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Updated: 17 Feb 2022

How to install a dash cam

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.
Felix Wilson

If your dash cam isn't fitted properly, not only can your footage be disregarded by your insurance company and the police, but you may well be breaking the law. 

There are strict rules about where in-car equipment should be positioned. 

Dash cams must be fitted so that they don't obstruct the drivers' vision, otherwise you could liable to pay a fine. Our expert guide will help make sure you get yours set up right first time. 

Not all dash cams are equal - some record footage so poor it will be inadmissible in court. Make sure you check out our selection of the best dash cams.

Video: How to install a dash cam

Watch our video to find out the correct way to install your dash cam in your car.

Best place to mount your dash cam

A dash cam should 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 and the signage on either side.

Some modern vehicles have bulky consoles or surrounds covering the rear view mirror, which can make this placement difficult or impossible. Placing the dash cam on the passenger’s side of the rear view mirror may solve this but, depending on your vehicle, it could also potentially reduce the camera’s view of the road.

The rule to follow is that your dash cam should not intrude into the area covered by your windscreen wipers by more than 40mm.

Depending on the make and model of your car, mounting a dash cam near your rear view mirror could also interfere with radar or camera systems - consult your vehicle's user manual for guidance.

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.

Mounting a dash cam isn't like setting up a hands-free holder for your smartphone or mounting a sat nav, where it's tempting to just stick it wherever works best. You absolutely cannot do this when installing a dash cam.

Don't waste your money on a model that isn't right - use our buying advice on choosing the best dash cams.

Different types of dash cam mount

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 our dash cam reviews.

Hardwire a dash cam

Hardwiring involves connecting your dash cam 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 is 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 for retailers such as Halfords. Plenty of retailers also offer fitting at the point of sale, too.

Alternatively, you can do it 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.

To make sure that you don't run into any trouble with your dash cam, read our guide on dash cams and the law.