Backup Camera Installation Guide (2023)

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So you want to install a backup camera on your trusty, but outdated, ride. Great idea! These helpful tools have made such an impact on the automotive industry that they’re now mandated as necessary safety features. But dealership rides aren’t the only way to get back up cameras.

Back up cameras are now readily available as aftermarket parts that anybody can install on older vehicles. On brand-new vehicles, a backup camera comes fully integrated into the electronics, so the system’s components are hidden. That’s the goal when installing a custom aftermarket setup, as well.

With a few tweaks to the car’s rear and a couple of wire connections, you’ll never have to crane your neck backward to check if little Timmy is practicing Big Wheel donuts at the end of the driveway. The Drive’s crack How-To team is here to help walk you through the process.


Backup Camera Basics

Estimated Time Needed: One hour

Skill Level: Beginner

Vehicle System: Electrical

2020 Ram Rebel backup camera, Ram

What Is a Backup Camera?

A backup camera, when built into a car’s systems by the manufacturer, displays a small, live view from behind the car when the vehicle is put into reverse. This gives the driver a clearer picture of what’s behind him or her and helps to ensure Fido doesn’t get a deep-tissue massage from your tires.

Here is a list of the types of cameras, as well as the types of displays commonly used.

Types of Cameras

  • Bracket-mounted: The camera is attached to but separated from a bracket that can be mounted on the car’s surface.
  • Flush-mounted: A camera that is made to blend with the surface of the vehicle as much as possible.
  • License plate frame: The camera is embedded within a license plate frame.
  • License plate bar: The camera is centered in a bar that stretches across and attaches to the top of a license plate.
  • OEM-specific: If you have a newer used car, it might be compatible with a specific part, such as a latch handle, that has a camera built in for a clean factory look.
(Video) Car Backup Cameras Explained: How To Install On Your Car!

Types of Displays

  • Integrated OEM: A factory unit that comes with the car and sits in or on top of the dashboard.
  • In-dash aftermarket: An added infotainment stereo with a screen that fits flush with the dashboard
  • On-dash aftermarket: A stand-alone monitor that can be placed on top of the dashboard.
  • Rearview mirror: A monitor is built into the rearview mirror. Sometimes the screen is half of the mirror, sometimes it is full-length. When not in use, it just looks like a mirror.

Wired vs. Wireless: Wired backup cameras require a physical wire connection to get the video from the camera to show up on the display. Wireless options, however, use a signal and receiver method and do not require a wire.

2016 Chrysler 200 interior, Chrysler

Backup Camera Safety

Working on your car can be dirty, especially when you’re working with surfaces you’ve never bothered to clean before. It can also be dangerous, as electricity moving at the speed of, well, electricity, can stop your metronomic heartbeat. So here’s what you’ll need to ensure you keep your jeans, shirt, and skin spotless, and your bones fully intact.

  • Mechanic gloves
  • Long-sleeve shirt to protect your arms
  • Safety Glasses

Organizing your tools and gear so everything is easily reachable will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or blowtorch. (You won't need a blowtorch for this job. Please don’t have your kid hand you a blowtorch—Ed.)

You’ll also need a flat workspace, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking. Check your local laws to make sure you’re not violating any codes when using the street because we aren’t gonna pay off your impound fees.

Everything You’ll Need to Install a Backup Camera

We’re not psychic, nor are we snooping through your toolbox or garage, so here’s what you’ll need to get the job done.

Tool List

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Trim/panel removal tools
  • Wire strippers
  • Cordless drill
  • 3/32 to ⅛ drill bit
  • Automotive Multimeter
  • Wire connectors such as Posi-Taps
  • Electrical tape
  • Zip ties
  • A friend

Parts List

  • Rearview camera
  • Wire cluster
  • Monitor or infotainment unit (if necessary)
  • Rubber grommet
Posi-Taps, Principal LED

How to Install a Backup Camera

Let’s do this!

(Video) Installation of Reversing Camera

Adding the Camera

  1. Make sure vehicle is turned off.
  2. Safely disconnect the vehicle’s battery terminals.
  3. Remove the license plate if necessary.
  4. Position the camera to the desired position on the vehicle.
  5. With a marker, mark where the camera’s cord hits the vehicle.
  6. Depending on the type of vehicle and where the camera will be located, you will likely need to remove an interior panel from the interior portion of the door, hatch, or tailgate. On a bumper, this might not be necessary.
  7. Make sure there are no wires, cables, or trim pieces that could be damaged when you drill a hole through the exterior of the car.
  8. Determine which size drill bit bores a large enough hole to accommodate the camera’s wire and rubber grommet. A simple visual inspection is usually all you need.
  9. Using the selected drill bit, drill a hole where you made a mark.
  10. Add a rubber grommet into the hole to hide the rough metal edges and protect the wire.
  11. Run the camera wiring through the hole.
  12. Attach the camera to the vehicle either through the supplied hardware or the hardware you purchased separately.

Begin Wiring Installation

  1. Connect the provided wire cluster to the camera wire. This will split into a video wire, a power wire, and possibly a reverse signal wire.
  2. For the cleanest look, look for the existing manufacturer wiring loom, and try to pair and route the wiring next to that.
  3. Identify a power source for the camera, likely either a reverse light or a license plate light.
  4. Identify the positive and negative wires from the light source using a multimeter.
  5. Link the positive camera wire to the positive light wire and the negative camera wire to the negative. This can be done with a splice or a Posi-Tap connector.

Splicing a Wire

  1. If Posi-Taps are not available, then you will need to splice your wires together. For ease, we recommend a military splice, as it does not require soldering.
  2. Using a wire stripper, hold the positive light wire and remove a section of the plastic coating to reveal the copper.
  3. Split the exposed section of copper into two.
  4. Feed the positive camera wire through the hole between the copper wiring.
  5. Wrap and twist the wiring positive camera wire around the light wire to establish a sturdy connection.
  6. Shrinkwrap and/or tape up the connection for security and protection.
  7. Repeat for the negative wire.
Equipment for Alpine HCE-C1100 backup camera, Alpine via Amazon

Reverse Signal Wire

In order for the display to show the video feed, it needs a signal to alert the system the car is in reverse. In some cases, the infotainment unit will have automatic signal sensing that detects the presence of an incoming video signal. If this is the case, skip this step.

  1. Using a friend, identify a signal source—this is any wire that holds a positive 12 volts —while the car is in reverse. People often use the wiring for the reverse light, but some aftermarket stereo wiring harnesses have a connection built in.
  2. Tap into the signal source with a splice (repeat steps above).
  3. Pair the signal wire with the video wire and prepare for routing.

Routing the Wiring

  1. Depending on the type of vehicle, determine whether you want to track the wire under the floor of the vehicle or through its headliner.
  2. Remove or partially detach any trim pieces, carpeting, headliner, or door rubber needed to discretely run the wire.
  3. Tuck the two wires out of view, and run them to the front of the vehicle.
  4. Reattach the trim pieces you’ve removed.
(Video) BEST WIRELESS Backup Camera!! (Trust me, I have tried a lot!)

Connecting the Display

Once the monitor is in place, be that in the dashboard, on top of it, or in the rearview mirror, it’s time to connect it to power, video, and the signal wire.

In some cases, the monitor power cord can be linked straight into the fuse box with a spliced-on adapter.

  1. Use a multimeter to determine an appropriate spot and attach the power cable.
  2. Make sure the fuse turns off when the ignition is off, or the connection could drain the battery.

In other cases, the power wiring can be hooked into the existing stereo unit.

  1. Remove trim piece to reach the stereo wiring.
  2. Find the power cables for the stereo.
  3. Connect positive to positive and negative to negative.
  4. Connect the reverse signal wire to the reverse trigger wire.
  5. Connect the video wire.
  6. Reattach the trim pieces you’ve removed.

Wrapping Up

  1. Safely reconnect the battery terminals.
  2. Start the car.
  3. Put the car in reverse to see if the monitor switches or turns on and displays the rear video feed.
  4. If it works, turn the car off. If it doesn’t, return to the steps and check your work.
  5. Tidy up any superfluous wire with electrical tape, zip ties, and velcro.
  6. Reinstall the stereo head unit, if necessary.
  7. Reinstall any removed interior parts, panels, or coverings.

Congrats, your car is now safer and more modern.

2020 Nissan Rogue, Nissan

Pro Tips to Install a Backup Camera

Here are The Drive’s pro tips for installing a backup camera.

  • Pulling stubborn tangled wire throughout a car can be frustrating, so it’s best to be prepared with tools that can make the process easier. Use a wire feeder or puller to get those wires through tough spots.
(Video) Reverse Camera Installation | Pioneer RCAMAVIC review and demo

How Often Do You Need To Install a Backup Camera?

  • We’d like to say this will be a one-time installation, but only fools think electronics last forever. Even if it works for 10 years, you’ll want to upgrade to a nicer camera with a clearer picture in the future.

Life Hacks

Since you may not have access to the right tools, or have a friend you can bum a wrench off of, we also compiled a list of our best hacks to make your life easier and drain your pocket less.

Featured Products

Got a question? Got a pro tip? Send us a note:


Backup Camera Installation Guide? ›

Backup camera installation is straightforward, and you can do it yourself if you're even just a little handy. All vehicles are a little different, but the process for installing a backup camera is pretty similar no matter what you drive.

Can I install a backup camera myself? ›

Backup camera installation is straightforward, and you can do it yourself if you're even just a little handy. All vehicles are a little different, but the process for installing a backup camera is pretty similar no matter what you drive.

Is installing a reverse camera hard? ›

Generally, installing any reverse camera does not require much technical skill, but you may need to remove some interior trim and run, strip, and connect a few wires. In addition, a wide selection of DIY reverse camera kits is now available from aftermarket manufacturers.

Do you have to drill a hole to install a backup camera? ›

No you don't have to drill a hole in your car. you can feed the wire for the back up cam through the tag, light, or even through the grommet.

What is the average cost of a backup camera installation? ›

Nationwide chains such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart offer backup camera installation for approximately $130 to $140, excluding the cost of the camera itself.

How much does it cost to install a backup camera in a car? ›

For a vehicle that already has a screen, cameras range from $150-$400. Count on $400-$600 for labor. If your car doesn't have a screen, there's additional cost, of course: $150-$200 for a screen alone and $500-$1,500 for new head unit with a screen.

How do I supply power to my outdoor camera? ›

If you choose wire-free security cameras, all you need to do is put the batteries in. If you get a wireless security camera, plug the power cable into an electric outlet. And for PoE security cameras, just plug the Ethernet cable to a router.

How much power does a backup camera need? ›

Cameras use 1-2 amps. Monitors use 4-5 amps.

How do I run power to my outside camera? ›

If you need to power your PoE security camera outside, you can just fish a CAT5/6 cable, since PoE cabling can provide both data connection and electric power for your PoE security cameras. In terms of wireless security cameras, you just need to run wires for the outlet providing power for wireless security cameras.

What is the difference between backup camera and reverse camera? ›

Here's the thing to keep in mind: Backup camera – a camera that turns on when you put your vehicle in reverse. Rear-view camera – a camera that you can turn on at any time to see what's behind your vehicle.

Is it worth it to install a backup camera? ›

Backup cameras can significantly reduce your chances of getting into an accident while reversing. The backup camera is a standard safety feature in all new cars, SUVs, and trucks. You can add an aftermarket backup camera to any older vehicle.

How long does it take to install a backup camera? ›

As far as time goes, you should budget between 1 to 4 hours to install your backup camera. Your experience and the complexity of your chosen system really determine how long it'll take. Obviously you don't want to rush.

What is required for camera installation? ›

A CCTV Camera System has become a vital necessity in this modern world. While selecting your preferred security system, the 5 essential components you need to give importance to for consistent service are: Camera, Monitor, Cable, Video Recorders, and Data Storage.

Are wireless backup cameras worth it? ›

If you want the safety of a backup camera and want a cheaper solution, it's definitely beneficial to purchase a wireless camera for your vehicle. They're the best option for those who don't want the cost or trouble of a professional installation and who don't do well with hooking up technical equipment.

Do backup cameras record accidents? ›

Do backup cameras record accidents? Backup cameras typically don't record footage like dash cams do since they are only meant to assist the driver while backing up. Since they don't engage unless the vehicle is in reverse, they aren't suitable for recording most types of accidents.

Are backup cameras safer? ›

According to the NHTSA, the addition of backup cameras will help to prevent injury and death caused by reversing accidents, also known as backover accidents.

Can I install car camera myself? ›

You don't need to be a specialist to install a dashcam. If you can route cables, use adhesives, and plug things in, you can install a dashcam. Employees at car accessory stores don't take special training to learn how to install a dashcam.

Can I install a backup camera on a car that doesn't have one? ›

If your car has an infotainment screen but lacks a rearview camera, you can purchase an aftermarket retrofit for $50 to $600. Hardwiring a rearview camera will take some DIY skills and can be time-consuming. CR suggests if you have any doubts, consider professional installation.

Do cameras work when the power is out? ›

Generally, the security cameras will stop working when the power is out, whether it is for recording, motion detecting, or sending push. But battery powered security camera is an exception, which runs on battery power and will continue to record without electricity.

How to attach an outdoor camera without drilling into your home? ›

Gutter mounts are another great non-invasive option if you want to place security cameras outside your home. And unlike siding mounts, they can work for basically any type of home. There are plenty of gutter mount options online or at your local hardware store. They tend to be a little more expensive than siding hooks.

How do you install an outdoor camera without drilling? ›

Three of the most common ways are:
  1. Using a removable adhesive strip or suction cup that can be peeled off the wall at a later date without damaging anything.
  2. Using a small hook that will only leave a little hole, and doesn't require any drilling.
Sep 2, 2020

Can a backup camera drain a car battery? ›

Constant-Powered Dash Cameras = YES

If the dash camera is installed and connected to a constant power (always on) circuit for main power, the dash camera will drain your battery, BUT there are things you can do to prevent this from happening.

Which is better wireless or wired backup camera? ›

Advantages of a Wired Backup Camera System

Your backup camera is permanently connected to the monitor screen, which means you'll always get a clear picture. 2. Better picture quality. Wiring can handle more data and can receive images faster than wireless cameras for focused and sharp images.

What is the best angle for a backup camera? ›

Rear View Camera Viewing Angle

Most rear view backup cameras today come with a 120-degree viewable angle, it is the minimum you should have and if the option to upgrade to 170 degrees is available we suggest you take it. This will allow you to see approximately 3 lanes behind you.

Do cameras need a power supply? ›

A power supply is required for all security cameras. In most security camera systems, power boxes and power converters are employed.

How do wired cameras get power? ›

Wired security cameras receive their electrical power via a hardwired cable. This power might come directly from a power outlet. Or the power may be sent through the wire that connects to the central hub: the PoE (Power Over Ethernet) cable. The central hub is usually located in or around the home.

Can I run camera cable next to electrical? ›

Never run camera video cables or power cables in the same conduit as power lines. This is actually against nationwide building codes and the AC power running though power lines can completely destroy quality video signals. The power lines create noise which can be induced into the video cable causing poor performance.

Which is better parking aid or backup camera? ›

Reverse cameras give you a visual cue when you're maneuvering your car, while parking sensors can accurately gauge your distance from objects and other vehicles on the road. One isn't inherently better than the other. It's all about how you use the technology to help you park your car the best way possible.

Which is better parking sensor or parking camera? ›

A camera can often be installed in a fashion that retains a factory appearance and requires little to no modification to the vehicle whereas parking sensors require drilling holes in the vehicle bumper and sometimes additional time and cost to paint in order to retain a factory look.

Do aftermarket backup cameras work? ›

Do aftermarket cameras work well? It's hard to replace the OEM camera system with a backup camera that works as well as the factory unit, but installing a camera in a car that did not have one before can be a huge benefit. Backup cameras help avoid accidents and can make your daily drive much safer and easier.

Why do backup cameras fail? ›

Damaged Hardware

One of the most common reasons for receiving blurry images or for a rear vision camera to stop working completely is related to hardware damage. If the lens, stabilizer, or any other component is broken, then you will experience problems.

How hard is it to install a wireless camera? ›

Simple installation

With less equipment required, wireless cameras are easier to install than wired systems. Most devices do not need to be hardwired into the property, and can be implemented simply by being mounted to the walls without the need to purchase extra tools and accessories.

What is the blue wire for on the reversing camera? ›

The blue wire is a trigger. This is how it works : For the monitor to work as a mirror when you are not backing up it should be turned OFF. If it were turned ON then all you would see is a blue screen.

How does a wireless backup camera get power? ›

The backup camera monitor goes inside the cab of your vehicle and is powered by a 12 volt plug. There are usually a few mounting options included like a suction cup windshield mount or adhesive dash mount.

Can you hook up factory backup camera to aftermarket radio? ›

Factory Camera Retention Harness with 6 Volt Power Adapter Combo. Use this harness to retain the factory reverse camera when adding an aftermarket radio. Retains the factory back-up camera to an aftermarket radio. Use with aftermarket radio that has a backup camera input feature only- usually radio with video screen.

Do you need Internet to install a camera? ›

To install a wireless security camera without the internet, you simply place it on a flat surface or mount it to a ceiling or wall. You may also need to place a hard drive somewhere, which may connect to the camera via a cable unless it's wire-free.

Do you need wifi to install a camera? ›

Yes, you can set up cameras without the internet. Many cameras are local only, recording onto local storage like a micro-SD card or hard drive.

What are some common mistakes to avoid during CCTV camera installation? ›

Common mistakes to avoid when installing a CCTV system
  • The wrong height. Placing your surveillance cameras too low off the ground will limit the scope of what the camera captures. ...
  • The wrong spot. ...
  • Cameras facing each other. ...
  • Choosing the wrong camera. ...
  • Strong or low lighting.

What is the trigger wire for backup camera? ›

The wire will provide a signal to the vehicle's head unit when the vehicle is in reverse. This will trigger the video screen to show the video from the backup camera on the screen and will energize the backup camera.

Can I leave my backup camera on all the time? ›

Can i leave the backup camera on all time while i'm driving? Yes! its all about how you connect the 12V power cable.

Do backup cameras record all the time? ›

Backup cameras typically don't record footage like dash cams do since they are only meant to assist the driver while backing up. Since they don't engage unless the vehicle is in reverse, they aren't suitable for recording most types of accidents.

How hard is it to install cameras? ›

Installing an indoor camera can be as easy as finding the right spot, plugging it in, turning it on, and syncing it with your mobile or desktop app. While some may require drilling, most indoor cameras we've come across won't require anything more than a screwdriver.

Which is better wired or wireless backup camera? ›

Advantages of a Wired Backup Camera System

Your backup camera is permanently connected to the monitor screen, which means you'll always get a clear picture. 2. Better picture quality. Wiring can handle more data and can receive images faster than wireless cameras for focused and sharp images.

What is the difference between a backup camera and a rear view camera? ›

Backup camera – a camera that turns on when you put your vehicle in reverse. Rear-view camera – a camera that you can turn on at any time to see what's behind your vehicle.

Will a backup camera drain battery? ›

Constant-Powered Dash Cameras = YES

If the dash camera is installed and connected to a constant power (always on) circuit for main power, the dash camera will drain your battery, BUT there are things you can do to prevent this from happening.

Do backup cameras have night vision? ›

Most back-up cameras provide a horizontal view, with some as wide as 190 degrees. There are also options for low-light capabilities that enhance the picture's visibility during early morning and evening hours as well as night vision to capture images in the dark.

How do I backup without a camera? ›

Using an open palm, steer with one hand — pushing and then gripping the wheel when near the top. The one hand steering allows you to stay in a position where you can see out the back and side windows. While backing, also make sure to take quick glances forward to make sure nothing in front has changed.

Is there a backup camera app? ›

The Rearview Camera is an Android app that uses OpenXC and a standard USB webcam to add a rear-facing camera to a car that didn't come equipped with one from the factory.

What is the easiest reversing camera to install? ›

If you want easy installation and great picture quality, the Auto-Vox CS-2 offers the best of both worlds. As it's a wireless camera, you should have no problem attaching the camera (with built-in wireless transmitter) to the back of your car or mounting the suction-cup-enabled screen on your dashboard.

Does a wireless backup camera need wifi? ›

The answer is yes, wireless cameras can work without the internet, but you won't be able to access all of their features.


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