If your car doesn’t have a backup camera, commonly known as a rearview camera, your next new vehicle will almost certainly have one. All new passenger cars, trucks, vans, and other vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds must be fitted with rearview monitoring systems as of May 2018. And in most cases, it means video cameras positioned on the back.
For more than a century, rearview mirrors have been an essential element of automotive equipment. However, as handy as mirrors are, they do have a few drawbacks: they don’t assist you see what’s directly behind your car below the level of the rear window, and they don’t provide a wide-angle vision.
According to the most recent government statistics, backover incidents involving light cars result in approximately 210 deaths and 15,000 injuries per year. Sadly, children under the age of five account for 31% of those killed. And those situations in which a driver backs into something or runs over a bicycle, toy, or other object aren’t even included in the statistics.
Backup Cameras’ Benefits
The most obvious advantage of a rear-facing camera is that it helps prevent injury-causing and sometimes fatal backover incidents by widening your range of vision, especially below the rear window or trunk level. Cameras also help to remove blind spots by allowing you to see beyond the span of a mirror’s picture. However, cameras have a variety of other advantages in addition to helping to protect people and property behind a car.
Backup cameras, for example, can assist you in parking more swiftly and safely. Most backup systems include a warning tone that lets you know when you’re getting too close to an object. Rear-facing cameras provide a much clearer and more accurate view of obstacles behind the car, and most backup systems include a warning tone that lets you know when you’re getting too close to an object.
Almost all backup cameras have on-screen guidelines, which are two parallel lines that assist you in manoeuvring into and out of parking spaces. Some models also include a centre line to aid in keeping the vehicle centred in the space. As you move closer to a barrier, the system can shift the colour of the guidelines from green to yellow to red using modern colour displays. This, in combination with an auditory warning from rear-facing sensors, can help reduce backover incidents.
A backup camera is especially useful if you haul a trailer. As you align the trailer with your vehicle’s hitch, the camera provides a close-up view, while line colour and auditory sensors keep you informed about distance.
Backup Cameras and How They Work
On the surface, the concept is straightforward: when you put your car in reverse, a camera positioned at the back of the vehicle activates and sends an image to a monitor, displaying what’s behind you. The reality, though, is a little more difficult. Backup camera systems are quite sophisticated pieces of technology, even at their most basic, and they’re getting more high-tech all the time.
The image acquired by the camera is the beginning of the intricacy. Rather than delivering the image that a regular camera would see, backup camera systems are designed to send a mirror image to the display so that when you look at it, the orientation is proper. The image would be flipped if you were looking at a direct feed of what the camera sees, and you’d steer left when you wanted to go right. The technology is meant to remedy this, resulting in a logical display.
Backup cameras are typically installed in the vehicle’s rear trim elements. They’re small and subtle, so they’re easy to miss, but they can be found in the bumper, near the licence plate, in the trunk lid, or in the tailgate of an SUV or pickup truck. The cameras are normally pointed downward to get the finest view of the area directly behind your vehicle. They also have wide-angle lenses, so they provide a more comprehensive image than a rearview mirror.
Monitors can be placed anywhere in the driver’s field of vision, but they’re most common in the cockpit’s centre. Because most contemporary vehicles already have a screen for the entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and other features, the backup camera system is frequently displayed on that screen. Other models use a piece of the rearview mirror as a monitor, which has the benefit of placing the display where drivers are used to see when backing up. However, compared to a monitor with a larger screen, this display is more smaller and gives a less detailed image.
Despite the fact that certain early experimental systems and a few aftermarket units used monochrome cameras and monitors, nearly all modern systems now have colour displays. High-resolution cameras are used in some of the most recent models to produce what automakers refer to as a high-definition display (although it might not be quite as crisp as your new flat-screen TV). According to those brands, automobiles such as the BMW 7 Series, Cadillac CT6, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class now have night-vision capability in their backup systems.
Backup cameras aren’t without flaws
Although backup camera systems have numerous benefits and can improve both safety and convenience, they are not without flaws. Knowing what to expect might assist you in efficiently using and maintaining your rear monitoring system.
Poor image quality is the most common issue that owners have, and the most likely culprit is a dirty lens. Because many cameras are situated low on the back of the car, mud, snow, dirt, and other debris can obscure them. Fortunately, the solution is simple: Using a soft cloth, wipe the lens clean (to prevent scratching the lens).
If you have a wireless system — which is most common on aftermarket models — there could be a signal interference or pairing issue. Interference can be caused by utilising other wireless devices while the camera is in operation, though this is unlikely. In order for a wireless system to work, the camera and monitor must be “paired” so that they can communicate with one another. If you bought the camera and display it separately, incompatibility could be a problem.
A flaw or malfunction in the camera, display, or another component of the system could also result in poor image quality or no image at all. There could be a number of reasons for this issue, and it should be diagnosed and repaired by a competent professional.
When you put your car in reverse, it’s vital to remember that backup cameras aren’t a guarantee of safety. “Rearview video systems are not a replacement for mirrors or turning around to look,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Rather, they’re an added safety tool for detecting hidden threats.”
Finally, backup cameras are only useful if they are utilised. When backing up, only 20% of the drivers in a study performed at the University of Massachusetts looked at their rearview monitors. Furthermore, the study discovered that 46% of those who forgot to view the display did so when an alarm sounded, signalling that the vehicle was approaching an item. Because most modern rearview systems have alarms, your next vehicle will almost certainly warn you to keep an eye on your monitor.
Adding a Backup Camera from an Aftermarket Source
If your current vehicle lacks a backup camera, installing one is rather simple and does not need a large investment. Aftermarket systems start at less than $10 for a bottom-of-the-line stand-alone camera for vehicles with existing in-dash displays, according to retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, and Crutchfield. A complete system including Best GPS With Backup Camera, transmitter, and display might cost anywhere between $100 and $500.
You can place the camera in a license-plate frame with some aftermarket solutions. So it’s simple to put it together, and the only tool you’ll need is a screwdriver. Other cameras are mounted in a rear trim piece or bumper cover, which may necessitate drilling holes and the usage of additional tools. Furthermore, some systems employ two or more cameras, increasing the installation’s complexity.
Then there’s the monitor issue. There are cameras that can broadcast the image immediately to an existing screen if you already have one. You’ll need to purchase a system that includes a monitor if your automobile doesn’t already have one. There are a variety of choices, including dash or console-mounted displays, as well as new rearview mirrors with monitors incorporated in. You won’t have to worry about fishing cables through your vehicle’s interior because most new goods come with wireless backup cameras. Some aftermarket providers publish videos on their websites to assist DIYers with step-by-step setup instructions to make installation easier. If you don’t want to do it yourself, several auto-parts stores will do it for you.