It is gut-wrenching backing your caravan into something because of a blind spot. Retro-fitted reversing cameras will let you see exactly what’s directly behind you.
A decent camera these days costs under $200 – pretty good insurance really when you consider what could happen if a kid on a bike suddenly popped out of nowhere.
There are two options: wired-in or wireless units. Wireless is easier and cheaper to install, but they can be subject to interference.
If you can install a stereo, you can probably even install one yourself. Specialist installer, Carl Paine from G and L Caravan Repairs in Sydney offered the following words of advice for those willing to give it a go themselves.
Firstly, mount your camera up high on the back of the caravan to show a distance from the rear of the van when reversing up to an object.
You need a 12 volt power source. The camera normally has a separate plug for connection to the towing vehicle, or you can use the new 12 pin plugs that offer additional connector pins.
For wired-in units, Carl recommends running the cabling in existing cupboards. “If cabling is running along under the chassis, a suitable conduit to protect the cable is required.”
Like any tech, cheap can be nasty and parts might not be available. Water damage can be a problem too. Carl says to choose robust, waterproof cabling and cameras, especially for river crossings.
“Also the plug connection at the A-frame to the tow vehicle can be damaged when hitching up and dirt and water can enter the plug causing a bad connection.”
Points to remember:
1) Choose a camera with in-built infra-red lights. This will offer more night-vision than the caravan lights.
2) Avoid brand swapping between makes. They won’t be compatible, especially if you buy a trailer with an existing camera. If you damage one part, you’ll have to replace the whole thing,
3) Set it up outside the car before installation to check everything works first. It will save pulling everything out again.
4) For extra peace of mind, you can set an extra camera on the trailer hitch just to make sure you don’t lose your caravan.
Jaycar wireless reversing camera QM-3852:
Once you engage reverse gear the camera will wirelessly transmit the vision up to 50m to the 4.3″ display that suction mounts to your windscreen and plugs into the cigarette lighter for power. There is also provision to add a second –sold separately $84.95. You can mount this to the car so you still have a reversing camera when the trailer is not hitched. The camera with 105 degree view also features six infrared LEDs to help illuminate the area while you reverse at night. RRP $219.
Jaycar Reversing Camera and Event Recorder Combo QM-3850
What makes this reversing camera system different is the additional camera built into the back of the 4.3″ colour display. This camera continuously records vision with audio through the windscreen as you drive onto your microSD memory card. This means you can replay any road incidents on the display or on a computer to see what really happened on the road. RRP $249
More info: jaycar.com.au