How to Install a Dash Cam in Your Vehicle

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The location and positioning of a dash cam are extremely important. A poorly placed camera may not record the footage you need and could even get you in trouble with the law. This guide walks you through all the ways you can install a dash cam so you can get yours set up properly in no time.

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Positioning

It is important to install your dash cam in a way that doesn’t obstruct your view when driving. A dash cam that is not fitted properly can impact the recording quality and clarity and could mean you are breaking the law.

Location

The best place to mount your dash cam is behind the rearview mirror where it can capture the road ahead including both lanes and any signage. This ensures the video recording captures everything around the car so you are more likely to capture important information if an incident occurs. The dash cam needs to be positioned so you still have a full view of the road.

Alignment

Most dash cams come with a suction cup or adhesive sticker. A suction cup is easier to use and can be taken off quickly while an adhesive sticker isn’t easy to remove after installation.

Before you secure the camera make sure it is properly aligned. The dash cam should be aligned to the horizon so the camera is straight. This can be difficult to see by eye but the video on the screen may be helpful or you could use a level too. This may sound excessive but there is very little room for error with an adhesive mount so taking your time to get it right on the first try helps a lot.

Running Cables

Once you’ve positioned the dash cam, you need to run the power cables and any other cables being used (back camera, GPS, etc.). Below are the most common connection methods:

Cigarette Lighter Socket

Most front view dash cams come with a power cable that needs to be plugged into the cigarette lighter socket. The cable should not be left to hang down between the rear view mirror and the socket. Instead, it should be guided around the edge of the windscreen and dashboard so the power cable is not in the way. When connected to the cigarette lighter, the camera will only receive power when the car ignition is on.

Rearview Mirror Adapter

If your rearview mirror is powered you could use an adapter to send power into your camera without needing to run any cables around the interior of the car. This is convenient but it won’t deliver constant power by default. If you need a constant power supply this will require a special adapter and will only be possible if your mirror uses a constant 12 V lead.

OBD-II Port

The OBD-II is located under the dash and allows you to discreetly run a cable there. The power cable will go along the top of the car windscreen and down to where the windscreen meets the dash. It can then be guided into the gap and down to the port.

The overall result is discreet and the dash cam will receive a power supply even when the car ignition is off, this allows the parking surveillance features to work. It is rare for a dash cam kit to come with the OBD-II accessories needed for installation but these can be bought separately.

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Hardwiring

You can also hardwire the dash cam into your vehicle electrics. There are some benefits to doing this including:

  • The dash cam will automatically power on and off when the car ignition is turned on and off
  • The parking mode and reverse mode should work automatically
  • You may be able to access extra features on your dash cam
  • The cigarette lighter is left free for use with other electronics
  • The power wires will be hidden out of sight

You can hardwire the dash cam yourself or you can get a professional to install it for you for a small fee. Hardwiring the dash cam yourself will involve accessing the fuse box and swapping a connection using a hardwiring kit. It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to connect the wire up to the fuse box and have the camera working but only hardwire the dash cam yourself if you are confident and experienced in doing so.

Rear Camera Wiring

When installing a rearview dash cam you should first check there is no interference with the car radio when you connect the front and back cameras together. Once you know both cameras work together as they should with no interference you can position the camera on the back windscreen.

Then you will need to guide the cable from the front to the back of the car. When you do this, route along the passenger side of the vehicle and use a trim tool to help you remove trim during the cable installation. Once you have run the cable, plug the camera in and make sure both are working. Then you can replace any trim or panels you have removed during installation.

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Installation of a Battery Powered Dash Cam

There are a few battery-powered dash cams available but these are only suitable for short journeys. The battery only lasts for a short amount of time so if you are heading to the local shop it is fine but anything else and there is a risk the camera won’t capture footage of any incidents that may occur. This is a convenient option in terms of installation as you don’t need to plug the dash cam in.

Legalities

Using a dash cam in Australia is allowed but it is important you position the device properly in the vehicle. The dash cam needs to be mounted where it will not obstruct the view of the driver. Some states in Australia have laws against recording audio so keep this in mind when choosing a dash cam model, go for video only if these rules apply in your state.