There’s nothing like sitting in a friend’s car, watching them use the backup camera and feeling a wave of jealousy. Reversing cameras increase driver awareness and make baking in tight spaces a breeze – everyone can benefit. But you don’t have to be jealous of anyone, because you can easily add a rear view camera to your “old” car.
Let me clarify something before we get into the weeds. People tend to use “backup camera” and “rear view camera” interchangeably, but they are two different products. A rear view camera turns on when you back up in your vehicle, while a rear view camera gives you a live feed (or footage) of drivers behind you.
Yes, you can add a rear view camera to your car
While backup cameras may seem like a modern luxury, they really aren’t that sophisticated. In fact, they’ve been around for decades. We’ve just reached the point where LCD screens and small digital cameras are affordable enough to fit in any new car.
Because backup cameras are so simple, you can install one in any car, truck, SUV, or RV. Aftermarket backup cameras are incredibly common and universal options work in just about any vehicle. In addition, brands like Pioneer and Kenwood are selling additional backup cameras for their head units, allowing for seamless upgrades.
That said, you don’t even need a fancy head unit with a big screen — there are a ton of backup camera kits that come with a dash display or rear-view mirror monitor. That said, a nice head unit or “infotainment center” will give you the best experience with a rear camera, and it will often result in a cleaner setup with no exposed wires.
I should also note that reversing cameras work with trailers. If you find yourself attaching things to the back of your vehicle every few weeks, a rear view camera is a seriously great investment.
What Type of Rear View Camera Should You Buy?
Shopping for a rear camera is a relatively easy task. Of course, you have to worry about features like night vision, but these features are very simple and easy to understand. And while manufacturers sell hundreds of different backup cameras, they all come down to three different form factors.
Here are the three types of backup cameras:
Retrofit cameras: These backup cameras plug directly into your head unit, giving you a video feed when you reverse. That said, they need a head unit or “infotainment center” that can play video. (I highly recommend purchasing an additional rear view camera from your main unit manufacturer to make installation easier.) Cameras with dash displays: Some backup camera kits come with a small display that sits on your dash or on your windshield sticks. These kits are usually wireless, so they’re a great inexpensive option if you’re not sure about handling wires. Cameras with mirror monitors: For a cleaner setup, you can purchase a camera kit that includes a rear-view mirror monitor. This monitor also doubles as a mirror and screen. It’s mostly wireless and it sits on top of or replaces your existing rear view mirror.
Once you’ve decided on which form factor is right for you, it’s time to start looking for features. I highly recommend getting a rear view camera with night vision and parking guidelines. You may also want to buy a wireless camera so you don’t have to run video cables across your vehicle.
Other features like DVR recording or picture quality are up to you. But if you are planning to buy a camera with a rear view mirror monitor, you may want to buy a camera with an integrated dash cam.
Can you install a reversing camera yourself?
This guy knows how to install a rear view camera! HQuality/Shutterstock.com
Installing a rear view camera is not a difficult task, but it is time consuming and requires a little experience with cars. Even “wireless” backup cameras require power, and that means disconnecting your vehicle’s battery to connect wires.
Most people should opt for a professional installation, which costs at least $100. But if you enjoy working on a car, installing a reversing camera is no problem.
Here’s the gist of the process:
Disconnect your car battery Mount the rear view camera (usually on your license plate) Connect the camera for power (usually to your brake light) Run video cables under your door seal to reach your main unit or display
If you purchase an additional display, you may need to connect it to your head unit or indoor lighting system. That said, some add-on displays connect to your cigarette lighter for power, which can make setup a relatively quick job when paired with a wireless video system.
I should also note that some extra backup cameras, like the ones Kenwood makes for his head units, don’t require a special power source. Instead, they draw power from the video cable that plugs into the back of your receiver.
Be aware that an electric shock from your car can kill you. If you don’t know how to safely work on a car, pay a professional (or at least an knowledgeable friend) to install your reversing camera.
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Are reversing cameras expensive?
On their own, backup cameras are shockingly cheap. Most models run between $30 and $70, with some going for even less. The problem, of course, is that your older car probably doesn’t have a head unit or “infotainment center” that can display the feed from a rear view camera.
As I mentioned before, you don’t need to upgrade your head unit to use a backup camera. But you’ll need to spend some extra cash on a backup camera kit, which will include a dash video screen or a rear-view mirror with an integrated display.
These kits start around $120 and are relatively easy to install. That said, advanced features (like an integrated dashcam or DVR functionality) will quickly push the price up to $200 or $300. And if you need professional installation, which is likely the case, it’ll cost you an extra $100 or more. Lake.
If you choose to buy a new head unit with your rear camera, you can expect to pay a minimum of $400 before installation. And that’s a very conservative estimate: you may need a manufacturer-specific camera for your new head unit, and of course the price of a new head unit will depend entirely on what features you want.
This post Can you add a rear view camera to an older car? – Review Geek
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