Exploding passenger side mirror

Today my girlfriend and I were driving down a residential street and all of a sudden the passenger side mirror exploded. There were no other cars, motorcycles, no mail boxes or birds. I immediately pulled over and inspected the broken side mirror the mirror was hanging on by the wiring with cracks in the mirror, the cover was laying on the ground, I picked it up and in inspected it, there was no physical damage to the cover at all no pings or dings. Weird! I can’t explain why this happened so I Googled “exploding passenger side mirror” and found this had happened to someone on this forum several years ago.

If that happened in the neighborhood I lived in while in grad school I’d be looking for a bullet hole.

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I’ve heard of this happening once before, on this very forum. I don’t recall the explanation. Perhaps others here with better memories can recall.

Tempered glass has internal stresses that can sometimes cause the glass to spontaneously “explode” if it has been nicked, cracked, etc, or has any slight surface defect that allows a crack to start propagating.

Similar incidents have been reported here on Cartalk over the years.


I’m going to guess that even if the mirror defroster wasn’t turned on, the mirror may have overheated, due to a defective component.

Is this Infiniti still under warranty?
Even if it isn’t still under warranty, bear in mind that auto manufacturers sometimes have (silent)repair campaigns for gratis repair of problem components, but unless a car owner complains about said item, they are unaware of these silent campaigns.

Even if the dealership gives you the cold shoulder on this problem, a phone call to Infiniti (Nissan) at the corporate level might yield some help, as the more expensive the car, the more likely they are to try to keep customers happy, in the interest of maintaining buyer loyalty.

It’s usually that you HIT something . . and . . no . .you insist you didn’t.
Because ?
Your attention is directed is front of you as you’re driving.
So much distance transpires from the point of impact, to the surprise of it happenig , to the point you finally pull over . .
That you still can’t process that you hit something.
But you did.

My 80 Bronco right side door window exploded into the cabin as I was driving.
bullet ?
Thrown rock ?
I hit a parked truck !
Yes, me myself and I. . . surprise !
( the Bronco had tripod bolted mirrors, not swing-lock. Dented the door, broke the door glass as well as the mirror )

Was anyone mowing near you? A thrown stone can go pretty far.

Did you leave a cooler garage and start driving on a sunny warm day? If so, the thermal stress idea sounds reasonable.

Thermal stress can cause glass to shatter. I’ve heard of drinking glasses just sitting on a shelf shattering.

BUT, I don’t think the forces involved are enough to blast the entire mirror off the car.

And you said the glass had only cracks in it. Which rules out the shattering glass due to thermal stresses.

My wife had an unexplained rear window shatter on her new Olds Cutlass one spring afternoon. I went over to the elementary school the next morning and viewed the security camera footage with the principal. The school paid for the rear window because a riding mower was seen driving in a gravel strip and throwing small gravel everywhere.

Years ago I was driving through Europe (Holland) and saw a car with the flashers on by the roadside. I pulled over and saw a woman standing by the side of her car, puzzled. Her windshield had completely cracked into a thousand pieces and you could not see through it. Because of the laminations, it was still intact of course.

She explained it just happened without anything striking it! It was an English car, I forgot which make but could be a Rootes Group car. We managed to flag down the highway police who got her a tow truck. To this day I’m puzzled as to the exact cause of this, as the weather was normal.

Something probably hit it and you missed the sound. Even without traffic, this stuff happens. I was driving home from work through the US Department of Agriculture farm when something hit my windshield. There were no cars in front of me in either direction, and no apparent source by the side of the road. All I could figure is that someone was hunting illegally and a stray bullet glanced off the windshield. Stuff happens.

Yeah it happens but who knows why for a particular mirror? That’s one reason I like to use the mulcher on the riding mower. There is no grass, rocks, and other debris being thrown out the side. It’s all kept under the cutting deck.

Interesting to have learnt about your experience. I was searching about this strange “phenomenon” in the web for incident like yours which happened to me earlier in the noon. And i’m glad that i’m not alone.

It was a nice weather and was driving at speed of between 40 to 50km/h when suddenly a loud “BANG” happened and intuitively i look into the side where the sound came from. It is where at this point i saw the left wing mirror was badly cracked and it’s hanging in the air with a wire attached to the side wing mirror holder mechanism. It was really bizarre!!

I was suspecting on whether could the mirror exploded prior to my car’s exterior mirror heating function…as i’ve always position it in the heating position.

I have however managed to position the “exploded” mirror back to the wing housing and could only wait till Monday to get to the workshop to get if fix.

I’m driving a Volkswagen Passat B7 - 1.8 tsi. I’m from Singapore. Following is the image of my left exterior side mirror.

This just happened to me yesterday. I’ve never heard of this before until I searched the web. There was absolutely nothing close enough to hit, no vehicles parked at the side of the road, no trash cans, no branches sticking out. Also, it appears that something broke through the cover near the base; If I hit something, there would be damage near the outermost part of the mirror cover, but it is intact. I’m going to report this to my insurance because if it’s a defect, it could be dangerous. If my passenger window was open at the time, I would have been showered with broken glass. It was very loud - as if a firecracker or gunshot went off next to the car.
Has anybody found out anything else about this? 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid.

That is the drivers side, unless you live in the UK?

Glass that is not properly tempered can explode, break into pieces, although this seems a bit more extreme than that. I’ve heard of water glasses sitting on a shelf just explode.

It has to do with internal stresses in the glass setup when the molten glass solidifies. Tempering is supposed to relieve those stresses, but sometimes that is not done correctly.

Yeah this has come up here before. It can happen to mirrors or glass. Could be heat, internal stresses, the result of maybe being hit before and causing unseen stress that finally gives way, etc. Yup, kind of startling but a good reason to keep your windows shut. I used to have mine open some but then a truck threw up a pile of slush that hit me right in the face.

This happened with the driver side rear window of my Subaru wagon some years ago. I live in a small town and stopped at the post office to pick up the mail on the way home.

I got back in to the car, closed the driver door, and the rear glass exploded with a bang.

Today my side mirror exploded and I was going 10 miles an hour because I was getting ready to stop at a stop sign. I didn’t hit anything. It just exploded and only the mirror was hanging off my car with shattered glass. I took it to the service representative at the dealer and he said he would fix it because it is 1 year old. I then asked if he could have a mechanic look to see what caused the explosion and he said no because there are no component parts on the mirror which has eyesight. I asked if he had asked the mechanic and he said yes. Then he told me the best thing to do was to call my insurance company to have it fixed and then he ran outside to take pictures of the mirror that has no dents that would signify impact. He saw some scratches but nothing to cause serious impact for it to completely shatter.

I guess it’s possible that you could have hit a bird, or maybe a stone flew up from the front wheel, but it’s more likely that some form of tension in the molded plastic, or a stress from bumping into the mirror while you are slipping alongside that car in a garage, finally popped in heat or cold.

It’s nice that they agreed to replace the mirror without inspecting if it had been damaged.

Oops, that deal went south quickly, they won’t start an investigation? Why would you ask that? Are you from corporate looking for warranty fraud? Did you attend the George Costanza school of negotiation?

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