The era of “he said, she said” when it comes to getting in an accident is over! Dash cams allow you to record the road while you drive, just in case something happens. This is unbelievably helpful when you need to see what what happened after the incident. You can never predict what other drivers will do and accidents can always happen no matter how safe you drive. Having video footage is always the best thing for the worst case scenario.
Before installing your dash cam, read the instructions and take some time to plan out where you are going to install your camera, this will help you estimate how much wire you will need to complete the job. When it comes to installing a dash cam, visibility is everything! The purpose of a dash cam is to capture everything happening on the road, and you never know where an accident might happen.
Where to Mount your Front Dash Cam
You can never go wrong with installing a front dash camera directly behind the rearview mirror or down by the dash board, but don’t let that stop your creativity. After all, it all depends on the type of dash cam you are purchasing. The placement of your dash cam depends on the size of your windshield, the angel of your camera’s lens, and how discrete you wish to keep it. It will be up to you to decide how visible your dash cam is. Also, if you frequently drive for a ride share app, consider dash cams with a cabin camera as well. But there are a few considerations you should take into account.
Windshield Wipers. When installing your camera it is important to keep in mind where your windshield is cleared of water by your wipers. The last thing you would want is your camera view obstructed by water that is barely out of your wipers reach. It is best to place a dash cam lower on the windshield so that water can be removed from the view of the camera.
Sunshade. Another location to avoid installing your dash camera has to do with the windshield itself. A windshield feature that quickly becomes an obstacle is the built in sunshade. Oftentimes, car manufacturers add sun deterrents into their windshield for the driver’s comfort. These can come as tint applied to the top of the windshield or the black dots that block large amounts of sun from shining in the eyes of the passengers. Both of these features can create poor image quality and if the worst comes to worst, the dash camera will not be able to capture a clear video.
Line of Sight. Finally, it is most important to keep the camera out of your line of vision. Make sure that the camera does not block your view of the road. A camera blocking your view might cause accidents, rather than deter them. Placing the camera behind the rearview mirror or down by your dashboard might be two locations you can place your camera. Remember that the dash cam should not be visible or distracting when you are sitting comfortably at the wheel.
Front Dash Cam Mount
Installing your camera is a simple process that has different methods of attachment. There are two traditional mounting techniques to attach a camera to your windshield: A suction cup mount, and adhesive tape.
The suction cup mount is easy to install. Clean the windshield of any dust or grease, this can ensure that you have the best connection between the suction cup and the glass. Place the suction cup mount where you want the camera to sit and either switch the lever to activate the suction cup or press firmly. You might have to adjust the placement of your mount in order for your camera to have the correct field of vision.
Adhesive tape can also be used to attach dash cams to your windshield. After cleaning the windshield of dust and grease, make sure that the windshield is around room temperature. The hold of the adhesive tape can be affected by the temperature of the windshield. Stick the tape onto the mount of the dash cam and press it into the windshield for a couple seconds to ensure the stick.
If all of this sounds like a job you aren’t in the mood for, there is an alternative. Some companies will make dash cams that are mounted to the rear view mirror directly. This allows for driver ease because there is nothing to plug in. Some of these products will come with a back up camera that is compatible and will allow you to see what is behind you, straight from your rearview mirror.
Powering your Device
After placing your camera, it’s time to turn it on. Read the instructions that come with your specific model of dash cam to find out how the manufacturer prefers you install their camera. Most likely they will instruct you with one of two different ways: Using the auxiliary power outlet, or “hard wiring” it into the battery. Both of these methods can be done in your garage and they both yield their own pros and cons.
The auxiliary power outlet, or the cigarette lighter, is an easy and simple way to power your dash cam. More often than not, the cable provided will be more than long enough and installing the camera can be as easy as sticking it to the windshield, plugging it in, and tucking the wires. On the flip side however, you must make sure that your auxiliary power outlet turns off with your car or else you run the risk of draining your battery.
While it is common for a cigarette lighter to turn off with the rest of your car, it never hurts to check. Another downside is that you now have one less spot for your USB car charger. If you are fine with that, go ahead and plug that bad boy in and your install is done!
If you are looking for a more tidy setup, hardwiring is the way to go. While the install takes more effort, the finished product is a clean, neat, and professional looking dash cam installation. Hardwiring a dash cam into your car allows your camera to turn on with the rest of the car effortlessly and still be active while the car is off (which is useful if your camera has G-sensors to detect movement while the car is off). I highly recommend this type of install.
The best way to hardwire your dash cam into your car is using a fuse-tap wire. This places your dash cam wire in between the fuse box and the fuses that control the different electronic components in the car. Personally, I have hardwired my own dash cam into my car using the fuse-tap. Locate your car’s interior fuse box (no need to bust through the firewall like I tried to do) and find a fuse between 10a and 30a. Pay attention to your car fuse box guide to find the right fuse location!
Now to the last step, the wire tuck. Wire tucking will hide the cable from passengers, and most importantly, it prevents the wires from getting in the way of your car’s functions and your driving. Positioning the wires out of sight can make your car safer and look cleaner. Run the wire from your camera to the top of the windshield, and carefully tuck the wire inside the head liner. Some cars (like my 2014 Kia Optima) will have a notch already in the head liner that makes this job slightly easier. Run the wire along the headliner until you reach the drivers side edge of the windshield (or the “A” pillar). Use your fingers or a plastic wedge to tuck the wire between the car plastic and windshield. After that, use your cars panels and crevasses to hid the wire out of sight and out of mind.
Rear Dash Cam Mount
Many people will install a front dash cam and stop there, however there are more places for a camera than just your dash. Rear facing dash cams can give you footage from behind your vehicle as well, increasing the area of vision in case something happens. Even though you don’t need a rear facing dash cam, many people will recommend that you use one. You can never be too safe.
Positioning of Rear Dash Cam
When performing a rear dash cam installation the same rules apply when choosing a place to put it. Window tint will make the lens job harder. Most car manufacturers will put tint in the back window so try mounting the camera in an area with less tint. Not all cars will have windshield wipers on the back window because it receives less water from rain than it’s counterpart. Placing the dash cam in the windshield wiper path is less mandatory. Finally, it is always important to make sure that the camera is out of the drivers view. Make sure it is not distracting from the rearview mirror because footage should not be gained at the expense of visibility.
Hiding the cable with a rear dash cam becomes more of a hassle than the front. Due to the rear dash camera being farther away from power, you will naturally need a longer wire. The style of car you own will also be a factor in the difficulty of the wire tuck. Depending on where the second dash cam gets it’s power from will ultimately decide where you will need to tuck the wires. Some dash cams that provide two cameras will often link together, while two individual cams will have to find their own power sources. Using a coat hanger, or a wire pusher, slide the dash cam cable between the roof and the head liner until it reaches the rearview mirror area. From there you can either attach it to your other dash cam or begin the tucking process to your fuse box. Some cars will have a fuse box in the back which makes this job faster. Typically a sedan or vehicle with a fixed rear windshield will be easier to hide wiring for.
A hatchback, SUV, or crossover with a moving rear windshield will create more of a hassle. Find the wires for the rear taillight and trace it back towards the front to find the area where the wires return to the chassis.
Trucks, convertibles, and any vehicle without a rear windshield require more creativity. External dash cams are available by many manufacturers that provide video footage from outside of the vehicle. This mounting process will be very different from a sedan or hatchback and will most likely have a detailed instruction booklet.
Removing Dash Cams From the Windshield
There are plenty of different situations in which you need to remove your dash cam. Luckily, it isn’t very difficult to remove one. If you have a suction cup mount the removal process can be as easy as switching the lever built into the mount and separating the rubber cup from the window. After cleaning the window of any residue left by the suction cup there will be no evidence of a dash cam.
Adhesive tape has a couple more steps involved.
- Using a heat gun or blow dryer begin to heat the adhesive tape. Be careful not to melt the surrounding materials by using a low heat setting or holding the heat source further away from the adhesive tape.
- Once it becomes loose, pry it off with a plastic wedge or soft prying tool.
- Clean the windshield of any adhesive residue and it will look just as new.
How much does it cost to have a dash cam installed?
If you have limited time, aren’t comfortable messing with your fuse box, or would rather somebody else do it, there are options! Best Buy, through their Geek Squad, can install it in your car for around $50.00. With this service they will install your camera, tuck the wiring, and even give you a product demonstration once they are done. Other than that, you can try your luck with a local garage or audio shop. Not all garages will install dash cams, but you might be able to find a diamond in the ruff who will install it for you. Their prices will vary depending on the store.