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Dash Cam Installation: The Complete 2023 Guide


Last updated at: Jan 2, 2024

With the rise in on-road incidents and the advent of advanced vehicle technology, dash cams have become a must-have for every driver in 2023. In this guide, we explore the basics, methods, best spots for placement, and answer common questions. Let's dive into the world of dash cam installation.

So, sit back and let us guide you through the world of dash cam installation.

Dash cam installation basics

Dash cam installation involves a series of steps from understanding its components, finding the right spot for placement, to the actual mounting of the device and running the wires. If you're unfamiliar with the process, here's a brief rundown of the basics.

  1. You need to understand the main components of a dash cam setup. These typically include the camera itself, a power supply, a mount for the camera, and connecting cables. Some models might have additional features like built-in GPS or rear cameras, but these are the essentials.
  2. It's crucial to choose the right location for your dash cam. The camera should be placed in a position that gives it a clear view of the road, but without obstructing your own view as the driver. The most common place is just beneath the rear-view mirror.
  3. Next comes the mounting of the camera. Each dash cam model comes with its own mounting system – typically either a suction cup or adhesive mount. Whichever the case, make sure the windshield is clean before sticking the mount to ensure a strong hold.
  4. Lastly, you'll need to manage the power cable that connects the camera to your vehicle's power supply. This can be the trickiest part as you'll need to run the cable across the roof lining and down the side of the vehicle, keeping it out of sight and ensuring no loose cables are hanging around.

While these are the general basics, each vehicle and dash cam model might require a slightly different approach. Hence, it's always good to read the user manual before proceeding with the installation.

Two methods for dash cam installation

When it comes to installing a dash cam, there are mainly two methods that you can opt for - hardwiring or using the vehicle’s cigarette lighter. The choice between the two will depend on your vehicle, dash cam model, and personal preferences.

1. Using the Cigarette Lighter

This is the simplest and most common method for dash cam installation. Your dash cam will come with a power cord that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket in your vehicle. This is a straightforward, plug-and-play solution, but it does have a downside. It may leave wires hanging down the dashboard, which can be unsightly, and it also takes up your vehicle's cigarette lighter socket.

2. Hardwiring

This method involves connecting the dash cam directly to your vehicle's electrical system. The advantage of this method is that it frees up your cigarette lighter socket and eliminates dangling wires. However, hardwiring is more complex and may require professional installation to ensure it is done safely and correctly. If your dash cam model supports parking mode (a feature that keeps the dash cam running even when the vehicle is parked), hardwiring is a must.

Each method has its own pros and cons, so consider what fits your needs the best. If you opt for hardwiring and need professional help, Nexar’s expert installation services are always at your disposal.

Dash cam types and their fittings

The type of dash cam you choose and its fitting will largely depend on your specific needs and vehicle type. Let's look at the different types of dash cams and how they fit into your vehicle.

Front Cam

The most basic type of dash cam is a front-facing camera. This is typically mounted on the front windshield, just beneath the rear-view mirror, and is angled to capture the full view of the road ahead. It's the most common type of dash cam and a great starting point if you're new to these devices.

Rear Cam

This is either a separate camera that is mounted on the rear windshield or a second camera that is part of a dual dash cam system. Rear cameras help capture footage from the back of your vehicle, which can be beneficial in case of rear-end accidents or when reversing your vehicle. The rear cam installation is similar to the front cam but requires running a cable from the front camera to the back of the vehicle.

Dual Dash Cam

This type of system comes with both a front and a rear camera. They are generally the best choice for comprehensive protection and evidence in case of an accident. Although they require a bit more effort to install, the peace of mind they offer is often worth the extra work.

Mirror Dash Cam

These dash cams are installed over your existing rearview mirror. In addition to recording footage, they also function as a rearview mirror. This can be a great option if you're looking for a less conspicuous dash cam installation.

Remember, no matter the type, ensure that your dash cam is installed in a way that it does not obstruct your view of the road. Safety should always be your top priority.

Must dash cams be installed by a professional?

The need for professional dash cam installation depends on your comfort with DIY, the complexity of the system, and your vehicle's requirements. A basic front-facing dash cam using a cigarette lighter for power can often be self-installed.

However, more complex systems, like dual cams or hardwiring, may warrant a professional's touch. Professional installation saves time, ensures optimal placement, and neat cable management.

The best car spots for dash cam installation

Choosing the right spot for your dash cam installation is crucial for optimal performance. The location should provide a clear view of the road and should not obstruct the driver's view. Here are the best spots to consider:

Behind the Rearview Mirror

This is the most common spot for dash cam installation. Placing it right below or next to the rearview mirror ensures it doesn't obstruct your view while driving. This location also gives the camera a clear, centered view of the road.

On the Dashboard

Some drivers prefer mounting their dash cams on the dashboard. This can work well for smaller dash cams that won't obstruct your view. However, you must make sure the camera is securely mounted to prevent it from moving while you drive.

Rear Windshield

If you're installing a rear dash cam, the best spot is often the top or bottom center of the rear windshield. The camera should be angled in a way that captures a full view of the road behind the vehicle.

Over the License Plate

Some rear cameras are designed to mount over the license plate. This can be a good option for certain vehicles, but you'll need to ensure that the camera is waterproof and protected from dirt and debris.

No matter where you choose to install your dash cam, make sure that it's securely fastened, positioned correctly, and the lens is clean. The camera should also be within easy reach, so you can easily adjust its settings if required. Lastly, always consult your local laws to ensure your dash cam installation is compliant, as some jurisdictions have restrictions on where a dash cam can be placed.

Where to find a dash cam installation service/business

When it comes to professional dash cam installation, Nexar offers top-notch services ensuring your dash cam operates flawlessly. Our team of experts pays attention to every detail, from optimal camera placement to neat wiring, safeguarding your journeys with precision and care.

Aside from Nexar, you can also consider services from car accessory shops, car service centers, or specialized dash cam installation businesses. Be sure to read reviews and verify their expertise in dash cam installations before choosing a service provider.

FAQ About Dash Cam Installation

How long does it take to install a dash cam?

The installation time for a dash cam can vary based on the type of camera, the specific vehicle, and the method of installation. A simple front-facing dash cam that uses the cigarette lighter for power can typically be installed in less than an hour.

However, a more complex setup like a dual dash cam system or a hardwired installation can take several hours. If you're hiring a professional for the installation, they will be able to give you a more accurate estimate based on your specific situation.

How much does it cost to install a dash cam?

Again, the cost can vary widely depending on several factors. If you're doing a DIY installation, your only cost would be the dash cam itself and perhaps some minor materials like cable clips. If you're opting for a professional installation, the cost can range anywhere from $100 to over $300, depending on the complexity of the installation. Be sure to ask for an estimate upfront to avoid any surprises.

How to hide the dash cam wires?

Hiding dash cam wires is an essential step to ensure a clean and safe installation. The wires can typically be hidden by tucking them into the seams of the vehicle's interior. Start by running the cable up to the headliner from the dash cam, across to the A-pillar, and then down to the fuse box or cigarette lighter socket.

Meet Nexar Car Dash Cams — Always protected, wherever you go

Use cable clips to secure the wire and ensure it doesn't hang loose. If your vehicle has removable interior panels, you may also be able to hide the wires behind these.

Installing a dash cam is a smart move for any vehicle owner. Not only does it provide an additional layer of safety and security, but it can also offer critical evidence in case of accidents or disputes. While the process may seem complicated at first, with a bit of understanding and patience, dash cam installation can be a relatively straightforward task.