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How to install 98-01 Dodge towing mirrors on a GMT400

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself Articles - How To's & Product Revie' started by great white, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. great white

    great white Well-Known Member

    Well, my Dodge towing mirrors showed up today.


    After a few reader requests when I mentioned it in my truck's build thread, I've decided to do a seperate full install thread.

    Since I figured it's for GMT400's, this forum is the best place for it. If not, a mod can feel free to move it.

    This will be for a full install of the dodge "flippable" towing mirrors, circa 1998-2001. In case you're wondering, reports indicate that mirrors newer than this will not fit the door of the GMT400. The mirror base is bigger on newer dodges and the rake of the widow is different. They just won't fit if newer than dodge 2001/02 (crossover year) gents.

    My install will be full power and heated.

    For reference, factory mirrors in this style could only be had in manual. "Burning Oil" has an install of the factory manual mirrors on the forum elsewhere if you're going that way. Or just read through the thread and once I get to the physical install on to the doors, stop there if you're using manual mirrors.

    But if you want power mirrors in this style, you have to go aftermarket. "Clear VU" is a popular choice with most buyers, I went with an ebay set. Name on the box is "Fortress", made in Tiawan and I paid right around 300 bucks to my door for a set of left and right (shipping to Canada is always more than what you would expect gents).

    Yeah, I can hear the peanut gallery already:

    "Foreign junk!" "Buy USA!"

    Well, these appear to be good, solid, heavy units. For a good price no less. Time will tell though once I get them on the truck for a while. First impressions are really good though.

    So, let's start off with a comparision of old and new:

    Side by side. Dodge mirrors folded. The increased mirror area is evident even from the front:


    They're bigger, but not foolishly so.

    The stock GM mirrors are completely outclassed for rearward visability in towing "mode":


    Bigger, but still manageable.

    GM mirror pretty much dissapears behind the dodge:


    Shot with the GM in front (to give it the advantage of perspective view) and the Dodge mirror still outsizes it by quite a bit:


    Again, no comparison in "towing mode":



    Shot from the top:


    Dodge mirrors have quite a bit of "sweep back" compared to the GM units. Also not the difference in the mounting studs. Dodge is much longer. We'll have to deal with that later.

    A side by side of the mounting area:


    Geez, that's really really close! You can also see there's going to be a need to re-drill the mounting holes in the door skin.

    Power and heat connectors aren't even "in the ballpark":


    A bit of work with a few wiring diagrams and a couple passes with a soldering iron and shrink wrap will figure this out. There'll be a seprate post in this thread when I get it all sorted. Shouldn't be too hard to figure out...

    The mounting angle with the mirrors resting flat on the table:


    Bit of a difference there eh? Nah, that's not a realistic view since they should be mounted on the truck, not sitting on the table. Let's have a look at the angles with the mirrors both leveled out in the "viewing plane":


    Still not perfect, but more than close enough to work with.

    That's the first installment. Watch this space for more as the install progresses...

    Last edited: Sep 28, 2010
  2. 88gmctruck

    88gmctruck 02GMCtruck

    Mar 16, 2009
    Auburn, Wa
    Good info. I've seen the mirrors on GM trucks before but nothing this detailed. When I originally saw them on a GM I was actually really surprised how close the dodge mirror mounting area is to the GM one. I'd really like to see some nice close up pictures where they mount on the door and see just how close they are.

    I'd throw a set of these on my 88 in a heartbeat if they were just a hair smaller.... Big mirrors on a stepside just wouldn't look right.
  3. great white

    great white Well-Known Member

    Well, here a couple close pics from the web:




    it's just not my truck......yet.

  4. Matt Bachand

    Matt Bachand Depends on the 6.5

    Jun 10, 2008
    Worcester, MA
    Classy job BJ. These look nice. I wonder if they extend enough to clear my utility body sides? I would assume so. I really hate the dumbo ears West Coast ones I have. Look forward to reading your install / overview of this item. Thanks for taking the time for us.
  5. great white

    great white Well-Known Member

    Here's a couple pictures of that gold truck with the mirrors flipped up:



    Don't know if they will clear your utility body, but they're pretty wide when "flipped out"....
  6. great white

    great white Well-Known Member

    Second installment:

    Well, wiring is sorted out. I only wired up the power functions, heat will follow later as it will require a few bits to be added that are not on the truck.

    First, something you're just going to have to accept:

    Wiring on the dodge mirrors doesn't match the GM. The dodge has a 3 wire control for up/down left/right and common, GM uses 4 (on my 98 at least) so it's not a straight "one for one" swap.

    You need to get a little creative later on or just accept a few "deficiencies". More on that later.....

    First, remove the GM mirror from the truck (I'll assume you can do this without pictures). A piece of door trim, a chunk of foam, three 10 MM nuts and an electrical connector is all it takes. Now you're left with the bare mounting area:


    Take the mirror over to the bench and grab your cutters. Snip the end off the wiring harness:


    Yipes! Little bit harder to turn back now....

    Remember the "dodge uses 3 GM uses 4" wiring thing?

    Well, here's what we're going to do about it:

    The simple solution is to combine the two common wires in the GM system into one.

    Stripe some insulation off the plug to expose the wires and twist the two ground wires together:


    I won't throw colors out there, as each year can be different. My truck was two red wires on the door side of the harness for ground and yellow and white on the mirror side. :rolleyes5:

    Follow up by tinning the wires and set it aside.

    Now, grab that brand new dodge mirror you paid soooo much for and snip off the connector:


    You own it now! No returns....

    Now, tin the wires and match then up with your modified GM connector.

    The wiring colors for the dodge mirror:


    (blue is the common in case you're wondering)

    Test them out for proper control by jumpering them to the mirror switch wiring in the door , then solder them up once you're got it figured out. Write the colors down once you figure which goes to where, don't trust your memory for this stuff or you may be cutting and stripping wires all over again.

    Remember that compromise I mentioned? Now you will see what it is. Since the Dodge mirror uses one common ground and GM uses 2, the mirror will move left and right as per normal, but Up and Down is reversed. You've just got to live with it. It's a small irritant and worth it for these mirrors.

    Later on, I'll probably pop open the switch and change the polarity with a couple jumpers so it functions normally. But that's for another post and another day....

    Don't forget to use heat shrink on the joints for trouble free use as long as you own the truck. Double wall heat shrink is best in this "wet" location.

    Simply repeat for the other side.

    Now you're got the wiring done and your Dodge power towing mirrors are ready for install!
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2010


    May 9, 2008
    I did some checking and my 95 is definately wired differently according to the ALLDATA diagrams. Mine shows a 4 wire to the drivers side, but a 3 wire to the passenger side. And for the reversed up and down, you should have reversed the common and power at your solder to have corrected that. GM shows this on my diagram that they reverse between the 2 on my 95. I'm considering the CIPA 70000 for my BURB. List price is about $400, but AMAZON has em for $245 shipped.
  8. great white

    great white Well-Known Member

    Tried the reverse polarity at the solder joint, doesn't work. Everything worked incorrectly then. Believe me, I tried all combination's of wiring, this was the best compromise. I'm also not new to electrical work.

    I suspect it's got something to do with the switch printed circuit paths.

    This was done on my 98, other years are at your own risk......;)
  9. great white

    great white Well-Known Member

    Third (and final) installment:

    Wiring sorted, time to move on to the hard mounting.

    While others may have reportedly "bolted them on", mine was no install of the sort. Maybe I'm not lucky, maybe my aftermarket mirrors are different, maybe I'm just fussier about fit........who knows.....:rolleyes5:

    This is what it took to get them on my truck to my satisfaction, YMMV.....

    Let's begin.

    remove the mirror and it's "gasketing":

    (give the area a little wash if it's got dirt stuck in there like mine did)

    Now we need to position the new mirror on the door. Those long studs are a problem, so you can either pull them out (risk stripping the pot aluminum) or you can make a template. I like templates for everything I fab, so I went that way:


    Position it on the door and mark your holes:


    Now center punch and drill your holes:

    (pic didn't come out, but you get the idea)

    Give the fresh holes a shot of paint to help stave off the "rusties".

    The mirror doesn't sit flush at the base due to the door window felts/trim, so a bit of rotary rasp and file work is called for:


    Next, the wiring bundle exits in the wrong spot on the dodge mirrors. It would be pinched when the mirror is tightened down if routed through the stock GM hole location. Rather than punch another hole in the door sheet metal, some more filing and rotary work fixes that up:



    That's better. Now a bit of "hot snot" to hold it in place:

    (make sure you leave a tiny bit of slack so it's not tight where it comes out of the stock location)

    No more pinched wire worries.

    A trial fit shows the plastic is now where near good enough for my liking:



    Pinches the window gasket at the top and binds it under the window. The dodge contour is obviously wrong for the GMC as it has a severely curved in section at the top. It also rubs the window glass lower down and compresses the window felt and trim. That won't due. So, lets scribe a line and get to filing:


    Better, but still not good enough:


    We need to create another relief contour for the gasket to sit in:


    That's what we're looking for!

    The base also need a little "jog" for the lower window seal where it doubles over the steel window frame when it's up:


    Now we're cooking!

    Lets finish prepping the mirror. Install the foam gasket that came with it:


    You need to punch a new hole for the wiring. I used my hole punch, or you could use an empty cartridge, or just give it a little snip with the scissors.

    Peel the old foam "cover strip" off the GM mirror:


    Give it a dab of something like this:


    And glue it on to the new mirror in the same spot as the old:


    You want to install this foam piece or when sitting in the drivers seat you'll be able to see in behind your new mirror to the mounting brackets and plastic backing. You can skip ahead a bit to the pics where you can see it if you can't envision it right now.

    Now, we finally get to the bolting and connecting part. Thread the wiring through and pop that sucker on there:


    I fabbed up some spacers to deal with the extra stud length. I used steel tube I had around because I wanted the mounting solid and no wobble. I also wanted to be able to crank it down and get a proper crush on the foam gasket material for weather sealing. GM double skinned the area and braced it well for the stock mirrors, no extra bracketing required. The mirror base is rock solid, I can grab the mount base and rock the truck up and down with no movement what-so-ever.

    Connect the wiring connector and slide it in forward of the front bolt to make sure is stays out of the way of the window while moving:


    Cut the factory foam filler so it fits in around the longer studs:


    Don't leave this foam out! This is a high wind noise area and you want it in there, that's why GM installed it. It also will help hold the wiring in place since it's now a bit longer than stock.

    Pop the door trim back on and you're done:

    (here you can see why we put that foam strip from the GM mirror on the new one)

    I'll just finish off with some pics of the whole thing once done:


    (you can see a little "droop" halfway down the front edge)

    ( a little heat at a future date will allow me to reshape it for better fit like so ^)




    Bigger than stock, but not stupidly so:

    (rear visibility is at least twice as good as the stockers in the "down" position)

    Stock mirror is totally outclassed when in towing position:

    (you can see why I need them in the driveway next to the truck)

    That's about all I have for now folks. The passenger side can be done with similar techniques.

    Last edited: Oct 3, 2010
  10. Matt Bachand

    Matt Bachand Depends on the 6.5

    Jun 10, 2008
    Worcester, MA
    Only thing better would be you doing it for us! Nice work BJ. Exceptionally well done.
  11. Badaxe

    Badaxe New Member

    Feb 27, 2010
    I need to see how my 04 mirror lines up. love the look.
  12. great white

    great white Well-Known Member

    Supposedly, the 04 dodge mirros don't fit.

    Winsheild rake is all wrong. I looked at a couple on the dealer lot, and it doesn't look like they will fit.

    Apparently, 02 was the year they changed....
  13. great white

    great white Well-Known Member


    After considering Ferm's post about reversing the polarity on the up and down, I decided to give it a try. Seems logical and it makes sense electrically.

    I tried wiring it up and blew my mirror switch all to hell!

    Burned the circuit traces right off the PCB in the switch.

    Seems I had forgotten what I'd figured out from the wiring diagrams with relation to the ground and power wires. The polarity needs to be "backwards" to switch operation due to the circuit traces in the switch or you end up creating a dead short on selection. Just part of converting from the GM 4 wire system to the Dodge 3 wire.

    Like I said before, you have to live with the up and down being "flipped".

    Left and right function just fine as is.

    If you don't live with it, you'll end up with a nice smell of burnt electronics in the cab....

    And what about me? Guess I need to buy a new switch now eh?

    Nah, I'm a bit more capable than that.

    I just cracked it open the switch and rebuilt the circuit traces on the PCB with some fine wire, glue and solder.

    Better than new.....:)
  14. Matt Bachand

    Matt Bachand Depends on the 6.5

    Jun 10, 2008
    Worcester, MA
    A perfectionist such as yourself GW, I'm surprised it's beyond your ability to make this work.:pokey:
  15. great white

    great white Well-Known Member

    Well, it's really not.

    I'll eventually crack open the switch and remap the circuit traces.

    I've just got bigger fish to fry right now....
  16. great white

    great white Well-Known Member

    Dammit Matt!

    Now it's grating on me.......


    Oh hell, out to the garage now to pull the switch and remap the circuit traces.........
  17. great white

    great white Well-Known Member

    Just to follow up, passenger side mirror is installed:


    And one last detail to throw the yung 'uns into a fit:


    Yup, that's right:

    Vent visors.

    A necessary evil as you can see by the rain already on the truck.

    It seems like rains at least eight out of twelve months here....
  18. handcannon

    handcannon Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2009
    Albany, OR
    Thanks Much BJ!!!!! I Like That!!!!! Now I'm going to have to start squirrelling away my nickles and dimes. I don't have power mirrors, but I want power, so I'll have to check into wiring for them. Not sure if the 94's ever had power. Doesn't seem like it should be difficult, except for getting the wiring across under the dash to the other door. I've been gone for over two weeks, but that kept me from sitting on pins and needles waiting for the next installment of the thread.

    By the way, with that much rain you must be in the great Pacific Northwet. (yup, left out the S on purpose)

  19. chessie 6.5

    chessie 6.5 Member

    May 16, 2010
    For those of you that are contemplating this mirror setup, go to a Dodge truck with these mirrors. I did and could see that these stick out pretty far; flipping the mirror head just places it vertical, but not out any further. They will be awsome for towing though.

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