Most dash cams on the current market come with some form of parking mode. But parking mode as an industry feature is used in such an inconsistent way that to someone who is casually looking for a solution will get confused.
We all recognize that dash cams with parking mode is a necessity. If you are like me, I am usually away from my vehicle more often than not. Meaning my car is left alone outside, unmonitored. It can get broken into, scraped or be involved in a hit-and-run. In more devious situations, you might have someone not doing anything illegal, but might be acting suspicious around your vehicle.
Parking mode fixes this, but there are a lot of nuances to this feature we would love to explore. Let’s talk about how you can monitor your parked car and go through the list of finding the best dash cam with parking mode.
What is Parking Mode on dash cam?
Parking mode is a dash cam feature that allows your device to record incidents while you are away from the car. You don’t have to be actively monitoring the dash cam, it does it for you. Parking mode can either detect movement, shocks or vibration and begin recording.
Parking mode can act as a car security camera which will provide 24/7 vehicle protection.
Different Types of Parking Mode
Standard Parking Mode
Standard Parking Mode will have your dash cam start recording after it detects an “event”. This event can be set off by motion detection, a crash or otherwise impact to the dash cam. Depending on your car’s surroundings, this type of parking mode may be the best solution for you.
Buffered Parking Mode
Buffered parking mode acts in a similar way to the standard parking mode, but will save footage 15 seconds before an “event” is triggered. An example of this is if your vehicle gets bumped into at the parking lot, the dash cam will record not only the accident, but up to 15 or 30 seconds before the incident.
Software technology allows the dash cam to always be recording, but only save it if an event is triggered. This is the best parking mode type to understand context on an incident but is unfortunately a rare feature.
The time lapse feature is when your dash cam takes a still picture every few seconds and stitches all the pictures together to make a video. This video will only be a few minutes long, but will span multiple hours. Only a select number of dash cameras have the time lapse feature.
There are a few use cases where this feature is needed. One is if you have low SD card capacity and you want a quick video to review the entire time span. Second is if you want to easily review footage surrounding your vehicle from the previous night or time period. Third, is that the footage is interesting to look at and you may want to share it.
Motion Detection and how it relates to Parking Mode
One caveat to a lot of parking modes is about motion detection. This term can mean different things to different manufacturers. A dash cam detecting motion can mean someone walking outside of your vehicle or it can mean if you car senses motion from an accident. Your car sensing motion from an accident is not motion detection, it’s G-sensor technology.
Be careful when reading about dash cam features and don’t be afraid to read carefully.
Best Dash Cams for Parking Mode
VAVA Dual Dash Cam
The VAVA Dual Dash Cam is the best dash cam choice for those who don’t want to hardwire their dash cam to their fuse box. The VAVA has a 320mAH built-in internal battery that will power the parking mode overnight.
This is the main reason why we chose the VAVA camera over all other competitors. You don’t have to worry about hardwiring. To be honest, many dash cameras on the market have parking mode. Yes, the features do vary as mentioned above, but all of them share the very core feature. Even the cheapest dash cams will have parking mode. What sets VAVA apart is pairing the internal battery and its superb video quality into one package, you won’t find anywhere else.
Besides the internal battery pack, the VAVA runs both front and rear cameras at 1080p or only the front at 1440p resolution. To pair the parking mode, the VAVA has great night vision video quality. It uses a SONY IMX307 image sensor and a F/1.8 aperture lens for maximum low light clarity.
If you suspect you’ll have parking mode footage to review more often than not, you’ll want to use the VAVA’s built-in WiFi feature that will allow you to review and download footage through your smartphone without ever needing to remove the memory cord or use additional wires.
Vantrue N2 Pro
Vantrue is a dash cam company that has a long list of successful products, including dash cams. The Vantrue N2 Pro was designed for Uber and other ride share drivers, but can be used by any one who suspect they’ll have their car broken into. This is the next best dash cam for the price.
The N2 Pro has an interior cabin camera that records and allows rideshare drivers to reflect on video footage if there is ever a dispute. Once the N2 Pro is hardwired in, the parking mode is equipped with true motion detection, which will detect if anyone is walking near your car. The motion detection is also extended to the interior camera so if your car is broken into, the camera will record as well. The interior camera also has infrared lights which will illuminate the cabin even under extreme night conditions.
It also has a time lapse feature which can help take pictures at set intervals. The downside to this dash cam is that it does not have WiFi so you’ll have to watch all footage through the 1.5 inch screen or remove the SD memory card.
Rove R2- 4K Dash Cam
The Rove R2 is a great all around dash cam that packs a bunch of features into one dash cam. It comes with the standard parking mode which will activate and record for 1 minute if it detects a collision. A nice feature is that will let you know via voice commands the next time you turn on the car. This creates less of a guessing game as you’ll know when something has happened.
This is also one of the few options that support a 4K resolution with a single channel lens.
Like the previous dash cam, this one does also come with a time lapse feature which will allow you to shoot at 1, 2 or 4 frames per second.
Unlike the other dash cams, this one includes both WiFi and GPS built-in standard. GPS is great if you need location, speed or time data. You’ll have an alibi if someone accuses you of a crime!
This is an upgrade from their Rove R1 WiFi Dash Cam that was first listed in 2019. Several aspects have been upgraded such as its form factor. In terms of space taken, it’s about the same but the R2’s lens is towards the center and is a little bit more hefty than its predecessor. One main upgrade is the 4K resolution as the R1 only had 1080p.
While the Rove R1 had WiFi, it only had an optional GPS module whereas the R2 has both as standard options. The F-Stop has also been upgraded and lowered (lower is better) to F/1.8. This is especially helpful for night time footage.
VIOFO A119 V3 2K Dash Cam
Next up is the VIOFO A119 V3 2K Dash Cam. This only includes a front unit that can film in 1600p resolution. This is the first dash cam that offers buffered parking mode, a feature that will save footage from 15 seconds before an incident occurs, to 30 seconds after. This is perfect to understand context and what led up to the event.
In terms of motion detection, this does record both outside movement as well as collisions to the vehicle giving this true motion detection. True motion detection is what lacks in the dash cam market. Why? Because it’s more expensive to incorporate! The VIOFO can capture suspicious characters circling your car, but other setups won’t tell you a thing, because they are all based on vibration.
To assist parking mode, the VIOFO is paired with a F/1.6 aperture and the Sony 5MP Starvis Sensor, the best in its class and the widest aperture so far. It is coupled with WDR technology to balance out different exposures.
It doesn’t come with WiFi, but it does include GPS. We also feel the field of view is low at 140 degrees and with this setup not including a rear or cabin camera, coverage is a little low.
The Blackvue DR900S-2CH is definitely a pricey option for a front and rear setup, but it comes with the most advanced parking mode out there. If you are wondering how advanced can this feature get, imagine a dash cam that will notify your smartphone whenever there is an incident, no matter where you are in the world.
Yes, that’s right, this dash cam includes cloud storage connectivity. Standard parking mode is a delayed notification, you’ll see the incident the next time you use the car. But having an immediate notification sent to your smartphone is like having a silent alarm in your vehicle. You will even be able to remotely view what set off the parking mode by viewing the live feed.
Cloud connectivity does have some nuances to it. You’ll need to provide internet to it at all times, most likely via mobile hotspot.
The Blackvue is a dual dash cam with it filming 4K in the front and 1080p resolution in the rear. The rear camera doesn’t have the greatest image quality, so don’t expect to be reading any license plates unless they are directly behind you. It has built in WiFi and GPS and this kit includes a hardwiring kit that will utilize your car’s fuse box.
The BlackVue is the first company out there that properly introduced cloud capabilities. While this drives up the cost of the unit, just like other devices like smartphones or laptops, being able to remotely communicate with them is crucial. BlackVue continues upgrading its devices and has even ventured into LTE devices.
This solution is great for someone who wants total control over their vehicle and for those who want to be able to immediately act on any malicious activity.
AUTO-VOX Dual Dash Cam
The AUTO-VOX Dual Dash Cam is a sleek solution for those who want built-in battery capabilities. Unlike the VAVA, you won’t get a rear camera with this setup, but you will gain an interior camera.
Both front and rear units can film in 1080p at 30fps and if you only want to record with the front it can get up to 60fps. The more fps, the smoother and more high quality picture is produced which can help you read license plates.
No need to mess with a hardwiring kit, the AUTO-VOX has the ability to film about 19 minutes using its internal battery. This should be plenty of time if you are leaving your car alone for a few days or if you get into an accident and immediately lose power.
This dash cam does not have true motion detection, it instead relies on the G-Sensor technology for impact detection. Other good features include GPS tracking and infrared lights.
If you live in areas where the weather gets to extreme temperatures, you may experience issues with this dash cam because of its internal battery. Most dash cams don’t even bother with a lithium-ion battery because of its sensitivity to heat. A few customers had issues with it but overall the enthusiasm for this product is high.
Vantrue T2 1080P 24/7 Recording Dash Cam
The Vantrue T2 is another flavor that tries to go above and beyond when it comes to parking mode. The Vantrue T2 is a front facing, 1080p resolution camera that has some interesting functionality. Unlike other dash cams, the Vantrue T2 comes with its own ODB-II connector.
Having this interface allows parking mode to be utilized plug-n-play. As long as your car has this connector, this dash cam can automatically use the car’s battery.
As far as parking mode, the Vantrue T2 says it has 24/7 Wave Guard detection which is just a fancy name for motion detection. It is more advanced in that you can change the range of the motion detection from far, medium or close. This is especially helpful if you get a lot of false positives from trees moving, or people far away setting off the parking mode.
The T2 comes with its own time lapse mode. Unlike built-in battery solutions, this one comes with a supercapacitor battery which is a lot more safer and built for longevity. It also includes standard features like loop recording.
BluVolt Dash Cam 1080P FHD
The BluVolt Dash Cam is our budget-friendly dash cam with a built-in battery. This couples nicely with the parking mode for a 24/7 monitoring system. You won’t get a lot of the luxury features but what you will get is a cheap solution that does the job.
The BluVolt is a 1080p front facing camera that has a 170 degree field of view which is quite a lot at this price point. It comes with a standard parking mode that detects collisions or physical movement of the car and will automatically record 20 seconds and save the footage.
Unlike other budget dash cams, the BluVolt can handle SD cards up to 128gb. The night vision is great on this camera as its F/1.8 aperture is rare on cheaper devices. This translates to superb video quality, but alas doesn’t come with WiFi.
How to get parking mode to work?
As long as you have a parking mode dash cam feature and it has constant power, the feature should activate after a few minutes of inactivity. This means if you are parked and not moving the dash cam will automatically enter parking mode.
Every time I buy a dashboard camera, I test the parking mode by turning my car to accessory mode and wait 2-5 minutes for the feature to kick in. There will be a visible change to the screen, it varies from model to model, but you can tell that it is in parking mode.
Once it has entered this mode, you can simply walk in front of the camera, or wave your fingers over it to trigger the recording. That’s how you know the mode is working.
How to hardwire a dash cam with parking mode?
Dash cams will have either its specific hardwire kit or an universal hardwire kit you can use. This will allow you to connect your dash cam to the car’s battery power through the fuse box. There are two different types of fuses, one that supplies power when the car is turned on like a radio, or one that is constantly on.
For parking mode you’ll want to use the fuse that has constant power. Your car manual should tell you which fuse to use or you can check the fuse’s power with a multimeter.
How to use parking mode without hardwire?
There are a couple ways you can get around using the car’s fuse box or crimping any wires. I get it, you want a fast and easy solution to protect your vehicle at all times.
Battery Powered Dash Cams
The best alternative to dealing with hardwiring is just to get a battery powered dash cam. But wait! Everyone has been telling me that those don’t exist. Incorrect. There are very few that exist, but they are on the market.
There are a couple of caveats to dash cams powered by internal batteries. They don’t have the greatest battery life so it will be able to utilize parking mode for a night or so, depending on the number of incidents.
External Battery Packs
If you are familiar with those USB battery packs that you can charge your smartphone on-the-go then think of a slightly larger version to power your dash cam.
There are battery packs specifically designed for dash cams that need to be externally powered. These packs are made to stay within your car and are resistant to extreme temperatures and often have a larger power capacity. This battery is charged as you drive around the day and will provide power when your car is off.
A less known method uses your car’s ODB-II port to power your dash cam. Most cars since the late 1990s will have an ODB-II port. No need to mess with a hardwiring kit, you can now run parking mode with a true plug-and-play solution. All dash cams will be compatible with this setup as long as the OBD-II connector matches your power output.
Do dash cams with parking mode drain a car’s battery?
Yes, anytime a device draws on power from your car battery, it will ultimately drain the battery. That being said, most hardwire solutions have a built-in battery monitor that will prevent the car’s battery from being completely drained.
If it senses that the car battery is getting too low, it will prioritize the car battery and not provide power to the dash cam.