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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 02-17-2014, 03:10 PM   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 38
My Ride: 325i
Lightbulb Rear Camera Wiring - DIY

This thread is mostly a general direction of how to wire your rear camera. I searched quite a bit trying to get more idea on how to get the wire to trunk. Hope this helps, good luck and if you break anything or your car gives up on you and rolls away, I won't be responsible!

I'm going to try to explain this as best as I can. So yes, I was confused like you and madly searching all over the web to find clear instructions on how to wire the rear camera. Not much was found. Here is what I did:

My car is a sedan and some instructions will be (read 'are') different for coupe or convertible.

Things to know:

I live in America, so passenger side is right side of the car!

It is better to have some one to help you out with this. Can get tricky when trying to pass a wire from the trunk to inside the car if no one is around to pull it out at the other end.

I had to cut one end of the video cable connector (yellow connector on the long cable that comes with the camera) to fish it through the grommet in the trunk. You have to join it back after wiring. So make sure you cut it leaving enough wire on the plug.

This needs time and plan it well. It is going to take a while and you will bump in to hurdles. Take time and think it through before you splice, cut or drill. Any new hole you make is a new hole that increases the chance of water seeping in.

I did not drill any hole in my car. My drill set remained in it's box and I was not planning to use it.

Must have tools (well, you could make do with what works for you!)

1) Screw driver set. Must have that heads with more spokes. This is not the philips head I'm talking about. Not sure what you call it - Torx star? Sorry I have no idea what size works. I just happened to have it with my power tool set saving me a trip to the hardware store.

2) Prying tool. I bought this and this did everything for me - http://www.amazon.com/Astro-Pneumati...ds=Prying+tool.

3) Rear Camera Module. This is what I bought - http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sony-CCD-BMW...item3f2b8bb791 - Make sure you remove your light cover (just pry it out) and measure it! It is very important you measure it right, else it will NOT fit. There are different measurement ones and they different only by 1 or 2 millimeters. Now if you do not want to do all this get a license plate camera from the list WOLFN8TR has in his first post - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1021797. Now if you are not up to doing everything mentioned below, check the wireless options available. I have no idea how they work or how good they are. Just know that there are wireless options available.

4) A metal wire to push wire through.

OK lets get started. I started wiring from the trunk.

Step:1- Removing the battery cover

Remove the trunk carpet and the spare tirewell cover and set it aside. Now you would see the battery cover (passenger side of the trunk) has two plastic nuts. They are half turn nuts so you turn halfway to lock and turn another half turn and it will unlock.

Unlock both the nuts and set them aside. Lift the black cover and pull it towards you. Lift is important and sometimes you will have to lift it around 45 to 50 degrees angle and wiggle it a little bit to get it out.

Step 2: Removing the trunk liner

I removed it only to uncover the passenger side. That is all what is required to wire the camera.

You will see a green button that allows to open the gas lid if you are out of power above the battery cover area on the trunk liner. Pull it towards you. Take a closer look and you will see there is a little clip that allows you to remove the button and let the cable pass through the liner. Open the clip (take your time and do not break it!) and set the button aside.

Now spot all the grey plastic buttons (I call them buttons there must a name for it, but you get the idea!). Use your prying tool and remove them one by one. Remove only the passenger side ones. Thatz it, now you should able to pull the liner and see what is inside.

Spot the grommet (see picture below) that is sending a set of wires to the trunk lid. Also spot the solid red battery/power wires routing to the front of the car. The tada moment and the sudden realization, damn it, I have to pull the seats out!

Step 3: Removing the liner from the trunk door

Remove the trunk release cable handle. Take a look at it and you will know to how to remove it. If you cannot get this out, stop now and get help! Or even better get the camera installed professionally!

You only need to remove the upper half of the liner and the lower passenger side buttons. To say, you do not have to remove the tool box or the liner completely. Spot all the buttons that are holding the liner to the trunk door and go to work with a prying tool and thatz it you will be able to pull it aside from the trunk door.

Step 4: Removing the lip that houses the license plate lights

There are three screws that hold the trunk lip that houses the lights to the trunk door. This is where you need to Torx star screw driver. Once you get all the screws removed you will see there is a weather seal behind the trunk lip. I slowly peeled it with a blade. Take your time on this else you will ruin it and you will be cutting a new one to seal it in when you put it back. Remove it half way till you see the wiring going in to the trunk. I removed the passenger side light and fixed my camera with light in place of it. So I simply pryed out the light cover removed the bulb wired the led to the two leads for the bulb and taped it. As you see from the link above, mine came with a camera and LED lights. LED is a diode - so it is unidirectional. Make sure you check the polarity and wire it correctly. Now do your magic with double side tape to keep it in there. Mine sits pretty tight and the license plate frame touches the camera and helps it hold it is in place.

I pulled the video cable behind the lip (that houses the lights) through the light fixture and spliced the seal the make sure the wire goes in between the seal (this is the seal that you removed at the starting of this step). Pushed it in with the other wires in to the trunk, fished it out connected the long video cable, taped it to make sure it never comes loose.

I have a reverse light in the trunk door. It is held together by one philips screw, take that apart and find the wire that powers the reverse light and wire the camera power to it. The connector has a power (switches on when the car is in reverse) and a negative that will help you to complete the wiring. Make sure you do not wire it to the brake light power line.

Now pull the grommet out on both ends - trunk door and trunk body. Make sure you don't tear lip of the grommet while pulling it. If you check the wire bundle you will see the bundle is in a sleeve. It is easier to fish the wire through the sleeve. Use the metal wire if required to do it. Now inside the trunk you will have to make a small slice in the sleeve to take it out. Make sure you do not slice the wires inside the sleeve when splicing the sleeve. I took my time doing it! Once the wire is in the trunk 75% of the job is done! Check the pictures below you will see the grommet and the sleeve in the trunk.

Step 5: Removing the back seat!

See pictures below. Or youtube is your savior! Try this link if you do not know what is Youtube or what search means: http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...back+seat&sm=3. The sitting piece is easy to remove. Reach down under the seat some where in the middle of the passenger side and pull forward and you will hear a metal clamp release. The same on the driver side. Thatz it the sitting piece is ready to be pulled out of the car.

The back rest is a little more involved. If you check the plastic cover or moulding. It has a flat part and piece that curves and stop near the seat. The flat part has two plugs that is what you are trying to pry out. They are equally spaced in the flat part. The curved part locks in to the end of the backrest of the seat. You need to remove the moulding on the floor with a prying tool. Now push the corner of the seat down so that a U hook inside unhooks from its lock. Now pull the head rests out. Get inside the car and place your hand right in line with the center of the passenger side headrest, get to the edge and start pulling towards you. You will hear a clamp loosen. Thatz it, you just to have loosen the backrest, not remove it completely.

Look behind the seat and see where the red power cable is coming in to the car from the trunk. Go back in to the trunk and fish the cable through the same hole. The cable is in!!! Now the first thing to do would be to join the yellow connector back and power on and check it all works fine.

If you check how the power cable is routed it is routed through the wall near the footwell inside the car. Now I simply tucked it under the plastic moldings with a prying tool and routed it all the way till my glove box. There your video cable is literally near your head unit! Now connect the cable to your head unit and wire the reverse trigger wire as well. Now just bask in the glory of a job well done! Wait, not yet, you car is still in pieces!

Step 6: Put everything back together

Now, put everything back to where it came from! Remember the plastic moulding your removed (the one that has flat part and a curved part) is it a little tricky to put in. Make sure you lock the U lock of seat backrest and putting the moulding back, together. They need to work together to get the right fit!


1) Camera and LED light and how it is mounted.
2) Trunk to door grommet - Yes, I made a wrong decision first to make a small hole first. Thought it sealed itself (almost!), I decided to tape it up to weather seal it.
3) Grommet inside the trunk. See the liner I was talking about?
4) Back seat. Red arrows show where the sitting part of the seat gets locked in. Green arrow shows you the moulding the needs to be removed - the flat part and curved part, remember? The blue arrow indicates the power lines. You can see the red power cables there.
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Last edited by Anjoz; 02-17-2014 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 02-18-2014, 04:44 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Twin Cities
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Nice work! Pics to go along with the directions would be great, esp for someone like me who is more of a visual person than reading!
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:25 AM   #3
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Location: Oshawa
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Time to go install my camera that has been sitting for over a year
GET 10% off of your next order at BIMMIAN CODE:CARBONM3

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Old 06-19-2014, 04:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 1CarbonM3 View Post
Time to go install my camera that has been sitting for over a year
Good luck!!
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