Installing a dash cam can be stressful, especially if you aren’t used to working with your hands. I found this out the hard way when I tried to install a dash cam in my car. So, I decided to share what I learned with all of you so that you don’t run into the same problems that I did!
So, what steps do you need to take to install a dash cam? Here’s how you install a dash cam:
- Step 1: Figure out which dash cam to buy.
- Step 2: Decide upon a location to mount your dash cam.
- Step 3: Figure out which installation method to use to power your dash cam.
- Step 4: Install wiring and set up your dash cam.
- Step 5: Review and ensure everything is working properly.
Installing a dash cam can be a tricky process, so let us look at each one of these steps in detail, so you have everything you need to know about dash cam installation at your fingertips. Always remember, safety comes first, so make sure you read these instructions in detail before you attempt to install your dash cam.
Step 1: Figure Out Which Dash Cam to Buy
A dash cam records footage and other data in the direction it is pointed in. It may be capable of storing it for a certain amount of time. It is especially useful if you get into an accident due to a reckless driver or someone irate with road rage.
Dash cams come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from super-discreet devices straight out of a Bond film to chunky pieces of hardware visible even before you enter your vehicle. Some come with GPS, which can help prove car speeds in insurance claims. In contrast, others have accelerometers and LCD screens, which can alert you to the possibility of a crash.
Most dash cams have internal storage and save data on either flash memory or on SD cards that you can quickly plug into your laptop and review any footage on the fly if you need to. It helps to know exactly why you want to install a dash cam with such a variety of options.
Dash Cam Features to Look For
All dash cams are not built the same, so here is everything you need to know to look for when getting ready to buy a dash cam:
- Type of power supply. Some dash cams come with internal batteries. These are great but can run out fairly quickly. Others plug into an accessory port or can be hardwired to your car’s fuse box.
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. These are great for quickly monitoring footage over distances or for transferring footage easily and quickly.
- Video quality. Choose a video quality that matches your needs. There is no sense in buying a 4K dash cam, for instance, if you just need to use it as CCTV.
- Night vision. This is especially great if you drive long distances and need a dash cam to protect you after dark.
- Solo versus Dual. Some dash cams come with a rear counterpart and can monitor what is going on behind you as well as in front of you. These are trickier to install, so be wary of that before you make the purchase.
- Parked alerting capability. Some dash cams switch on and record any damage to your car when it is parked. These can be great to supply to law enforcement in a hit-and-run.
- Ability to call 911. Some dash cams can automatically notify emergency services of your location in case you are incapacitated in an accident.
- Voice operated. These can provide ease of mind by freeing up your hands and allowing you to focus on the road instead of trying to find the right buttons to press while driving.
Do you want to learn some cool dash cam features? Check out this video!
Assess Your Needs
No matter what your driving skills are or your operations’ scale, there is a dash cam installation that will work for you. First, you have to assess what your needs are, so you can choose appropriately. Here is everything you need to know about some needs you may address with a dash cam installation:
- You may need a dash cam for your car’s security. Maybe you travel to new or dangerous places often and could use a CCTV for your car. Or, perhaps you operate a fleet of commercial limousines or party buses and need to be able to hold your staff accountable or comply with law enforcement and government standards. An Interior Lens (cabin-view) dash cam will suffice for your needs.
- A dash cam can also be a great tool for insurance claims. They can quickly help provide evidence to support your case (assuming you are not at fault) and allow you to circumvent costly legal proceedings. Front or Rear Window dash cams are what you may look into.
- Maybe you are an enterprising video blogger. Capturing scenic routes with a dash cam capable of 4K video recording at a high framerate would best suit your needs.
Determine Your Budget and Compare Models
The table below tells you everything you need to know about the best dash cams available on the market right now:
|Garmin Dash Cam 66W
|1440p with HDR at 60fps
|2.0-inch LCD, 320 x 240
|Garmin Dash Cam Mini
|1080p at 30fps
|1440p at 30fps / 1080p at 60fps
|3-inch HD IPS touchscreen
|Thinkware Q800 Pro
|1440p (front), 1080p (rear)
|140 degrees (front and rear)
|4K at 30fps
Source: Digital Camera World
If you’re still unsure and would like more hands-on guidance about buying dash cams, take a gander at this video for an exciting review of the best options available right now!
Step 2: Decide Upon A Location to Mount Your Dash Cam
You may be intrigued to know that the dashboard dash comes from “dashboard,” which was the most common mounting location for these devices in the early days.
There are many places on your windshield or rare window that would be great for your dash cam installation, but make sure that it does not get in the way of your eyes and the road. Try out a few options as you sit in your car!
Front-Mounting Versus Front-And-Rear-Mounting
Forward-facing dash cams happen to be the most common dash cam available, so it is generally easier to find one that doesn’t break your budget. On the downside, they can only record what is happening in the front, leaving the rear of your vehicle exposed, lowering their overall effectiveness.
By contrast, dual dash cams provide total coverage but are generally more expensive and may even require separate lenses to operate satisfactorily. Their only downside is that they require a lot more effort to install and wiring to route efficiently and tuck away neatly.
Factors to Consider When Mounting Your Dash Cam
Here is everything you need to know about dash cam installation factors before you begin:
- Don’t point your dash cam through a tint. You may have a sunshade tint installed on your windshield to protect your eyes from harsh sunlight. Just make sure your dash came is clear of its path. Otherwise, it won’t be able to record vital details you may need.
- Removability. You will need to periodically remove the dash cam from its mount to review footage or clear out the SD card, so make sure you leave enough room above and below it that you are able to do so.
- Wiper-friendly. You need to be able to rely on your dash cam the most in inclement weather, so ensure that it is mounted in a place where the windshield wipers have the most impact.
Still not convinced? Try this handy step-by-step guide on the best ways to mount your dash cam.
Step 3: Figure Out Which Installation Method to Use to Power Your Dash Cam
While there are many services that can help you set up your dash cam, if you are going to do a dash cam installation by yourself, you will need to follow the steps outlined in one of the methods below. Make sure you have your dash cam’s and car’s user manuals handy. Once you’re ready, let’s dive right in!
Whether you own a classic car or a newer model, many American-made cars will feature cigarette lighters that you can use to power your dash cam. All you’ll need is a dependable cigarette lighter adapter (CLA) or a dash cam that comes with one.
Just mount your dash cam, routing the wires between A-Pillar to the B-Pillar, tucking them as you go. Continue tucking down between the rubber and A-Pillar, and hide the rest of the wire below the carpet, before plugging in your dash cam’s USB to the CLA or the CLA that came with your dash cam to the cigarette socket in your car.
A word of caution. The 12-volt sockets in most cars only receive power through the ignition switch, but in some cars (such as Fords and Chevrolets), you may have a socket that is always on. If you have one of these, it would be a very bad idea to install a dash cam this way, as it will drain your battery in as little as 12 hours.
Hardwire Installation to Fusebox
This is one of the most common methods to do a dash cam installation. However, it is also the most labor-intensive. It has safety risks that you must make sure you circumvent with good planning.
To get started, you will need:
- A reliable hardwiring kit that supports the ports in your dashcam.
- Socket wrenches.
- Electric tape.
- A safe and well-made circuit tester.
- Your car’s manual.
To carry out dash cam installation through the hardwiring method, mount your dash cam and follow these steps:
Step 1: Locate your fuse box. This information will be available in your car’s manual or online.
Step 2: Decide which fuse slot to use. Everything you need to know about fuse slots is located in your car manual. For starters, make sure they are rated between 10A and 30A. Then, identify which slots are constant fuse, ignition-switched fuse, and metal ground bolt. A circuit tester will help with this. Simply switch your car’s ignition off and see which slots cause it to light up.
You will need to attach the appropriate wire from your hardwiring kit to the correct fuse slot after you have identified them. Refer to your hardwiring kit’s manual to find out which wire connects to which fuse slot. This is necessary for your safety, so please do not skip this step.
Step 3: Secure your hardwire installation. You will need to use a sturdy add-a-fuse kit and electrical tape to hold everything firmly in place.
Step 4: Ground the hardwire kit. Using the socket wrench, locate and loosen an unpainted metal bolt near the bottom of your car, and tuck the other end of the ground wire (usually shaped like a C) behind it, then screw the metal bolt back in place.
That’s all there’s to it! Here is a great video that shows the best way to do a dash cam installation through hardwiring. Check it out!
Battery Pack Installation
Battery packs, such as the versatile Cellink NEO, can extend your dash cam’s recording life and offer parked recording without draining your car battery. Battery packs can be installed as addons through either the hardwiring or the CLA method. They are especially good if you have an always-on 12-volt socket.
Now would be a great time to turn on your dash cam and see if everything is in order. Trust us, you do not want to tidy everything up, only to realize you need to make adjustments.
Just make sure you tape the battery pack out of reach of your hands or feet after you are done!
Step 4: Install Wiring and Set Up Your Dash Cam
Because every car and dash cam installation is different, you need to study your car’s manual in great detail, as it contains everything you need to know. Once you have set everything up, it is time to tidy up.
If you don’t have your car manual, you can use a high-quality online manual service to conduct your research. You will need to familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s wiring diagram. You will also need to know where the airbags are, so you can steer clear of them and get information about removing trim pieces without damaging them.
Routing with OEM Cable Management
For most cases, your car’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) will have routed wires below the door sill. Remove trim pieces and follow this wiring for a simple dash cam installation. This will ensure that you stay away from shorting any wire by mistake and expose you or your vehicle to any untoward harm.
Which Pillar to Wire?
Your car will likely have an airbag along the A-Pillar, which is also where your cables need to be. So, it would be in your best interest to be as careful as you can while removing the airbag, taking care not to puncture it. Then, run the wiring through the A-Pillar, ensuring that you hold it firmly in place with tape or wire clips.
Finally, replace the airbag and secure it firmly in place.
If you install a dual dash cam, you will have to wire the rear dash cam along C to B to A-Pillar. Since this wiring will go along the entire length of your vehicle, make sure that you carry extra-long wires to accomplish this.
Whether to Use Weather Strips
You also have the option of running wires under the weatherstrips of your vehicle. It may not look pretty, but it will get the job done.
Step 5: Review and Ensure Everything Is Working Properly
Hopefully, through these steps, you will have discovered everything you need to know about dash cam installation. The final step should be to do a review and ensure everything is working properly. This may involve:
- Double-checking your wires.
- Turning the ignition on and watching your dash cam’s response.
- Parking your car, then bumping it on purpose to see if your dash cam recorded the footage accurately.
- Inviting a friend to drive your car while you monitor your dash cam’s GPS activity from its phone-app from your home.
- Removing the SD card for your dash cam and plugging it into your computer. While you are at it, go ahead and copy some files so that you have an idea of how long it takes, in case you are ever pressed for time and need that footage.
Follow these steps, and we are confident that you will have a fully-functional dash cam in no time! Drive Safe!