Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Accessing Rear-View Camera Wiring Harness for Troubleshooting or Camera Replacement

My 2011 Agile came with an Eclipse GPS Navigation and Audio System; it is also equipped with a rear-view camera. RT has installed a generic camera in lieu of the more expensive Eclipse brand camera. I have read somewhere that the original Eclipse camera is powered by the head unit at 5-volts. In order for a 12-volt aftermarket rear-view camera to work, RT used an adapter and spliced a 12-volt power from the Sprinter reverse lights. One drawback of using an aftermarket rear-view camera is that you loss the manual "always on" camera feature of the unit.

Recently, my rear-view camera intermittently stops working at night, especially when it gets cold. The camera would start working again when it gets warmer during the day. I thought there must be some loose wiring connections to the camera that possibly exacerbated by moisture or condensation build up. I pulled out the head unit and replaced the loose push-in Coax-to-RCA connector for the camera with a better compression type, but that did not solve the problem. I called RT on how to access the rear-view camera wiring harness and was told to remove some panels just after where the camera is mounted, but Agile has a rear overhead cabinet on that area and that would be a pain to remove.

I started looking outside and noticed the Sprinter 3rd brake light which is located just below the camera mount. The brake light is held in place with 2 screws, one on each side. Even with the screws remove, you still have to slightly pry out the light assembly as the gasket seal surrounding it has double sided adhesive and has permanently adhered to the van and the brake light  casing. With the 3rd brake light removed, I can see the camera wiring harness as it enter from the roof and bundled all together by electrical tape. The brake light opening is small and it is hard grab the wiring with your fingers, but with enough patience and using a mechanical pick-up tool with steel prongs I was able to grab and unravel the electrical tape creating enough slack in the wiring that I was able to pull it out of the brake light opening.

NOTE: Removing the overhead brake light assembly will damage the gasket seal and cannot be reused. I temporarily used a foam weatherstrip tape around the opening before remounting the brake light assembly.

Universal rear-view camera wiring adapter from the head unit.
With the 3rd brake light assembly removed. Noticed the surface rust around the opening, luckily, I was able to buff it out.
With the wiring harness pulled out from the brake light opening. It was a sticky mess.
With electrical tape removed. I used "Goo Gone Remover" to remove the adhesive residue from the wiring and around the brake light opening and plastic casing.
Wiring connectors cleaned with alcohol and protected with heatshrink tape.
Weatherstip foam tape was applied around the opening before reinstalling the brake light assembly. I also stuff the area with some left-over insulation. The rear-view camera now works flawlessly!

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