Back up cameras have become standard equipment on many vehicles today, but if you’re driving a model that didn’t ship with one from the automaker, you can have an aftermarket system installed. Of course, you need to consider several different factors before you make a purchase.

When buying a back up camera system, you’ll need to consider whether you want to buy your system piecemeal, or if you need an all-in-one option. Also consider the ability to perform in low light, the size and more. Here are some tips for choosing a good back up camera for your vehicle:

  • If You Have an In-Dash Screen: If your car already has an in-dash screen (a navigation system, for instance), then you really only need to buy the camera. This can reduce costs significantly compared to buying an all-in-one system, or even buying the system piecemeal.

  • Connectivity: You’ll want to consider whether you want a wireless system or a wired one. This applies to both systems that you piece together yourself and all-in-one systems. Wireless systems are easier to install (just mount it and turn them on), but they work on radio frequencies, which can be interrupted (interference). Wired systems tie into your car’s electrical wiring and are much more complex to install. However, they don’t suffer from interference the way wireless systems do.

  • Mounting Locations: You need to consider the available space for installing components, too. For instance, how much room do you have for mounting the rear-facing camera? You’ll also need to mount the screen if you don’t have an in-dash navigation system. Will the screen fit without blocking your view out the windshield? Choose a system that’s sized to fit the room available on and in your car.

  • Visibility: How well does the system show what’s behind the vehicle? The primary concerns here are viewing angle and depth of field. The wider the angle and the deeper the field, the better the image will be.

  • Lux: The camera’s lux rating tells you how well it performs in low-light situations. Does it need another light source, or does it provide visibility when there’s very little light? The lower the lux rating (0.1 versus 1.0) the better the camera will perform in low light.

Adding a back up camera system can increase your safety, as well as that of others around you.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Good Quality Back Up Camera System and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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