A driver who managed to install a rearview camera in their older car.

Q. Can I add a rearview camera to an older car that doesn't have one?

A. A rearview camera is a handy safety tool on newer cars. But if you have an older model, you don’t need to go without.

The simplest solution is to install a small wireless backup camera in the car’s rear license plate area, says Mel Yu, CR's automotive analyst. These cameras (usually $50 to $199) can connect wirelessly to your smartphone as the rearview camera's display screen. Be sure to choose one that's compatible with your phone's operating system.

More on Car Safety

Some front-facing dash cams— which mount on your dashboard or windshield to record video— are sold as sets with rear cameras. But you’ll probably need to run wires from the rear camera to a screen you mount on the dashboard. Many dash-cam sets have a screen that straps over your existing rearview mirror. In addition to being a mirror, it displays video from the rear camera.

If your car has an infotainment screen but lacks a rearview camera, you may want an aftermarket retrofit. This will use the existing infotainment screen to show the rear image. Packages range from $120 to $600.

"Hardwiring a rearview camera can be time-consuming and takes some DIY skills," says John Ibbotson, CR’s chief mechanic. "So if you have any doubts, go to a national chain such as Best Buy." Installation ranges from $99 to $130. 

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the February 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.