Front and Rear Dashcam Install
Dealing with trim removal and headliner abuse on Christmas Eve
I spent about two and a half hours installing front and rear dash cameras in my 2016 VW GTI. This was a gift from my wife that I bought for myself. I was able to take advantage of the momentarily warm weather and the rare period of many hours in which to complete the one hour job, while getting comfortable with risking damaging the interior of the car. The Viofo A129 Duo cameras and cables are largely installed to my satisfaction, but not without some challenges along the way.
Challenge number one: My wife was quite concerned that I was going to break something as I ran the cables. Happily she didn't try to stop me, either trusting me, or not caring too much since it isn't the car that she tends to drive.
I do have access to the factory service manual and this helped me to get comfortable with what I would be dealing with in the days prior to the install. I was able to figure out how I would be able to detach the trim panels at the hatch in order to run the rear camera cable inside the wiring conduit from the body to the hatch. This was much better than me just prying at it and hoping that I didn't break something. Instead I pried at it and had undue confidence that I probably wouldn't break anything. I didn't!
I thought that this would be the biggest challenge, so that was where I started today. One fun part was using a ziptie taped to the cable to thread it through the conduit, based on online guidance. This resulted in basically all of my photos as a result:
It turned out that this was actually the easy part. Wedging the cable under the headliner all the way to the front of the car, including around the B pillar, was . . . difficult. Which is why I have no pictures of that. At one point early on I stopped and tried a different route, running it underneath the door weatherstripping and along the floor, but I barely had enough length and wasn't happy with how it looked.
So I reassured myself with going back to the factory service manual, reviewing how the headliner interacts with the airbag cover on the B pillar, and went back to the overhead route. I got it done, tucked the excess length under the headliner at the rear of the roof where I still had a trim panel off, and put the last trim panel back, closed it up.
Before I ran all the wires, I stuck the rear camera on, and connected it to the front camera to check that everything was working together and that I'd have a good position in the front. Then I stuck the front camera to the windshield using the adhesive pad on the back of the camera, with wires dangling, and decided that I didn't like the spot . . . but it was stuck firmly. I gave up, got out, looked at it from the outside, got back in to mess with it, and promptly sat on the wires, pulling the front camera off the windshield. So I got a chance to move it after all!
Viofo A129 front camera installed
Viofo A129 front camera installed - front view
The main thing I did was to sit in the driver's seat and try to position the front camera so that the mirror hid the video display that this model has when driving, so that it wouldn't be distracting. But yet I can lean over, move the rear-view mirror and still push buttons otherwise. As a result it is a bit lower than I might have preferred, but I'm okay with it.
Unfortunately, my rear cam is already falling off of the plastic trim, probably because of the plastic and because I moved it a couple of times, plus the slamming of the trunk. I'll have to try the one extra sticky pad that the manufacturer provided, and if that doesn't work, I'll have to get creative. It was good that my car was a bit dirty, as I was confident that I placed it within the sweep of the rear wiper. However, there didn't seem to be a good way to attach it without aiming the lens through a defrost line. And because of the defrost lines I didn't want to attach it to the glass.
Viofo A129 Duo rear camera - a bit askew as it loses adhesion to the plastic trim (sorry about the flash)
I have no idea if the purchase and install of front and rear dashcams will be worth it, but I have to allow myself to view it as much as a toy as it is insurance. At the least I may now be able to share pictures of cars in situations where I wasn't willing or able to grab my phone. I didn't hardwire it . . . yet. This way I can remove it or move it to another (possible future GTI replacement) car easily. It will be pretty quick to uninstall, mostly just pulling wire back out, other than the rear camera.
The downside is that I don't benefit from the parking lot monitoring features without it being hardwired, but for now I'm okay with that.
I expect to pull video off of it rarely, but it seems like drivers act stupidly around me often enough that there may be something monthly. Mostly it is insurance. The timing is amusing in that I'm working from home for the next three weeks, so driving less than usual. We shall see!
At least I felt like I did something tangible and got past another mental block in car modification.