1999-2007 Ford F-350 Super Duty Side Mirror Upgrade
Eliminating Blind Spots With a Newer Ford Side Mirror
Anybody who uses his eight-lug truck for towing—which probably applies to many heavy-duty pickup owners—knows the importance of side mirrors when it comes to seeing clearly along the sides of the tow rig for changing lanes, making sharp turns, and backing into tight spots. One approach to minimizing blind spots is to attach aftermarket towing mirrors, with the downside being that they might rattle and shake more than factory mirrors.
However, there's another way to maximize the viewing angle and upgrade the look of a truck (in this case, a Ford Super Duty) at the same time: swap out the side mirrors with newer factory models. In particular, Ford's '08-and-later trucks have much larger side mirrors (with about 30 percent more surface area), providing a bigger field of rearward vision than previous model years ('99 to '07). In addition, the newer design is beefier in construction and includes a turn signal and marker light, plus an optional heater—all of which make for a safer setup when towing.
Changing out the old for the new is not just a simple swap, though. Depending on the model used, the wiring harness will likely have a couple extra pins and receptacles in the connectors, which need to be swapped out with either a factory or an aftermarket component. That process involves tapping into the wires on the steering column and possibly using the wiring in the window-cancel switch as well, if the mirrors are heated.
Tim Anderson of T&A Performance showed us the details of the mirror swap on his '02 Ford F-350 (he has done a number of swaps for his customers as well). He also suggested a simpler method of connecting a pair of wires from each of the headlights and running them through the fenders and doorjambs to provide juice for the lighted option on the newer mirrors. There are a number of ways to handle the wiring, so be prepared to use a variety of connectors. It may also be necessary to study some wiring diagrams.
Whichever method of wiring is used, the difference in rear visibility is dramatic. "Everybody who gets this done loves it," Tim notes. After all, nobody likes having big blind spots when you have a big trailer in tow, and this mirror swap makes for a much-improved field of vision.
Tim Anderson's '02 Ford F-350 not only has later-model side mirrors for a better rear view but also a number of other upgrades from various Ford model years, including the suspension from an '07 F-450 and a '10 Ford tailgate with the integrated step.
Here's how the side mirrors from different model years compare in size. The surface area of the '08- and-newer Ford mirrors is about a third larger in size than the '99- to-'07 units. Note the addition of the turn signal light in the newer mirror and the bigger support arms as well. The larger size of the housing accommodates the bigger mirror glass.
Removing the trim panel on the inside of the door exposes the holes for the mounting bolts. You will probably need to pull out the door panel as well to access additional wiring for operating the power mirror.
Once unbolted, the old mirror simply lifts out and the new mirror fits into the same bolt pattern. Take note of whether the mirror is heated or not, as this will affect the wiring.
Access the wiring harness for the mirror in the steering column by removing the cover panel.
The wires will vary depending on the options of the particular mirrors used and might require splicing in additional wires from the headlights for extra juice.
Don't settle for electrician tape or screw-nut wire connectors. Use crimp-style butt connectors with shrinkwrap (as shown here) or, even better, solder the wires together.
Note the difference between the older Ford connector with fewer wires and the newer style connector. The three-wire style for the older mirror is non-lighted and non-heated.
At right is the early-style connector, and the one on the left is '09-and-newer, with more receptacles. For the door-mirror wire assembly, Tim used part number 3U2Z-14S411-YNA (about $40), which supplies power for adjustment, heating, running lights, turn signals, and extension.
The upper mirror is now for closer objects, while the lower one (which is convex for a much wider field of vision than the previous type of mirror) is for sighting along the side of a trailer in tow. Tim used part number 8C3Z-17683-BC for the driver side and part number 8C3Z-17682-BC for the passenger side; each costs about $590.