How to Buy and Install a Rearview Mirror Monitor for Your Car

Install a rearview mirror camera to help see what's behind your car when you reverse. You will need to make sure to choose a camera compatible with your car.
Written by Elaine Sulpy
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
A rearview mirror monitor system will either attach onto or replace the current rearview mirror in your car with one with digital capabilities. If your car did not come equipped with a rearview camera system, it's still possible to install car appliances yourself.
Backup cameras, or rearview mirror monitor systems, are more than just a replacement mirror for your car. These digital safety devices help you see what’s around or behind your vehicle and can even help route you to your destination around traffic delays. They can be key for staying safe and being aware of your blind spots, especially for larger vehicles.
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How to select the right rearview mirror camera

The first step in the buying and installation process for backup cameras is selecting and buying your monitor.
Follow these steps to select your ideal rearview mirror camera:
Determine whether you need a camera. Some systems come with a camera while others can work with a camera system already installed on your car.
Choose your mirror size. As cars, trucks, and SUVs can all have different rearview mirror sizes, be sure to look for systems that will fit your vehicle and provide the best mirror size for viewing, but not be too big to block any part of your forward view.
Pick your monitor options. When selecting a rearview mirror monitor system, you will first need to determine which type of a system you need. Options can include:
  • Infrared night vision view which can be key to being aware of your surroundings when
    driving in darkness
  • DVR/dash cam capabilities
  • Ability to take "photos" or screen captures
  • Larger screen sizes
  • Higher image resolution and quality
  • Auto on/off functionality
  • Wired or a wireless system installation
  • Safety alert capabilities
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • GPS and navigation support
It is important to note that some systems offer video capabilities, such as the ability to watch DVDs or other video. This system is not legal in all areas. Before installing any system with a video system that can be viewed by the driver, check local and state laws.
Check the reviews. Once you know what options you are looking for in your system, it’s time compare the possibilities. One good way to do this by checking
the product reviews
as well as asking friends and family members if they have any experience with any of the products.
Buy the monitor. Many systems can be purchased direct from the manufacturer or from your favorite auto parts provider.
Key Takeaway: Figure out whether you need a new camera, what mirror size will fit your vehicle, and what system has the features you want. Then, check reviews—and whether it meets state laws—before you buy.

How to install a rearview mirror camera

Once you have purchased the rearview mirror monitor system with the options you want, it’s time to install the system in your car.
Note, these steps will differ by car make and model as well as system type and available features. Always refer to the instruction manual of the system you are installing for exact directions. A main difference will lie in whether a camera or backup sensors will also need to be installed.
Follow these steps to install your rearview mirror camera:
Fully read the instructions. Your system should come with a complete set of installation instructions specific to your device and add-on items such as cameras or sensors. Be sure to carefully read through the instructions for your specific system.
Disconnect the battery. As you may be working with the vehicle’s electrical system, depending on the specific system you purchase, remember to always disconnect the battery before disconnecting or soldering any wires.
Figure out where everything goes. The main part of the unit is the rearview mirror monitor, which will either replace or attach to your current mirror.
There may be additional parts to your system, such as backup cameras or sensors. Locate where these items will be placed.
Route and attach. For this step, you may need to drill holes to route cables or screw in cameras and sensors. Before drilling or attaching any part of the system to the vehicle, check that everything will reach where it needs to.
Replace or attach the mirror. Once the cabling, cameras, and sensors are placed, follow the instructions for your device to either replace or attach the mirror.
Typically, to replace a mirror you will simply need to remove a cap covering the screws or pin connecting the mirror to your vehicle. Check with your vehicle service or owner’s manual, or with your car’s manufacturer if you are unsure how to remove your car’s mirror without damaging you car.
Connect the system. Once all cabling and related devices are installed and the mirror has been either replaced or the system attached, it’s time to connect the system. Again, remember to disconnect the battery if any part of the system connects to the electrical system of your car.
Test the system. Once the system is fully connected, reconnect the battery to your car (if you needed to disconnect it) and test the system to ensure full operation. Some systems may require additional programming and setup, which will be noted in your instruction manual.

Benefits of using a rearview mirror camera

The use of a backup camera can help keep you fully aware of your surroundings while driving and prevent possible accidents or damage to your vehicle or other property. This is good for your safety, but it's also good for your wallet.
Avoiding accidents is a major way to keep your insurance premiums low. The use of safety equipment, such as rearview mirror monitoring systems, can only have a positive impact on your safety and car insurance costs.
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