Upgrading your Jeep Cherokee XJ with heated mirrors is a bolt in upgrade if you can find a set of donor mirrors. I have a 1997 Jeep Cherokee Sport with power mirrors, and the red connector in the door had 12V switched power controlled by my rear defroster switch. If you have a set of donor mirrors you should be able to switch mirrors and simply plug in the connectors and be done.
I pulled my mirrors from the junkyard, but Quadratec has both driver and passenger mirrors available - pretty reasonably priced. I found mine at the junkyard on half price day at Pick-N-Pull for $29.99 - but honestly the new mirrors might be a great option. I’m unsure of the quality of the housings. If someone has them, let me know!
My installation wasn’t quite plug-and-play - the only donor mirrors that I could find had broken housings. I had to remove the mirror glass with their attached heating elements and graft them into my own mirror housings. Read on if you want to learn more. I’ve included a few Amazon affiliate links to some of the tools that I use. This helps supports the site, and I occasionally save up for something new from Knipex.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional. This is for informational purposes only. Please properly secure all wires, and don’t do anything stupid. Be safe when soldering and don’t breathe the fumes and be careful around wiring in general.
The Easy Way
I’ve skipped a couple of steps here. You’ll need to remove your door card in order to remove the trim piece covering the triangular area at the front corner of the window. There’s a small screw at the bottom of that triangle that you can’t access without pulling the door card. You don’t have to remove the door card completely - you can leave the lock and door handle connecting rods attached. Don’t hang the door from those rods and return it to hang from the window trim.
You’ll be able to locate the red six pin power connector that goes to the window in the top corner of the door just underneath the mirror. The body side of this connect should have six wires and two of them should be black. A multi-meter should show 12V between them when the rear defroster is turned on.
When removing the door panel, it’s really helpful to have a set of trim tools. They make it really easy to get the door apart without breaking trim fasterners, and I find them to be quite handy in general around the shop. In particular, it’s nice to have a fastener tool. It is like a reverse set of pliers and will quickly pop a door panel free. In these two photos you can see that I’ve pulled back the door splash shield. I had to do some manual window maintenance while I had the door apart.
In order to remove the mirrors from the Jeep you’ll need to remove three torx screws that connect the mirror to the body.
If you’ve got a fresh set of replacement mirrors or a good set from the junkyard, you can pretty much stop right here. Plug in your mirrors and reassemble.
The Hard Way
Every trip to the junkyard for the last couple of years I’ve looked for a set of heated mirrors. I finally found a set. You can spot them by seeing the small heating element icon in the glass.
These are the mirrors that I pulled the junkyard. You can see that they’ve got broken housings and the glass is no longer attached in one and is held in place with tape.
The glass is attached to a carrier plate with silicone. The adhesive has failed in this one and I’ve flipped the mirror glass over so that you can see the heating element.
In order to switch the glass to my mirror housings I needed to first remove the glass from both sets of mirrors. In the forums you’ll see people smashing the glass. Don’t do this. The mirror glass is on a flat plastic plate that has tabs on the back. Tilt the bottom of the mirror inwards and then you should be able to pull upwards on the glass to pop the mirror glass carrier free. In the photo above you can see that I had success using a trim panel tool to pop it loose.
While I had the mirrors apart, I did a bit of scrubbing and cleaning. For this I used some contact cleaner and a brass brush. These old contacts were pretty grungey.
Here’s my old mirrors. You can see that they popped free without any trouble.
This is the connector from my original mirror. You can see the two empty spaces where the two wires to run the heating element will go.
Here’s the connector from the heated mirrors. You can see the two black wires that run the heating elements.
In order to move the heated glass mirrors from the old housings to the new housings I had to de-pin the connectors and free the wires.
First, I used a pick to remove the yellow clip in the center of the connector. With the tip of the pick you depress and push on the tab on each side. Be patient and wiggle it free.
Once the center section is removed, you must insert a pick underneath the tiny tab that holds each pin in place. In this photo I’m using a simple pick.
If you’re doing a bunch of electrical work, it’s worth it to buy a set of pin terminal tools. They are cheap and versatile and make taking apart electical connectors much easier. In this case the little 1mm straight pick is perfect for lifting the internal tab without damaging anything.
In this photo above you can see that the pins are out of the donor mirrors and the wires to run the mirrors are free. I cut the protective plastic tubing in this set to make it easier to get the wires free.
With the donor glass and wiring free, I was finally able to swap the mirrors over. I had to remove the harness from the mirror so that I could thread the new wires into the protective plastic tube and then reinstall the rubber grommet before re-assembling the connector.
As always, take some photos of your connectors from several angles if you are going to take them apart. It’ll take the guesswork out of putting them back together.
At this point I had changed my original mirrors into heated mirrors exactly how they would have left the factory. I was quite proud of myself and the new skill my Jeep had aquired after 20+ years. I reinstalled the mirrors, plugged in the connectors and put the door cards back together.
Every time I reassemble the doors I feel like I choose a different direction for the window roll up handle to point when in the rolled up position. If you have an opinion about that or a question about this, please email.
The Hardest Way
Because 12V is available in the door, I think you could disasemble the mirrors and install a universal heating kit. You’d have to clip the body side of the door harness and attach to the wires. Don’t do this though.
I made this way harder than it needed to be. Messing around with this Jeep is a hobby, and I enjoyed having all of the mirrors apart and making my wiring harnesses look as if they were stock. But realistically - just buy the mirrors from Quadratec and this is a simple plug and play installation.