Torque Shop

The electric adjustment for my car's wing mirror is no longer working. My car dealer says the entire wing mirror has to be replaced. Is it possible to just replace the motor? Which would be more cost-effective?

Modern wing mirrors have motors as well as linkages for horizontal and vertical movements. Sometimes, they have a built-in indicator light too. Although not common in Singapore, some mirrors also incorporate heaters.

To replace this whole assembly simply because the motor no longer functions is indeed wasteful.

Assuming proper checks were carried out to determine that a faulty motor was responsible, replacing it would be the logical solution.

The reality is a bit more complicated. Often, during manufacturing, the quickest and least expensive process is not sufficiently reversible. What this means is that it may not be possible to disassemble a wing mirror easily. The Swatch watch is just like that - sealed and impossible to disassemble.

Most workshops will consider it uneconomical to disassemble a wing mirror to replace the motor. More crucially, not many mechanics know how to do it. And even if you manage to find one, the cost may be higher than replacing the entire mirror.

So, unless you can find a workshop which is able, there is really only one option available to you.

Shreejit Changaroth

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2019, with the headline 'Torque Shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe