This instructable shows how I converted the center cap on the externally mounted spare tire of my FJ Cruiser into a rear view camera bezel. The FJ Cruiser, although a great SUV, has a notoriously terrible visibility out the back window. Many 4WD vehicles have a similar problem, and installing a backup camera in the spare tire is a common solution, so this project can probably be adapted to many of them.
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Step 1: FJ Cruiser Backup Camera Bezel- the Problem
My FJ was purchased used, and came with a spare tire cover. I didn’t like the cover and removed it to discover that the vehicle came furnished with a full alloy rim identical to the other four. (I had assumed the cover hid a standard black spare rim.)
Anyway, to alleviate the rear visibility issue, I had an Alpine rear view camera installed (along with an updated radio with 7” touchscreen display). The logical place to install it was at the center hub location of the spare tire.
The camera worked great, but in order to install it, I had to remove the center hub cap exposing the black bracket that holds the tire to the rear door. That made the whole thing look unfinished, so I decided I needed to make some kind of bezel to trim it up a bit.
Step 2: FJ Cruiser Backup Camera Bezel- Parts
I started with a new used hub that I purchased on ebay for only about $10 since it had a few scratches. I didn’t want to use the one that came on the spare (upper left) in case the whole project went south.
I started by removing the metal overlay and the Toyota logo (on the right). These caps are typically made from ABS plastic so I also bought an ABS plumbing joiner (lower left) to form the cylinder around the camera.
I sanded off the raised center section which opened a hole in the center of the cap. I snapped it on the spare and took some measurements on the location of the camera in relation to the cap and marked it on the cap.
Step 3: FJ Cruiser Backup Camera Bezel- Aligning the Tube and Trim Ring
Once I had a center location, I opened the hole to the proper diameter for the plumbing joiner and bonded the joiner in place.
I also added a block of scrap ABS (not shown) to strengthen the area where I was going to add a security screw to prevent someone from popping the bezel off and walking away with it.
After I sanded the step away in the beginning, the remaining plastic was a little thin, so I made a trim ring out of some scrap ABS to strengthen the front and glued it in place.
Step 4: FJ Cruiser Backup Camera Bezel- Security Block on the Spare Tire Bracket
I made another little block from more scrap ABS that attached to an existing hole in the spare tire bracket. I then added a tapped ¼-20 hole in the block in the correct location to accept the security screw thru the bezel.
Step 5: FJ Cruiser Backup Camera Bezel- Filling and Sanding
I sanded all the corners round and filled all the gaps with glazing compound, and added a few coats of sandable primer with some sanding between. I then installed the finished bezel in place for a final fit-check.
Step 6: FJ Cruiser Backup Camera Bezel- Final Paint
I then painted the bezel with a few coats of primer, several coats of Dupli-Color silver hub cap paint, and a couple of coats of Dupli-Color clear hub cap paint. (The color is a better match in person than in the photo.)
I think the bezel looks a lot better than the bare hole I had before, and the bezel leaves plenty of visibility around the very wide-angle lens of the backup camera. Hope you enjoyed the instructable!