DIY - Saab Knowledge Base

Reversing Camera – Price, Installation, Which Camera for Your Saab?

360 degree camera system built into the Saab 9-3

Reverse cameras provide extra safety and security when reversing and parking and reduce the risk of accidents. The reversing cameras are high resolution and provide a very realistic display on the monitor which makes it easier for the driver to park and steer the vehicle when reversing.

For some more modern Saab cars, parking sensors were available to assist the driver in reversing, which was really useful. However, it is only with the advent of car multimedia with a larger screen diagonal that reversing cameras are becoming more popular, which are activated when the gearbox selector is inserted into “Reverse”.

Even the most experienced driver can use the help in the form of a reverse camera when parking back in an awkward place with low obstacles that are difficult to spot. Especially at night. Parking sensors in many situations are simply of no help. They have their limitations no matter how good they are. That’s why the camera that shows the picture behind the car is incomparably more helpful. At the same time, more advanced cameras can have various additional functions that do not seem important at first glance, until you need them.

Saab reverse camera

The Main Questions – Where to Buy, Which Camera, How to Install…?

We searched, compared and asked what was best for Saab car drivers. We have gathered experience from both Saab drivers and professional people (dealers, service technicians, car electricians). We concluded that it is impossible to give a concrete answer – the offer is really big, so many drivers get lost in the sea of information. In the end, they install what is the cheapest or the most affordable, or they blindly listen to the recommendation of someone who has already installed a reverse camera.

You order a camera from China, install it yourself and that’s it?

We all know that literally any product can be ordered from several of China’s most famous Internet web sites.The offer is really big, the prices are low, but potential problems remain, such as getting a defective or incompatible device, camera and display whose quality does not correspond to what was promised, generally poor quality, etc.

So, with ordering from China, you can go great, and you can also get seriously burnt. In some cases, Covid-19 further complicated the story regarding delivery, complaints. In any case, check the current situation, and make your own decision.

How Much Does a Reverse Camera Cost?

The installation of a reverse camera can cost from e.g. a couple of tens of dollars, up to a few hundred dollars. It all depends on several things:

  • whether you buy from local stores or order from China
  • whether you install it yourself or in a service center
  • do you already have an aftermarket Android multimedia system installed – that is, do you just add a camera to an existing multimedia or buy and install in the package both a camera and a device and a device on which the image will be displayed (multimedia, mirror, portable screen)

There are various other factors. We remind you that you can only buy a camera that connects to a device that the driver can also buy separately or already has, and you can buy everything in the kit. Also, some are wondering whether parking sensors necessarily go with the reverse camera? The answer is No – but many of the packages on sale include a camera and parking sensors.

How is Reverse Camera Installed?

You can find many explanations and instructions on YouTube. That is why it is better to follow the instructions that came with the product, and before that look for the video instructions on the Internet – specifically for the device you bought or for the car you have.

Here are just two examples from YouTube that can serve as inspiration and help in installing a reversing camera. The first shot is related to the retrofit in the Saab 9-3, and the second shot shows the DIY reversing camera in the Saab 9-5ng.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem difficult, but you still need some experience and tools. For many, however, the best option is to leave the installation to professionals. Installation is generally not complicated, but small mistakes or insufficient knowledge of the “matter” can do more harm than good.

There are also “wireless” devices, which of course have wires, only the camera is not connected by cable to the screen on which the image is displayed.

How does a reverse camera work in the dark and at night?

Reverse light in some situations will simply not be enough to reverse the camera to provide a useful image, so it is advisable that the camera must have its own LED lighting.

NEVS 9-3 reverse camera screen

On which device can the driver view the image from the reverse camera?

There are several options:

  • aftermarket multimedia
  • a special mirror that has an integrated display showing the image from the camera. This rear-view mirror is placed over or instead of the existing rear-view mirror, it behaves like a classic rear-view mirror when driving normally, and when the gearbox is reversed, an image from the reverse camera appears on it.
  • a small screen that can be placed anywhere in the cabin and which serves exclusively to display the image from the reverse camera. It is usually the cheapest option. It can be glued or otherwise fixed wherever the driver wants.

You must have noticed that we did not specify a factory multimedia system. We’ll explain why.

Can the Camera Connect to a factory SAAB Multimedia System?

It depends on the case, and even when it is possible, cost-effectiveness is in question, especially when it comes to older Saab cars.

Saab car owners often ask that the aftermarket rear camera be connected to the factory device. These are mostly devices without an operating system and devices that work with some of their standards, especially communication or connector, so it is not possible to add a camera to factory devices as easily as to custom multimedia or some aftermarket systems.

Saab multimedia

One of the problems with older cars is that the current is constantly 12 V and it goes in such a way that by turning on the reverse light, the multimedia is sent information that the car is in reverse and it then activates the reverse mode. It’s a system that used to work, and that’s how people remembered it. However, with newer Saab cars that have CAN communication, it no longer goes with the reverse light, but with the multimedia itself.

It also happens that people who connect the camera themselves come to the next situation. The camera works while the car is Off, but as soon as the engine starts, the image is damaged or the image on the monitor stops playing. This happens because they mostly connect the camera to the reverse light supply. It has 12 V required to operate the camera while the car is in contact, but when the engine is started that voltage drops. That usually sounds strange to people, but it falls e.g. at 9 volts.

The most common problem with self-installation of reverse cameras

In some cars, the voltage is so low that it is not enough for the camera to work, so it either interrupts or flashes or goes out completely. As soon as the engine shuts down, 12 volts return and the camera can run. This is the most common problem that people have when connecting a camera.

If we are talking about multimedia in newer cars, then the information about reversing is obtained directly from CAN, so that it then switches all multimedia work to reverse mode and then activates the video input from the back to which the camera is connected and in that instantly play the image from the Reversing camera.

Recommendation for Saab car owners

Another recommendation of most connoisseurs of this matter is to replace the old Saab multimedia systems with a new Android device. There are many reasons, and only some of them are that the image is worse on these devices (smaller screen diagonals and screen resolution), they do not have the Android operating system, which opens many new options, it is almost impossible to update navigation maps, and so on. It is practically more worthwhile to remove the factory device and install a new multimedia system and connect it to the reverse camera or even more.

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