I can't see backwards!
December 1, 2021 10:41 AM   Subscribe

I need help finding the best aftermarket backup camera for our car.

Last fall, we bought a car, the first car we've owned in several years. It's a 2017 Mini Cooper S, and as such it did not come with a standard backup camera (I believe those became standard in 2018 or so). It did, however, come with fairly significant blind spots when looking back, due to its large C-pillars.

I can't really replace the infotainment system itself, which doesn't have camera-picture-transmission capabilities (our car is the lowest trim model available), but is the screen that controls everything in the vehicle. So, we need something aftermarket, but my goodness there are a bewildering number of options.

Details:

- I think I would prefer a mirror replacement one over one with its own screen that has to mount somewhere, but I'm also open to that, if it's a better option
- We don't need forward-facing camera capability or any other bells and whistles; we don't drive much (less than 10 miles/week most of the time) so we aren't looking for additional features as much as solid capabilities in the one thing we need
- I am a 52 year old who can barely tie my shoes without using a manual, so needless to say I will not be doing the install myself. Thus, difficulty of installation is less of an issue for me, as I'll be paying someone to be smart where I can't.
- Related: I am agnostic about where the camera itself mounts, whether that's a license plate frame-type thing or an actual camera. I just want one that works well. I'm being vague about "works well", because I don't really know what that looks like as such, and was hoping I could learn what "works well" looks like through these recommendations.
- I'm not looking to go super cheap, but I also don't want to spend a fortune - as I say, we don't drive that much, so I'm not looking to put more than like $3-400 into this if I don't have to. The cheaper the better, but quality is important.
posted by pdb to Technology (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Depends on how "convenient" you want it.

If you want one that works with your existing screen, it's certainly available, but it's expensive as ****.

For a non-factory integrated option, you need one with a screen that goes inside the car, either mounted to the mirror or mounts somewhere you can see it. And obviously, bigger the better, as the cheap ones have small screen. They may attract thieves since they look high-tech and grabbable. The camera itself would be on the license plate.

There are options that will stream a video to your phone, so no external screen needed, but you need to 1) mount your phone on your dash with a holder, and 2) tap the app so it connects to the camera, before you get started.

Both involve connecting the camera to the reverse light, which should not be a difficult splice, but may require someone with some knowledge of auto electronics.
posted by kschang at 11:32 AM on December 1, 2021


Check the site kschang posted. I see a 2017 Mini is primed to accept a backup camera, two actually, just basically plug and play into the existing head unit. My Honda was like that too and it was a 2012 (the year backup cameras were actually mandated to be in every vehicle - car makers drag their feet a lot). Of course the camera we purchased was aftermarket and displayed upside down. Which happens, whatever, but you have pay for the install separately, from BestBuy or a car place like that. In any case, BestBuy will install your aftermarket device for like $150.

So you buy the $99 camera (check your car and model on the site) and get it installed for $150, so it's not that expensive.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:47 AM on December 1, 2021 [2 favorites]


Mine was also already pre-drilled for a trunk mount point for the camera - I swear car manufacturers leave minor stuff like cameras out just to be jerks.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:50 AM on December 1, 2021 [1 favorite]


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