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How to Install an LCD Monitor in Your Car

car headrest monitor

Vehicles are increasingly outfitted with a way to keep all of the passengers entertained during a road trip or give directions during a long voyage. Installing an LCD monitor in your car adds visual entertainment and practical functionality. The LCD monitor could be used for watching DVDs, playing video games, or for GPS navigation systems.

Lots of vehicle owners invest in LCD monitors intended for viewing behind the vehicle. This type of LCD monitor is known as a reverse camera monitoring system. The monitor activates when the vehicle is in reverse and lets the driver know what is behind the vehicle.

LCD monitors can be located in three places in a vehicle: the middle of the dashboard or console area, the ceiling or interior roof in SUVs or vans, or attached inside the headrest of the front seats.

The LCD monitor installed in a dashboard is usually used for navigation and video purposes. Most LCD monitors are touch screen and have a typical amount of video storage.

Most LCD monitors installed into the ceiling or interior roof of a sport utility vehicle or van are generally used for video or TV use only. Headphone jacks are generally installed near the passenger's seat for easy access to allow passengers to hear the video footage with no distractions to the driver.

It is becoming more common to install LCD monitors inside the headrest of the front seats. These monitors are made for passengers to view movies and play games. There could be a gaming console or the LCD monitor could have preloaded games for a viewer’s choice.

Part 1 of 3: Choosing the right LCD monitor

Step 1: Think about what type of LCD monitor you want to install. This determines the location of the monitor in the vehicle.

Step 2: Check for all accessories. Then when you have purchased the LCD monitor, check the package for all the materials.

You may need to purchase additional items, like butt connectors or additional wiring to route a power source to the monitor.

Part 2 of 3: Installing an LCD monitor in your car

Materials Needed

Step 1: Park your vehicle on a flat, hard surface.

Step 2: Place wheel chocks around tires. Engage the parking brake to keep the rear tires from moving.

Step 3: Install a nine volt battery saver into your cigarette lighter. This keeps your computer live and keeps your setting current in the vehicle.

If you do not have a nine volt battery saver, that is ok.

Step 4: Open the vehicle’s hood to disconnect your battery. Take the ground cable off of the battery’s negative post disabling the power to the entire vehicle.

Mounting an LCD monitor into the dashboard:

Step 5: Remove dash panel. Remove the mounting screws to the dash panel where the monitor will be installed.

Remove the dash panel. If you plan on reusing the dash panel, you will need to cut the panel to fit around the monitor.

Step 6: Get the LCD monitor out of the package. Install the monitor into the dashboard.

Step 7: Locate a power wire. This wire must supply power to the monitor only when the key is in the on or accessory position.

Hook the power wire up to the monitor. You may need to extend the wire.

  • Note: You may have to run your own power supply to the monitor. Be sure to hook up the power supply to a terminal or wire that has power only when the key is in the on or accessory position. To do this, you will need a DVOM (digital volt ohm meter) to check the power to a circuit with the key off and on.

  • Warning: Do not attempt to tap into a source of power with an object that is connected to the vehicle’s computer. If the LCD monitor were to short out internally, then it’s possible that the vehicle’s computer could short out as well.

Step 8: Hook up the remote power to the key source as well. Install additional wires if needed to power up the device.

Use butt connectors to connect wires together. If you intend to tap into a circuit, use a splice connector to junction the wires together.

Mounting an LCD monitor on the ceiling or interior roof:

Step 9: Remove the caps on the grab handles in the passenger compartment. Remove the rear passenger side grab handles.

Step 10: Pull the molding loose above the passenger doors. This allows you to locate the roof support, which is just a few inches behind the hump in the headliner.

Step 11: Use measuring tape to measure the center point of the headliner. Push firmly with your fingertips into the headliner to feel for the support bar.

Mark the area with masking tape.

  • Note: Make sure that you measure twice and verify the location of your markings.

Step 12: Measure from side to side of the vehicle. Once you have located the center of the support bar, then mark an X on the spot with a permanent marker on the tape.

Step 13: Take the mounting plate and line it up to the X. Using your marker, spot mark the mounting hose onto the tape.

Step 14: Drill a hole where you made the mounting marks. Do not drill through the roof of the vehicle.

Step 15: Locate where the power supply goes on the roof near the monitor bracket. Cut a small hole into the fabric on the roof using a utility knife.

Step 16: Straighten out a coat hanger. Attach a new wire to the coat hanger and feed it through the hole you made and out through the molding that you peeled back.

Step 17: Tap the wire into the dome light power circuit with key on only. Make sure that you use a one size larger wire to reduce heat and resistance.

Step 18: Install the mounting plate onto the ceiling. Screw the mounting screws into the ceiling support bar.

  • Note: If you plan on using your stereo system for sound, you will need to send RCA wires from the cut hole to your glove box. This results in your having to remove the molding and peel up the carpet to the floor to hide the wires. Once the wires are at the glove box, you then can add adapters to sent it to the stereo and hook it up to the output RCA channel.

Step 19: Install the LCD monitor to the bracket. Hook up the wires to the monitor.

Make sure that the wires are underneath the LCD monitor base so they are hidden.

  • Note: If you plan on using an FM modulator, then you will need to send the power and ground wires to the modulator. Most modulators fit perfectly under the glove box next to the stereo. You can tap into the fuse box for a power supply that is active only with the key in the on or accessory position.

Step 20: Put the molding back into place above the car doors and secure it. Install the grab handles back onto the molding where they came off.

Put the caps on to cover the screws. If you removed any other coverings or peeled up the carpet, make sure to secure the coverings and put the carpet back into place.

Mounting an LCD monitor on the back of the front seats:

Step 21: Measure the post’s inside and outside diameter for proper fit.

Step 22: Remove the headrest on the seat. Some vehicles have tabs that you push in to aid in the removal.

Other vehicles have a pin hole which must be pressed using a paperclip or a pick to remove the headrest.

  • Note: If you plan on using your headrest and installing a flip up or down LCD monitor, then you will need to measure the headrest and install the LCD monitor onto the headrest. Drill out 4 holes to mount the LCD bracket. You will be drilling into the headrest steel brace. Then you can mount the bracket to the headrest and install the LCD monitor onto the bracket. Most LCD monitors come pre-installed into a headrest like the one in your vehicle. Basically, you are just switching out the headrest for another one, however, it does cost more.

Step 23: Remove the poles from the headrest. Switch out the headrest with the one that has the LCD monitor in it.

Step 24: Slide the poles up through the wires to the new headrest with the LCD monitor in it. Screw the poles onto the headrest hand tight.

Step 25: Remove the backing of the seat. You will need a flat tip screwdriver to pry out the back panel of the seat.

  • Note: If your seats are fully upholstered, then you must unclasp the upholstery. Fully recline the chair and locate the plastic clasp. Carefully pry on the seam to open and then carefully pry apart the plastic teeth.

Step 26: Install the headrest with the LCD monitor into the seat. You will need to feed the wires through the mounting holes on the seat’s poles into the back of the seat.

Step 27: Run wires through seat material. Once the headrest is installed, you will need to run the wires through the seat cloth or leather material to just under the seat.

Slide a rubber hose or something similar that is rubber over the wires for protection.

Step 28: Guide the wires behind the seat’s back metal brace. This is a tight fit, so be sure to put the rubber hose on the wires directly over the location of the metal brace.

This prevents the wire from rubbing through on the seat’s metal brace.

  • Note: There are two cables coming out of the bottom the chair: the power cable and the A/V input cable.

Step 29: Snap the back of the seat back together. If you had to re-upholster the seat, then clip the teeth back together.

Close the seam to seal the seat together. Sit the seat back up to the normal position that it was originally in. The kit will come with a DC power jack to install the power cord to the vehicle. You have the option to hard wire the LCD monitor or use the cigarette lighter port.

Hard wiring the DC power jack:

Step 30: Locate the power wire to the DC power jack. This wire is usually bare and has a red fuseable link.

Step 31: Splice into the power wire to the power seat. Be sure it is the seat that is operated only when the key is in the ignition in the on or accessory position.

If you do not have power seats, you will need to run a wire to the fuse box under the carpet in the vehicle and place it into a port that is only active when the key is in the ignition and placed on the on position or accessory position.

Step 32: Find the mounting screw to the seat bracket that mounts to the vehicle’s floor board. Remove the screw from the bracket.

Use emery cloth at 320 grit to clean off any paint from the bracket.

Step 33: Put the black wire’s eye fitting end onto the bracket. The black wire is the ground wire to the DC power jack.

Put the screw back into the bracket and tighten hand tight. As you tighten the screw tight, keep the eye fitting from twisting the wire up.

Step 34: Hook up the DC power jack cable to the cable sticking out of the back of the seat. Roll up the cable and zip tie the slack and DC power jack to the seat’s bracket.

Be sure to leave some slack for the seat to move forward and backward (if the seat moves).

Step 35: Connect the LCD monitor kit’s A/V input cable to the A/V input cable sticking out of the seat. Roll up the cable and tie it off under the seat out of the way.

This cable is only used if you are intending on installing another device like a Playstation or some type of input device.

Step 36: Reconnect the ground cable back onto the battery’s negative post. Remove the nine volt battery saver from the cigarette lighter.

Step 37: Tighten the battery clamp. Ensure that the connection is good.

  • Note: If you did not have a nine volt battery saver, you will have to reset all of the settings in your vehicle, like your radio, electric seats, and electric mirrors.

Part 3 of 3: Testing the installed LCD monitor

Step 1: Turn on the ignition to the accessory or run position.

Step 2: Turn the power on the LCD monitor. Check to see if the monitor comes on and displays its logo.

If you installed an LCD monitor with a dvd player, then open the monitor up and install a DVD. Verify the the dvd plays. Hook up headphones to the headphone jack on the LCD monitor or to the remote jack and test the sound. If you routed the sound through the stereo, put the stereo on the input channel and test the sound that is coming in from the LCD monitor.

If your LCD monitor does not operate after installing the LCD monitor into the vehicle, then there may be further diagnosis of the LCD monitor assembly needed. If the problem persists, then you should seek out help from one of YourMechanic’s certified mechanics. If you have any questions about the process, be sure to Ask a Mechanic for some quick, helpful advice.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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