Guide to car reversing cameras
Gone are the days of touch parking or a cranked neck. Adding a reversing camera to your car is a simple and convenient way to make reversing safer.
Using the right tools makes any job easier. For reversing, a rear camera and an in-cabin screen do just the trick.
Whether it’s getting straight into that parking spot on the first go or a last-second check behind you before you back out of the driveway, a reversing camera can be very beneficial.
More and more cars are coming with a reversing camera as a standard and if your preferred car doesn’t have one, they can be easily fitted aftermarket on most cars, even on older models. There is also a range of systems to suit different vehicle types, needs and budgets.
What is a car reversing camera?
In its simplest form, a reversing camera is made up of a camera and a display monitor. The display is a mini LCD screen mounted somewhere on or in the dashboard of the car. The camera is mounted at the rear of the car and feeds a video image to the display.
More advanced versions have other information displayed on the screen such as warnings and distance indicators. Some are also integrated with safety-assist technology to autonomously brake in emergencies.
What are the benefits of a car reversing camera?
- Increased rear visibility. A reversing camera will enhance your vision from the rear of your vehicle.
- Assistance for tight manoeuvring. Reversing cameras should indicate where the back edge of your vehicle is, so you know exactly how far you have until it hits something.
- Good for smaller or less mobile drivers. Reversing cameras help drivers who struggle to see well around the vehicle.
- Safety reminders or assist. Some systems give audio or visual warnings before a collision. Others brake autonomously to prevent an accident.
- An extra way to check before reversing. Knowing exactly what is behind you before reversing can prevent potentially devastating accidents.
What types of car reversing cameras are available?
There is a range of different car reversing cameras available. These include:
- Built-in. These systems come standard with new vehicles as part of the dash display. If your vehicle has a built-in screen but no reversing camera, you can simply connect a camera to the system.
- Rear-view mirror systems. These are a decent option for aftermarket installs. The display is either mounted on the existing rear-view mirror or integrated into a brand new rear-view mirror. The benefit is that you can monitor both the display and mirror without having to move your head.
- Dash/window-mounted. This system is mounted onto your dash or front window much like a navigation device. While simple to install and relatively inexpensive, you must move your whole head to look at both the rear-view mirror and the display screen.
- Multi-function systems. A multi-function system will usually be either built-in or dash-mounted. This system provides a range of visual features for safety purposes, including a reversing camera.
- Mini butterfly. This is a small and versatile camera that can be installed without drilling a hole in the bumper. It can also be adjusted to change the viewing location.
- Bumper cameras. These are installed flush within the bumper by drilling a hole. They sometimes have infrared capabilities for more advanced displays.
- Number plate-mounted. These are attached to the number plate using the existing screws and holes and are good for those who want a DIY option.
- Heavy duty. This is a large camera that can be attached to the back of trucks, caravans and trailers. It’s more durable and able to withstand getting knocked around.
How do you install a car reversing camera?
You can obviously get a reversing camera installed in a new car by the dealer. Otherwise, an auto electrician will be able to do it for you. It is possible to install a camera yourself and the complexity will depend on the type of system and your car. Here’s a quick guide for a basic number plate, window-mounted system.
- Mount the camera on the number plate. Unscrew the number plate and add the camera on top of the plate.
- Mount the display on your dash/window. Use a bracket, tape or suction cap system.
- Connect the camera to power from the reverse lights. This means it will only start recording when you reverse.
- Run the power and the video cable your dash. This will mostly likely be the trickiest part depending on how neat you want the job to look. It might be worth getting a wireless model.
How much will an aftermarket car reversing camera cost?
The cost of a reversing camera will vary depending on the system you want. It will also cost extra to install it. Here is a guide for the different types of systems available:
- Built-in: Talk to your dealer
- Rear-view mirror: $100-$200
- Dash/window-mount: $100-$150
- Heavy duty: $200+
- Multi-function: $500+
Is there anything else to consider?
To install some systems you’ll need to modify your bumper or dash. If you wouldn't dare put holes anywhere in your pride and joy, consider some of the clip-on options.
Reversing cameras are also prone to being damaged as they sit right where you will be hit in a rear collision. If you don’t have insurance, it will be another thing you will need to replace after an accident.
Reversing cameras are not a substitute for safe driving habits. They can often take your attention away from what is happening around you outside of the car, particularly dash-mounted models. Think of your reversing camera as an additional tool for safer driving and not the best way of reversing. Always check what is behind and around you before reversing and make sure you check your mirrors and watch over your shoulder.
Reversing cameras are a simple but effective way of making your car safer and there is a range of camera and display options to suit any budget and style. While more complex systems will look neater, they are tricky to install yourself. Compare the systems available and weigh up the costs and the benefits to find the right one for you.
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