A backup camera, also known as a rear-view camera, allows you to see what’s behind your vehicle without having to look back. Though the device is standard on many new car models, you can add one to your vehicle if it did not come with one.
Part 1 Purchasing the Necessary Equipment
1. Purchase a vehicle-specific mountable backup camera. To ensure your safety, make sure you buy a device that is specifically designed to be a rear-view camera. Buying one made specifically for your vehicle will make it easier to install than a standard aftermarket camera. Look for a camera that mounts onto or directly behind your licence plate to make installation easier.
Backup cameras can be found in consumer electronics stores.
2. If you want to keep your existing rear-view mirror, get an external monitor. An external backup monitor is a small video screen that, like a GPS, mounts to your windshield. External monitors, while taking up more space than internal monitors, are far easier to see and can be easily replaced if necessary.
You can use a standard video monitor instead if you prefer. However, keep in mind that it may not have all of the same features as backup camera-specific devices.
3. For a less obtrusive device, consider purchasing an internal monitor. An internal backup monitor is a fully functional rear-view mirror with a small screen embedded within the glass. Some internal monitors clip onto your existing rear-view mirror, while others completely replace it.
When not in use, most internal monitors turn off and disappear, making them an excellent choice if you want to keep your car’s appearance.
4. If your camera and monitor did not come with power and video cords, purchase them. Most rear-view camera installations will require camera and monitor splitter cords with video and power cable connectors, two bare wire power cables, and an RCA video cable.
These cables are usually included in installation kits, but some may require you to purchase them separately.
Wireless transmitters are used instead of standard video cables in some camera models.
Part 2 Installing the Camera Cables
1. Remove your licence plate from the back. Remove each of the screws holding your rear licence plate in place with a Phillips head screwdriver. Then, remove the plate and set it aside.
Make a note of where you’ll keep the screws so you don’t lose them.
2. Remove the interior panel from your trunk. Open the trunk and look for a solid interior panel on the opposite side of the licence plate mounting area. Insert a trim removal tool or other thin tool behind the panel and pry it off.
By removing this panel, you will gain access to the car’s rear wiring chambers.
3. Drill a small hole in the area where the licence plate will be mounted. Check for any impediments between the licence plate mount and the rear wiring chamber. Then, using a power drill equipped with a high-speed twist drill bit, drill a small hole in the car. Place your hole directly behind the location of your camera’s power and video cables.
Hold your camera up to the area where you want to mount it to figure out where to drill the hole. Then, take note of where its splitting cord is located.
Make a hole large enough to accommodate your camera’s power and video cables.
If you come across any impediments, try to get rid of them. If you can’t, try making a hole nearby.
For most jobs, you’ll need a drill bit with a diameter of 18 to 14 in (0.32 and 0.64 cm).
4. Wrap your camera cable in a rubber grommet. Insert a rubber grommet near the non-splitting end of your camera cable before running it into the car. These small rubber washers, which are widely available at home improvement stores, will keep the wire in place and prevent leaks.
Select a grommet that is just big enough to go inside the drilled hole.
5. Connect the camera cable to your trunk. Pull the split end of your camera’s video and power cable through the drilled hole in your car’s trunk. Make sure to pull it tight enough so that the rubber grommet is lodged in the drilled hole.
Your camera cable should run from the outside to the inside of your vehicle.
6. Locate the two reverse light wires on your vehicle. The wires that connect your car’s tail lights to the dashboard are known as reverse light wires. They connect directly to your vehicle’s tail lights and are typically found in the hatch or trunk of your vehicle.
These cords appear differently in each vehicle, so if you can’t find them, refer to your owner’s manual for model-specific information.
7. The wires for your car’s reverse lights should be stripped and separated. Peel back the rubber covering the wires with a wire stripper or pliers. Then, using a screwdriver or other thin tool, separate the individual wire strands by poking a hole through the middle of each exposed wire.
Make sure you do this while the car is turned off for your own safety.
8. Connect the camera wires to the reverse light wires. Connect one of your bare wire cables to the power connector on the camera cord. Then, poke your bare wires through the exposed reverse light wires’ centre and twist them together. Wrap the combined wires in electrical tape for added security.
Make sure your positive (usually red) bare wire is inserted into the positive reverse light wire and your negative (usually black) bare wire is inserted into the negative reverse light wire.
Part 3 Putting in Your Monitor
1. Connect the video cable from your camera to the front of the vehicle. If necessary, connect your RCA cable to the video connector on the camera cord. Then, route it through your vehicle to the fuse box area. Depending on the model of your vehicle, you should be able to do this by peeling back the headliner or side panels and pulling your cable through the exposed chamber.
For some trucks, the video cable may need to be routed through the frame rail.
The fuse box is usually located beneath the steering wheel in most cars.
2. Install external monitors on the front windshield. If you’re installing an external monitor, start by attaching the device’s included mount to the windshield according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, attach your monitor to the mount.
Most external monitors have a suction mount, but others may have a more complicated mounting system.
3. Internal monitors can be attached to the rear-view mirror or mirror mount. Certain internal monitors require you to clip the new device onto your existing rear-view mirror. Others will require you to remove the mirror and slide your monitor into the pre-existing mirror mount.
Some internal monitors may come with their own mounting system that must be attached to the front windshield of the vehicle.
4. Connect the splitter cable from the monitor to the fuse box. Connect your monitor’s power and video cables to the device if necessary. The cable should then be routed from the monitor to the area near the fuse box.
You can remove the headlining panel directly above your windshield with a trim removal tool if you want. Then, connect your cable to the exposed chamber.
5. Connect the camera cable from your monitor to the RCA cable. Connect the video end of your monitor’s splitter cable to your camera’s RCA cord after routing the cable from your monitor. Then, wrap electrical tape around the connected cords to keep them together.
If the ends of your RCA and video cables are the same, you may need to buy an RCA male to female converter cord. These are available at most electronics stores.
6. Connect the power cable of your monitor to a fuse tap. Connect the backup monitor’s power cord to the remaining bare wire cable. Then, insert the open end of a fuse tap with the positive (usually red) end of the bare wire cable. Finally, use pliers to crimp the two cables together.
A fuse tap is a small cable that transforms a bare wire into a fuse signal. They are available at most auto parts stores.
You can remove the bare wire cable and connect your camera’s power cable to a cigarette lighter adaptor if you prefer. Then, for power, plug this adaptor into your car’s cigarette lighter receptacle.
7. Connect the fuse tap to the fuse box. Locate and open your fuse box. Then connect your fuse tap to an open fuse cell. Check the fuse box lid or your vehicle’s instruction manual to see which slots are open if necessary.
After you’ve attached your fuse, tape all of your wires together with electrical tape to keep them out of the way.
Part 4 Mounting the Camera
1. Connect the power and video cables to your backup camera. Once you’ve installed the rear-view monitor and all of the camera cords, return to the back of your car. If necessary, close the trunk and connect the backup camera’s power and video cables.
The power and video cables for your camera should protrude from the hole you drilled in the licence plate mounting area.
2. Attach the camera to the back of your licence plate. If the camera is attached to the front of your licence plate, attach it to the plate according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the camera is attached to the back of your licence plate, align it with the plate’s fastener holes and screw it in place.
In most cases, you can use the screws you removed from the car earlier to attach a rear-view camera to the back of your licence plate.
3. Reinstall the licence plate and trim panels. Replace your vehicle’s rear licence plate with a Phillips head screwdriver. After you’ve reattached it, tug on the licence plate and backup camera to ensure they’re secure.
Reattach your car’s interior trunk panel and other trim panels, if you haven’t already, by pressing them back onto the vehicle.
4. To ensure that everything is in working order, test the camera. Test your new camera in a safe area, such as your driveway, before using it on public roads. Place a large, durable object, such as a trash can, behind the camera to see how distorted the image is if it turns on. If it doesn’t turn on, consult your installation manual for troubleshooting tips.
Rear-view camera malfunctions are frequently caused by loose or improperly connected wires.
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