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The rising cost of door mirror damage

 Published 2nd July 2021
Company Fleet  General Guides 

How much does your company spend on repairs to damaged door mirrors every year? It's a frustration we can all understand as it's one of the most common forms of damage to vehicles. According to Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, almost two thirds of van drivers have had their mirrors clipped on narrow streets or while parked in a car park and VW CV technicians report that mirror damage is cited in 10 times more cases than any other repair.

It's frustrating because, in most cases, it's damage that we can do something to avoid. If we have automatic folding mirrors it takes care of itself, otherwise it's a matter of remembering to press a button, or at worse, folding in mirrors manually after we've parked.

The problem is how much it costs to repair mirrors. Van mirrors in particular tend to be larger than car mirrors to help the driver see more clearly what is behind them without the help of a rear view mirror, which is probably why they may be more vulnerable to damage. VW CV has estimated the cost at £655 million for all UK van drivers – a lifetime ownership cost, based on the average door mirror repair cost for full replacement glass and mirror housing, including labour.

VW's research, based on a survey of 1,000 van drivers, suggests that 62 per cent of them have had door mirrors damaged, some more than once. The survey suggests that the most common cause of damage is driving down a narrow street (62 per cent), followed by on-street parking (21 per cent) and public car parks (15 per cent).

Personal experience suggests that broken glass is more common than a complete mirror replacement and electrically folding door mirrors generally mean the problem goes away. It's clearly an issue for van drivers though, particularly with the rise in online shopping deliveries in the past year or so. Not all van mirrors fold in automatically, although it's more common than it used to be.

One of the reasons that VW has researched customers is that the Transporter 6.1 and new VW Caddy 5 are both equipped with automatic folding door mirrors. A brief check of the most common models shows that automatic folding mirrors are not standard on entry level Ford Transit 2T models, but are fitted on the rest of the range. They are standard on the Transit Custom, a £220 option on the Mercedes Sprinter and standard on the Vauxhall Vivaro.

Manually adjustable mirrors may be more prone to damage, but they are also cheaper as most do not have heating elements to demist and don't have motors to adjust the mirrors and fold the housings in.

But above all else it's the simple inconvenience of a broken door mirror that costs time and money to repair. And while auto folding mirrors may cost more, they are a useful convenience for busy van drivers. And anything that reduces risk and potential vehicle off road time has to be a useful benefit.

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