from falling down into the door panel. Carefully set each bolt aside in your safe parts storage area and be sure to keep the mirror from falling to the ground as you remove the last and final bolt. It might help if you tape the mirror to the car as a ‘helping hand’ in case you think you might not be able to keep from dropping the mirror.
With the third and final screw removed you can gently pull the old mirror free from the door frame and set it aside, preferably on the ground instead of the hood of your car since it can easily slip off.
Note that the OEM mirror has a gasket surrounding the three bolts to keep water from penetrating your door through the mirror. My new mirror did not have this gasket so I applied a bead of RTV silicon rubber around the same area on the new mirror. We’ll see how well that works.
Reassembly is simply the reverse of what we’ve already done. It took me less than an hour to make the swap and I’ll bet that it takes you half the time now that you know what you have to do!
I made the mistake of buying an aftermarket replacement for my broken mirror and didn’t take the car out for a drive until six weeks later, whereupon I discovered that it was an inferior product. Once on the road I was dismayed to observe that there was a maddening vibration to the mirror element even though the mirror housing itself was rock steady. Worse than that, the mirror would not remain in position after adjustment.
I had no other choice than to buy a genuine Honda replacement part, at approximately four times the cost of the third-party replacement. It was worth the added expense.
Placed side by side you can see the difference in the quality of the manufacture of both parts. Also, the Honda part comes with a pre-attached gasket to seal the openings in the door frame that allow the mirror to be attached. I used RTV in the openings where the bolts run through for good measure but that was probably unnecessary.
I will say that it went a lot faster the second time around!
If you are reading this article in anticipation of performing this repair, I strongly urge you to spend the extra money on OEM parts because you will undoubtedly be very disappointed if you do not. I also recommend that you use a good search engine to look for “genuine Honda parts”. I found a dealer in Indiana or Illinois who would have sold me the exact same Honda part for $50 less than I paid at my local dealer, Willett Honda of Morrow, Georgia. If I had arrived earlier in the day when a manager was on duty I might have been given some sort of discount, but I was pressed for time.
More than anything, I hope that this information helps other Civic owners out there! (Which it apparently has already done since the article was first published)