Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Vehicle Back-up Camera

Adding an aftermarket video system to your vehicle can help you see what you might be missing.

Black and silver Mercedes Benz front seats.
A backup camera can show you what’s behind you before you put your vehicle in reverse.Ildar Garifullin

Back-up cameras are largely standard on most new vehicles. However, automobiles and trucks built before 2018 may or may not have the feature. Fortunately, an aftermarket camera can provide all the benefits of a factory-standard device, including back-up assistance, collision documentation, security surveillance, parking efficiency, and blind-spot elimination. Here’s what to look for when retrofitting your vehicle with an off-the-shelf rear-view camera.

VanTop H610 10" 2.5K Mirror Dash Cam for Cars with Full Touch Screen, Waterproof Backup Camera Rear View Mirror Camera, Enhanced Night Vision with Sony Starvis Sensor, Parking Assistance
The resolution on this model is 2560x1440.VanTop

The camera is the heart of any onboard viewing system. There may be only one rear-facing camera or two cameras fore and aft. If your primary concern is back-up assistance, a rear camera is sufficient. But dual-camera systems offer greater surveillance and situational awareness. Some cameras are enabled with motion-detection technology, an excellent feature for protecting your vehicle when parked. As for resolution, the range is still pretty wide. Stick to 720p or higher.

Dash Cam Front and Rear CHORTAU Dual Dash Cam 3 inch Dashboard Camera Full HD 170° Wide Angle Backup Camera with Night Vision WDR G-Sensor Parking Monitor Loop Recording Motion Detection
This model has a 1080p screen.CHORTAU

The three most common types of viewing interface are either dashboard-mounted monitors, or the vehicle’s existing “infotainment” panel, or rear-view mirrors that also function as a display. Regardless of style, look for a screen that incorporates grid lines for reverse parking, as well as night-vision capability and a camera with a viewing angle of at least 110 degrees. The average field of view is about 150 to 160 degrees.

eRapta ERT01 2nd Generation Car Rear View Reversing Backup Camera Automotive with 149°Perfect View Angle 8 LED Lights Night Vision 9 Level Waterproof Universal Car Backing Camera License Plate
This model does not come with a monitor.eRapta

Most cameras mount either on the back bumper, on the dashboard, or to a license plate holder. Installation ranges from the relative ease of wireless models to rather complicated electrical harnesses for hardwired models. Industry consensus seems to favor the latter for better picture quality and reliability. Cost depends on whether you want a separate dash-mounted monitor or need to wire into an existing console display, which is more complicated and calls for professional installation.