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Suffering from the Tesla envy with its cameras all around I decided to install a rear dashcam. Earlier I found that the rear hatch doesn’t’ have a suitable power source in it, and it made the installation more complicated. I had to bring the power from the main body and I didn’t want another visible cable going to the hatch.

I couldn’t find any switched 12V nearby and decided to use the cigarette lighter type outlet on the right side of the trunk. Using the unswitched power carries a risk to deplete the 12V battery, but it allows recording even when the car is parked. To prevent the deep discharge, I powered the dashcam with a 12v to 5V converter with a low voltage protection. If the battery voltage falls below 11.6 it shuts down the output. https://amzn.to/2nmSbtY

To install the dashcam I had to remove several internal panels. It can be done with bare hands, not tools necessary, although a trim removal kit may help a bit. Somethng like this one https://amzn.to/2or6pKX

Start by removing the panel around the right rear sit belt. Pry the little piece near the seatbelt and pull the panel near the two metal retainers visible on the picture. The retainers are strong, don’t be afraid to apply some force. After the retainers are free the panel will come off easy. It will still be connected to the body by a security strap, disconnect it on the panel side.


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Pull away the lower right trunk panel to access the back of the 12V port and unplug it. The cable has enough slack to bring it outside.


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Remove the top center panel in the hatch. Pull it in the direction to free the green retainer on the photo.

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Pull the handholds on the bottom of the hatch.

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Pull the large hatch panel mainly on the left side to have a better access to the J (or L) shaped panel on the left from the window.

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Remove the J shaped panel pulling against the green retainers.

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Disconnect the connector in the hatch and remove the sleeve with the cable.

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Now wash your hands and pull down the rear of the headliner starting from the right. The headliner is held by a combination of plastic retainers and Velcro. It doesn’t need much force. Be careful not to bend the headliner too much, you may create a permanent crease.

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Discussion Starter #2
Route the mini USB cable from the right side of the headliner to the cable sleeve and through it to the hatch. The roof is not a one sheet of metal, it has a complex structure and the cable will need to be routed around it. Be gentle with the headliner.
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Connect the 12V side of the converter to the power outlet connect. Red to Red and Black to Black. I prefer feeding the wires from the back, another option is Posi-Tap.

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Plug the 12V connector in the back of the cigarette outlet, connect the dashcam to the USB cable and make sure it powers up immediately.

Attach the converter right above the seatbelt spool with an outdoor rated mounting tape. Dress the cables with a suitable tape.

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Reassemble everything in the reverse order, the mini USB cable should be coming out of the top hatch panel.
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The installation may look like a lot of work, however none of it challenging or time consuming. The most difficult parts were to figure out where to pull the D-pillar panel and to route the cable under the roof without excessively bending the headliner.
Most of dashcams are powered by a mini USB port, but some have micro USB. Make sure that you will order the converter with the appropriate jack. Dashcam should have a “Parking Mode” or a “Motion Activated Recording”. I used Z-Edge F1 because it has a 1.8 aperture, can record in SuperHD, accepts a 256GB SD card and is super capacitor based. I wanted to try dual recording with it front and rear cameras. It didn’t work out well because of the light differences between the clear windshield and tinted side windows. A single camera dashcam with WiFi may be a better choice. WiFi will help to review the recordings and change settings right from the driver seat.
 

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You’re a legend. I will NEVER attempt this, no matter how much I like the idea of a rear cam. But big ups for getting it done and posting the how-to.
 
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Believe me, I'm not that handy. This mod is simple. It looks difficult because I posted too many pictures :) Once you know where to pull to unhook the retainers, the whole work can be done in less than an hour.
 

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Excellent info. thanks!
 
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