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4th Gen Autodimming Mirror

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Prologue:
The first step is to procure an auto-dimming mirror. I opted for a mirror from a '95 to '99 infiniti I30 because I knew it would look stock and fit the same mounting holes on the ceiling. Unfortunately, finding one of these mirrors is not as easy as you think: this mirror was an option on the I30s, so there aren't a heck of a lot of them out there. Of the mirrors out there, the majority seem to be beige but my interior is black. Also a critical note: before you buy a mirror, be sure it includes the plastic trim piece that covers the mounting holes! I don't know why, but most of the mirrors for sale don't include this piece. The local Infiniti dealer told me that they don't sell that piece individually, only as part of an expensive kit including the mirror.

Step 1: Test the Mirror
When your mirror arrives, before you even begin installing it, take a few minutes to test it out. The mirror has a four-pin harness. Looking at it head-on, it looks like this:

| 1 2 3 4 |
tab on the bottom

Here's what we're gonna do: Take two pieces of wire and strip their ends. Using the wires, connect pin 1 to the negative terminal of a 9v household battery. The 9v battery simulates the 12v electric system of our maximas. Connect pin 4 to the positive terminal. The light on the AUTO button should illuminate. Next, connect pin 2 to the negative and pin 3 to the positive. The lights behind the text AUTO and DAY should illuminate.

Let's discuss the four wires on the mirror.

The factory shop manuals for the i30 (i checked the manual for each year) say the following:

Black - This is ground.
Red/Yellow tracer - This taps into the Red/Yellow wire of the illumination control switch.
Green/Blue - This taps connects to Fuse #13, an ignition switched 12v.
Red/Blue tracer - This taps into the line between the Blue/Yellow wire of the illumination control switch and Fuse #18.

However, my mirror had different different colored wires! I don't know why. I deduced the following:

Black - This is ground. We're going to tie it into the Cigarette Lighter Ground.
Red/Silver tracer - This is the positive lead. We're going to tie it to the other Cigarette Lighter wire.
Blue/Silver tracer - This taps into the line between the Blue/Yellow wire of the illumination control switch and Fuse #18.
Green - This taps into the Red/Yellow wire of the illumination control switch.

In the following steps, we'll discuss how best to connect and run the wires around the cabin.

Step 2: Repair the Mirror (if necessary)
When I received my mirror, the swivel joint was extremely loose. I attempted to tighten it via the screw in the back, but when I removed the small rubber screw cover, the screw fell out! If this happens to you, here's how to fix it: First, with a screw driver, gently pry off the bezel around the mirror's glass, pushing in on the bottom to get away from the tabs.

Gently fold the glass down and check out the innards. You'll notice the ball joint that allows the mirror to swivel. Make sure there is a white plastic socket cover on top of it.

A small metal triangle-shaped piece is supposed to go over the white plastic socket cover and is held in place by the screw that fell out on me. Reseat the triangle piece and thread the screw back into it. See the arrow in the pic below for the screw location. It is this triangle-shaped plate that puts pressure on the white plastic cover to tighten the ball joint by means of that screw.

And with that, I fixed the mirror.

Step 3: Remove the Old Mirror
This part is easy. Using a screwdriver or the claw part of a small hammer, remove the cover of the mirror from the ceiling. Just insert the screwdriver or claw between the plastic cover and the ceiling and it should pop right off. Obviously, be careful not to scratch or crack anything. Once the cover is off, there are three Philips-head screws to remove. Your mirror will get loose as you do this, so be careful not to let it fall!

 

Step 4: Exchange the Mirror Mounting Bracket and Clip
You'll notice that your old mirror has a white plastic mounting bracket attached to it and your auto-dimming mirror doesn't.

This white plastic mounting bracket is the part that mounts the mirror on the ceiling. It is attached to the mirror by way of a weird-shaped metal clip wedged around a big screw. First, detach it from the old mirror: take a big old screwdriver and pry out the metal clip. It will take a fair amount of force to do this, but it's not hard. Be careful not to damage the plastic mounting bracket while doing this and be sure to pry the thing away from your face because it will pop out with a LOT of force. When my clip came off, it went flying across the room. Now attach the mounting bracket to the new mirror. The easiest way to do this, I found, is to loosen the large screw on the mirror with a big old vice grip. It is just screwed in too tight to use a screwdriver. So after you loosen it up a bit, drop the plastic white mounting bracket on top and slide the metal clip over it. then you can use a screwdriver to tighten the screw. Make sure that the bracket is in the proper position, which you'll be able to tell by feel.

Step 5: Disconnect the Car Battery
This is probably a good time to disconnect your battery so you don't zap yourself. Loosen the negative terminal clamp and slide it off. Your electrical system is now dead, save for any transient juice left in any random capacitors.

Step 6: Remove Interior Panels
Here's where the fun begins! I'm sure you'll want to a nice and clean install, so here's what you need to do: First, remove the driver's side plastic A-pillar cover. This is easy. Open the driver's door and pull out the weatherstripping from around the top of the windshield down to the side mirror area. Let that hang for a moment. Then, with a screwdriver, pry out the plastic pillar cover. There are a couple of interior clips that hold the thing to the metal pillar, but you don't have to worry about them. Just use a big screwdriver or two to pull the plastic down. You'll notice that there is a shrink-wrapped bunch of wires already running up the pillar. I assume that's for the HomeLink transmitter in my sun-visor. Be careful not to accidentally puncture it. Put your parking brake on. Pry up the plastic trim around the shifter and remove it. You'll need to disconnect the cigarette lighter harness and if you have an automatic like me, its easiest if you drop the shifter to N or D. Move it back to Park when you've gotten that trim piece off. Check the Haynes manual or Factory Shop Manual for extra help. Next, remove the lowest trim piece under the steering wheel area. There are two Philips-head screws to remove to do this. Again, check the Haynes manual or FSM for extra help. On your dash, pop out the interior illumination control switch. Pry it out with a screwdriver along the side. To make the next step easier, pop out switch cover next to it, too.

Step 7: Run the Wires
Alright, so you've gotten through the annoying stuff. Now on the fun part! To do this right, you'll need four runs of wire. I only had red and black 18 gauge on hand, so that's what i used. While you are running these wires, make sure you remember which is which. You might want to put labels on them in the A-pillar area so that when it is time to connect them to the mirror, you know what is what. Start by snaking a wire under the headliner through the hole where the mirror would be, down towards the window and then drag it across towards your A-pillar. You can easily keep it tucked under the headliner by the top of the windshield. Run it down the A-pillar and pass it through the space near the door.

You can snake it down through the dash and it can grab it in front of the fuse box. It might help to get down by the fuse box and look up through the dashboard to find your wire.

Keep the wire above the fuse box and run it under the dash, keeping it above all the various wiring harnesses and stuff under there. When you can, stuff the wire up towards the interior illumination control switch. You should be able to see your wire behind the switch, and with a claw-type extraction tool (or possibly a pair of long tweezers or something), grab the wire and pull it through towards you. Repeat this step, because two wires will connect to the interior illumination switch.

Be sure to leave a decent amount of slack in the wires you run.

Connect one wire to blue/yellow wire and the other to the red/yellow wire. You can use t-taps or whatever is easiest for you. I just inserted my wires into the back of the harness by gently prying open the tiny metal connectors inside it and then used a little bit of electrical tape to make sure nothing pulls loose.
The next two wires go to the cigarette lighter. Like before, run them from the mirror area, under the headliner, down the A-pillar, under the dash, above the fuse box, and towards the shifter. Again, keep them above all the wiring harnesses you find. Sneak the wires down alongside the bottom of the center console area and up through the shifter trim area you removed earlier. Connect one wire the +12 switched wire of the cig lighter (orange wire). Connect the other wire to the ground (black wire).

Again, you can tap into these wires however you like, but I just expanded the metal connectors inside the harness and inserted mine into those connectors, sealing the deal with electrical tape.

Step 8: Mount and Connect the Mirror
Almost done. First off, cut off the wiring plug unless you have the mate to it, and be sure to leave as much of the original wires as possible. Carefully strip the four wires. Screw the mirror back into the ceiling (I bet it looks good already) and run your four wires around the notch on the top left side.

Trim and strip your four wires. Using four tiny twist-on wire connectors, attach your four wires to the mirror's four wires using the scheme described above. Make sure you have a good connection here, and carefully tuck your wires and connectors in.

Now go ahead and reconnect your battery, then take a deep breath.

Step 9: Test the Installation!
Now that everything is installed, here's how the mirror should behave. Start with the key out of the ignition, all lights off. Nothing on the mirror should be illuminated. Stick your key in and turn it to ON. The AUTO button should be illuminated (like your clock). If you push the DAY button, that should be illuminated instead. Now turn your headlights on. The text AUTO and DAY should both be illuminated. If you roll the Interior Illumination dial back and forth, the text should dim and brighten along with all your other interior lights. Finally, if you're doing this during the day, cover up the photo sensor on the back of the mirror with your hand and after a few seconds the mirror should start dimming. If you're doing this at night, go out for a spin and enjoy! Clip the mirror trim piece on to cover your wiring, reattach all your other interior trim pieces, and congratulate yourself. Job well done!

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