Installing Escort’s SmartSite rearview mirror camera system on Project Bedrock
by Bruce W. Smith
Seeing into the blind spot behind and below your pickup’s tailgate is a huge safety advantage around the worksite or anywhere else your drive.
The ability to see behind your truck can also speed up making those trailer connections.
There are plenty of options in OE and aftermarket rearview cameras: Some are integrated into $1,000-plus factory audio/navigation/climate control upgrades from the factory; some come as added upgrades to aftermarket engine programmers; some are integrated into aftermarket GPS systems; some are stand-alone rear-view systems.
The latter is where the new Escort SmartSite ($250) comes into play.
SmartSite is a replacement rearview mirror that has a 3.5-inch video display integrated into it. The camera is activated when the transmission is put in reverse. It can also be turned on at any other time by pushing a button on the mirror.
When the camera is off the SmartSite mirror looks like any other. When it’s on you still have more than half the mirror functioning so you have dual vision of what’s happening out back.
Installing the mirror is straight forward as we found out upgrading Project Bedrock: Remove the old mirror from the windshield bracket, place the SmartSite in its place, mount the rear-view camera and make the connections.
Running the wiring from the mirror requires loosening up the headliner and removing the A-pillar plastic cover so the wires can be tucked out of sight.
You also need to tap into the backup lights power wire so when you shift into reverse the camera activates, and a separate “ignition on” power source so the camera can be activated manually when needed.
The Escort instructions are good on this part. But the instructions on where and how to mount the camera are a bit vague (they come from the camera supplier.)
We found the best location to mount the camera is to the bottom center of the tailgate on our 2011 GMC Sierra 1500.
Mounting to the tailgate requires two 1/2-inch spacers (so the lens just peeks below the thin tailgate lip) and two self-tapping metal screws. We also used the two tapered plastic spacers that come with the camera–one stacked on the other–to get the proper angle of view.
The best power source for the camera on pickups with the OE towing package is tapping into the factory 7-way trailer connector.
(Be sure to connect the red 10-gauge trailer power wire at the fuse block under the hood. GM doesn’t have this connected when you take delivery.)
Run the Escort-supplied wiring harness through the big grommet under the driver’s floorboard and along the frame rail all the way to the camera pigtail.
Plug it in and you are set. Installation time should take less than an hour.
We found the backup camera/mirror system to work excellent at night. The quality of the image is sharp and you can control both brightness and contrast with a touch of the buttons along the lower edge of the mirror.
My impression after using the SmartSite for several weeks is it provides exactly what the name says: smart sight.–Pro