Whitney Russell
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How to Clean and Care For Your Rear Backup Camera

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christmas road trip
Photo: Chris Peeters

As winter approaches, it’s not too early to start thinking about seasonal maintenance tips for keeping your vehicle clean from road salt and slush… and that includes the backup camera on the rear of your car. Here are some simple ways to keep the lens clean and how to troubleshoot some common problems that these systems have.

Seasonal Service: Schedule your car’s winter maintenance appointment

Clean the lens

Cadillac’s streaming video rearview mirror
Photo: GM

Many rear backup cameras have lenses that are treated with different chemicals that help protect the lens from scratches and help ensure that the camera’s image quality stays sharp. According to Camera Source, it’s usually safe to use isopropyl alcohol on most camera system lenses. Apply it to a soft cloth then wipe away any grime, dirt, and debris from the lens.

A safer alternative is to use water and a cloth to wipe the lens, as many automakers recommend. Though, you can also use a non-abrasive cleaner, as Cars.com’s Rick Popely suggests.

Cleaning Supplies
Use a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol, lens cleaner, or water to clean a backup camera lens
Photo: Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker via CC

How often you clean the lens depends partly on how often you drive as well as what road conditions you encounter this winter. When the roads are messy, it’s a good idea to wipe the lens after each drive to ensure that the rear backup camera is functioning at its best.

Troubleshooting tips

A blurry camera display doesn’t always indicate a dirty lens. Sometimes a foggy display stems from an issue with the system’s wires and connections. Camera Source recommends inspecting the wires for signs of damage. Look for wires that are split or disconnected. These are often simple to fix with a splicing tool and electrical tape. If the wires look fine, check your vehicle’s fuse box to rule out the possibility of a blown fuse.

If your vehicle is newer, you likely have a wireless backup camera system. In this case, consult the owner’s manual to see how to do a factory reset, advises Camera Source. It’s a simple fix, but an effective one that can easily remedy a foggy display.

Read up on how to install a rearview camera system on an older vehicle model. Then get the scoop on how GM backup cameras use HD technology.

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