It shouldn’t have to be said that proper vision in a vehicle is a top priority, whether your vehicle is a weekend cruiser or a dedicated tow rig. The ability to see all around your vehicle while driving provides a level of security when passing other vehicles, making lane changes and keeping an eye out for people who are over taking you before they are already on top of you. This ability is even more important while towing.
My 2004 F-150 STX performed OK, but not great in this area. Also, having manual mirrors meant that they would move out of position every time someone (or myself) brushed up against them, which was quite often and got old very quickly. On the road they were useless for checking your blind spot, and I never did like the way they would adjust . . . it always seemed it could be better, and the constant craning was becoming a real “pain in the neck”.
Enter Schefenacker and their Telescopic Trailer Tow Mirror. Schefenacker is the world’s largest manufacturer of exterior mirrors and after examining the product and getting a feel for the level of quality and style that these mirrors contain its hard not to understand why they have become so successful. The mirrors themselves have a durable plastic outer covering, and the interior is comprised of an aluminum frame and glass reinforced plastic mounting bracket. Since my truck came with manual mirrors, the Telescopic Trailer Tow Mirror’s were manuals as well. Other mirror options include an Electric version, Turn Signal/Clearance Lights, and Heated Glass. All versions have easily swappable covers that let you add your own personal style to your new mirrors. You can also paint the polished black covers that come with the mirrors to match the color of your vehicle. The mirrors are backed by a three year warranty.
Before tackling this little project, I did like all professional shade-tree mechanics are supposed to do *cough, cough* and read the manual. The manual is nice and thick, packed with all the good info (tools, specs, etc.) necessary to successfully install the mirrors. The instructions for installation are geared more towards the electric bells & whistles versions, so you might be skipping over certain steps if they don’t apply to your particular mirrors. Also included is a wiring break down, voltage and amp specs. The step by step instructions are clearly written and each step includes a reference illustration.
There weren’t any major snags with the installation, but there was something about the mirrors that threw me for a bit of a loop; the stock mirrors have 4 studs to bolt it to the door while the Schefenacker mirrors have 3.
I thought someone might have fallen asleep on the job at the factory, but after I looked everything over I believe that at least my particular style (manual) of mirror is supposed to be like this. Other than that the installation was as smooth as buttered silk. It took me about 1.5 hours to put the mirrors in, but for those of you who are not photo-documenting your installation, you’re probably looking at close to an hour. Check it out:
AFTER WITH CHROME COVERS:
Using a small flat blade screwdriver, insert it into the slot at the top of the cover plate behind the door handle and pop it out. Remove the 2 - 8 mm screws found behind the cover.
Step 2: Use the same small screwdriver to carefully pry up on one of the slots in the upper corner of the speaker cover. Just take it easy and pop your first corner up and work the rest of the cover off by hand. It’s not hard, but you need patience to prevent cracking the cover.
Step 3: Remove the 4 – 5.5 mm (7/32”) screws holding the speaker in.
Remove the speaker, black plastic seal and the bottom 2 plastic speaker mounts.
The instructions suggest using needle nose pliers to pull them out, but I found that using a blunt part of the handle to push them out from behind was easier. Don’t slip because the sheet metal in there is sharp.
Step 4: At the bottom edge of the door panel you’ll find 2 – 6 mm screws that need to be removed.
Also don’t forget to remove the window regulator handle like I did. Just pop the cover off with your fingers and remove the T40 screw out of the center.
The door panel is now ready to be removed. The door panel is held on by plastic clips and should lift up and off. Go slowly because the handle is still attached to the door panel and you don’t want any damage to the operating cable.
Step 5: The door handle lever mechanism is snapped into the door panel. Carefully pop one end of the handle free, pull it out of the door panel, turn it sideways and feed it back through and the door panel is now free.
Step 6: Instead of removing the mirror sail gasket like the instructions say, I just poked a hole to access the center nut. You can see along the bottom where I tried to peel it back, and it wasn’t cooperating. Now remove the 4 – 11 mm nuts holding the mirror on. Once removed, there is only a spring loaded clip holding the mirror on. Put a nut on for a few turns if you don’t trust thin spring steel.
Step 7: At this point the mirror should literally “pop” off. Give it a good pull with a little upward force and it should come free. Don’t forget the nut you left on in Step 6, if you left one on. Take a minute now and marvel at what you’ve done to your new 2nd mortgage, lol. Go ahead and wipe off any crud that was behind the mirror.
Step 8: Unpack your nice, new mirror. Inspect it for damage. In hindsight this probably should be your first step just in case there is any damage. Save your old mirrors.
Step 9: Grab one of the new foam seals that come with the mirrors. Peel off the paper and apply it to the mounting surface of the mirror. Its paper backed, but it isn’t adhesive.
Step 10: Slide your new mirror in, line it up and torque the supplied nuts down to the suggested 13-14 ft lb. At this point the rest of the installation is the reverse of removal.
*For my installation, the passenger side wasn’t any different than the driver’s side and went on without a hitch. Depending on what options your mirrors come with, your installation will be slightly different.
I’m very impressed with the increased visibility that I have on the road thanks to the Schefenacker Telescopic Trailer Tow Mirrors. I can see farther out from my truck and farther back down the road now than I ever thought possible with the stock mirrors. For increased visibility around a trailer, the mirrors telescope out up to 4.5 inches. They also fold along the side of the truck to make tight spots manageable (parking spots, drive-thru, etc).
STOCK: Telescopic Trailer Tow Mirror:
Telescoped out: Folded:
Drivers side with boat in tow: Passenger side with boat in tow:
Replacement Mirror Cover installation:
Once you have your mirrors on, you can swap your mirror covers if you opted to get any different ones. Of course there is an instruction and warranty sheet that comes with the new covers. The covers themselves are easy to remove and replace, and the instructions are short and fairly straight forward. The only real trouble spot was Step 1. You need to pull the upper corner of the mirror closest to the vehicle outward so you can stick a long screwdriver into the vertical slot and pop the retaining clip loose. Even with the suggested flashlight, it’s kind of hard to see let alone snap a good picture.
This picture gives a better idea of what you’re aiming for.
This shot is with the cover removed. At the top you can see the angle of the screwdriver and the back side of the mirror. At the bottom you can see the bottom of the vertical slot, the blade of the screwdriver, and the retaining clip that you’re aiming for. Give it a push to pop it lose and at the same time push the mirror cover towards the vehicle. It should slide right out.
Installation is reverse of removal. Press your new cover up against the mirror, and slide it in until you hear it click. When you do this, make sure you line up the 5 slots on the cover with the 5 “hooks” on the mirror.
The picture here is of the black cover even though I’m installing chrome covers (chrome didn’t photograph to well up close).
For increased visibility while towing a load or just for peace of mind on the road, you can’t go wrong with the quality, style, and functionality of Schefenacker's mirrors.
~ Steve Minnich, A.K.A. Franken-Truck