Purchasing a dashcam can also save you money in the long run, since a recording of a collision can be used to help prove that you’re free of blame and not liable for any damages that occurred. For this reason, many insurance companies even offer discounts if you have a dashcam in your vehicle. While the choice to buy a dashcam might be an easy one, finding the perfect model for your unique needs can be tricky. We made this guide to showcase the best dashcams you can buy so that you can find the perfect new addition for your vehicle.
Buying Guide for Dash Cameras
Why buy a dash camera?
Dash cameras are ideal for ensuring that all of your bases are covered when you’re driving or even parked, depending on the camera in question. They capture the video and (in some cases) the sound of any accidents that you get involved in, no matter how minor. A dashcam not only helps prove that you’re not at fault in an accident, but it also captures other vital information, like the other car’s license plate. This is especially useful in hit-and-run cases where another car hit your vehicle while it was parked and you weren’t around to witness the incident. This, in turn, might help keep your insurance premiums down and save you money on other car-related expenses. Dashcams can also provide evidence of theft if someone ever breaks into your car, as long as it’s a model that records even when the engine isn’t running.
Basically, even one of the most expensive dashcams on the market will cost you a fraction of what the damage from a car accident or insurance payout can be.
What should you look for in a dashcam?
When searching for the ideal dashcam for your car, consider these factors:
- Video Quality: A dashcam with excellent video quality can quickly pay for itself when an accident occurs and you need to identify the license plate number of a moving car for your insurance company. Look for a dashcam with 4K resolution for the absolute best video quality. However, if you’re on a tight budget, 1080p resolution should also be a great fit for most people’s needs.
- Features: There are a number of important features that you’ll want your dashcam to possess. Emergency (G-sensor) recording can come in really handy, as it will ensure that a recording is saved whenever you get into a collision. Parking mode, which monitors your car while you’re away, is another great function that you’ll want to look for. Lastly, seek out a camera with great night vision and an intuitive, easy-to-navigate interface.
- Number of Cameras: While a single camera might fit your needs, many people can benefit from a multi-camera approach. Rideshare drivers will likely want to have a front, rear, and inside-facing camera to ensure that if anything occurs during a ride, it will be captured on camera. Rear-facing cameras are especially important for insurance reasons, offering you protection and clarity when you’re rear-ended on the road.
Should you use suction cups or adhesive to mount a dash camera?
There are pros and cons to both types of mounts. Suction cups are nice and strong but still easy to move and reattach as needed. They do tend to be bulkier and take up more room, though. Suction cup mounts are generally considered to be the better option if you want your dashboard camera mounted on your windshield rather than on your dashboard. Adhesive mounts will be stronger, although this also makes them harder to reposition, and they might leave residue behind when moved or removed. They take up less space and are less conspicuous than suction cup mounts, so an adhesive mount might be ideal if your dashboard has limited space.
Our Selections for the Best Dash Cameras
Pros: This dashcam has a lot going for it. You have the option to place it on either your windshield or your dashboard, as mounts for both come included with your purchase. The camera itself is equipped with night vision and motion detection, so it will function equally well no matter the time of day, and it automatically starts filming whenever it picks up any movement near your car. It can rotate a full 360 degrees to film at any angle you want. It also has built-in Wi-Fi and a GPS that not only connects with Google Maps to track your route, but that also records your driving location and speed. This feature can also be useful for helping prove that you’re not at fault in an accident.
Cons: If you want a subtle or hidden dashcam, this won’t be the model for you. While not the absolute largest on the market, it’s fairly bulky and can’t be completely hidden from view. You’ll have to supply your own memory card, and if you want to share videos, you have no choice but to download and use the associated app to do so. Since the app only works on Androids and iPhones, you’re out of luck if you don’t own either brand.
Bottom Line: This is about as complete of a dashcam as you’ll be able to find on the market. It has just about every possible feature you could want. As long as you own an Android or iPhone (or don’t mind not having access to the video-sharing feature on the app), you’ll easily get your money’s worth with this dashcam. The only reason that you’d want to pass this one by is if you want a video-sharing feature and don’t own the appropriate smartphone, or if you prefer something that’s easier to keep hidden from outside eyes.
Pros: This dashcam is the perfect balance of subtle and effective. Its small size makes it harder for outside eyes to spot, which is ideal for people who want a more hidden dashcam, yet it’s still able to monitor your entire car. It can be placed on your dashboard or mounted on your windshield and offers a long lifespan in both locations. And since it’s heat-resistant (able to withstand up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit), you won’t have to worry about it overheating and malfunctioning, even after hours of use or a long day parked in the sun. It does pretty well in the cold, too, withstanding temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cons: In terms of cost-efficiency, this isn’t the best dashcam to choose. It’s much pricier than most other models. And unlike many comparable models, this dashcam doesn’t offer either a Wi-Fi or a Bluetooth connection. This makes it a much harder and longer process to send videos to your insurance provider after an accident, and it means that you can’t connect this device to your phone for GPS or other purposes. Both of these are features that are normally found in a high-end dashcam.
Bottom Line: If you live in a location with extreme or highly fluctuating temperatures, this is a great dashcam, since it can withstand both near-boiling heat and below-freezing cold. However, if you’re on a budget, you’ll want to look for a more affordable model. The same is true if Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi connectivity are important features that you’re looking for in a dashcam.
Pros: This is a lower-priced dashcam, and it doesn’t sacrifice useful features to achieve affordability, either. It offers both super-high video resolution and an extra-wide lens angle. The high resolution better captures high-quality, crystal-clear video footage, while the extra-wide lens angle captures more footage in one shot. With both the motion detection and parking mode, this dashcam is able to monitor your car 24/7. It’s extremely easy to set up to boot.
Cons: This dashcam has a feature known as loop recording, which not all users will find beneficial. Loop recording means that once your SD memory card storage is full, the new video will override the oldest remaining and unlocked videos. While this ensures that you’ll always have room for new recordings and won’t have to go in and delete old ones manually, you also run the risk of losing old videos that you might need to go back and watch again. Also, this dashcam only comes with a windshield mounting option. It can’t be installed on your car dashboard.
Bottom Line: This is the ideal dashcam for anyone who’s budget-conscious or -restricted, as it’s both highly functional and highly affordable. While any dashcam can help save you money in the long run, this one will save even more due to its low-end price. The parking mode makes it a great choice for anyone who parks on the street or in a parking garage, as these locations are more high risk for hit-and-runs than a driveway or personal garage. But if you’re concerned about the loop recording deleting important older videos or if you prefer a dashboard-mounted camera to a windshield one, you might want to look elsewhere.
Pros: Thanks to its compact size, this dashcam is pretty inconspicuous, and its black color will blend right in with your rearview mirror to ensure that it’s even more unobtrusive. And even with its small size, you don’t need to worry about its ability to capture video from the angles that you need, as it has very limited blind spots and is able to cover up the same field of view as six lanes of traffic. As a bonus, it has the option to watermark your car’s license plate into the videos if you so choose. All you have to do is punch in your license plate number, and it will automatically print on all of your videos. This ensures that you’ll be able to prove that the videos produced are yours and taken from your car.
Cons: Unfortunately, this dashcam doesn’t provide you with the choice between a windshield and a dashboard mounting. The hanging suction cup attachment requires that it be attached only to your windshield. And unlike other models that come with an infrared (IR) mode, this dashcam doesn’t automatically switch to IR mode when it’s dark. You have to make the switch manually.
Bottom Line: This is about as close to a hidden dashcam as you can get in a windshield-mounted model without obstructing your camera’s view of the road and other cars. It’s not a great option for people who prefer a dashboard-mounted camera, but it’s perfect for anyone who wants something discreet and capable of personalizing their videos. Anyone who has to street-park their car overnight (or leave it anywhere else with poor lighting) might want to opt for a dashcam that automatically switches to IR mode, and if you ever forget to make the manual switch and your car gets hit overnight, you’re out of luck with this model.
Pros: If you want a dashcam that will almost certainly not be noticed by onlookers, this is the model for you. Its minuscule size ensures that it’s virtually hidden from view, but it can be placed just about anywhere in the front of your car thanks to the included adhesive mount, so it’s more versatile than most models in this regard. Once it’s plugged into its power source, it automatically records incidents for your convenience and offers both Wi-Fi and smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth. And it has eight purchasing options, so you can pick the one that best suits your needs.
Cons: This dashcam doesn’t come included with its own memory card, so you’ll have to supply your own. It also has very specific memory card requirements, requiring an 8-GB micro SD card that’s class-10 or faster. It’s worth keeping in mind that, by law, this specific dashcam has restricted use in certain jurisdictions. So, be sure to check the laws and rights to privacy where you plan to use this dashcam in order to avoid any fines.
Bottom Line: Discretion is the name of the game with this dashcam. It’s essentially a hidden dashcam for all intents and purposes. It will fit just about anywhere that you want it to, from the classic windshield or dashboard mount to less conventional spots, like directly behind your rearview mirror. But if you don’t want the added expense of a specialty SD memory card, or you want to have to check privacy jurisdictions everywhere you go, spring for a different model.
A dashboard camera is an absolutely worthwhile investment. With more models and features available now than ever before, you should have no trouble finding a dashcam that’s just right for you and your needs. Whether you need a model with extra-strength night vision for frequent nighttime driving or one that functions even when your vehicle isn’t turned on, there’s a dashboard camera that can benefit almost every driver.