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What are the wing mirrors/what do they do?

There are areas of the road, behind the car and to the sides, which are crucial to be able to see, in order to drive safely, which are out of the driver's peripheral vision. The wing mirrors on a car are exterior mirrors which allow the driver to see these 'blind spots' enabling clear vision of any traffic nearby and any potential hazards, and as such are an important visual aid and safety feature. 

Wing mirrors are usually mounted in the door pillar on the driver side door and front passenger side door. Wings mirrors can be operated either electrically or manually. 

Getting into the details of wing mirrors

An important component of a wing mirror is the wing mirror glass, which is housed in a casing which holds the wing mirror glass in place. Wing mirror glass comes in a variety of options, such as plain glass, convex or tinted glass. The wing mirror glass should be clean and free from scratches, chips and cracks, to enable clear, safe vision. The wing mirror glass is usually fixed to a backing plate or stuck to the mirror casing with strong adhesive pads or glue. Wing mirrors, and therefore wing mirror glass, come in different shapes and sizes, dependent on the make and model of car, so it's important to ensure the wing mirror glass is the right shape and size and will fit the wing mirror properly, when replacing the wing mirror glass.

Electric wing mirrors can be operated electronically to move vertically, horizontally and diagonally from inside the car by an electric window control switch. They can be adjusted to suit the height, line of sight and seat position of the driver. An option on some electric windows is a memory feature which remembers the individual wing mirror settings for each driver of the car and can be programmed to recall them. Some electric wing mirrors also heat the glass on the mirror to aid visibility, stopping the mirror from icing in freezing conditions or clouding up in heavy rain. There is also an automatic dimming feature available on some electric models which reduces the glare in the wing mirror from cars traveling behind. An optional indicator light is a feature on some electric wing mirrors, built into the wing mirror casing. Wing mirrors also come with a security or puddle light, which is activated when the car door is opened to shine a downward beam of light to assist when entering or leaving the vehicle in the dark. Manual wing mirrors can be adjusted by hand to move vertically, horizontally and diagonally and can also be adjusted to suit the height, line of sight and seat position of the driver.  Some manual wing mirrors can be adjusted with a remote mechanism, instead of being only hand operated. Both electric and manual wing mirrors can be folded in close to the car to avoid damage when parked. 

What if something goes wrong with the wing mirrors?

Electric wing mirrors can be subject to problems, such as failure in the motor or the electric wing mirror control switch. Problems can also occur if water seeps into the electric wing mirror. Broken, smashed and chipped wing mirror glass will, of course, need replacing.  Wing mirrors often need replacing due to damage received in an accident. Over a period of general use wing mirrors, both electric and manual, will suffer from general wear and need replacing with a wing mirror that is compatible with the model and make of car.