You might be considering a dash cam for your Mini Cooper. I am here to tell you there are multiple reasons why you would want one. My partner drives a Mini, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of times she barely dodged an accident. Whether you are a casual driver, or love the Mini’s mobility, a dash cam can be a great investment.
- Front and Rear Dash Cam 4K and 1080P @ 30 FPS
- Buffered Parking Mode which will save 15 seconds video before the event and 30 seconds after an accident
- Built-in WiFi and GPS to wirelessly transfer footage and log speed and location
- Crystal clear image quality and F/1.8 lens for high quality low light images
For one, I’m not sure if you are like me, but whenever I hop in a Mini Cooper, I want to speed around. Not dangerously of course, but the light weight of the car and its nimbleness makes it easy. Sharp turns are fun and I feel a little bit more connected to the road. Having a dash cam allows me to record my adventures as I go around the city. Taking the Mini out to a nice windy road is a perfect time to record.
Besides the fun aspect, I use the dash cam as a safety precaution. I’m not sure if its the small size of the Mini Cooper, but cars tend to think they can drive right through me! Installing a dash cam on her car in a minimalist way is the best thing you can do to give yourself protection and perhaps a little bit of fun.
How to Install a Dash Cam in a Mini Cooper
We will break this down into a few steps. First, is the placement of the dash cam. Hands down, somewhere near the rear view mirror is the best location. It is out of the way so it doesn’t obstruct your view and provides great road coverage. Depending on the type of dash cam you get, you might consider getting a Mini Cooper rear mirror dash cam. This would replace your current mirror.
Continuing on, we quickly want to touch on mounting. Suction cup or 3M adhesive tape is the way to go here. That will satisfy most needs. I personally like dash cams that are flush with the windshield. It’s less of an eye sore in my opinion. Typically, dash cams with suction cups are needed if the camera needs to manipulated a lot, like if you have a cabin facing camera.
If you end up getting a rear dash cam, you will want to place it somewhere on your back windshield. But how do you make it look clean? We will talk about cable management further down.
Next, if you are installing a dash cam in a Mini Cooper or a Mini Countryman, you’ll want to hide the wires. You could just have the dash cam wire hang down from the device to your cigarette lighter, but that is super unsightly and trust me when I say, it’s not that hard to hide dash cam wires.
The first step to hide wires is to guide the wires above into the headliner. You should be able to tuck them in with just your fingers. Make your way to the passenger side. Technically, you can make your way to the driver side, but we prefer the passenger side because you’ll have the option to hard wire the dash cam.
As you go across the headliner towards the passenger door, you can start hiding the wires underneath the weather stripping along the vehicle’s A-pillar. At this point, you may have to remove the panel, but we were able to do it without removing the panel. If needed, take a flat head screw driver with a towel wrapped around it to open the panel if you don’t have a panel tool.
You can put the wire in the weather stripping all the way down to the passenger floor. Feel free to pull the weather stripping out if you are having a hard time installing the wire, it is easily reinstalled by pushing it back in.
At this point, here is where you can have a couple options. Most newer Mini Coopers have their fuse box right next to the passenger door. You can pop the door off with ease. We recommend hard wiring any dash cam with any vehicle. You can then have the option to use the valuable Parking Mode, but even if you don’t, by hard wiring you don’t have to take up a USB power outlet in your car.
If you don’t want to hard wire (shame!), then you can route the wire through the glove compartment or under the compartment and then make your way to the center unit for the USB power. For the model we had, there was no fool proof method of completely hiding the wire, especially towards the end. The cable had to peak out a little bit going around the center console.
If you with hard wiring, be sure you have the necessary kit to do so. They are pretty cheap to pick up. Once you have the fuse box and open, you need to find a fuse that suits your preferences.
What I mean by that is that there fuses that are “always-on”; there are also fuses that only turn on when the key is in the ignition. If you want to utilize advanced dash cam features when you are away from the vehicle, like Parking Mode, then you need to utilize the always on fuse. You can find the correct fuse by consulting with your car’s manual or using an electricity meter, which you can see which ones are “hot”.
You will most likely have to crimp your dash cam wire onto the hard wire, depending on your setup and after that you have to connect the black wire to a ground source. For the Mini Cooper, you can access a ground point on the bottom door panel. There is a bolt that you can attach the ground wire to. Close up any open panels and hide any remaining wires.
If you end up going with a rear unit, then you’ll want to run the wires along the top headliner, most likely temporarily moving panels so you can hide the wires within the panels or along the weather stripping. Likewise, you can route the wires underneath the bottom door panels. It is up to you which way you proceed.
Once the cables are in the back, for the clean look you can run the wire through the side of the trunk trim and then you’ll want to remove the panel that’s on the top. From here, you should route the cable through where the rubber hose attaches, it will then go into the other opening where rubber hose attaches, through one more panel, where you can then finally attach it to the car window. Long winded description, but a picture will make more sense. The “lazy” way is the way the picture shows where the cable is hanging when the trunk is opened. I made comments with green arrows as an alternative method.
VIOFO A129 Pro Duo 4K
The VIOFO A129 is a great option for your Mini Cooper not only because of its looks, but because of all the features that are packed into this device. It is a front and rear dash camera with the front filming in 4K, and the rear in 1080P. The dash cam uses adhesive tape for mounting and its form factor is sleek. It hugs the windshield so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
This dash cam is packed with features. For one, it comes with a F/1.8 lens which is great for taking in light during dimly light situations. Those who want to utilize the hard wiring features will be glad to know that there is a buffered parking mode which record 15 seconds before an event and 30 seconds after. WiFi is standard on this device allowing you access it with your smartphone.
It does come with a 2 inch LCD screen which is great to know how to mount the camera. The entire package comes with a trim removal tool as well which I thought was a neat touch. It makes hard wiring a lot easier.
We feel that the viewing angles on both the front and rear (130 and 140 degrees, respectively) are a little too shallow for full coverage. We expect to see around 160 degrees.
Rexing V1 – 4K Ultra HD
Where the VIOFO lacked in wide angle capabilities, Rexing V1 makes up. The front facing camera is ultra wide at 170 degrees ensuring almost left to right coverage. That being said, the Rexing does sacrifice a rear camera. This option is sufficient for people who don’t care about rear coverage as much or don’t want to deal with installing wires throughout the car.
Continuing, the Rexing has an operating temperature of up to 176 degrees which is great if you live in a hotter climate and leave your car outside. No chance of overheating.
Like the previous camera, there are WiFi capabilities and their Parking Mode is called Parking Surveillance Mode. It acts in the same way, but it is important to note that this Parking Mode doesn’t detect motion. It only begins recording if it detects a vibration, like a door opening/closing or a window breaking. Not all Parking Mode’s are created equal.
Be sure to get the hard wire kit if you are looking to utilize this feature.
Garmin Dash Cam Mini
Could you believe Garmin has come out with a dash cam that is the size of a car key? If you are looking for discreteness then the Garmin leaves you with little options. The Garmin Dash Cam Mini is a single channel dash cam that films in 1080P. Mounting it in front of your rear view mirror makes the dash cam nearly impossible to see while driving or looking into the car.
You will sacrifice in some of the functionality in the trade off for size. For example, you don’t have a rear dash cam. The wide angle is subpar at 140 degrees but there still is Parking Mode. There also is WiFi connectivity so you can download or share footage from the Garmin Drive App.
Keep in mind if you want to hard wire your Garmin Dash Cam Mini that you’ll need a rather expensive Parking Mode Cable that comes separately. We’re not sure why it’s so expensive, but did want to make sure you account for that in your total cost of ownership.
Anker Roav Dash Cam S1
Last is the Road Dash Cam S1 by Anker. This also is a single channel dash cam that we love because of its slick form factor. It conforms with the front windshield and looks very minimalist.
The one feature that stands out for the S1 is that it films in 60 FPS or frames per second. This ensures that camera footage is buttery smooth and picks up more data offering high quality image playback.
Like the other dash cams, WiFi is standard as well as a G-Sensor, which will detect when you’ve been in an accident and record. There’s also built-in GPS which tracks your journey which is useful.
To utilize the Parking Mode, you should use this hard wiring kit. It is a generic hard wire kit, but should present no problems. If you decide to use the included car charger, we did find it was a nice touch that it was a 2-port car charger allowing you to still charge your phone or any other accessory.
Features to Look for
If you are going to pay money for a dash cam, I say you should always look for a dash cam that at least has the Parking Mode functionality, even if you don’t decide to hard wire it immediately.
Many people are proud to stick with Mini Coopers for many years and I can see people wanting to protect their purchases. When researching Parking Mode, note there are a few different types of Parking Mode. One is a parking mode that will only turn on when it detects vibration to the car. This is decent in a pinch because it will record only if something happened to your car. There won’t be many false positives.
Then there is Parking Mode that encompasses motion detection. If you live where the car would be facing a lot of swaying trees or on a busy street, you might not want to film every single encounter. But if you are like me who lives in a residential area and there might be a handful of people walking by my car on a daily basis, you might consider needing motion detection.
The last type of Parking Mode is called Buffered Parking Mode. This feature will still detect when an event occurs, whether that be activated by motion or vibration and it will save footage leading up to the event and the aftermath of the event. Essentially it’s recording the whole time, but only saving the important parts when it detects an event.
If you’ve gotten through our top picks for the Mini Cooper, then you’ll see that we lean towards a particular dash cam design. For the Mini, we tend to shy away from form factors that are farther away from the windshield. There’s no reason why you should have, for example, a large suction cup dash cam in this type of car.
Chances are you aren’t ride sharing with the Mini Cooper so you don’t need a cabin facing camera. Hide the dash cam behind the rear view mirror and be done with it!
Obviously image quality is important for the dash cam owner. If you plan on using the footage for additional purposes such as for the track, or to publish to social media, you’ll want to have a device that doesn’t look like you are filming with your phone.
How do you measure image quality? There are some attributes to image quality you can be looking for. Look for bright spots on the footage and see if the camera can retain detail in those areas. Cameras with a large dynamic range can handle varying light levels.
In low light situations, noise or grain will be superficially added in order to attempt to smooth out an image.
Another is color accuracy, which you can judge with your eyes. Do the colors represent real life or is the image over saturated or heavily altered?
Is it worth it?
A dash cam is definitely worth it for those who drive Mini Coopers. You can find dash cams that have a slim profile and will be totally out of your way as you drive. So, if there is no obstruction, then why not? Hard wire the dash cam and you are good to go. Protect your vehicle from external forces you have no control over.