Cooley On Cars
Buy the right backup cameraNot all rear view cameras are the same. Buy a car that has a good one.
Ahmad in Little Rock Arkansas has got a question for me about the car he just bought, and its backup camera. All of that wrapped up with a bow around some buyer's remorse. Here is what he says, he says I just leased the new Subaru Outback, a 2017. And two days later they announce the 18s that add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, that's one thing he He wanted, but also grid lines trajectory lines on the rear view camera display. He wants to know specifically, is there a way to make those grid lines show on his 17 that didn't ship with them. Ahmad, I would have to say that's very unlikely. I don't recall off hand Ever seeing a firmware update that added grid and trajectory lines to a plain rearview camera. There's a lot going on there in terms of sensing. It has to be tied into the image, and then processed by the head unit to make that happen. It's not quite as simple as just switching it on. So check with your [UNKNOWN] dealer. Make a big noise. Say you're really disappointed, the whole two day thing. And see if there's anything they can do. But if engineering hasn't done it, it's not gonna be an upgrade. On the bigger picture here, if you're about to buy or lease a new car, let's run down the checklist of how to buy a car with a really good rearview camera. They're becoming very common. But they aren't always there and they aren't always the same. First thing I want you to look at is, is it standard or optional? A lot of the least expensive cars, a lot of Japanese cars, for example, American cars, end up having a camera standard. A lot of pricey German cars still charge you an a la carte or an option package, an upgrade, to get a rear view camera. It makes me nuts. But once you get one and can justify the price, whatever that may be, let's take a look at what it should do. Some cameras just give you a view of the back .that can be a breakthrough. Believe me, that's a huge improvement over having none. On the other hand, as a mod's been asking, does it have projectory lines? It'll show which way you are going. What are you going to hit if you keep going the way you are heading. Other cars will also add these interesting kind of volume blocks that will show the relative size and importance of things. Because the view in the camera can sometimes be misleading. And there's Honda, which has an amazing thing that looks down the right-hand side, it's related to rear camera but it's stuck out on the passenger mirror. Every time I drive a car that has it, I absolutely love it, but it's only on Hondas. Now once you get through all this, look at the image quality. These are not all the same. And let me tell you, a good image quality rear cam makes a big difference. Because sometimes what you're trying to see back there is rather small These are wide-angle lenses, so everything they see gets made smaller on the screen. So you want high-quality resolution for that little person back there, or that little car, or that shopping cart to actually be really readable. And you also want good day and night performance. That's kinda hard to assess, though, on a single test drive. And finally another some cameras offered different angles. You can look super wide, or just wide, or look straight down, or look straight back. I wouldn't make this a really big deal because I find in my time with this cars that after a day or two I stop using that angle. It's a thing you have to deal, you gotta push the button all the time and I think you just gonna stop using it? Any good wide real angle that's fixed is usually gonna be great if you get the rest of this stuff, right? Know that the rear view camera is, I think, the number one thing you'll wish you'd gotten if you didn't get it on the car that you're about to buy or lease. Please make sure you get one. And know that by May 2018, every new car sold in the US is going to have to have a camera, by federal regulation. But in the meantime, it's possible to end up without one, and you're gonna hate yourself. [MUSIC] Keep those emails coming. I'm here to answer your questions about high tech cars and modern driving. It's firstname.lastname@example.org.