5 Things to Know About Dashcams for Your Car

From resolution to views to mounts, here’s what to consider before buying a dashboard camera.

Dashcam in carShutterstock

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If you scroll through social media, you’ll likely come across videos of traffic mishaps, crashes, or road-rage incidents captured via dashboard camera, or dashcam. So, what exactly are these seemingly ubiquitous devices, and how do you go about choosing the right one?

What is a Dashcam?

A dashcam is simply a small recording device that mounts to your windshield or dashboard to continuously capture one or even multiple views. The devices come with varying resolution capabilities and a range of storage capacities. Some record only video while others can record audio, video, and even GPS data. The wide range of options means prices can vary from as little as $75 to more than $400.

When deciding on the right dashcam for you, here are five things to consider.

Get Plenty of Storage

Typically, 32 GB of internal memory is an adequate amount for most drivers. The device will usually record in a loop, writing over the oldest data once the memory card is full. Not all dashcams include a memory card, however, so it’s good to double-check. How many hours an SD card will hold depends on the resolution of your camera. The higher the resolution, the more space the recording needs. Consider upgrading to 64 GB or even 128 GB if your budget allows. If you’re driving for long stretches at a time, an SD card with a larger capacity is the better choice.

Consider Resolution

The higher the resolution of your device, the better the details of the recording. This matters when you need to zoom in later to see something small, such as a license plate. While a 1080p camera may show a car clearly, it might not be able to display a readable plate number. A 4K camera is a more expensive option, but it should show details that lower-resolution cameras simply cannot capture. This is especially true of recordings in low light. A night vision camera is ideal if you frequently drive in the dark.

Mounting Considerations

Dashcams typically include an adhesive or a suction-cup windshield mount. Some have very small mounts, but others are unwieldy and could impair your view. Evaluate whether the dashcam you’re considering is easy to move from one car to another, if necessary. Check local laws regarding mounting. Some states regulate the size and placement and may even prohibit windshield mounting entirely. In those cases, you might need a separate dashboard mount.

Choose Your Camera View

Dashcams provide a view over the hood of a car, but additional views are available. There are rearview cameras that look out the rear window to capture footage in case you’re rear-ended. An interior camera, which records passengers and may include audio, is another option. There are laws, however, regarding the recording of people inside your vehicle, so make sure you’re in compliance with your state’s regulations.

Wireless Connectivity

A dashcam with wireless connectivity lets you control your dashcam without having to fiddle with the small screen on the device. Instead, you can connect it wirelessly to your phone or another device. This makes it easier to manage settings and simplifies the video upload process when you want to save footage.

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Nicole Wakelin
I write about cars. A lot. That's because I’ve always loved cars and the fact that they regularly hand me the keys to shiny new automobiles so I can write about them is a constant source of amazement. I cover breaking news, write reviews, and attend auto shows and new vehicle launches across the country. The more winding the road and the more unknown the route, the better.