How to install a dash cam
By Callum Tennent
If your 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. And our video above explains the key things to watch out for when installing a dash cam.
If you're still on the fence about which model to buy, take a look at our Best Buy dash cams.
Where to mount your dash cam
When setting up a hands-free holder for your smartphone or mounting a sat nav, it's tempting to just stick it wherever works best, as sometimes they don't want to stick or can't be seen clearly, or the lead won'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 your dash cam have?
Most dash cams 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 we mention it in the review.
What is hardwiring?
You can also choose to get your dash cam professionally fitted. 'Hardwiring' involves connecting it 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 - plus it frees up the cigarette lighter for other electronics. Just about every dash cam we test can be hardwired, so if you're eyeing up a new model to purchase it should be compatible.
High-street retailers Halfords are one of the only nationwide chains to offer this service, but your local in-car radio and electronics specialist should too. What's more, it shouldn't cost you much at all - £30 or so should do it. Plenty of retailers also offer fitting at the point of sale, too.
Alternatively you can undertake the procedure yourself. It will involve accessing the fuse box, usually located inside or beside the glove box, and swapping a connection with your hardwiring kit. The whole thing should take you about 20 minutes to complete. Just how complicated it is will depend on what vehicle you drive, so we'd recommend leaving it to the pros if you're not entirely confident in your skills.