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How to install a dash cam

By Callum Tennent

An incorrectly fitted dash cam could see you on the wrong side of the law. Our guide will help make sure you install it perfectly in one take.

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There's a good chance that if you're buying a dash cam right now, it may well be your first. That means fitting one for the first time. There's a number of different ways to install a dash cam in your car, and it's extremely important to make sure it's done correctly. If a dash cam isn't fitted properly, not only can insurers and the courts disregard the footage it captures, but you may well be breaking the law.

This guide will help make sure you get yours set up right first time. If you're still on the fence about which model to buy, take a look at our highest-scoring dash cams.

Where should I mount my dash cam?

When setting up a hands-free holder for our smartphone, or when mounting a sat nav, we tend to just stick it wherever works best. Sometimes they don't want to stick, can't be seen clearly unless they're in a very specific location unique to each car, or the lead can't reach the cigarette lighter. However, you absolutely cannot do this when installing a dash cam.

A dash cam must be fitted behind the rear-view mirror so it's in the centre of your windscreen, but not obtrusive to your line of sight. This ensures it will capture both lanes of the road ahead, along with the signage on either side.

The best dash cams come with a nice long power lead, so you can tuck it around the edge of your windscreen before trailing it to the cigarette lighter. Make sure you don't simply plug it in directly, leaving the cable hanging down and getting in the way.

What type of mount will my dash cam have?

Most dash cams will come with one of two types of mount: double-sided tape or suction cup. Double-sided tape gets lower scores in our tests, as it's so inflexible. Once you attach it to the windscreen, it's extremely difficult to reposition. You'll need a steady hand to fit it correctly, and you'll have to make sure you get it in exactly the right place first time.

Suction-cup mounts are by far the better choice. They're easier to fit, and you can reposition them as often as you like. Most we've tested stay attached with no problems - if we ever find that they refuse to stay on, we make sure to mention it in the review.

What is hardwiring?

You can also choose to get your dash cam professionally fitted. 'Hardwiring' means it will be connected directly to your car's on-board electricals. This means it will start up and switch off automatically with your car's ignition, and the wires will be hidden out of sight under your dashboard.

High-street retailers such as Halfords offer this service, as well as any good in-car radio and electronics specialist.

Why Which? dash cam reviews are better

We rigorously test the latest dash cams to bring you our independent and impartial reviews and recommendations. During our tests, we take every dash cam out on the road to see how it performs. We drive a demanding route that includes minor and major roads, plenty of junctions and a variety of traffic hazards. We then assess the quality of the footage, including how clear and bright it is, and whether important details, such as number plates and street signs, are easy to read.

As well as checking the quality of the footage, we assess how easy each model is to use. We install each dash cam in a car, checking how useful the instruction manual is, and how easy the device is to set up and use. We also look at how easy it is to remove the device from the mount, as well as removing the mount itself. And we test the accuracy of any additional features, such as GPS tracking or G-force sensors.

Want to find the best dash cam for you? Discover all the models we've tested by heading over to our expert dash cam reviews.

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