Upgrading the tow mirrors on our tow rig

We love our 2017 Ford F-150 Lariat tow rig. Its big enough to tow the campers we like, small enough that we can use it as a daily driver, roomy enough that we can bring our son and dogs everywhere. When we made the switch from a travel trailer to a 5th wheel we knew there would be a couple of upgrades that needed to be made. So far, we have added an airbag kit, a compressor and a fifth wheel hitch, but a quick look at the truck and you can guess what it still needs, specifically two things that it needs, some tow mirrors.

The first question we always start at is what is the budget. Before we think about what kind of upgrade, we want we always have to know, what is the budget? Once we have that answer, we can move on to what kind of upgrade we want.

Tow mirrors can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. From those little self-adhesive stick-on fish eye, to the strap on/clip on extensions, all the way up to the super cool, factory, power folding, power telescoping with all the cameras, lights and sensors there are a broad spectrum of upgrade mirrors. We wanted to stay as close to the factory/stock look and functionality as we could. When it comes to this technical stuff my wife usually says, “Bring me some options and let me go spend some time on the internet to gather data.”

I beat her to it and hopped on a couple of camper and Ford forums and found articles specific to our year make and model. I got part numbers and prices, watched You-tube videos of different upgrades and weighed our options. In the end we wanted to keep the functionality we had on the truck, that meant blind spot sensors (BLIS), puddle lights, and power folding mirrors. We wanted to add telescoping, better towing visibility and wanted to control it all from inside the truck. Let’s be honest, if you can fold the mirrors with the push of a button, you want to telescope and aim them with the push of a button too.

Again, keeping the look as stock as possible, our first stop was the Ford OEM parts website. (Yes, I am cringing too) I added a seatbelt to my office chair some time ago just for occasions like these. Original Equipment Manufacturer, (OEM) Ford mirrors, power folding, power telescoping, with puddle lights, BLIS, turn signals and heat were….. $1500 (per mirror.) That was not in our budget. So I looked at alternatives.

The clip on or sticky mirrors were just cheap and all had bad reviews. There were some great after market mirrors, but you gave up the BLIS, or the power telescoping or another feature we really wanted. I even took a look at junkyards in my area, eBay, Craigslist, but anything this new people were picking up at auction and rebuilding given the current market for used vehicles.

Running out of ideas I contacted a family friend and he suggested Facebook marketplace of all things. I was blow away to find an enterprising individual who specialized in mirrors for Fords, who would ship me two like new mirrors. I was skeptical and asked for photos which he gladly provided, but his price was a little higher than what I wanted to pay. He reached out to me and asked me my budget. I explained what I was trying to do and let him know what I could afford. He dropped the price to something we could both live with and sent me a tracking number. About a week later I had gently used genuine Ford mirrors in hand in like new condition for less than half the price of OEM’s. I was amazed! I ordered a new door switch, as the controls were slightly different on the wiz bang mirrors, and I had everything I needed.

Now the part some of you have been waiting for, how to install the mirrors. On my particular truck I needed a small flat blade screwdriver, a 10mm socket and driver and a little bit of faith. I mean all the articles and videos said it would work…. Set yourself up for success, roll down your windows so you can be standing between the open door and the vehicle and support the mirror while you work. Now pry off the small triangular cover with your hand. On a 65 degree day the plastic cover popped off in my hand, no prying with tools.

Now with the guts exposed unplug your connector. I had a 22-pin connector which made things plug n play. If you have an 8-pin connector there is a way to patch the wiring and flash a new program into the modules in the door, but I’m not that skilled so I bought new mirrors with the 22-pin connector. Then pry back the wiring do-dad, that thing with the white retainer clip, here. Then we are going to remove the bottom of these two silver nuts and these two black bolts. Leave the top silver nut on the upper stud by a couple of threads so that the old mirror doesn’t fall off the truck. We might want to save these to put back on the truck or we can sell them on facebook marketplace, ebay, craigslist, your choice.

Now before you put all those delicate plastic molding parts and pieces back into place, you need to do the other mirror using the same steps. Once both mirrors are installed and wired you can shift focus to how you control the new features on your mirrors. If you started with 8-pin mirrors and didn’t have the power options you might need to take the whole door panel apart, modify the wiring harness and replace or reprogram the two computer modules that control the mirror. If, however, you started with a Lariat trim package and 22-pin connector mirrors, you just need to replace the door control switch. First using a small flat head screw driver gently insert it into the gap at the back of the window and door control trim ring pictured below.

Then gently pry and the trim ring should pop out. Next, unplug the control module and remove these three Torx head screws.

Then you can swap out the old module (on the left) for the new module (on the right.) Note the only difference is the number of pins that generate an output and the button for power folding/power telescoping. Then replace the three Torx head screws, plug the unit in and test the mirror and window movement before putting all the delicate plastic trim pieces back into place.

And just like that you are done. With a lot of prep and research, and a little hard work and luck you too can upgrade you less than desirable mirrors for the superior vision of tow mirrors. Now I am by no means a mechanic or technician, and you could always take your car or truck to a professional and have this work done. If you are patient and don’t mind doing the research and finding some answers, you too can do this kind of an upgrade.

Some useful links, if you are a Ford tow vehicle owner thinking about this upgrade. We don’t have gain any financial advantage, kickback or referral fee for any of this, we just found it useful –

Ford Mirrors parts list

Hands down the cheapest OEM Ford parts we could find

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