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Compare dash cams: How to choose the right model for you

What you need to know about dash cams and how they can change the way you drive.

Quick facts about dash cams

  • Dash cams may help you prove fault in the event of an accident and avoid paying an excess and increased insurance premiums.
  • Dash cams need to be attached securely and shouldn’t be used on private property.

What is a dash cam?

Dash cams – or dashboard cameras – record video while you drive and sometimes while your car is parked. They work similarly to regular video cameras, but they are designed to be mounted inside your car. The footage captured is typically saved to a memory card or uploaded directly to cloud storage so you can access it easily.

You can use a dash cam to do the following:

  • Prove fault in an accident. Having a dash cam can help ensure you’ll be let off the hook if an accident isn’t your fault and save you from having to pay big excesses and raised prices on your car insurance.
  • Provide evidence. Many people have used dashboard camera videos to demonstrate their innocence in the face of police inquiries.
  • Identify fleeing drivers. If you’re involved in a hit-and-run, a dash cam could capture the other driver’s number plate and vehicle information.
  • Protect your business. If you own a business that involves drivers or couriers, a camera can record your employee’s speed and GPS location so you can make sure appropriate procedures are being followed.
  • Record a road trip. You can use your dash cam to capture road trips or once-in-a-lifetime events that happen too fast for you to stop the car and get out your digital camera.

Keep in mind, dash cams are limited and can only record within their field of view, so if the camera isn’t pointed in the direction of the accident, it won’t help.

What types are available?

There are two main types of dash cams: Single-lens and multi-lens cameras.

  • Single-lens or single-channel. Single-lens models record in one direction, typically facing through the front windshield of the car. They are generally cheaper and easier to install than multi-lens models. However, single-lens cameras only capture footage in one direction, so if it’s sitting in your front windshield and you get rear-ended – one of the most common accidents – then you won’t get any footage of the accident.
  • Multi-lens or dual-channel. A multi-lens camera allows you to record both the front and back of your car at the same time. Some also offer side views and internal views of the car so you can record the passengers. Multi-lens cams are more expensive and more complicated to install than single-lens models as they have multiple units.

How to compare dash cams

Choose a dash cam that you can depend on. When comparing, look for the following features:


You can get a budget dash cam with basic functions or a high-end model with extra features.

Automatic recording

Look for a dash cam that turns on and starts recording automatically when you start the car. If not, you’ll have to remember to turn it on every time you get in the car.

Parking mode

Some models can be hooked up to the car’s internal battery so that they keep running even while the car is parked. This helps you capture footage in case another car hits your parked car.

Memory card and data storage

Depending on storage space and video quality, your camera can only store a certain number of hours at a time. 32GB of storage typically holds several hours of high-resolution footage. A removable memory card allows you to add more storage space and transfer footage from your camera to your computer. Some dash cams use Wi-Fi to store video using cloud storage so you won’t run out of memory space.

Impact detection

An important and increasingly common feature, impact detection ensures that the camera automatically stores important video and doesn’t overwrite it. If your car is bumped, moved or hit, the device will detect it and make sure that a video of the event is available. Most dash cams can timestamp the relevant video, and more advanced models can also record the force and direction of the impact.

Battery life and power supply

If you want a dash cam that runs continuously, you’ll need to hook it up to a power source. Some dash cams will come with a cable to hook up to your car’s 12V socket, while others can be hardwired into the car’s battery.
Some dash cams come with an internal battery that allows it to run without a power connection. However, the battery will need to be charged or replaced regularly.

Looped recording

Dash cams need to be recording constantly while you drive, and sometimes when your car is parked too. Looped video recording ensures that the dash cam can still record new footage when its memory is full by overwriting the oldest footage with newer video when needed.

Built-in display

While not an essential feature, an inbuilt display screen lets you more accurately align the camera so you know exactly what it’s recording. It can also be useful if you ever have to pick the camera up and actually point it out a side window to record something.

Video quality

High quality video can help you capture more details in the event of an accident. Most dash cams have at least 1080p high-definition resolution, but some models record 4K ultra-high-definition footage. Some dash cams also offer a night vision mode to help capture clearer video in the dark.

How to install a dash cam

Dash cams are designed to be installed relatively easily with instructions in the box. If you have trouble installing the camera or connecting it to a power source, take your car to an auto shop for assistance. If you install the camera yourself, make sure to secure any extra cords to the roof lining so that nothing is left dangling to distract you while you drive.

You can attach your dash cam with a suction cup or an adhesive. A suction cup attachment is useful if you plan on moving it to a different car or if you’ll be using it in rental vehicles. Adhesive fasteners offer a more secure and permanent fixture while still letting you remove the camera if you need to.

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