Fixing floppy mirrors

July 1, 2016 | By Staff

Question:

The original equipment exterior mirror on my 1965 Impala has lost its grip. It flops around and won’t stay in adjustment when I am on the road. Do you or one of your readers know how to snug it up?

Answer:

Some restorers have had good luck spraying a little Loctite around the ball in the mirror after adjusting it to where they want it to be, and that works pretty well until the mirror gets bumped or someone else drives the car and tries to adjust it to their needs. I have heard of Super Glue being used the same way, with approximately the same results as well. The above-mentioned tricks may temporarily relieve the symptoms, but won’t cure the problem. Usually the

reinforcing
From Left: This Chevrolet mirror has a small reinforcing strap.

hammer
A good tap with a hammer and socket firmed up the ball adjustment.

original
Here’s the mirror back in its original spot and doing the job it was designed to do.

only way to do that is to take the glass out of the mirror and fix it on the inside assuming there is no way to access it otherwise. That can be done without breaking the glass if you are careful, but if you do break the glass a glass shop can cut a new mirror for you, so all is not lost.

To remove the glass, use a sharp pocketknife to carefully work back the edge of the metal surrounding the glass just enough to release the mirror. Work very carefully and don’t pry up on the metal edge enough to crimp or tear it. Just gradually coax it a little at a time. Once you have the edge relieved, heat the mirror with a heat gun or hair dryer to get the glue that holds it in place to let loose. Earlier mirrors may not be glued in and will pop out as soon as the flange is out of the way.

Once inside, you can assess the problem and repair it. It may be that one of the securing mounts has popped loose, in which case you can reattach it with a tiny screw depending on the design. And sometimes you can use a hammer and punch to dimple the flanges of the ball pivot to tighten things up.

Another trick that works well, again depending on design, is to slip a thick rubber washer under the keeper and around the ball to make it stiffer, but still adjustable.

It is also possible to put a small screw into the adjusting ball to stop its movement. But once you do that, the mirror is no longer adjustable.