How To Install A Backup Camera On A Truck

Most newer cars and trucks come with a backup camera already installed. That’s great news for anyone with a newer vehicle. But pickups are reliable vehicles, and there are plenty of older ones driving around without a camera.

rear camera mirror

Thankfully, you don’t have to buy a brand new truck to find one with a backup camera. An aftermarket kit makes it quick and painless to install your own. Here’s how.

Mounting Options

There are numerous features to consider when choosing a parking camera. For our purposes, let’s stick to the factors that directly affect installation. The most important of these is how the camera is mounted.

There are several ways to mount a rearview camera, but these are the most common:

  • Bracket mounts. A bracket mount is the most versatile option since you can position it anywhere on the back of your truck. On the other hand, installing a bracket can mean drilling into your vehicle. If you end up changing your mind about your backup camera, you’ll have two holes in the body.
  • Flush mounts. A flush mount camera is similar to a bracket mount but has a flatter design, with the mount built into the camera. The idea is to keep as low of a profile as possible.
  • License plate mounts. License plate-mounted cameras can either be attached to the top of your license plate or built into a license plate frame. These mounts aren’t terribly versatile, but they’re easy to install since they attach to your existing license plate bolts.
  • OEM mounts. Some truck models are built with rearview cameras as an option. In that case, you can often find a vehicle-specific mount that’s perfect for your truck.

Wired vs. Wireless Parking Cameras

The other installation-related factor to consider is whether the camera is wired or wireless. There are distinct benefits and drawbacks to each, so let’s take a deeper dive.

Wired Cameras

The main benefit of a wired camera is that they typically offer better picture quality. As good as wireless technology has gotten, it still can’t beat a good old fashioned twisted copper wire.

Another good reason to choose a wired camera is that the connection is more stable, whereas wireless cameras can produce static when subjected to interference. Murphy’s Law being what it is, you’re bound to lose your wireless signal just as you throw your truck into reverse.

Finally, wired cameras usually offer more features. Simply put, the technology has been around for a lot longer, and manufacturers are more comfortable with it. Because of this, most high-end cameras have a wired design.

That said, wired parking camera installation can be challenging. If you’re not comfortable with running wires through your truck, you’ll need to hire a professional to do the job for you. This shouldn’t be absurdly expensive, but an hour or two of skilled labor should be factored into the price.

Similarly, the cameras themselves are often more expensive than wireless cameras, mostly due to the quality differential. But it’s worth remembering if the cost is a major concern.

Wireless Cameras

Conversely, the main benefit of a wireless rearview camera is that they’re easy to install. Because you don’t have to run any wires, a lot of the headache is removed from the equation. 

Keep in mind that the mounting type is just as important from this perspective. A wired camera with a license plate mount is not much more challenging to install than a wireless camera with a mounting bracket.

Wireless cameras are also more affordable. This isn’t a universal rule, and there’s quite a bit of overlap. But on an apples-to-apples basis, a wireless camera usually costs less.

On the downside, wireless backup cameras are typically lower quality and are subject to interference. Depending on the design, you may also need to change a battery from time to time.

How to Mount a Backup Camera: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you know what you’re looking at, let’s break down the installation process into smaller pieces. Here’s a quick, step-by-step guide to installing your backup camera

  • Mount the camera. As we already discussed, exactly how you mount the camera will depend on its design. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and be careful not to scratch your paint with any tools.
  • Run the cables. You can follow your brake light cables all the way to the front of the vehicle. This is traditionally the most time-consuming part of the installation since it needs to be performed carefully. If you’re using a wireless camera, you can ignore this step.
  • Connect the camera to your reverse light cable. Most parking cameras will automatically engage when the brakes are applied, but this requires them to be wired into the reverse light circuit. If you’re not sure what wire to connect to, consult your truck’s owner’s manual.
  • Connect your power source. For some backup cameras, this is as simple as plugging into your truck’s 12-volt power outlet. For others, you’ll need to hardwire the camera directly into your fuse box. This is essential for any parking camera with collision detection. If you’re going to go that route, make sure to wire your camera into an ignition-switched fuse. Otherwise, it can drain the battery overnight.
  • Connect any accessories. Many camera kits include a GPS sensor, Bluetooth dongle, or other parts. Connect any of these before powering on your camera — unless your particular camera’s instructions tell you to connect them afterward.
  • Test the camera. Turn your truck on and see if the camera works. If you’re wired into your reverse light circuit, you can test this by putting your truck in reverse for a moment.
  • Put your truck back together. You probably had to remove some trim to run the wires. Assuming everything works as expected, it’s time to reassemble your truck. That’s all there is to it!

Summary

As you can see, installing a truck backup camera isn’t as difficult as you might expect. If you like what you learned, read more of this site! It’s got plenty of helpful guides, just like this one.