A dash cam can be an invaluable piece of technology for a vehicle owner. It can help the vehicle owner prove culpability in the event of an accident, help resolve insurance claims, and protect the vehicle from theft (parking mode). If you are looking at dash cams, you may have heard that you need to “hardwire” the dash cam or connect it to the vehicle’s fuse system. So why should you hardwire a dash cam?
It is important to hardwire a dash cam so that the camera remains constantly charged and does not unnecessarily drain the car battery. In addition, for dash cams with parking mode, the unit must be hardwired for parking mode to function properly.
While hardwiring a dash cam is an important process, it can be a bit difficult to perform if you do not have an automotive background or training in electricity. For this reason, the following breakdown provides everything you need to know to hardwire your dash cam safely, effectively, and in as little time possible.
As mentioned, it is important to hardwire a dash cam to keep the camera fully charged and protect your vehicle’s battery. In addition, the features of some dash cams will not function without the unit being properly hardwired.
If you are attempting to perform a DIY dash cam hardwire, use the following steps to guide you through the process.
Many users hang their dash cam from the rearview mirror or place it directly on the vehicle’s dash. There is really no right or wrong location to place your dash cam as long as it does not obstruct your view of the road or impact the function of any other car system, such as the dash vent.
Most vehicles have a fuse box just beneath the dashboard on the driver’s or passenger’s side, which is easily identified by a rectangular cover that will pop off when gently pulled. If you are unable to locate the fuse box on your vehicle, consult the owner’s manual.
This is the cord that will connect the dash cam to the fuse box. Plug the power cable into the dash cam loosely track the cord’s route to the fuse box, leaving enough slack so that plugging the power cable into the fuse box does not upset the mounted dash cam.
Once a path has been established, start tucking in the cable. Start with the headliner and gently tug on the rubber trim along the A-pillar (support above the windshield). In most vehicles, this will reveal a small gap along which the cable can easily run.
For some vehicles, it may be necessary to remove the A-pillar cover completely, so consult your owner’s manual if a gentle tug is not revealing the necessary gap.
Once the A-pillar has been accessed, use the tips of your fingers to tuck the cable alongside the existing cables and out of sight. Route the power cable around the side and behind the rest of the interior panels toward the fuse box, replacing the A-pillar cover once the cable has been completely inserted.
Most dash cams will require a fuse between 10A and 30A. The fuse power should be easily identifiable on the top of the fuse. If the numerals are not clear, fuses are color-coded by strength, so look in your manual for the corresponding key.
There will be two distinct types of fuses:
- Always hot – this means that the fuse provides power at all times, even when the vehicle is off
- Hot in start – the fuse only provides power when the vehicle is on
If you have a motion-detected dash cam to capture possible vandalism, you will need an always hot fuse. If your dash cam will only record action as you drive, you will choose a hot in start fuse.
To test which fuses are always hot, use a circuit tester to determine where power is detected when the car is turned off.
With the vehicle off, use a fuse puller to gently remove the fuse to which you want to connect your dash cam.
Take the removed fuse and install the add-a-fuse circuit installation kit that should have come with your dash cam. Once the removed fuse has been successfully inserted into the add-a-fuse circuit, place the add-a-fuse back in the slot where the original circuit resided.
While this step is not particularly difficult, it can feel like the most stressful for people with limited background in electrical wiring, so go slow and follow the directions in the installation kit to make sure you get it right!
The other end of the installation wiring must be grounded to your vehicle. A ground point is simply a conductor between a negative and positive terminal and is usually some sort of metal protrusion.
In most vehicles, there is a ground location behind the lower kick panel (near the driver’s left foot) to which the other end of the installation wiring can be connected via the lug bolt in the installation kit.
Now that your dash cam is successfully connected to the fuse system, there is likely some excess wiring hanging loose. Use zip ties to bind the excess wiring and mount it to a secure point beneath the dashboard or behind the kick panel.
If you have a dash cam with parking mode, you should have noticed that the dash cam lit up once the add-a-fuse circuit was grounded. However, if you have a hot on start dash cam, start your vehicle. If you successfully hardwired the system, your dash cam should turn on and start recording.
It is important to hardwire a dash cam (connect it to the vehicle’s fuse system) to provide a consistent source of power to the camera and protect your vehicle’s battery. While hardwiring a dash cam can be intimidating for people with limited automotive or electrical experience, the eight steps listed above can make a DIY hardwire more than doable!