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Side Mirror Defrost Symbol: Its Meaning, Reasons and Solutions

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Car side mirror with defrost symbol
side mirror defrost symbol

Driving during winter can be challenging, especially when frost and ice obstruct your visibility. Many modern vehicles use a side mirror defrost system to combat this issue. The system has a specific symbol on the dashboard as an indication. It is known as the side mirror defrost symbol. 

It signifies the presence of a heating element built into the side mirrors. The heating element can be manual or automatic to defrost the side mirror for better road visibility and safety features. The defrost symbol also has a few meanings to understand to drive your car safely. 

This article will discuss the different meanings of the side mirror defrost symbol and its main advantages. We will also provide solutions to common problems associated with the side mirror defrosting system so you can enjoy a better driving experience with improved visibility. 

What Is Side Mirror Defrost Symbol?

The side mirror defrost symbol is a small icon. You will typically find it on the dashboard of vehicles equipped with this feature. Its purpose is to inform the driver that the side mirrors have a heating element. The heating element eliminates frost, ice, and condensation from the mirrors’ surface.

Therefore, vehicles with side mirror defrost symbols can defrost the side mirrors whenever they find any frost gathering on the mirrors. It is especially helpful if you drive a lot during the winter days. You won’t have to worry about the frosted side mirrors and reduced visibility. 

However, you must turn on the side mirror defrost system to ensure it works properly. Once you turn on the side mirror defrosting symbol, you may quickly eliminate the frost and get optimal road visibility. 

What Does the Defrost Symbol Mean?

The defrost symbol serves as a reminder to the driver that the side mirrors possess a heating element. So, when you activate the defrost system, this heating element generates heat. The heat will then help clear any frost, ice, or condensation that may have formed on the mirror’s surface, thus improving visibility.

Indicates Heating Element

The side mirror defrost symbol indicates the vehicle’s side mirrors have a heating element. Therefore, the heating element will generate heat as part of the defrosting mechanism. 

So, it will remove frost, ice, and condensation, ensuring clear visibility. Also, the heating element will ensure easy defrosting of the side mirror, so you don’t have to wipe it out now and then. It will, thus, improve your driving convenience too. 

Manual or Automatic

Side mirror defrost systems can operate in two different modes: manual and automatic.

  • Manual Mode: The driver must manually activate the system in vehicles with manual side mirror defrost. They will need to press a button or turn on a switch. It allows the driver to control when to activate the heating element. So, you will have full control over the defrost mode. 
  • Automatic Mode: Some vehicles have an automatic side mirror defrost system that activates whenever the rear defrost function is turned on. In this mode, the side mirror defrost activates along with the rear window defrost, simplifying the process for the driver. However, you may find that the side mirror goes up and down differently than it should. At this time, the automatic side mirror defrost symbol may need fixing ASAP. 

Modern Safety Features

Including side mirror defrost systems in modern vehicles is a part of the safety feature. It aims to enhance the driver’s visibility. 

The defrost mechanism eliminates frost, ice, and condensation from the side mirrors. As a result, the system ensures that the driver can see clearly. It will reduce the risk of accidents and collisions due to limited visibility. Also, your eyes remain free from extra pressure to see through the frosted mirrors, which gives you a nice relief. 

Better Visibility in Winter

Winter conditions often lead to the formation of frost, ice, and condensation on the side mirrors. It can significantly hinder a driver’s visibility, making it challenging to change lanes, park, or maneuver the vehicle safely. 

The side mirror defrost system prevents obstructions by quickly clearing the mirror’s surface. Thus, the side mirror defrosting system gives the driver clear visibility during winter driving. You will find it helpful during winter when there’s often too much snowfall. 

How to Turn On Side Mirror Defrost Symbol: Step-by-Step Guideline

When you decide to ride through heavy snowfalls and rain, the side mirror is a real help. It will help you know what is behind you and drive safely without colliding with the traffics. However, you must activate the side mirror defrost system to clear the mirrors. 

Thankfully, activating the side mirror defrost system is a straightforward process. It includes:

Step 1: Locating the side mirror symbol and button 

First, you must locate the side mirror defrost symbol on your vehicle’s dashboard. It is often represented by a symbol resembling two curved lines or a mirror with squiggly lines. Also, you should find it right beside the left side of your driver’s wheel column for each reach. 

If you still need help finding it, take help from the user manual. 

Step 2: Turn on the ignition of your vehicle

Next, you have to turn on your vehicle’s engine so that the heating system of the defrosting mechanism gets adequate heat. Or else the defrosting system won’t work appropriately. You will also need to identify the controls for the rear defrost system. 

Usually, it is a button or switch. The switch is marked with a symbol representing a rear window with squiggly lines. This point is crucial since the side mirror may vibrate without properly activating the defrost system. Hence, you must also know how to fix the side mirror vibration to ensure its proper functioning. 

Activating the rear defrosting system:

You must then press or activate the rear defrost button or switch. 

  • This action will activate the side mirror defrost system in vehicles with automatic side mirror defrost.
  • In manual systems, press the separate side mirror defrost button or switch. It is typically located near the controls for the rear defrost.

Wait a few moments for the heating elements to warm up and melt the frost. The process may take a minute or two, depending on the severity of the obstructions. So, wait with patience without revving up your vehicle. Once the side mirrors are clear, visually inspect them. It will help you confirm that the defrosting process has been successful.

Car side mirror with a defrost symbol
side mirror defrost symbol

Top Three Problems of Side Mirror Defrost Symbols and Their Solutions

The side mirror defrost symbol has worked almost without any problems for years. However, at times you may see it malfunctioning or with reduced effectiveness. So, you must know ways to fix the side mirror defrost system when needed. 

Inoperative Heating Element: 

If the side mirror defrost system fails, the heating element may be faulty or damaged. You should consult a professional mechanic or authorized service center in such cases. 

They will diagnose and repair the heating element. And if you have a warranty, you can always claim the warranty for easy heating element replacement. 

Electrical Malfunction: 

Sometimes, the side mirror defrost system may not activate due to an electrical problem. It can be due to:

  • A blown fuse or 
  • A wiring issue

As it happens, you should check the vehicle’s fuse box for any blown fuses. Also, you need to replace them if necessary. If the problem persists, consult an automobile professional for further diagnosis.

Limited Effectiveness: 

Of course, the side mirror defrost system is designed to clear frost, ice, and condensation. Yet, it may not be effective against thick ice layers. 

In such cases, we highly recommend manually removing the ice. You can use an ice scraper or defrost the vehicle in a warmer location. Moreover, you must be cautious to avoid damaging the side mirrors while removing the ice manually.

Final Thoughts

The side mirror defrost symbol indicates that it has a heating element. So, it can remove frost and ice from the side mirrors. The feature enhances visibility for smoother and safer rids. 

Whether manual or automatic, the side mirror defrost system is a valuable safety feature to ensure clear visibility during winter driving. Thus, you understand the meaning, advantages, and troubleshooting solutions for the side mirror defrost symbol. Therefore, you can effectively utilize the defrosting feature to enhance your driving experience in colder climates.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does mean the side mirror defrost symbol on my dashboard?

The side mirror defrost symbol means that the side mirrors have a heating element built in. It’s made to quickly get rid of frost and ice buildup, which makes driving in the winter safer.

  • Why does the defrost light on my side mirror come on even when it’s not winter?

The weather sensors may be linked to the rearview mirror defroster’s automatic mode. The symbol might light up to show that bad weather is coming, which would cause the system to go into action to take precautions.

  • Does the device that defrosts the side mirrors use little energy?

Yes, many new cars are designed to use less gas. The side mirror defrost system is meant to only work when it needs to, which saves fuel and cuts down on energy use that isn’t needed.

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