Buying your first car dash cam is a step in the right direction. With so many vehicles on the road, the probability of getting into an accident is higher. You want to make sure that in the event of an accident, your claims can be verified. A dash cam can also be a source of fun and adventure. You can use it to record your family vacation or a road trip with friends.
But with so many brands and models in the market, choosing the right dash cam for your car could prove to be a challenge.
To help you make the best choice, we have made this guide on how to buy your first car dash cam.
You don’t have to break open your bank account to buy your first car dash cam. Just because it is expensive and has all the bells and whistles does not mean it is the best model for your car. Buy a dash cam that will address all of your concerns and meet your needs.
Here are the essential, must-have features of your first car dash cam
It is important for your first dash cam to have high resolution video so it can capture all the details of the incident.
For example, if you get into a car accident, the license plate number and faces of the other party must come out clearly on the video. Otherwise, it will be difficult to prove your case should the second party file a claim against you.
At the minimum, choose a dash cam that provides HD 720p recording. With this kind of video resolution, the dash cam will be able to present license plate number, vehicle makes and faces clearly.
You should also consider the quality of the audio recording. Many brands and models of car dash cam have audio recording feature but some may not be as clear. It is a good idea for your first car dash cam to have both excellent resolution and audio recording capabilities.
Video resolution and storage capacity go hand- in- hand. The higher the resolution, the larger the capacity your car dash cam needs. At the minimum, choose dash cam that has 64GB worth of storage space.
For one hour’s worth of an HD 720p recording, you will need approximately 1GB to 2GB storage capacity. At HD 1080p resolution, one hour video footage will need up to 6GB.
You want to make sure your car dash cam can do its job whenever you are out on the road. Having large storage capacity is very important for those who drive long distances.
Accidents can happen at any time. You might wake up one morning and find your car vandalized, scraped, side mirrors stolen or totalled on one side. This is where having night vision capability for your first car dash cam will give you restful sleep every night.
Video resolution for night vision should likewise be high. Street lights and city lights can provide illumination but it may not be enough to get a clear picture of the perpetrator’s face and the car license plate number. There will also be some nights where the street lights may not be working.
Don’t take any chances and assume accidents never happen at night. When buying devices that ensure security and protection, it is a good idea to assume worse case scenarios before making a decision.
Can you imagine getting into an accident and your dash cam failed to record? It would be a nightmare trying to claim from insurance or prove your innocence without video footage.
For your first car dash cam, buy a model that has an auto-power and auto-shut off feature. This is important for first time car dash cam owners because you will be in the process of getting used to driving with this device.
If the car dash cam does not have an auto-power feature, it may take some time before switching it on becomes part of your daily routine. You would not want the accident to happen on the day you forgot to open the car dash cam.
A dash cam ensures that if you get into an accident, you have audio- video proof of who was at fault. However, if you want to avoid accidents, you should always keep your focus on the road ahead. If your car dash cam is exceptionally large and wide, it could affect your peripheral vision.
There are cities that have passed legislation prohibiting vehicle owners from having sources of distraction on their windshield. If you prefer a dash cam that is mounted on the windshield, opt for smaller models that won’t obstruct your view of the road.
Buy a dash cam that can be mounted on the windshield or dashboard without distracting from your driving.
There are car dash cam models that stop recording once it has reached maximum storage capacity. There are also car dash cam models that will automatically loop once it has reached full storage. It will delete the earliest footage and continue filming.
Dash cam models that stop recording have the advantage of allowing you time to transfer footage. However it will leave you exposed during long drives.
On the other hand dash cam models with automatic loop recording are more convenient and hassle-free. Always choose dash cam models that have the automatic loop recording feature.
A dash cam recorder with automatic looping features will assure you that your vehicle will be monitored every time you are on the road.
For your first car dash cam, it is always to buy one with dual channels or cameras. This way the dash cam can record footage from the front and the rear of the car.
One of the most common road accidents is being rear- ended. Having a dash cam with a rear camera will keep track and record incidents that occur from the back of your car.
A dual channel dash cam will also come in handy against road scammers. These are drivers who stage car accidents so they can extort money from you. A common practice is to sandwich your vehicle and hit you from the back hard enough that you will hit the car in front of you.
Having a dual channel dash cam with automatic loop recording feature will make sure you have clear footage of everything that happens while you are driving.
Dash cams have risen in demand as more cars traverse the open roads. Manufacturers see this and try to come up with newer, more modern features to distinguish their dash cams from other brands. But are these necessary for your first car dash cam?
Here are two other features that you may want to consider for your first car dash cam:
G-Sensor technology is one of the newer innovations in dash cam design. What it does is activate the dash cam once it detects unusual movement such as force from an impact.
The reaction time of this type of technology is very fast. It can prove to be a valuable feature if you tend to park your car in public places. There are also G-Sensor equipped car dash cams which will prevent the video footage of the accident from being deleted.
So if G-Sensor technology is innovative, why didn’t we include it among your first car dash cam’s “must-have” features?
There are two reasons for this: One, it can record false incidents when your car is moving. Second, the technology is still in its fledgling stages and should continue to evolve.
As valuable as G-Sensor technology is, it will only benefit you when your car is parked. You can view this as a parked car security camera.
Global Positioning System or GPS is nothing new in technology. Boats, cars, bikes and watches are fitted with GPS which helps track your current location.
You can also find dash cam recorder models that have GPS. Its functions include:
Some GPS units include an ADAS function. ADAS stands for Advanced Driving Assistance System and helps you assess clearance when parking or changing lanes.
Buying your first car dash cam does not have to be a complicated process. Look for models with features that will immediately address your biggest concerns. For example, if you park your car in a public area at work, a car dash cam with a rear camera, night vision, G-Sensor technology and high resolution should be on the top of your list.
Lastly, you should also consider the design and ease of installation of the car dash cam. Some car owners want hidden dash cameras which look “stealth”; they cannot be readily seen from the outside. Thieves think twice about breaking into a car if they can’t see where the dash cam is located.
Most car dash cams are attached using suction cups. However daily exposure to the sun, dust and changing temperatures may cause the suction cups to lose their grip. You may want to consider dashboard mounted dash cams or models that are attached to the rear view mirror.