Updated: Mar 2, 2022
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Install-it-yourself backup cameras give new life to pre-2018 cars without cameras. Some have their own monitors, others connect to audio-system displays. All cost less than the insurance deductible if you crumple a fender or lose a costly tail lamp lens. Auto-Vox
Once you’ve used a good backup camera, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it. It’s a godsend in tight parking situations, especially for parallel parking on a crowded street. Plus, it can literally be a lifesaver, preventing the kind of backover accidents that occur to at least 50 children every week (some are fatal), according to KidsandCars.org, a nonprofit safety advocacy group.
A backup camera automatically activates when you shift your car into reverse, letting you see the area behind your vehicle on a display. Most systems also superimpose color-coded guidelines over the image to help you judge the distance of people, cars, or other obstacles behind your car.
Backup cameras are so important that all new passenger vehicles built since May 2018 must have one installed as standard equipment, and most cars and SUVs have offered them for much longer. But even if you have an older vehicle without this handy feature, you can easily add one. And the models here have been chosen for a range of do-it-yourselfers, to help you avoid the need for a more-expensive professional installation.
Best Overall: Auto-Vox CS2
Why We Picked It:
Unlike most “wireless” backup cameras, the Solar1 is truly wireless; there are no electrical connections to make. The camera draws power from an internal 3350-mAh lithium-ion battery. And with a solar panel to help charge it, the company claims you only need to plug in the battery every few months to keep it running.
The camera’s integrated license-plate frame takes only a few minutes to install. And the included 5.0-inch monitor, which plugs into your car’s 12-volt outlet, can be mounted to the dash or windshield. A handy button on the monitor’s plug activates the camera whenever you need it.
- Super-easy installation, with no wires to connect
- Solar panel helps keep the camera’s internal battery charged
- 2.4-GHz digital signal provides a reliable connection
- The camera doesn’t activate automatically when you shift into reverse (you need to press a button on the monitor’s power plug)
- It’s not totally set-and-forget; the internal battery may need charging every few months
- It won’t fit some vehicles; check before you order
Best for a Savvy DIYer: LeeKooLuu LK3
Why We Picked It:
The LeeKooLuu LK3 is a good choice if you’re comfortable with performing a more involved installation (see the FAQs). It boasts good specs and features, along with the inherent reliability and speed of a wired camera, all for an affordable price. The LK3’s camera has a sharp 1080p resolution, a wide 149-degree field of view and LEDs to help with nighttime vision.
The 4.3-inch LCD monitor can be installed on the dash or windshield, it allows you to adjust the guide lines, and it can either be plugged into a car’s 12-volt outlet or hard-wired. Two-year warranty.
- A wired connection is inherently more reliable than a wireless one
- Sharp 1080p resolution
- Can be set up for either backup-only or continuous use
- Requires a more involved installation than a wireless system.
- Lack of RCA connectors makes it harder to use with an in-dash display
Best for Drivers Who Use a Garmin GPS Navigator: Garmin BC 3
Garmin BC 30 Wireless Backup Camera
$169.99 −$28.31 $141.68
Why We Picked It:
The BC 30 is a natural choice if you regularly use a Garmin portable GPS for directions, such as our top recommended model, the DriveSmart 66. It’s designed to work wirelessly with a wide range of Garmin models, and it eliminates the need to have a second monitor for your backup camera.
It can be wired to activate automatically when you shift your car into reverse, or it can be set up for continuous use, letting you easily switch between the navigation screen and camera view by pressing a button on the device.
- Allows use of a Garmin navigator for both directions and a backup camera
- Capable of wirelessly transmitting up to 45 feet
- Can be set up so you can toggle between navigating and the backup camera with the press of a button, without needing to shift into reverse
- More expensive than many other models
- 240p resolution isn’t as sharp as other models here
- Transmits the video signal over a radio band, which is more susceptible to interference than a digital connection
Bestselling Vehicle Backup Cameras on Amazon
BESTSELLER NO. 1
LeeKooLuu LK3 HD 1080P Backup Camera with Monitor Kit OEM Driving Hitch Rear/Front View Observation System for Cars,Trucks,Vans,Campers Waterproof Super Night Vision DIY Grid Lines
- Plug and Play,Very easy installation.The system is powered by connecting to reverse lights for use when vehicle is in reverse gear. Or can be powered by directly connecting to a 12v source fuse box or cigarette lighter/power point/ignition switch for continuous use.
- Upgraded IP 69 Waterproof. High performance waterproof, never worry about water inside the camera. Color HD license plate camera with 149 degree viewing angle and 6 White LED Lights provide crystal clear color both at night and day.Camera is connected to monitor via direct wire (provided).
- Multifunctional 4.3 Inch LCD Display’ Menu:You can adjust the parking lines’s width,moving Left/Right/Up/Down to make it fits for the real condition.You can also turn it off if you do not want it.The image can be flipped between mirror (rear view) and facing (front view). You can use the camera as rear camera or front camera optional.