Tips on Installing a Rear View Camera

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
#1
Some observations on installing a rear camera...

I installed a backup camera in my LWB Envoy; since it gets compared to a school bus, more visibility to the rear is a good thing.

Besides the safety aspect, a camera comes in handy for those who tow - much easier to line up hitch ball <> tongue. This was part of the reason I put mine in.

Note - this install locates the camera in the license 'pocket', and does involve removal of the pocket. If you wish to install in another location on the tailgate, the bumper cover, or somewhere else - then you may want to skip the parts about removing the pocket.

Note 2 - If you get a 'wireless' camera that uses RF to send the signal up front, you will save a bit of time making wire runs, especially for the video cable that goes up front. The downside is the potential performance / resolution of the wireless transmitter / receiver (which you won't know until you get it connected, but there are ways of doing a 'quick / dirty' test before doing a permanent install).

Finally, if you have other things you've been wanting to do (license pocket gasket, rear wiper upgrade) - this is an opportune time to do those as well. After removing your inner liftgate trim, check the painted surface for rust issues - again, this is a good time to address them before reassembling the trim (and forgetting about it until you see the rust on the outside)


Things you'll need:

- An aftermarket head unit, with at least one video input, or some other source, such as a rear view mirror cam.

- The backup camera, naturally. These come in various form factors - check on Amazon for many, many (cheaper) examples. My own was a license plate based mount - which was fine when I purchased it, but after installing, I will likely put in a new camera later. The one I put in does have two infrared LEDs for night viewing, as well as the six smaller ones used as regular lighting.

- 10mm (deep) and 13mm sockets

- A T47 (or T45) Torx bit, if you want to remove the rear seatbelt holder (XL or EXT only)

- A 1/4" torque wrench, if you want to reattach the license pocket per GM specs (to help prevent the surround from 'sucking into the gap')

- A trim tool (optional - I didn't need one, as I was able to pry all of the trim off w/o incident)

- Flat and phillips #1 screwdrivers.

- If you have a set of small 'hook' tools, those may be handy

- A drill, to make the hole to route the wiring into the license pocket.

- About 20ft of wire (x2), no higher than 16ga - I used 20' of red and black, and had 7-10ft left over. The tail light wires look to be about 18-22ga - pretty thin, and potentially pretty brittle, as we'll discuss later.

- Zip ties for tidying up the wire runs

- Something to use as a wire pull for routing wiring through the liftgate <> body channel (I used a coat hanger)

- Your connectors of choice for splicing into the backup light. At this point, you don't need lectures on how to properly splice wiring, so whatever works for you. I did use some heat shrink to surround my connections, if you're interested.

- Some electrical tape, and perhaps a grommet or two

- Beverages of choice, as needed. Stay hydrated! LOL


Removing the inner plastic trim from the liftgate and rear body

Start with the large piece in the liftgate (I started at the bottom, at the liftgate 'pocket' handle on the RH side.) BTW, you can pop the 'pocket' out easily, if you wish. I would not recommend re-inserting the pocket piece into the liftgate w/o the surrounding trim - it is a loose fit without it. You can use a trim tool for this, but I had no problem at all popping any of the panels or trim pieces off. Any metal clips can be reinserted onto the panel w/o issue (again, I had no problems here).

After the bottom large piece of the liftgate, remove the top surround.

In the body area, remove the top garnish (you'll need to peel the weatherstrip back, and if you don't rub off the residue on the body, you'll be able to push it right back into place when you're done.

Remove either the left or right D-pillar trim, after loosening the same side cargo panel trim. (LWB owners - to remove this trim, you'll need a T45 bit to remove the seatbelt from its mount) This is really a T47, if you have one (I misplaced mine somewhere in the truck), but a T45 will work pretty well.

You may find removing the sill plate to be helpful; it pops out easily. Start from either end; the connectors are about 4" apart, on center.

- With the trim removed, locate the five mounting nuts / bolts that hold the license pocket to the liftgate. Four are easy to spot. The fifth (really a double threaded stud with intregal nut) is at the center bottom, and you'll need a deep socket for this one bolt at a minimum. When I removed it, I found I was at an angle with the socket until I removed a wiring clip underneath (although I didn't have this issue when reinstalling it - go figure).

You can lower the liftgate at this point, but put something in front of the latch so that the liftgate cannot lock in place. You'll thank me later.

- After the bolts, there is one more thing to be removed, before you can pop the pocket, which is the latch handle connector. Look down inside - you'll find green and red plastic pieces (retainment clips) surrounding two rods. Ignore the green. Remove the red. I found it easier to pry the rod end from the circular hole, then disconnect the red clip from the rod - and the same on reinstall (insert rod, then lock in place - it takes a little fiddling, but it's not terrible).

With the rod removed from the latch, remove the license lamps from their sockets (standard twist connectors), and remove the wiring from its loom retainer in the pocket. Now the license pocket can be removed (there are retaining clips holding it in loosely - but if you've got an air gap around the entire perimeter, only the clips are holding it in at this point - go ahead and pull gently to remove). Note the heavier gasketing inside - it will probably be wanting to separate from the pocket. If it does, make a note of it and address as needed before reinstall.

Now you can raise the liftgate again to run the wiring. What's that? You didn't block the latch and can't lift the tailgate? Don't worry - that happened to me, too. Remember those green & red rod retainers? They connect to dual latches. Lift up (or push down; I forget which) on both *simultaneously*, and you'll be able to raise the liftgate. Time to have a beverage and count your blessings.


Running the Wiring

By now, you've noticed a couple of things:

- The primary wire run is via the left (driver) side, and so is the routing channel between liftgate & body. Since it's easier to follow that path, get out your zip ties and proceed along the edge of the liftgate until you reach the rubber channel. Get your wire pull ready.

To remove the rubber channel from the body, pry up gently around the perimeter of the rubber - it will separate from the white grommet. Do this on both sides, and leave it in place, disconnected at both ends. If you loosened / removed the white plastic piece that the rubber surrounds, just push it back into place.
(Note - when reconnecting, it is MUCH easier to pop out the white grommet (push in latches top / bottom) and reattach the rubber to the plastic - then reseat the plastic grommet into the channel.)

Unfortunately, GM didn't leave us a lot of spare room in that channel. In my case, I was able to get two 16ga wires through for power / ground, but there was no way I was going to get the video wire, much less the RCA connector at the end of it, through that channel. Since the video wire gets routed up front, you can skip feeding this through the channel, if you prefer. You do need to get it to the body side, obviously. The upper trim garnish will hide the wire, but it needs to get across. I went through the white grommet, but stayed outside of the wiring channel (as mentioned above).

I'll mention this now - when pulling / routing wires, take a moment beforehand, just to make sure you've got the routing correct, and will reach your next destination correctly. In the case of the wire channel, that means you go through the top (liftgate end), and out through the bottom / body end. You can pry gently on the headliner to get your hand or a longnose in and grab the wires - that part is much easier.


Trailblazer owners - since your reverse lamps are in the main lamp assembly, you can remove the tail lamp of your choice, remove and poke a (small) hole through the body side rubber grommet that feeds the brake lamp housing, route your new wires through that grommet, and proceed to splicing the power / ground wire to the reverse lamp. They'll most likely be green/white and black - those are power / ground. Leave yourself enough room to reconnect the wires on each side, if you sever them - especially if you find the wiring brittle (the green/white is the worst of these). Be careful stripping the end of the green wire especially. Splice & reconnect the wiring with the method of choice, and you're ready to finish the video wire routing up to the front.



(To be cont'd, next post)
 
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OP
OP
Reprise

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
#2
(cont'd from last post)

(Envoy owners - this gets a little harder for us, since the reverse lamp is in the bumper cover, and the wires *do* get brittle due to weathering.. I chose the right (passenger side) to run my power wires down, for the following reasons:

- Underneath the bumper, you'll find the wiring running through black plastic looming. There's a bit more room to work with on the passenger side, because the driver's side joins the trailer harness on that side, fairly quickly. The passenger side runs to the trailer harness as well, but since that's on the other side, you have more room / wire to work with.

- If for some reason, you have a wiring issue that takes out the passenger side reverse lamp, you'll still have the one working on the driver's side - and (IMO), the person behind you should see that one slightly quicker vs the passenger side, if only one was lit. At least, that was my reasoning.

As with the Trailblazer folks, run your wiring down the D-pillar, and through the grommet to the outer (tail lamp) side, after removing the lamp housing. You'll see a good route to the reverse lamp via a gap between the bumper cover and the rear quarter. Go ahead and route your power wires through there; your lamp housing will conceal it. Of course, use zip ties, grommets, tape, etc., as you think necessary (I did use zip ties & electrical tape (to prevent rubbing against the edge of the bumper cover, as an example)

Did I mention - The green/white (+) is especially brittle, and the wire is thin. Be careful when stripping back the ends.

Testing, Finishing Up, Reinstall

After this, run your video cable up front as desired (down either side of the headliner garnish seems to be easiest, and down the A-pillar / across to the rear view mirror, depending on where your display is, then finally to your display). Depending on the length of the video wire provided, and especially if you have a LWB, you may need to extend an additional video cable with a coupler (or gender changer).

I found an RCA coupler at Menards for under $2 that was listed as video-capable (although it's really an audio coupler, since it's a dual.) For the additional cable, try to get an additional video cable (yellow jack), as these are supposed to carry 75ohm signal adequately. But red / white audio cables may work for you as well. You don't need 'HD' resolution, unless your cam & display both support it and you want it. Standard def is fine for me, as long as it's snow / ghost free, and preferably in color.

If you want to test mount the cam before proceeding further, now's the time to do so.
You want to make sure:
- All of your brake / turn / reverse lamps are working, especially if you had to separate the harness lead in the lamp housing (TB owners).
- You have some image feeding to your display. Don't worry if it's not focused properly for now.

With that out of the way, it's time to address the mounting of the camera itself, along with routing any harness lead provided by the mfgr.

As mentioned earlier, mine is a license mount, so you may / may not decide to put your cam in the same area. One area many folks like to use is underneath the clear lenses that cover the license lamps - a bonus to this area is that with the lens and the flexible gasket underneath it installed, it provides pretty good water resistance (as long as your gasket surround is intact!). If you go elsewhere in the pocket, some sort of grommet would be advisable, for both weather resistance & prevention of wires chafing down the line.

Grab the plastic license 'pocket' you removed earlier, and examine the area you want to route the camera wiring through, to make sure it won't be going through an area where it might interfere with the latch. If you go with the lighting outlets, grab that #1 Phillips and remove the lens that you want to route through (I used the passenger side). Underneath the lens is a flexible gasket. Keep the hole you make here small, as it will stretch to accommodate the plug(s) that you likely have on the end of the harness - or just make a slit from middle to end. For the hard plastic pocket, you'll need to make a hole large enough to fit the plug(s) through one at a time. Implement your choice of anti-chafing measures around that hole. Replace the lens, zip tie the harness where needed, and remount the pocket.

Since the gasket surround is susceptible to being 'sucked down' into the gap between plastic & metal (it's caused by uneven thermal expansion, btw), here's GM's recommendation per TSB #04-08-66-001A (Oct 2004) for the tightening sequence. We'll assume 'left' refers to the traditional driver's side. Tighten, to 44 INCH pounds (5 n-m), and you're supposed to be pushing the frame upward with one hand while tightening.
Left top bolt first, right top bolt second, and the bottom three in any order you like.

Test the camera once more (if it works, you don't need to test the other lighting again). Refasten all of the trim you removed, taking care not to crimp any wires, if you didn't zip tie yours. One more brief check of the camera, and now you can dial in the focusing, etc.

And with that, you're done!

Pics to follow shortly.
 
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Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#3
I just got a new radio (and backup camera) that supports a back up camera and the radio harness has a connection in it for telling when you put it in reverse (the camera is just video signal, power and ground) what is the closest to the headunit location way of getting a signal for reverse? could I tap into any of the wires in the shifter, maybe? or at the very least somewhere in the cab closer to the front to tap into the reverse light wiring?
 
#6
IIRC, I used that reverse signal from the adapter harness. It activates the reverse screen on the HU and powers the camera. It's also possible to just put switched 12v power from the harness to power the camera all the time, which can be usefully if you want to use it to record video while driving, lime a dash cam.
 

dna59

Well-Known Member
#7
I connected mine at the transmission and ran the wire along and through the shift cable grommet to get it inside.
 

Matt

Silver Supporter
#8
You should just be able to tap the reverse wire in one of the rear light like @Mooseman said...that's how I did mine.
 
#9
You should just be able to tap the reverse wire in one of the rear light like @Mooseman said...that's how I did mine.
I didn't say that. I said to use the reverse output from the adapter harness (i.e. PAC).
 
#10
My radio adapter harness (PAC) had a reverse wire on it, so that made it easy for me.
 

Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#12
My radio adapter harness (PAC) had a reverse wire on it, so that made it easy for me.
I ordered an LC-GMRC-01 off of amazon like 3-3.5 years ago and digging into things my unit is one of the ones that only has like 4 wires going into the speaker box thing that takes the pink (data?) wire and converts it to a red accessory power wire so I don't have the right wires for going in right there.

I connected mine at the transmission and ran the wire along and through the shift cable grommet to get it inside.
what wire did you tap into exactly? do you have a picture? would be cheaper then buying a new harness with the proper wiring.
 
#13
For all that trouble at the tranny, I would just tap into the reverse light near the tailgate since you have to go by there anyway routing the camera wire.
 

Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#15
@Daniel644 it should be pin 10 a grey wire on the neutral safety switch connector.
so we have the safety switch on the left in this diagram? It's been a while since I was under there. if so the grey wire looks to be Pin 6, that said Pin 10 is "backup lamp supply voltage" so it should be good still. Is teh front driveshaft or anything in the way that you remember?

 

dna59

Well-Known Member
#16
Based on wiring diagram info it would be the left and it shows the wire as being grey on pin 10 and it turns light green elsewhere. If I remember I can go under and double check.
 

16vcabman

Well-Known Member
#17
I tapped into light green wire in rear fusebox. It is C1(connector 1) A4 is the terminal. I found this allows the connection inside the vehicle instead of outside. I disconnected the battery, uncliped the fuse box, and unscrewed the bolt holding in the connector closest to the tunnel (C1). I did remove the power wire off the box and you can unsnap the cover on the bottom of C1 to verify connection.
 

Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#18
I tapped into light green wire in rear fusebox. It is C1(connector 1) A4 is the terminal. I found this allows the connection inside the vehicle instead of outside. I disconnected the battery, uncliped the fuse box, and unscrewed the bolt holding in the connector closest to the tunnel (C1). I did remove the power wire off the box and you can unsnap the cover on the bottom of C1 to verify connection.
definitely sounds easier and right along what I was looking for, I got some stuff coming this weekend that I will be pulling the headunit back out to put in.

@16vcabman can you snap a photo for reference, i'm having the hardest time finding a wiring diagram or pinout for the harness's at the BCM/Rear Fuse panel.
 
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16vcabman

Well-Known Member
#19
1527874275960.png

picture of connector. Like I said, pin A4, connector C1, this is closest to tunnel.
 
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Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#22
@16vcabman
I'm not seeing a connector that looks like that, I see 2 connectors going to the BCM and a bundle of wires running into the big black box that is the rear fuse panel. Is C1 one of those BCM connectors or is this a hidden connector where I need to lift the fuse box out to get to on the underside?
 

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16vcabman

Well-Known Member
#23
Did you look underneath the fuse box? Should be 2 large rectangular plugs and one square. You need to loosen bolt nearest tunnel on top of box to release plug from bottom.
 

Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#24
Did you look underneath the fuse box? Should be 2 large rectangular plugs and one square. You need to loosen bolt nearest tunnel on top of box to release plug from bottom.
so the larger of the 2 Blue ones and I release it from the fuse box by undoing the bolt on top of the box?
 

Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#25
so I came up with an alternative camera mounting location, I took the bracket for the license plate mount and flipped everything around and mounted it on the bottom edge of the rear bumper just above the hitch, this allowed me to NOT have to try and feed the wire through the rear hatch grommet and instead come up behind the driver side taillight and come through that grommet which is a million times easier then the rear hatch, I got the wire up to the rear seat and will test everything before routing the rest of the way. still got to tap in for a reverse signal to the head unit, it's been a WET muggy hot weekend, 5 minutes outside and you are drenched in sweat kinda weekend so progress has been slow.
 

Matt

Silver Supporter
#26
So you did the the same as me then. I also didn't want to screw around with the lift gate so I installed mine in the bumper.
 

Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#27
So you did the the same as me then. I also didn't want to screw around with the lift gate so I installed mine in the bumper.
got any pics? I did a kind of quick and dirty mount but I have some ideas for a better mounting that would be a bit more hidden.
 

Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#32
On top of the receiver
yup, think how perfect that will be if I ever need to haul a trailer.

still gotta wire into the fuse panel under the rear seat for the reverse signal for the head unit but I ran a wire back to the panel so i'm ready to do it when I get a chance.
 
#34
That's the bad thing about having my camera IN the trailer hitch receiver, I can't tow anything (without removing it). But the good thing about it is, people don't ask me to tow a trailer FOR THEM anymore :biggrin:
 

Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#35
View attachment 84884

picture of connector. Like I said, pin A4, connector C1, this is closest to tunnel.
OK finally got around to this today, using the key marks (the 2 alignment bumps at the top) as reference points the A4 pin location was blank, there was a green with black stripe at the A9 location (4 in from the opposite end of the line) but that doesn't get power from going into reverse, do you have a pinout for this connector for reference?
 

16vcabman

Well-Known Member
#36
Okay what car, what year and is it xl? I can get diagram. I did notice 2006 xl trailblazer had it in different places. It might be Envoy xl is different.
 

16vcabman

Well-Known Member
#38
Okay I can get for you tomorrow afternoon. I can get exact pinout. It seems after more investigation the year model and and length are big variables in harness. You can tap in rear area under the side tray. The stuff I was talking about was Envoy because the backup lights are in the bumper. Your wire color for the backup light is light green
 

16vcabman

Well-Known Member
#39
Okay here is the pinout for all connectors on the rear fusebox. It shows it at the same location for your vehicle. Connector 1, pin A4 this was the same on my 06 Envoy Denali. The XL have totally different. The connector on mine was closest to the tunnel. As I said before, the easiest way for your car is under the left rear panel the tail light wires come into the rear area. Tap into the light green wire.
 

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Daniel644

Well-Known Member
#40
Okay here is the pinout for all connectors on the rear fusebox. It shows it at the same location for your vehicle. Connector 1, pin A4 this was the same on my 06 Envoy Denali. The XL have totally different. The connector on mine was closest to the tunnel. As I said before, the easiest way for your car is under the left rear panel the tail light wires come into the rear area. Tap into the light green wire.
I can't explain it but the ONLY green wire going to the fuse panel there is the Green/Black going to A9 EVERY single other green wire of ANY shade of green in that entire cluster of wires goes to the BCM and not the fuse panel.

I finally just said fuck it and ripped out all the paneling on the interior and went back to the first 12 or so inches of the Tail light harness before it combines into the other group of wires at the rear D-pillar. Confirmed working now, will put everything back together another day.

thanks for the diagram anyway.
 

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