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Photochromatic Rear View Mirror

The mirror on the Scorpio Ultima is  of an automatic type which darkens when bright light is shone onto it. Recognition between day and night is by the use of a light sensitive resistor facing forward. 

 Ford  describe it in the handbook (Page 60) as 'automatic glare reducing',  but it does not actually dip in the true sense of the word, it darkens.  It uses LCD display technology which use Twisted Neumatic Crystals  which alter in density when current is applied.....But I am getting far too technical. If you need to know more look here - its in quite simple English.

What we really need to know is how to fix the problem which has become all too apparent as the age of the car advances. The mirrors have a tendency to lose the auto dimming feature, going black and not reflecting in areas - in fact failure seems to be quite random with symptoms varying a lot. Mine lost its auto dimming feature and did not leak for about 18 months but sometimes quite catastrophically they do leak, and the fluid drips onto the centre console of the car causing considerable damage to the plastic trim,

This happened to me some time ago and after finding out the cost of a new mirror  ( 126  FINIS 7231285) I decided to see if I could remedy the situation as a temporary 'Fix' as 120 was/is a lot of cash for a mirror. (I am really quite a mean old person!) and as I don't do an awful lot of night time driving now, I could in the short term carry on without this feature.

It is possible to get an ordinary mirror to fit the space but it does not 'look' as good (FINIS 1644639 27.00)

I removed the mirror from the car which is done by removing the interior light unit and the sunshine roof motor cover and the plug for the mirror is then exposed. Unplugged and the plug fed under the front of the head lining,  the mirror is removed by easing it FORWARDS gently taking care not to put too much strain on it as the windscreen is easily cracked - as some members have already found out to their dismay. The instructions that FMC have supplied are incorrect, in so much as the mirror removal given by them states rearwards and this is NOT possible. It comes off towards the front of the car.

With the mirror on the bench I made a careful inspection of it and it is quite apparent that it was assembled from several pieces -  so it must come apart if the plastic clips have not gone too brittle with heat and age.

I use an old 6 inch steel rule for leverage in these sort of situations and I eased it under the front near to the on/off switch.

By careful application of a twisting movement I was able to release the first of several clips and eventually the front came off exposing the inner workings and circuitry of the mirror.

Mine had leaked as I had already stated and I could not find any information regarding the toxicity of the fluid  it contained, but I wore rubber gloves as a precaution and removed the goo with paper towels, methanol and IPA, leaving the whole of the inside clean and dry.

I saw that the two parts of the mirror (the reflective part and the plain glass which retains the fluid) are bonded using a black epoxy type resin and there are two electrical connections one for the top and one for the bottom..

These are easily removed and the plain glass cover (Which is supposed to be bonded and contains the neumatic crystal fluid) was removed, the ordinary mirror cleaned with the alcohols and the whole thing reassembled. Unfortunately I broke the plain glass. It is very thin glass and EXTREMELY delicate - but then again it wasn't needed on the repair.. fortunately!

I  found that the front was now quite loosely fitting and I resealed it using a few spots of glue from the reliable hot glue gun. It only takes a few spots to secure the front again as it is not under any pressure or strain and I use this in preference to cyanoacrylates (Super Glue) as it does allow the thing to be taken apart again should the need ever arise.  Super glue is usually stronger than the material when it bonds but you cannot tell when its all back together.

 The mirror still retains its appearance and the green LED still illuminates but it does not darken due to the absence of the fluid, and as I have stated this only intended as a temporary 'Fix', but it does enable to original equipment to be kept and is functional and complies with the law. I have now been able to replace my mirror with one that works .. but I do wonder for how long.

I hope that this helps someone get over the trauma should you ever experience it when it leaks.  Now as a precaution  I leave a cloth over the centre console when I park the car - am I paranoid or what! - but once bitten and all that ...

I noted with some interest Eric R's theiory on the forum about the failing of the mirrors due to high temperatures in the car etc (Interesting Mod being tried!) and would tend to agree in principle to this, but I do think it is something that happens with age as well, as the epoxy resin does eventually go brittle and cracks. ( I use several types in my current hobby  so I do have some experience with the failings of epoxy resins.)

It is perhaps a combination of the several factors which cause the failure, I do not suppose we will ever find out.  I have written to FMC Europe twice regarding the failure of these mirrors  but to date have not received any reply.  I live in hope.!!!!!!!!

Words & Pix by David R  (Snoopy)




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