How To Choose the Best Backup Camera For Your Vehicle

March 12, 2018

Having a backup camera installed in your vehicle isn’t just a convenience, it can be a life-saver. While many newer vehicles come pre-equipped with a rear-view camera, you can buy and install one if your car doesn’t have an eye in back. 

Image courtesy of Pearl Rear Vision backup cameras

Keep in mind that there are different factors when it comes to finding a high-quality backup camera that fits your needs. Installation can be tricky for some, and others don’t come with their own monitor. Figure out what you're comfortable with price- and labor-wise, and check out the options.

Make sure you have a monitor. Your car will need a touchscreen receiver for rear-view input. If there is no screen in or near your dash, you’ll need to figure out how to install one. 

Wireless cameras cost more but are easier to install. Backup cameras typically come in two different options: A wired camera and display, or a wireless format. Each has its pros and cons. Wireless cameras typically cost a little more, but you don’t have to be an expert mechanic or electrician to install one. On the other hand, a wired camera won’t cost as much initially, but will involve more work to get set up.

Wired cameras take some effort. Be prepared for possibly having to directly connect the wires to the vehicle's fuse panel. If you want to avoid this process and ease up the workload, consider springing for professional installation. 

Regardless of the type of device you purchase, you should look for one that has a high-quality camera, as well as a good display. Earlier-generation backup cameras could provide a grainy picture or not give as wide a view. It’s a good idea to get one that will give you a wide, crisp image. So what are some recommended options on the market?

Accele RVCLPMBS ($80): Mark Smirniotis, writing for The New York Times, recommends this wired camera, even calling it "the best value for most drivers." Although you must have an in-dash monitor for camera connection, at $80, drivers can afford to purchase one of the affordable dash displays. This camera mounts to the user’s license plate and produces a wide-angle image inside the vehicle.

Image courtesy of Pearl Rear Vision backup cameras

Pearl Rear Vision ($400): Besides being easy to install and having an extremely high-quality image, this wireless camera is embedded in a custom license plate frame. The Pearl is a good choice for those who use a smartphone car mount since it transmits video to all iOS or Android devices. The battery, which is internal, is charged by small solar panels in the license plate frame. Additionally, the system works with twin cameras, allowing the device to perform as a parking sensor system. 

Dorman backup camera ($102): The Dorman is salt-proof and made with durable materials to ensure long service life. This wired device has a broader angle than most on the market and is easy to install since no special programming is needed. It also includes a vibration feature. No monitoring screen is provided with this device.

Have a different backup camera installed on your vehicle? Share your recommendations in the comments below!

About the Author

Kimberlea Buczeke is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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