Full Time Rear View Camera on a Conversion Van
Our 2020 Transit is a cargo van with no windows rear of the side front cab windows. Having no windows in the back doors also means we did not get a rearview mirror. Why would we? You can't see out the back. Our van has the nice 8 inch screen that provides a rear view when the van is in reverse and that's handy when backing up and parking. But we would like to be able to see traffic behind us as we drive down the road. A full time camera on the back of the van and a display up front for the driver would lower the stress when driving in traffic and help us see other drivers when they enter our blind spots.
I started researching and found some very good review of a unit from Vantop that has 1080p display and a waterproof rear camera for about 80 bucks and ordered it. It came well packaged and came with everything for a basic installation. They offer camera cable extension kit for use with longer vans. Ours is the 148" standard length and the base unit came with a cable just long enough for my install. They also offer a hardwire kit for tying into your fuse box and providing constant power to be able to take advantage of the security features where it can record if it senses any motion in the front and rear cameras.
The installation ended up being easier than I thought it would be mostly because I still have access to the back of the center brake light on the van. I was able to route the camera cable through the housing and mount the camera on the brake light lens itself. I toyed with several alternative locations before settling with this one. It gets the best view to the rear and gave minimal exposure to the camera cable. I was able to route the camera cable toward the front of the van on the driver's side along the factory wiring harness and then up under the front cab headliner.
The display is designed to attach to an existing mirror but since the van didn't come with a mirror from the factory I had to find one and figure out how it is going to attach to the front windshield. My local dealer parts guy was no help so it was back to searching online and I found a good source for Ford parts online that has a decent website. Here is the part you need if your Transit does not have a rear view mirror from the factory.
You have to remove the plug where the mirror mount goes and then remove the two halves of the plastic console that encloses some of the sensors and cameras that are at the top center of the windshield. They are pretty easy to pop off. Once those parts are popped off you can see where the mirror attaches to a metal mount affixed to the windshield. The mirror twists into place and it's kind of tough to get in place. I have pretty strong hand but i needed to use a pair of soft-jawed pliers to get some leverage and gently twist it into place. From there it is a matter of replacing the two halves of the plastic cover and toss the blank that's not needed now that the mirror is in place.
From there it is a matter of strapping the display onto the mirror and plugging in the camera cable and the power cable and you're pretty much done. There are a few handy adjustments where you can manage things like how the image is cropped and you can raise and lower the view of the camera with the touch screen.
The camera and display is better than I expected. It presents a bright and clear image even in bad weather conditions.