Believe it or not, a backup camera isn’t all that difficult to install. The process is actually quite simple in most cases. If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person, installing a rear view camera system is a 2-4 hour, weekend project. If you’re not used to working on cars, you may find it intimidating and a little more time consuming but after our walkthrough you’ll be much more confident about it.
If you’re not up to doing it yourself after reading our how-to, we’d recommend letting a pro like the guys at Best Buy to install it for you. They’ll install the system for around $150 bucks and there’s most likely one near you. If you have it installed elsewhere, we’ve found that the price is a little higher (~$180 – $300), and occasionally they’ll ask you to pay for any additional parts that they may need to install the backup camera system.
Backup cameras normally come with instructions on how to install the camera and to the display. There’s also a ton of great walkthroughs on YouTube that will walk you through the process (we’ve referenced one below). Here’s a quick walkthrough on how to install a typical backup camera in only a few quick steps.
First, let’s start out by defining the tools you will want to have handy to install your backup camera. If you don’t have any tools, it’s around $50 – $80 worth of stuff. But most of the items you may find you already have:
- Wire Strippers
- Basic Socket Wrench Set
- Phillips and Flathead Screwdriver Set
- Butt Splices
- Ring Terminals
- Electrical Tape
Time needed: 1 hour and 30 minutes
- Disconnect Power
First step to any automotive electrical installation is to disconnect the negative (-) battery wire from car’s battery. This’ll prevent any shorting or fuse popping from happening.
- Access the Tail Lights
Remove the necessary panels from around the tail lights on the inside of the vehicle. In many cases, there are panels inside the trunk. Or, if you have a truck there are normally access areas to the tail lights from the inside of the truck bed. Unscrew the trim pieces until you have access to the wiring for one tail light (no need to do both).
- Find the Mounting Location
There are many different areas you can mount your camera, depending on the vehicle and the type of camera. The most common is on the license plate or near the license plate so for this case, we’ll be referencing a license plate installation.
- Wire the Backup Camera
Remove your license plate cover and license plate and identify any holes behind or above the license plate where you can run the power and signal wire to the camera. If there are no holes, you may need to drill into the bumper to wire the camera behind.
Once you have a clear hole, route the wire from the camera to either the trunk or truck bed. From here, you’ll tuck the wires either the plastic panels straight to the tail light that you accessed earlier. Connect the power wire to the corresponding reverse power wire for your reverse light using the butt connectors you purchased.
- Connect the Camera to a Dash Display
Now that you have your backup camera wired for power, you’ll need to connect it to a display. There are a few options you have:
In-Dash Display: This is a display that either came with your vehicle, or a display that you may have purchased aftermarket like a double din touchscreen. It’s in your dash. For this type of display you’ll need to wire the camera signal wire from the back of the vehicle where the camera is installed to the back of the display unit in your dash.
For those who are planning on using an OEM dash unit that came with your vehicle, you will need to make sure that it’s compatible and will accept a rear view backup camera. If it does, Crutchfield has a number of adapters that you can find here: https://www.crutchfield.com/g_431950/Vehicle-specific-Backup-Cameras.html
On-Dash/Rearview Mirror display: This is an aftermarket display that you either place on top of your dash, or place over your rearview mirror. For these types of units, you’ll need to wire the signal wire from the back of the vehicle to the unit, similar to In-Dash Displays.
Wireless Displays: If you have purchased a wireless camera and display, there’s no wiring needed between the camera and display. Simply wire the display to a power source and follow the instructions to wirelessly connect it to the camera.
Having questions or issues about how to install a backup camera? We try to cover all of the scenarios but the reality is that each vehicle's situation might be unique. To address the issues that might not be mentioned in our post, we've partnered with JustAnswer to help answer any of your questions about your installation. They'll help you diagnose and fix whatever's wrong! To ask a question, simply start typing in the JustAnswers chat.