Whether you’ve got a shiny new motor or prefer to pick from the used cars for sale, you should really buy a dash cam. The footage they capture when you’re on the move, and in some models parked up, can help save you money and prove your innocence.
Some insurance providers will now offer a discount if you fit a dash cam into your car. Not only will that help claw back some of the cost of the camera, but it’s also invaluable in the event of an accident.
A dash cam could prove a crash wasn’t your fault, help you maintain your no-claims bonus, and often increases the speed of settlements. They’re also a great way to protect yourself against ‘crash for cash’ schemes.
Dash cams have come a long way from the grainy footage of yesteryear. Even entry-level cameras can be found with sharp 1080p recording and smooth playback. Given the range of adapters to plug into USB or 12v sockets, there really is no reason not to buy one.
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What To Look For When Buying A Dash Cam
There are a number of factors you need to consider when buying a dash cam.
1. Footage Quality
The most important is naturally the quality of the footage. Should the worst happen, you need clear footage to prove your case. If you can’t see vital details such as a numberplate on a pixilated image, you’ve wasted your money.
2. Video Resolution
The big thing to look out for is the video resolution. We’d recommend at least 1080p as 720p just doesn’t pick up as much detail, although it’s still worth checking out reviews as image quality can still differ. There are however other things to consider for the best footage.
3. Frame Rate
A high frame rate (how many frames are captured per second) will make sure the video plays smoothly, while low light level features help when the sun is nowhere to be seen. We’d also look for a high dynamic range (good levels of contrast in the image) and the widest lens possible. A 120-degree lens would be our minimum to give a good field of vision.
Dash cams generally take their power from a USB cable, often the rectangular Type A but increasingly the smaller and more rounded USB C. Don’t worry if you’ve got the wrong type of USB in your car or just a round 12v socket, there will be an adapter for you.
Alternatively, you can hardwire the camera into your car’s wiring so it’s permanently powered or comes on with the ignition. If you do decide to have the camera always drawing power from the car’s battery, then we’d advise driving it regularly to stop it from going flat. If this isn’t an option, a main or portable battery charger is a sound investment.
5. Personal Preference
Personal preference will naturally impact your choice of dash cam. That includes the usability of the camera, how it looks, and how you access the footage. Cameras with screens are handy when you’re only recording on occasion, such as for a specific journey or track day.
However, in day-to-day driving the screen can become irritating, so you might want something more discreet.
Mounting is another important consideration as you might need to move the camera between vehicles. Most dash cams have suction cups that fit the windscreen, but some models come with double-sided adhesive stickers to offer a more permanent and secure solution.