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Rearview mirror

This component is part of Interior.

Rearview mirror


The rearview mirror is a springloaded device attached to the upper rim of the windscreen. It is a major safety feature, designed to snap off in case of a crash.

There are two different styles of mirrors:

  1. the chrome-plated metal one with two pieces of glass inside and a small black flip lever on the bottom with a short stalk, which is basically the unit from the 220 SE W111 Coupe
  2. the all-plastic version that also has a black lever on the bottom but flips the entire thing as one. The mirror body is black but the stalk is chrome (or flat finish for US version) and longer than the stalk of the 230 SL.

The difference is not between the Euro or US mandated models but rather the years of production. All the 230 SL's and roughly more than half of the first 250 SL's had the all metal mirror. The plastic one came sometime during the last remaining 250 SL's and all the 280 SL's, the reason the plastic one was introduced was due to the crash safety of one's head hitting the mirror, it broke away with minimal damage to the head. The all-metal one would inflict a lot more damage. If you look at the production changes chart, you will see that the plastic mirror came in when the dashboard switches and knobs were replaced with the soft plastic ones.

Reitter & Schefenacker in Esslingen, Germany produced these mirrors. There is a "production sign" or stamp on these units, the R&S sign.

  • Chrome rearview mirror, part number 111 810 50 17
  • Plastic rearview mirror, part number 115 810 00 17


The mirror is held in place using spring tension. To remove the mirror, grab it by the base/neck and pull it off (towards you or the back of the car) sharply. You may have to exert more force than you think wise, but it will come off. You may try twisting it slightly whilst pulling it off too.

To re-install the mirror insert one ball end into the base and with a flat screwdriver carefully press the other ball end inwards and push the neck simultaneously.


Describe common maintenance procedures, and common faults that may occur. Describe how these may be diagnosed and resolved. Again, include diagrams, photographs and explanations. Where possible, include measures, tolerances, weights etc.

  • Symptoms when it faults
  • How to test if it is faulty - what tools to use
  • How to fix / change

Link to related components where appropriate.

Old Yahoo content

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I was cleaning the interior of my '66 230 SL today and I took a look at the rearview mirror. I need to clean the mirror inside the glass and the inner face of the glass itself. How do you get that thing apart? It seems to have four places where it 'clips' in, but I didn't want to start randomly prying at the thing.

I used a simple bread knife to delicately separate the two halves of the mirror. Just slide it in -carefully- and then pry the upper surface away from the lower surface. The tabs are actually smaller than they look. Once you get the two top ones out, the whole assembly comes apart. Mine has been rechromed, but the glass is fading. If you find a source for the interior mirror glass -or if you find someone to resilver it- please let me know!

I got mine at Star When I took the mirror apart, between the clip and the glass was a piece of rice paper dated 5/65 and signed in German with a Mercedes stamp. I could not believe the attention to detail. Needless to say the mirror took a little time to get back together - the clip for night and day was tricky.

I ordered a new mirror for my 71 280 sl and as I was taking the old one out the spring behind the mirror broke in two, breaking the new mirror. Does anyone know how to properly change out the mirror glass?

It has been awhile but the trick, for me anyway, was to play with the spring in several different positions until I was able to depress it with the glass, releasing it with glass in place. As you probably know the spring action is what keeps the mirror in place.

My rearview mirror is starting to lose its reflective coating, and I wonder if we can take them apart and recoat, or do we need to replace the glass? How does the whole assembly come off ?

According to memory, the front and rear of the assembly is held together by two clips on the top and two on the bottom. Take a very thin knife and seperate them on the bottom and the rest comes apart. There is a tension spring inside, so don't let the mirror pop out and break. Mine is starting to do the same, looks like moisture got in the edges of the mirror, but with the wearing condition of my car it's about the last thing I'm worring about.

Is your SL the American or European version? the American version is more of a one-piece system where the whole assembly tilts when you flip the lever, the Euro model has it's mirror behind another piece of glass, it's more complex, but easier to replace the mirror in. I know because I just did this three weeks ago for the exact same reason. Just slid a blade under the two chrome halves and it popped open, then took the clips off of the mirrored glass and took it to a glass shop, they cut me a new one for $7 and in two minutes it was back in the car looking great...

My early 1969 had the metal rear view mirror and I believe it was original.

Perhaps a few got switched by the original owners, who preferred the chrome look rather than the black plastic look. They are interchangeable among the SL's, but from other cars, they look the same but the curve angle of the neck is different (speaking of the rearview inside the car). I know this because I tried it myself and couldn't figure out why the mirror won't adjust downwards further.

I notice that on my 230SL the rear view mirror and side mirror are permanently fogged...I am sure there is some way to recoat them or something....any advice would be appreciated.

I believe you can remove the mirror on the door from its assembly by carfully pressing in on the white gasket and working the gasket and mirror out. There is a spring in the back of the mirror. Take the mirror to a glass shop and have them duplicate it for you. I don't now if the same can be done with the rear view mirror in side the car.

I replaced my rear view mirror glass AND mirror. The glass I had cut from the original, cost about $2.00 at the local glass shop. The mirror I replaced with one from Miller's, about $20.00 These are on the original chrome and metal rear view mirror, not the replacement plastic version. The original had a small and thin u-channel rubber gasket to hold the front glass in place, mine was kind of a white in color, but yellowed and cracked and could not be used. Try as I might I was not able to replace it. So I had to silicone the front glass into the frame.

The glass in my 250SL all chrome mirror is almost opaque and is a problem when driving. I want to clean the glass first and see what it looks like and/OR replace the glass and mirror. I was wondering if I give the crack between the mirror stem and the chrome base on the windshield a spray with WD40 and leave it for a couple of days would the internal springs become more willing to let the mirror unit free?

Certainly not with WD40 because it is no good for loosening things. It had the worst test result in a series of tests performed on these type of products by Markt magazine. It is simply a water displacement (WD). It is expensive and useless for what you want it. Rather get some proper penetrating oil that is intended for loosening rusted parts. Big difference. I can't get my SL mirror off either. I pulled so hard on it already that it now rattles but no luck -> Suck solid. At least it won't get stolen if I ever park the car open somewhere.

Ālbert: To remove the mirror I think it's better to push it to the windshield than to pull it to the rear of the car (because this is the logical movement of the mirror in case of accident, when the head or something else hits it). If you have the original all chrome inside mirror... take care of it ! It's not available from MB (they only have the black plastic one), and if you find one from another supplier, it will cost a lot of money (I saw it new for 300 $ / Euros in Techno Classica Essen). I bought there a good used one for about 150 Euros! Anybody knows where to find it cheaper ? I think plastic inside mirror was original for 280 SL, but I'm not sure whether later 250 SL was also equipped with the plastic one. Could anybody confirm this? I have only Spare Parts List for 230 SL.

Claus Stetter: my '66 had the black plastic one as well - it had been replaced some time during it's life. I bought a mint one on Ebay for less than $50 and sold the old one also on Ebay for around $40. Not a bad deal :-) You should definitely be able to find a used mirror on Ebay for less than $100. BTW, when I compared the one from my 230 fintail (since sold) with the one from my 230SL I could not find a difference - maybe you can get a W110/111 mirror. AFAIK, the plastic mirrors were introduced together with the other safety changes in the '68 250SL (soft heater levers, soft door pockets, et cetera). In my case, getting the new mirror in was a lot more difficult than getting the old one out. One more thing: you can replace just the glass, I've heard. Don't know where to get the glass alone, though (maybe the one from the plastic mirror fits?).

I compared both chrome (left hand) and plastic (right hand) and concluded they did not fit due to different shape, maybe cutting one of them... but I did not take both apart, so this is just a conclusion I came to, I cannot certify it.

Naj: pushing and pulling should do it. Mine needed a bit of encouragement before it came off. Casing splits very easily in half once off. Do mind where the little spring etc fall out! (Best done on kitchen table??)

Bob - you can try slipping a narrow rigid putty knife between the base & the mirror one side then twisting slightly. If you can get one side to move a just a little, you can yank the mirror out pretty easily. Once you get the mirror off you will almost certainly see that it is not rusted in. There is a stiff spring mounted horizontally in the base of the mirror that jams the thing in there against two stops inside the base. BTW - there is an adjustment screw to tighten the mirror to the base if it is jiggling and if you search you should find an old glass shop that re-silvers mirrors... there is one in Bridgeport, CT.

Walter Klatt: The glass you can get from a reputable glazier(glass shop) and ask them to cut a new mirror using your old one. The chrome mirrors from the sedans are not the same-the gooseneck from the windshield frame to the back of the mirror is curved more on the SL. But if you take it apart, you can swap the glass parts. The front chrome surround can come off from the back part by carefully prising out the 4 tabs that fit into the slots on the back part(2 on top and 2 on bottom. The whole thing comes out easily. This might be a better way to avoid having to risk damaging the windshield or frame(happened to me once when removing the mirror from the mount- I pushed on it and it popped out striking the glass cracking it). Oh well, the lessons learned are priceless compared with the actual expenses. I think the plastic one came into play when they changed the knobs and all the hard protruding surfaces to the soft rubbery kind for safety reasons.

You have to give it a good yank towards you. I remember the first time I took mine out, I was nervous that it was going to break. Grab it with both hands, close your eyes, and ....umph.

Rodd: with the CHROME mirror (there were MANY comments regarding the plastic mirror), you need to seperate the front & back of the mirror housing. You can take it from there yourself. I have no idea how you could simply pull this mirror off. The mirror housing is screwed to the chome neck. The chrome neck is mounted to the windshield header with two screws. What are all you guys talking about?

Claus Stetter: something's wrong if your mirror is actually screwed to the windshield surround. No MB from that era has the mirror mounted that way. It's a spring with two metal "bullets" that fit into a recess in the mounting plate.

Rodd again: OK, maybe I'm wrong. I'm going from memory from 2 years ago when I took the mirror and sun visors off. I recall..... 1. Seperating the mirror's chrome housing 2. Getting behind the mirror to remove the screw that adjusts how tight the housing is held to the post. Removing this screw allows the back half of the housing to fall free. 3. Unscrewing screws from the header to allow the chrome assembly to come free. I didn't realize this was a piece that can separate. I guess it does not have to seperate if you don't mind taking everything apart.

Achim: Your rear view mirror can be dissassembled pretty easlily. I did it several times with the full chromed model. However, I do not know how about the black/plastic one. Seems to be "one piece." I got a mirror glass reproduced for my 230 mirror, it was 7.00 Deutsche Mark (approx. 3.50 dollar today). It looks like the original, even the background has the same brown color. One thing is very important: make sure that the new mirror glass has the same thickness and that the edges are also rounded and ground exactly like the original. Otherwise it won't fit. If you cannot get your mirror out right now, you can leave it in and dissassemble it in the car. Get a few kitchen knives and push the blades carefully between the edges of the front chrome bezzel of the mirror and the main chrome mirror body. You will realize then that the clip edges of the front chrome ring will come out of the chrome mirror body and the ring will pop off. Be carefully not to loose or drop things. Mostly, the front glass is tightly molded into the front chrome frame because the inner gasket is normally always completely deteriorated. I don't know of any good replacement for it. The mirror glass itself is loose and has a spring on it's back and the lever loosely attached onto its lower edge. Mirror stalk and main mirror body can remain in the car while you clean/restore/replace the glass plates if necessary.

Bob Smith: I have a set of jewellers screw drivers. I chose 2 and used them to pry the miror apart while in place. What a great idea..THANKS it saved me lots of worry about removing the whole unit. The internal mirror and external glass were very dirty and dusty but still seemed to be in good condition. I used window cleaner on both and then re-assembled the unit. I did it twice because I had not been careful to fit the hooks of the mirror bracket onto the spring that fits into the top of the day/night flick over lever. Hence it didn't work properly the first time. I have not taken the car out during the daylight to try it out yet. From what I gather on this site it is a benefit to have some penetrating oil in the garage, so it is on my shopping list. I will put some on the top of my stuck heater valve and leave it for 12 months then that can be a major project.

Bernt Damm: I did follow the original thread but didn't pay too much attention. However, I drove my SL on Monday and noticed once again, that the inner mirror blocks my view completely. I have also noticed this on previous occasions and thought that it was just a design flaw. Upon investigation, it looks like the stalk of this mirror is the same length as on my fintails. I know someone (Achim?) mentioned that the SL mirror has a shorter stalk. Could someone please measure their mirror for me? Also, does anyone have an old mirror like that? It can be broken since I will only need the stalk. My mirror is in good condition and is full chrome.

Tom Hanson: Chrome mirrors will be tough to identify. All I can tell you is the replacement is the same length as a 115 sedan.

Bernt again: Ok, now I am really confused. I can easily measure a W115 mirror because my dad has that car. However, does that mean that the mirror on all later W113s would be as much in my vision as the one I already have? What do other SL drivers have to say about the mirror position? I am 1.82m = 71.6" tall. Do others as tall as I am then also find the mirror right in their vision or is it above the normal line of sight? I currently have to bend down to look past the mirror. Maybe it is the seats?

Cees: I am 1.87, 6 ft 2, and have no problem looking past the mirror. I will measure the stalk in my 280 SL next time I'm at the garage. The black one I offered is the same length as the original chrome one in the 280 SL, but I suppose that the 230 was different from the 280, with a different mounting mechanism? I measured the stalk in my 280 SL today and, measured vertically from the top, the bottom is around 9 cm lower. The bottom of the mirror will be another cm or so. The Black replacement stalk that I have (not original in any W 113 I think) is identical to my original matte chrome finish one. Spring-loaded base.

Bernt, The mirror in my 67 230Sl hangs down 115mm from the base (chrome stalk) to bottom of mirror and it is always in the way when I make a right turn, you probably have the right stalk.

On my 230 SL, the top of the mirror is 2 inches below the mounting point, and the bottom of the mirror is 4-1/2 inches below the mouning point. The mirror and stalk are both chrome. I am 5'-9".... I raised up from the seet a bit and the mirror is not blocking my view.

I need to replace the glass in my outside mirror. Before I bugger something up, I thought I might seek some advise. How do I remove the old retaining ring and glass? Is the glass secured with glue and are there any tricks to chanaging out his glass? How does the new ring go into place?

There's a spring behind the piece of glass. Gently push it in & you'll feel some "give." You want to push it in just enough to pop out the outer retaining gasket. once that's out (and it will most likely just break from age). You'll find that the glass along with the spring will likely just fall out. When the glass is out, you may want to tighten and lubricate the joint on the inside of the mirror that controls the swivel action.

This is the rearview mirror I'm talking about, not the side view outside mirror. I have the chrome version; it's a 230SL. Bob Smith's and Achim's suggestions were right on. I didn't even try to remove the mirror stalk from the top of the windshield frame. I used a small sewing machine flathead screwdriver to pry the four tabs away and the front of the mirror assembly popped off easily. No oil or liquid needed at all. The chrome frame holds the front glass. The inner gasket, as noted above, was badly deteriorated but still holding tight, so I didn't mess with that. The back of the mirror, brown in colour like bathroom mirrors I've seen, was in excellent shape. A small tab of paper, inserted between the back of the mirror and the clip that holds the spring, was stamped with a date. This date was from the month before my car was manufactured, according to the table of production dates. I used Armor-All Auto Glass Cleaner and a paper towel to clean the two inside glass surfaces. Reassembling was only just a bit tricky. I wasn't sure I got the spring back in its proper orientation. The black tab that protrudes at the bottom of the mirror assembly to flip the mirror angle back and forth had to be carefully positioned, but it worked. I aligned the bottom pair of tabs properly and then pushed the top of the mirror to close the assembly. I used a bit of pressure from the small screwdriver to get the frame to open up so the front chrome frame tabs could pop back in. The glass surfaces look much better now and the mechanism seems to work fine. If I had thought of it, I could have checked the flathead screw that holds the inside of the mirror assembly to the bottom of the mirror stalk. Presumably, tightening that screw would stiffen the mirror adjustment.
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