Damaged or Missing Wing Mirrors: Are They Legal?

Jack Dreyer | Thursday 2nd February 2023 7:00pm

A car with its wing mirror removed in an accident. Text in front of the car reads 'Damaged or Missing Wing Mirrors: Are They Leg

Did you know that wing mirrors used to be considered a luxury item? That’s right, pre-1960s, these now-essential car parts were seen more as a “nice-to-have”. But what if you don’t “have” your wing mirrors today?

Say, one is damaged or missing, what then? Is it illegal to drive without them — or at least without fully-functioning mirrors? Let’s find out.

Damage to wing mirrors can be unavoidable

No matter how careful you are, sometimes damage to your car can feel inevitable or out of your control.

Whether caused by a passing car going too fast and misjudging the space between you, a large vehicle squeezing down a narrow road, or you getting too close to a wall or other obstruction, damage to wing mirrors does happen.

Occasionally, they can also be damaged by vandals or disgruntled neighbours! In fact, they seem to be a very common target – along with windscreen wipers.

The level of damage ranges from paintwork scratches and grazes, to smashed mirror surfaces, to the entire wing mirror being knocked off.

How to minimise wing mirror damage

The most common causes of wing mirror damage are:

  • Driving down a narrow street (62%)
  • On-street parking (21%)
  • Public car parks (15%)

There are, however, a few best practices to get into the habit of doing if you’re looking to keep your wing mirrors intact:

Avoid parking on narrow, busy streets if possible

Streets in town centres, usually with cars parked on both sides, experience high amounts of traffic passing through a very narrow space. Occasionally, other drivers may overshoot it and get too close to the cars on the sides of the street, clipping their wing mirrors.

Park close to the curb

To avoid your vehicle being accidentally hit or scraped by a wide vehicle passing through, tuck your car in as close to the side of the road as you can — without damaging your wheel alloys or tyres, that is.

Consider parking on the curb where appropriate

In some cases, where appropriate, you may be able to park your car on the curb slightly, especially if it is a drop curb. But, do make sure to leave space for pedestrians, wheelchair users, and people with prams to get through.

Watch out for corners & junctions

Try not to park on corners or near junctions where turning vehicles may clip your wing mirrors if they don’t leave enough room.

Try to be in the middle of parking spaces

When parking in car parks, stay in your bay as much as possible. If you are taking up two bays or are over a line, other drivers may have no choice but to park unnecessarily close to your vehicle.

Be aware of your surroundings.

When allowing another car to pass, you may have to pull into a passing space. Be aware of any obstructions to the side of you, and how close other vehicles are to you. When in doubt: wait it out.

A broken wing mirror hanging off in the rain

Driving with damaged wing mirrors?

Even if you take care to follow all of the mitigating guidance above, you might one day still find yourself in a sticky wing mirror situation. But if you have to drive with a dodgy wing mirror, is it legal? Will you be penalised?

Why do we need wing mirrors?

At this point, it is important to consider all of the things wing mirrors can do for us — just so we can appreciate how different driving is without one or both.

Wing mirrors allow drivers to see a wide section of the road around them, specifically next to and behind them. As such, wing mirrors allow us to:

  • Manoeuvre safely
  • Reverse without collision
  • Overtake and leave slip roads in full confidence
  • Spot pedestrians or cyclists who may be on the inside lane
  • Assess how close drivers behind us are
  • Make informed decisions about switching lanes
  • And so much more

So, illegal or not, would you like to drive without a wing mirror? Also, let’s not forget that the condition of your mirrors — and whether they are obstructed or not — influences your vehicle’s MOT outcome.

Is it illegal to drive with damaged wing mirrors?

If your wing mirror is only slightly damaged, it is fine to drive with it. However, naturally, your visibility — and therefore safety — will be reduced. It is advised, then, that you take it to get repaired as soon as you can.

That said, if your wing mirror is missing entirely then it is an offence to drive and you should have it replaced immediately.

It is not legal for your wing mirror to be hanging off or wobbling either. As the DVSA stipulates, “each mirror must be fixed to the vehicle in such a way that it remains steady under normal driving conditions” as it may fly off and cause a hazard to other drivers on the road.

You can find more on the legal specifics of rear-view mirrors and what is and isn't allowed here.

A wing mirror that has had the glass smashed

Quality car parts at Kwik Fit

If your vehicle encounters damage, it is important that you get it repaired quickly to remain safe and roadworthy. Regular servicing is another important part of keeping your vehicle safer on the roads.

If you have any questions about your vehicle, its parts, or its condition, get in touch with the experts at your local Kwik Fit today. And, for the latest motoring advice, be sure to keep up with our blog.

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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