Installing a backup camera is a great option for car owners who want to see the ground directly behind the car when backing up.
Whether your integrated backup camera has gone out or you want one in an older model of car, you can choose to have a backup camera installed in your car.
In fact, backup cameras have been required in new cars since 2019. If your vehicle is older than that, you may or may not have one.
At the same time, having a backup camera can improve safety when backing up, improve your parallel parking, and eliminate blind zones.
In most cases, installing a backup camera will cost anywhere from $50-$500+. That cost depends on existing wiring, electrical system capabilities, and what kind of camera you choose. Cameras can cost anywhere from $30-$500 for hardware. Plus, you’ll likely have to pay for installation costs.
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How Much Does Backup Camera Installation Cost?*
Installing a backup camera can vary in cost from about $50 to well over $500. In most cases, costs depend on what kind of camera you choose, the size of the screen, how the camera is installed, and the car.
For example, the following quotes cover the cost of installing a backup camera in popular vehicles:
|Dodge Ram 1500||$95-$415.99||$90-$270|
|Volkswagen Golf GTI||$186-$449.99||$145-$390|
*These cost estimates are based on pricing and quotes from December 2022. Pricing may change at any time. Please use this research as a starting point for your own.
You’ll also pay significantly different rates based on what kind of camera installation you opt for.
DIY Camera Kits
DIY camera kits include the camera, screen, and any wiring you need to complete the installation. In most cases, DIY kits are intended to be installed at home. Completing the installation yourself will save you 1-3 hours of labor at a mechanic, or an average of about $200. However, it will also require several hours of your own time, and you can expect to take longer than the mechanic will.
In most cases, DIY kits come at every price range. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll find one from an original equipment manufacturer. This means you’ll get a camera for $30-$500. You may also be able to find the OEM camera or screen, but it won’t likely come with the relevant wiring.
Kits normally include:
- Any tools you need to install the camera
However, not all of them will include basic tools like screwdrivers. Still, you’ll get spudgers or other tools to lift interior paneling if necessary.
Wired cameras connect to the vehicle’s internal electrical system and may transfer data from the back of the car to the front over wiring as well. These are more difficult to install than wireless cameras because you’ll have to figure out where to connect the wiring harness to the electrical system. You’ll also have to run wiring through the vehicle, which normally requires removing the roofing panel or running wiring under it.
However, wired cameras are significantly more reliable than wireless cameras. In addition to not needing batteries, data feeds are steadier – because you won’t get interference from vehicles, radio signals, etc.
Wireless backup cameras are normally battery-powered and intended for simple installation. Here, you normally clip the screen onto the ventilation or use a mount to put it on the dashboard. Then, you install the camera on the door or the bumper by installing a bracket.
Once you turn the wireless camera on, the two connect to each other via Bluetooth. Then, all you have to do is replace or recharge the batteries when they go out.
This simple installation makes wireless cameras extremely popular for DIY installation. However, wireless cameras can be very pricey. That’s because they have to have good Bluetooth, normally have rechargeable batteries, and need a signal good enough to transmit through any disrupting frequencies.
Backup Camera Installation Price Factors
There are plenty of things that affect the cost of installing a backup camera. In most cases, these include the brand, the camera type, and camera features. Local labor rates and the vehicle itself will also be factors.
Cameras can cost anywhere from $30 to over $500. However, often, the largest price factor is the brand of the part. For example, if you want to buy an original equipment manufacturer part from Ford, you can expect to pay over $600 for your replacement camera. That’s even true if you’re not buying a built-in camera.
In addition, a name-brand reverse camera is always going to cost more than a generic one. This means that if you choose something like JBL, it will cost a lot more than a generic brand from the Autoparts store. Sometimes that price difference can be in the hundreds of dollars.
Type of Camera
Cameras come in different types. For example, if you’re replacing an integrated camera in a vehicle, you can expect to pay about $200 for the screen and $50-$200 for the camera itself. On the other hand, if you’re buying the same parts as OEM, those parts can cost up to $500 each.
The larger the screen, the more expensive your camera will be. However, most backup cameras use 2” to 4” displays. This means screens are relatively cheap. In addition, most are black and white, so you won’t be spending much on the screen. Still, doubling the size of the screen will often double the cost of the camera.
If you want a clip on or dash mount camera display, you can normally choose a budget camera. On the other hand, if you want to have a camera that looks like part of the car, you can expect to spend more. For example, a rear view mirror with integrated display will normally cost $250 or more. In addition, you can choose to integrate the camera into the radio display or by replacing the radio head. In either case, costs will be much higher than a simple mounted display.
Better cameras cost more. Cameras can range from simple cameras intended to show you the ground to HD cameras that also function in case of a car accident.
Some backup cameras include integrated storage. This allows you to save up to X hours of footage before you stopped the car. While not usually useful for a backup camera, the idea is that you have proof for your insurance in case of a car accident.
Wired cameras normally cost much less to purchase than wireless cameras. However, installation costs can be higher if you don’t do the work yourself.
Cost of Labor
The cost of labor can vary significantly from area to area. If you’re paying someone to install an onboard camera for you, you can expect to pay about $45-$94 per hour. However, actual rates can range from $15 to over $210. This means you’ll want to check local rates before setting a budget for your camera installation.
Vehicle Make and Model
If you want a camera made for your vehicle, you’ll always pay top dollar for that camera. However, even if you buy a generic universal backup camera, your vehicle can impact the costs. For example, if you install a wired camera, different cars can make it very easy or very difficult to run wiring to the back. Your vehicle will always impact the time to install for your camera.
6 Backup Camera Installation Steps
It’s important to keep in mind that if you buy a backup camera, the package will come with instructions. That holds true if you have a camera made for your specific vehicle. For this reason, you should always check the package and instructions and follow those first.
1. Collect Tools
Check your camera installation kit and see if it includes any tools. Otherwise, you’ll need:
- A flat head screwdriver
- A spudger
- Small prybar
- A car trim removal kit is useful but you can use a screwdriver, prybar, and a spudger instead
- Roll of stiff wire
- Drill bits
- Wire cutters / pliers
- Electrical supplies if your kit doesn’t include them (Wire splice terminals, T-connectors)
Assess your toolkit and add to these tools as you think is necessary.
2. Mount Back Camera
Move to the back of the car and check where your camera should be mounted. In most cases, you’ll want it in the middle of the vehicle on the bumper. Often, that will mean temporarily removing your tag and then drilling a hole in the bumper.
- Remove the tag
- Place the mounting bracket where you’d like it on the bumper
- Use a marker to note the holes in the mounting bracket on the bumper
- Use a drill with a drill bit in the same size as your screws or bolts to drill holes
Then, mount the bracket using the included mounting bolts or screws.
3. Remove Paneling
Installing wiring in your car will mean removing some paneling. Here, you can normally remove the panel between the driver door and the windshield, which may mean loosening the door panel. Then, loosen the roof panel at the driver side. You don’t have to loosen it all the way, just enough to get your wire under.
Then loosen the roof paneling at the top above the door. And, remove the paneling or loosen it between the roof and the floor so that you can run the wiring back to the floorboard. In some cases, you may also want to lift the dashboard panel, so you can install the wiring under the dash before running it up and over the roof.
In many cars you can get away with minimally pulling back the weather stripping, which will save you a lot of effort. If you can do so, try to completely run the wiring under the weather stripping.
4. Run Wiring
Connect the wiring based on instructions in your camera kit. Here, you’ll normally have to connect the signal cable, the charging cable, and the power cable to a longer cable, which you can then run to the front of the car. In most cases, these cables are labeled or come with a diagram. Secure those wires with electrical connectors.
Most reverse camera systems allow your camera to automatically turn on when the camera goes into reverse. That will mean setting up your wiring exactly as instructed.
Install your wiring by attaching it to a length of stiff wire and then pushing it under the roof panel and to the back of the car. Pull the wire out and then pull it down and to the existing wiring connection on your door. Remove the cover and feed the cable through. Then feed it down and out to the camera.
Then, plug the camera in or attach the wiring as instructed.
5. Install Screen
Install the screen on the provided mount. This may include drilling into your dash. However, your screen may also clip onto the ventilation, it may install into an existing space, or it may be part of the rear view mirror. You may even only have to connect a suction cup.
Then, plug the screen in.
6. Connect to the Electrical System
Take the positive and negative wires from the camera and run them through the door. Connect them to the positive and negative wires on the backup light. This will ensure that your camera does not get power until you go into reverse.
It’s important to check instructions here, as some displays will need more power than the backup light will provide. In this case, you may have to connect the camera to the power supply under the driver console.
Money Saving Tips
There are plenty of ways to save money when installing a backup camera.
- Don’t choose an OEM camera. These typically cost several hundred dollars more.
- Do the installation yourself. It will take more time, but you can save an average of $200.
- Don’t choose a cheap camera that will break quickly, you’ll only spend more money.
- Use a wired camera, which will reduce total costs.
- If you don’t know what you’re doing, ask for help from someone who does.
- Choose a dashboard-mounted camera instead of an integrated one.
3 Benefits of Backup Cameras
Backup cameras are required by law in all new vehicles and have been since 2019. That’s because they greatly increase safety in vehicles.
1. Nearly Removes Blind Zones
Most vehicles have a blind zone when backing up. This means you just don’t see a portion of what’s behind you in the car. Backup or reverse cameras nearly eliminate this blind spot. That can make it significantly safer to drive. In addition, eliminating that blind zone dramatically increases child safety, because children are often too short to be visible when backing up.
2. Improves Parallel Parking
Backup cameras show you how far you are from the nearest vehicle, give you insight into where the curb is, and can help you to better align with the curb and sidewalk. That means you’ll have an easier time parallel parking, so you can park and get out more quickly. Plus, you’ll hit fewer obstructions or raises in the curb because you can see them.
3. Better Visibility Backing Up
Eventually, the best reason to have a backup camera is that you can always see what’s going on behind you. Backup cameras point towards the ground, giving you visibility of the ground, curb, and sidewalk. That can make backing up a lot easier, especially if you frequently have to back up around trees, high curbs, or even posts.
Installing a backup camera can be time-consuming. In most cases, you can also expect it to cost between $200 and $500. However, if you do the work yourself, costs can be as low as $50. However, an OEM camera and screen can cost over $1,000. Therefore, prices vary a lot and you should research what you want and why before choosing a camera.
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