Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Relocated Back-up Camera

One of the downsides of mounting the camper was that we lost the back-up camera which is located in the tailgate. In the short time we have owned the truck, I have become quite attached to the camera. It makes backing up so much easier when you can see what is behind you. This is an even greater issue with the camper on- there are major blind spots. So I have been thinking about how to get the camera back.

The camera is wired into the rear view mirror so that when the truck is put in reverse, a small screen shows up in the rear view mirror with the view from the camera. Very slick.

The camera view in the mirror

 I investigated buying another camera to mount on the camper. The original equipment cameras cost over $700 from Toyota and over a hundred from Amazon and other online marketers. Too expensive. The wiring harness is another $50 and of course the camera uses a proprietary plug which powers the camera with 6 volts and connects it to the rear view mirror.

Can you believe this little piece of plastic costs $700 from Toyota?

I looked into buying an after market camera which can be found for as little as $12 on Ebay. The problem with these is that they can't be wired into the existing camera circuit because they are powered with 12 volts. They would have to be wired into a different circuit such as the backup lights. All of this could be worked around but I wanted a simple plug and play solution.

Today I decided to try to work with the existing camera from the tailgate as an interim solution until I find a better long term fix. I removed the camera and wiring harness from the tailgate which was not difficult. In looking at the truck for possible mounting locations, I noticed the hole where the wiring harness passes through the bumper assembly to the location of the connecting plug under the truck. It is a square hole about 1.25 inches across located to the right and slightly above the hole for the spare tire lowering crank and accepts a plastic clip that holds the camera wiring harness as it passes through the hole. It looked to be about the right size. I confirmed with a test fitting that the camera fit almost perfectly in the hole.

It fits
With some pondering about how to mount the camera, I came up with the solution. I drilled a small hole under the harness hole to pass a small bolt through and drilled a similar hole in the bottom of the plastic bracket that holds the camera in the tailgate location. With the camera held in position, I was able to fasten the bracket in place using a couple of washers and locking nut. I used a stainless steel bolt that I had lying around as I want to be able to remove the camera easily when I find a permanent camera or put the tailgate back on.

Securely fastened in place
The camera is beneath the door jamb of the camper

The view from the camera is slightly obstructed at the top by the camper floor and at the bottom by the bumper but the main field of view is unobstructed and looks great. The results are not perfect but are better than nothing and will do fine until a better solution emerges.

Edit: August 3, 2015

I finally got around to a permanent fix for the backup camera. After growing weary of watching the internet for deals on the OEM camera, I finally bought one on eBay. I also bought a factory tailgate harness to make the project easier. I decided to mount the camera inside the wall of the camper for protection from the elements and other hazards. I selected a location near the bumper above the opening for the tailgate wiring to pass through and connect to the truck wiring.

After a lot of head scratching and pondering alternative parts in the hardware store, I came up with a plan. Of course that plan didn't work and I needed a plan B, and a plan C. After hours of time-consuming, frustrating, fussy work, I managed to get the camera mounted and secured. The wiring goes through the camper floor and connects to the truck in the same manner as the tailgate. It is easy to disconnect when the camper comes off the truck. It is accessible from the inside for service if necessary. The camera gives a nice unobstructed view of the area behind the camper. I'm happy with the result.

The camera is visible at the bottom right of the door.

I used a standard cover plate with a hole drilled in it. The wire to the truck is visible under the camper.

The back of the camera extends through the wall requiring a box to conceal the wiring connection and allow service. The wire exits the bottom of the box through the camper floor to the truck connection below.


  1. I look forward to reading your travels. Your rig is almost exactly what I would get. The full camper models are too much. I hadn't considered two boxes up front, two windows and the propane mounted on the passenger side. Very good ideas.

  2. Awesome write up on the camera, just what we needed.

  3. Great! Glad you found it helpful. Thanks for the comment.