Power vs. Manual Mirrors:In general, there are two main types of mirror options: power vs. manual. The most basic function of the electric mirror (or mirror with "power") is that the glass can be controlled electrically via a button (typically a square or circular button with 4 directional arrows) from the inside of the car. In comparison, the glass on the manual mirror is literally adjusted by hand.
Other than controlling the glass electrically, the power mirror frequently will also have many other functions such as heat, memory, auto dim, a signal light, a puddle light and electric folding. If a mirror has heat or memory, then it will also be powered. A power mirror however may not have heat, memory, or any of the other options.
Heat (also called the "defrost" or "defog") - a "heated mirror" or "mirror with heat" means that the side view mirror has a built in heating system that will defog or defrost the glass and the mirror may or may not have a heated symbol etched on the surface of the glass (a square shape with three "s" shaped lines, typically on the top inside corner of the glass).
Memory - a "mirror with memory" means that the vehicle allows the driver to preset his or her preference on the mirror's specific position.
Dim (also called "auto dim" or "dimming") - a "mirror with dim" means that the glass on the mirror will automatically become darker when a light is flashed onto the mirror (similar to transition lenses). This feature is not to be confused with "tinted glass."
Signal Light - a mirror may come with a built-in turn signal light on the glass or on the housing of the mirror.
Puddle Light (also known as "puddle lamp" or "security light") - the puddle light is located near the bottom of the mirror and directs light down towards the ground near the car door when the door is opened.
Electric Folding - a "mirror with electric folding" means that the mirror can fold inwards towards the door via an electrical switch. Be aware not to confuse this with "folding" or "manual folding."
Manual Remote - in comparison to the basic manual mirror where the glass is adjusted by hand (by sticking your hand outside of the vehicle), the manual remote mirror is adjusted via a remote mechanism (appears similar to a joystick) from the inside of the vehicle. In some cars the manual remote option may only apply to the right/passenger's side mirror as the driver can already easily reach the left/driver's side mirror.
- Folding - a "mirror with folding" means that the mirror can fold inwards towards the door by hand.
Types of Glass:
- Plain Glass (also called "flat") - as explained by the name, the mirror glass is flat.
Convex Glass - the shape of the "convex glass" is curved and is often indicated by the statement on the bottom, "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear." In the U.S., typically all right/passenger's side mirrors have convex glass to widen the driver's right visual field.
- Tinted Glass - some mirrors will come with glass permanently tinted (may be blue, gray, brown, etc.)
Towing vs. Telescopic Mirrors:Towing mirrors are designed to allow the driver to see further behind the vehicle. If for example the vehicle is towing a trailer, then the driver will be able to see around the trailer since the mirror is extended further out from the vehicle.
Telescopic mirrors similarly allow the driver to see further behind the car, but how far the mirror extends outward from the vehicle is adjustable.
Paintable vs. Textured Mirrors:Paintable mirrors will always have a smooth surface. This will allow the housing of the mirror to be primed, sanded, and then painted. (Or if the mirror is already primed, then it will simply need to be sanded and then painted to match the color of the rest of the vehicle.)
Mirrors with a textured surface however cannot be painted.
On some vehicles, the mirror may have a combination of textured and smooth surfaces. For example the cap may be smooth, but the rest of the housing is textured. On these mirrors, the smooth surface can be painted, but the textured portion cannot.
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