Editorial Note: This content was researched and produced by Motor1.com‘s expert review team. Links in this article may result in us earning a commission but do not impact our advice or recommendations. Learn More

Best Dash Cams

A good dash cam offers peace of mind on the road and could save you money when you need it most.
Written and Tested By:
Will Moore
Written and Tested By: Will Moore Senior Writer – Motor1 Review Team

Will has written for several major auto sites including Motor1 since 2020, logging hundreds of hours researching and testing products ranging from child car seats to torque wrenches. Will is also Certified by Safe Kids Worldwide as a Child Passenger Safety Technician (#T836339).

Tested By:
James Kiefer
Tested By: James Kiefer Multimedia Producer – Motor1 Review Team

James Kiefer has been writing about automotive products on Motor1 since 2021 and has assessed hundreds of products for everyday drivers. He’s tested everything from headlight restoration kits to OBD2 scanners to dash cams, giving him an in-depth understanding of which products are useful for car owners and how they can fit into any driver’s lifestyle.

Last Updated 01/09/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • The best dash cams based on ease of installation, video quality, and extra features come from Vantrue, Nexar, Viofo, Fanttik, and Garmin.
  • The best dash cam in 2024 is the Vantrue N2S. The N2S offers high-resolution video, excellent nighttime recording, and is simple to set up and operate.
  • Dash cams can cost as much as $400 or more, but most of our selections are in the $100 – $300 range.
Best
Night Vision
Dash Cam
Vantrue N2S

A high-resolution dash cam with excellent nighttime recording quality.

Best
Dash Cam
Front and Rear
Nexar Pro Dual Dash Cam

An easy-to-install dash cam that is painless to use while driving.

Best
Dash Cam
for Uber
Nexar One Dash Cam

A high-quality and reliable dash cam with interior and exterior cameras.

Best
4K Dash Cam
Viofo A139 Pro

A 4K dash cam that utilizes Sony Starvis 2 sensors for optimal low light recording.

Best
Front And Rear
Dash Cam
With Parking Mode
Vantrue Nexus 4 Pro

A dash cam with high-quality video resolution and voice control features.

A dashboard camera, more commonly referred to as a dash cam, can help with insurance claims, monitor your vehicle while parked, or record video memories of a road trip. The best dash cam will capture clear video and is easy to install and operate. They can be an invaluable tool for rideshare drivers or people who drive frequently and are looking to save money in the long run. In this article, we’ll explain what to look for in a dash cam and recommend some of our favorite options based on price, video quality, and more.


Dash Cams Reviews

Dash Cams For Cars

For this review, our team thoroughly tested and evaluated each dash cam based on each item’s ease of installation, video quality, user interface (UI), and extra features. The scores in each category are compiled into a single overall rating that ranges from 1.0 to 5.0 stars.

What Is The Best Dash Cam?

Based on these criteria, the best dash cams are the Vantrue N2S, Nexar Pro Dual, Nexar One, Viofo A139 Pro, Vantrue N4 Pro, Fanttik C8 APEX, Garmin Mini 2, Cobra SC201, and the Viofo WM1.

Brand/ModelOverallCostAward

Vantrue

N2S

4.5

$290

Best Night Vision Dash Cam

Nexar

Pro Dual Dash Cam

4.4

$225

Best Dash Cam Front and Rear

Nexar

One Dash Cam

4.4

$280

Best Dash Cam For Uber

Viofo

A139 Pro Dash Cam

4.3

$400

Best 4K Dash Cam

Vantrue

N4 Pro Dash Cam

4.1

$380

Best Front and Rear Dash Cam With Parking Mode

Fanttik

C8 APEX Dash Cam

4.1

$200

Best Small Dash Cam

Garmin

Dash Cam Mini 2

4.0

$130

Best Mini Dash Cam

Cobra

SC201

3.8

$180

Budget Infrared Vision Dash Cam

Viofo

WM1 Dash Cam

3.5

$120

Best Dash Cam Under $100

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

For those interested in learning more, we’ve provided a detailed review of each of the best dash cams in the sections below:

1. Vantrue N2S: Best Night Vision Dash Cam

Vantrue N2S
Vantrue N2S Best Night Vision Dash Cam
Vantrue N2S
  • Cost: $290
  • Amazon review score: 4.3 out of 5.0 (approx. 1,800 reviews)
  • Max recording resolution: 4K
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS
  • Field of view: 155.0 degrees
  • Operating temperature: 14.0°F to 158.0°F
  • GPS: Yes
  • Mounting style: Suction cup

The Vantrue N2S is an excellent all-around dash cam with high recording resolution. The camera mounts on your front windshield and features a rear-facing camera that looks into the cabin. It even features a parking mode that can detect collisions and start recording while your car is parked.

We recommend the Vantrue N2S if you often drive at night or in dark areas. It’s especially helpful if you drive in a rural community with fewer streetlights. The camera records the highest-quality nighttime video of all the products we tested, and you can use the infrared light function for interior cabin visibility even in total darkness.

The cabin-facing camera can also be useful for Uber or Lyft drivers. You can see how the Vantrue N2S performed in each category below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 4.5
Video Quality 5.0
User Interface (UI) 4.0
Extra Features 4.5
Overall Rating 4.5

What makes the Vantrue further stand out are the infrared night vision lights and optimum low-light resolution provided by Vantrue’s advanced image sensors.

There’s a lot to love about the Vantrue N2S, and we found it offers exceptional video clarity. The camera also looks great, and the horizontal design makes it easy to hide behind your rearview mirror.

The Vantrue is as easy to install as a dash cam could be. The camera attaches to your interior windshield via a suction mount, which is much easier to install and adjust than an adhesive mount.

While the Vantrue lacks an app and a touch screen, the camera’s other features make up for this. However, if smartphone integration is important to you, you may want to consider a different product.

Vantrue N2S

Our team also tested the Vantrue N2 Pro, which is similar to the N2S. This camera is nearly identical to the N2S, with the major difference being that the N2S can record in 4K resolution while the N2 Pro records at 2K. The N2 Pro costs about $40 less than the N2S and still offers excellent clarity.

Users of this dash cam really like the cabin recording feature, and many satisfied reviewers are rideshare drivers. There are some reports of defective units shipping, but those that work seem to hold up for several years.

You can turn off the camera’s LCD screen while driving, but there is a blinking red light that some drivers have found distracting. However, it’s easy to place this camera in such a way that this light is out of view.

2. Nexar Pro Dual Dash Cam: Best Dash Cam Front And Rear

Nexar Pro Dual Dash Cam
Nexar Pro Dual Dash Cam Best Dash Cam Front And Rear
Nexar Pro Dual Dash Cam
  • Cost: $225
  • Amazon review score: 4.2 out of 5.0 (approx. 3,900 reviews)
  • Max recording resolution: 1080p
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS
  • Field of view: 135.0 degrees
  • Operating temperature: -4.0°F to 158.0°F
  • GPS: Yes
  • Mounting style: Suction

Nexar produces a line of dash cams designed with smartphone integration in mind. The Pro is Nexar’s mid-level camera offering front and interior recording at 1080p resolution.

What makes this camera stand out is how easy it is to set up and manage. We recommend the Nexar Pro for those who want to use a dash cam with as little hassle as possible.

You can see how the Nexar Pro Dual Dash Cam performed in each category below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 5.0
Video Quality 3.5
User Interface (UI) 4.5
Extra Features 4.5
Overall Rating 4.4

The Nexar Pro records location and speed data. Additionally, you can also control the camera with your voice and even use it to send video messages.

Out of the box, the Nexar stands above other dash cams. Everything is packaged and labeled for as painless a setup as possible. The instructions are the most straightforward and pared down of any dash cam that we tested. This camera even comes with a microSD card, which isn’t typically included with a dash cam.

The forward-facing camera has a suction mount, though the interior camera has an adhesive mount. The recording quality is OK. If you want to record at a higher resolution, you could upgrade to the Nexar One.

You can access the Nexar through an app that allows you to review and download footage.

Nexar Pro Dual Dash Cam

Most Amazon reviews for the Nexar are positive. Users appreciate that the camera works and is easy to use. Several people claim to have gotten years of reliable recording from this camera.

There are a few comments that the Nexar app doesn’t work well with Android devices. We tested the Nexar on an Android phone and it worked fine. The app is originally designed for iOS, so it may be buggier on some Android phones.

3. Nexar One Dash Cam: Best Dash Cam For Uber

Nexar One Dash Cam
Nexar One Dash Cam Best Dash Cam For Uber
  • Cost: $280
  • Amazon review score: 3.7 out of 5.0 (approx. 100 reviews)
  • Max recording resolution: 2160p
  • Frame rate: 25 – 30 FPS
  • Field of view: 160.0 degrees
  • Operating temperature: 14.0°F to 140.0°F
  • GPS: Yes
  • Mounting style: Suction

The Nexar One Dash Cam is a high-quality and reliable camera to capture every angle both inside and outside your vehicle while driving or parked. The Nexar One offers live streaming, GPS tracking, real-time notifications through the Nexar AI Dash Cam smartphone app, and countless other features.

With post-collision reports, night-vision technology, parking mode, and more – the Nexar One is a great option for rideshare drivers who work for companies such as Uber or Lyft.

You can see how the Nexar One Dash Cam performed in each category below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 4.5
Video Quality 4.5
User Interface (UI) 4.0
Extra Features 4.5
Overall Rating 4.4

While we didn’t hardwire this dash cam into our vehicle, we used the included power cable and 12.0-V DC adapter, making it easy to get the camera started and running.

Overall, this dash cam was enjoyable to test and simple for us to use. We found installation to be incredibly quick and easy, with a strong magnetic mount attachment to the dash cam and a sticky adhesive to attach the Nexar One to our windshield.

We were amazed by the video quality of this dash camera, even in different light conditions. Attached just below and slightly off to the side from our car’s front rearview mirror, we found it capable of capturing the angles and license plates of cars in front of our vehicle.

We did find connectivity to be somewhat of a hassle when using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to get the dash cam and the Nexar app wirelessly connected. It took a few tries, but the connection between both devices was reliable and consistent after we were able to gain a connection.

Positive reviews of the Nexar One highlight the high-quality adjustable field of view and the peace of mind this dash cam gives buyers while driving. Buyers found this dash cam to be incredibly easy to use and get set up in their vehicle. Some customers noted issues with connectivity, though it didn’t deter them from returning or not using the camera in their car.

4. Viofo A139 Pro: Best 4K Dash Cam

Viofo A139 Pro Best 4K Dash Cam
  • Cost: $260 – $400
  • Amazon review score: 4.4 out of 5.0 (approx. 15 reviews)
  • Maximum recording resolution: 4k (front), 1080p (rear and interior)
  • Maximum frame rate: 60 FPS (at 2K)
  • Field of view: 140.0 degrees (front view), 165.0 degrees (rear view)
  • Operating temperature: -4.0°F to 149.0°F
  • GPS: Yes
  • Mounting style: Adhesive mount

While there are other cameras capable of recording in 4K resolution, these don’t always have the best sensors for capturing low-light video. The Viofo A139 Pro offers some of the best clarity because of the Sony Starvis 2 IMX678 sensor, which is especially sensitive to NIR (near infrared) light.

The A139 Pro can link with a rear- and interior-facing camera, as well as an external microphone. We recommend this dash cam for those hoping to get the most comprehensive video coverage in and around their vehicle.

You can see how the Viofo A139 Pro performed in each category below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 3.5
Video Quality 5.0
User Interface (UI) 4.0
Extra Features 4.5
Overall Rating 4.3

This camera can connect to a Viofo app for live streaming and more precise controls. However, the Viofo app is basic compared to others.

Overall, we were pleased by the Viofo A139 Pro dash cam. The video quality is among the best we’ve seen and the interface is simple.

While the app may have few frills, the A139 Pro comes with a number of non-standard dash cam components such as:

  • USB-A microSD card reader
  • Circular polarizing lens filter
  • Bluetooth control button
  • External microphone

Because of the number of cameras involved (3), the A139 Pro takes a while to set up. This time is increased if you install any add-ons, such as the Viofo HK3-C ACC hardware kit. Another installation issue we have is with the A139’s adhesive mount, which makes it difficult to reposition the camera once set.

Amazon reviewers mostly praise the A139 Pro. Recording quality, customer support, and ease of use are consistently praised features. Those frustrated with the lack of clarity in lower-priced dash cams find themselves appreciating the Viofo A139 Pro.

A few reviewers complain about the adhesive mount, which makes it difficult to precisely position this dash cam. Another thing that some mention is the A139’s built-in wifi, which is not strong and sometimes loses connection. This can make transferring videos from the camera to your phone over wifi frustrating.

5. Vantrue Nexus 4 Pro: Best Front And Rear Dash Cam With Parking Mode

Vantrue Nexus 4 Pro Best Front And Rear Dash Cam With Parking Mode
  • Cost: $380
  • Amazon review score: 4.6 out of 5.0 (approx. 175 reviews)
  • Max recording resolution: 2160p
  • Frame rate: 1 (timelapse) and 30 FPS
  • Field of view: 165.0 degrees (front view), 158.0 degrees (rear view), and 160.0 degrees (interior)
  • Operating temperature: -14.0°F to 158.0°F
  • GPS: Yes
  • Mounting style: Magnetic

The Vantrue Nexus 4 Pro (N4 Pro) is a high-quality, triple-car camera that captures video of your car’s front exterior, front rear, and interior angles. This camera has 4K image quality, capturing and recording clear images of moving surroundings and vehicles, both during the day and night. This dash cam has a voice control feature to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, adding to the high-quality features of this camera.

You can see how the Vantrue N4 Pro performed in each category below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 4.0
Video Quality 5.0
User Interface (UI) 4.0
Extra Features 4.0
Overall Rating 4.1

Overall, the features we tested on this dash cam all appeared to work reliably.

After testing this camera out, our team found it very easy to use. We found the image quality to be the highlight of our testing process, with clear angles and recordings of our surroundings, with the camera being able to pick up street names, road signs, and license plate numbers.

Installation was an easy process, using the included power cable to connect the dash cam to our vehicle and get it running in no time. The magnetic mounting system included in the purchase makes it simple to connect and disconnect the dash cam as needed.

With the addition of the Vantrue mobile app, we connected the camera to our smartphone and ran the built-in GPS feature.

This camera is a new release by Vantrue, explaining the lack of customer reviews. Despite only a few reviews, all buyers had positive feedback, emphasizing the image quality in all directions, easy setup, and a well-designed parking mode. Despite the slightly high price, buyers who regularly use their dash cams seemed to find this product worth the investment.

6. Fanttik C8 APEX Dash Cam: Best Small Dash Cam

Fanttik C8 APEX Dash Cam Best Small Dash Cam
  • Cost: $200
  • Amazon review score: 4.2 out of 5.0 (approx. 15 reviews)
  • Max recording resolution: 3,840p
  • Frame rate: Unknown
  • Field of view: 140.0 degrees
  • Operating temperature: -1.0°F to 158.0°F
  • GPS: Yes
  • Mounting style: Adhesive

The Fanttik C8 APEX Dash Cam is tiny but mighty. Sleek and compact in design, this dash cam records in 4K resolution, capturing angles in front of and around you. This camera has lots to offer including real-time playback on the free Fanttik app and voice control to save your footage while on the road.

You can see how the Fanttik C8 APEX performed in each category below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 4.5
Video Quality 4.5
User Interface (UI) 3.5
Extra Features 4.0
Overall Rating 4.1

Overall, we think you’ll struggle to find such a high-quality dash cam in such a small size.

The Fanttik dash cam definitely had a lot to offer for being such a small and compact system. We found the video quality quite impressive, picking up street and intersection signs, license plate numbers, and fast-moving cars on the road.

Where this camera lacked was in the user interface, particularly the Fanttik app. While connecting our smartphone to the dashcam was simple, we noticed the app crashing when trying to watch back video, especially longer clips. This made it difficult and time-consuming for us to save and upload the footage onto our phone and computer.

Despite the minor glitches with the app, the installation was easy thanks to the sleek design, and this camera offers great features including night vision, parking mode, and voice control.

This dash cam is a newer release by Fanttik, explaining the lack of customer reviews. That being said, buyers are seemingly pleased with their purchase, explaining similarities in our testing experience. Customers applaud Fanttik for its compactness, storage capacity, and features like voice control and loop recording. The main issues buyers had revolved around the smartphone app being unreliable and glitching when trying to upload or save footage.

7. Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2: Best Mini Dash Cam

Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2
Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 Best Mini Dash Cam
Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2
  • Cost: $130
  • Amazon review score: 4.2 out of 5.0 (approx. 4,600 reviews)
  • Max recording resolution: 1080p
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS
  • Field of view: 140.0 degrees
  • Operating temperature: -4.0°F to 140.0°F
  • GPS: No
  • Mounting style: Adhesive

Garmin offers a line of dash cameras, each with different features, price points, and sizes. The Mini 2 is designed to be small and easy to use. While it doesn’t include some extra features like 60 FPS recording or a GPS, it offers good video quality and an excellent interface.

We recommend the Mini 2 for those who want low-profile dash cams for multiple vehicles. The Garmin dash cam app is designed to sync across multiple cameras, meaning you can manage all of your dash cam footage from one convenient source.

You can see how the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 performed in each category below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 4.5
Video Quality 3.5
User Interface (UI) 4.5
Extra Features 3.5
Overall Rating 4.0

Image quality is decent, but the recording resolution is only 1080p, which can sometimes fail to capture clear license plate information, especially at night.

Garmin products are very user-friendly. This camera is small and attaches to a swivel mount that makes it easy to position. However, this camera does use an adhesive mount, which can come unglued in especially hot temperatures. Given the light weight of the Mini 2, however, this isn’t especially likely.

It’s very easy to mount and unmount the camera from the sticky base – simply pull it off. We found the app easy to use, though you’ll need to create an account if you want to sync multiple dash cams to the same smartphone.

Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2

Happy Garmin customers appreciate that while this dash cam doesn’t have a lot of extra features, it reliably performs a dash cam’s most vital function – records and stores videos of your drive.

8. Cobra SC 201: Budget Infrared Vision Dash Cam

Cobra SC 201 Budget Infrared Vision Dash Cam
  • Cost: $179.95
  • Amazon review score: 2.9 out of 5.0 (approx. 1,000 reviews)
  • Max recording resolution: 1080p
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS
  • Field of view: 140.0 degrees
  • Operating temperature: 14.0°F to 140.0°F
  • GPS: Yes
  • Mounting style: adhesive

The Cobra SC201 dash cam is a mid-priced option and relatively inexpensive for a dash cam that includes an interior-facing infrared camera. This type of dash cam is especially useful for rideshare drivers or anyone interested in recording what happens inside of their vehicle.

We had the chance to test several Cobra dash cams and they stand out as being solidly-built. While the video quality and features don’t excel over other brands, the camera bodies themselves feel heavier and better-constructed than what we typically see from dash cams in this price range.

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 3.5
Video Quality 3.5
User Interface (UI) 4.0
Extra Features 4.0
Overall Rating 3.8

We recommend the Cobra SC201 for those who want a dashcam with an interior-facing camera. Considering that this single unit includes two lenses and provides good day- and night-time recording quality, it is a good deal at under $200.

The Cobra SC201 dash cam features a sleek design and includes a thick connection cable. While cable wear is not generally a big issue with dash cams, it can be if you plan to keep the same camera for many years. Cobra cables are noticeably a bit thicker than competitors though not so thick that you can’t tuck it away under the upholstery.

In order to use the companion app for this camera, you must first create an account with Cobra. It can be annoying to create an account for everything, but once this initial setup is complete the smartphone app interface is easy to navigate. You can install firmware updates for your camera wirelessly through the app, and this process is surprisingly quick.

The SC201 camera uses an adhesive mount which makes the camera difficult to reposition. We also found that the GPS and voice control functions don’t work very well. You are able to set speed alerts, but this camera could not accurately track our speed (it registered 10 mph when we were traveling at 35 mph). We could not get the voice control functions to work. This feature would automatically deactivate whenever we turned it on in the app settings. For many, neither of these functions are especially useful, but don’t purchase this camera if those features are important for you.

After combing through reviews for the SC201, we noticed a general consensus that this dash cam works well for the price, but doesn’t especially stand out in any regard. Many note that it offers good video quality and users appreciate the interior-recording function.

Most complaints are about the app. The GPS navigation function is too slow to update, making it impractical. Some people noticed that after they changed the camera settings through the app, the camera would randomly revert to the factory settings (similar to what we noticed in our inability to activate voice control).

9. VIOFO WM1 Dash Cam: Best Dash Cam Under $100

VIOFO WM1 Dash Cam Best Dash Cam Under $100
  • Cost: $95
  • Amazon review score: 3.9 out of 5.0 (approx. 40 reviews)
  • Max recording resolution: 1440p
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS
  • Field of view: 135.0 degrees
  • Operating temperature: 4.0°F to 149.0°F
  • GPS: Yes
  • Mounting style: Adhesive

The VIOFO WM1 Dash Cam is a compact and simple camera with a 135-degree wide-angle recording and camera lens. The time-lapse recording feature helps save SD memory card space while also offering three different parking modes to keep your vehicle safe when in a busy parking lot or garage. This camera also has a built-in GPS to get you where you need to be with the help of the mobile VIOFO app while simultaneously recording your route.

You can see how the Viofo WM1 performed in each category below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 4.0
Video Quality 3.0
User Interface (UI) 4.0
Extra Features 3.0
Overall Rating 3.5

Based on our testing, we found this dash cam to be a good match if you’re looking for a low-cost dash cam to install in your vehicle and use as an added safety measure.

This dash cam is definitely built for simplicity, making the installation simple and the user interface one of the better qualities of this dash cam. However, the mobile app proved faulty and sometimes unreliable in saving the footage we took over the duration of our testing time.

The video we captured wasn’t the best quality when compared to other dash cams in this review, but for the lower price of this dash cam and the easy installation, this dash cam manages to capture the surrounding angles in real-time.

The VIOFO is a newer dash cam release, explaining the minimal ratings for this product. Buyers have mixed feelings about this dash cam, noting many similar experiences to our testing results. Positive reviews highlight the easy installation and simplicity of the camera, while negative reviews emphasize the poor mobile app interface and the overall video quality.


Dash Cam Buying Guide

Most dash cams are designed to continuously record your surroundings while driving. This is useful if you get into an accident or if your car is damaged or burgled in a parking lot. Many insurers offer lower rates for dash cam users or will accept dash cam footage as evidence during a claim. It is important to know your state’s video consent laws in the event of a personal injury lawsuit.

Compare Dash Cams

Brand/ModelMaximum
Recording
Resolution
Mounting
Type
Field of View

Vantrue

N2S

1440p

Suction

155.0 degrees

Nexar

Pro Dual Dash Cam

1080p

Suction

135.0 degrees

Nexar

One Dash Cam

2160p

Adhesive

160.0 degrees

Viofo

A139 Pro Dash Cam

2160p

Adhesive

140.0 degrees (front) and

165.0 degrees (rear)

Vantrue

N4 Pro Dash Cam

2160p

Magnetic

165.0, 158.0, and

160.0 degrees

(front, rear, and interior)

Fanttik

C8 APEX Dash Cam

2160p

Adhesive

140.0 degrees

Garmin

Dash Cam Mini 2

1080p

Adhesive

140.0 degrees

Cobra

SC201

1080p

Adhesive

140.0 degrees

Viofo

WM1 Dash Cam

1440p

Adhesive

135.0 degrees

Which dash cam is best for you will depend on your needs and your budget, which is why we’ve also compiled a review of the best budget dash cams. Generally, you’ll want to consider:

  • Recording quality
  • Operating Temperature
  • Accessibility
  • Usage

Dash Cam Recording

These days, even relatively inexpensive cameras can record in ultra-high definition. A clear image is crucial for identifying important details when reviewing dash cam footage. When shopping for a dash cam, consider the following:

  • Camera resolution: The highest-quality dash cams can record in full HD 4K resolution. 4K is ideal, but not always necessary. At the very least, you’ll want a camera that records at 1080p minimum. Anything below 1080p can be very grainy. Reviewing low-resolution footage can still be useful for insurance claims, but it can be difficult to identify plate information from 1080p footage.
  • Frame rate: Most dash cams record at 30 FPS or more. Anything below 30 FPS is not advisable. If you’re trying to shoot professional-looking video, you may want something that can shoot 60 FPS. For the majority of dash cam users, 30 FPS is enough.
  • Night vision: How well the camera performs in the dark can be important, especially if you frequently drive at night or in the countryside where there is less light. A camera that has infrared or night vision may be desirable in these cases.

Dash Cam Operating Temperature

Because they are mounted on your windshield, dash cams can get very hot. Not all cameras work well in the heat. If you live somewhere with extreme temperatures, make sure to look for a camera that is rated to operate in that range.

Dash Cam App

Even the best dash cam is not useful if you can’t figure out how to operate it. These days, many dash cams are integrated into apps that allow users to easily review and download dash cam footage.

The downside to modern dash cams is that some don’t have an easy way to interact with a computer. Downloading high-quality video files through Wi-Fi or a Bluetooth® connection can take a long time. The fastest way to collect and review dash cam footage is often to attach your dash cam to a computer. However, if you don’t have a computer or are uninterested in certain advanced features, this won’t be a useful feature for you.

Additional Dash Cam Features

In addition to recording video while driving, dash cams often offer additional features such as parking event detection, sentry mode, and voice controls. Some features are essential for dash cam convenience while others may not be necessary for most drivers.

FeatureImportanceDescription

Loop Recording

High

Loop recording is an essential dash cam feature and is included in virtually every dash camera. A recording loop is how long the camera records before a new clip is created. Recording video this way allows you to easily find specific moments or clips for viewing. Most dash cameras allow you to set the length of loop recording between one and three minutes.

GPS

High

GPS is a common dash cam feature, but not universal. A dash camera with GPS can record data beyond video, such as your location and speed. This information is important and relevant if you are using dash cam data to help with an insurance claim (for instance, to prove that you were not speeding and to verify the location of an incident).

Voice Controls

Medium

Voice controls are not essential, but are a nice feature to have. Ideally, you do not mess with your dash cam once it is set up, but when you want it to save or mark a certain clip after an incident, it is helpful to be able to do this with your voice, rather than taking your hands off the steering wheel.

Infrared Recording

Medium

Even dash cameras without infrared recording can produce usable nighttime video, but infrared video provides more details at night, especially in low-light situations. Depending on when and where you typically drive, this could be an essential feature.

Interior-Facing Camera

Medium

Like infrared recording, interior-facing recording may or may not be important depending on how you drive. If you use your vehicle for rideshare service, or regularly have strangers in your car, you may improve your personal safety with an interior-facing camera.

Event Detection

Low

A dash cam with a built-in g-sensor can detect motion and acceleration, allowing it to sense if your vehicle has been in a collision or forced to make a sudden stop. This allows the camera to automatically lock and flag footage after an incident. Event detection features can be touchy and don’t always work perfectly, so they are not necessarily an important feature.

Sentry Mode

Low

Sentry mode allows a dash cam to detect collisions while your car is parked, inspiring the camera to power up and record. In our experience, this feature doesn’t typically work well. Sentry mode typically will not begin recording until after a collision occurs, so may not include footage leading up to an incident.

Time Lapse Recording

Low

Time-lapse recording offers a slightly better (in some ways) option than sentry mode, as the camera records continuously while the vehicle is parked. However, to conserve power, this is typically done at a much lower resolution and frame rate. The resulting footage of even a high-quality dash cam is typically subpar when using this feature. The exception is some cameras that are hard-wired to your vehicle’s battery. These have access to more power and may offer superior time-lapse recording.

How To Use A Dash Cam

Before choosing a dash cam, consider how you will use it. Most people use a dash cam for surveillance while parked, insurance purposes, personal videos, or trips as a rideshare driver.

Rideshare drivers may want a camera like the Vantrue N2S because it features a cabin camera. If you are recording your trip for insurance, you may want a cheaper model that is low profile. If you want to put cameras in multiple vehicles, consider the Garmin 56, as several Garmins can be connected and managed in the same app.

If you’re recording a video for personal memories or creative filmmaking, you may want a camera with a higher resolution and frame rate.

There are also dash cam accessories—such as car chargers and various types of mounts—that you might consider with your purchase.

Dash Cam Recording Quality

While camera resolution is related to the quality and clarity of the final video produced, high resolutions do not guarantee good image quality. Even a dash cam that records at 4K can produce low-quality video depending on other factors.

Perhaps more important than advertised recording resolution is the size and effective pixel count of a dash cam’s image sensor (size being the more important of the two). These are not always easy metrics to research when comparing dash cameras as this information may not be easily found (or even publicly available).

The quality of your memory card can impact recording quality. A good memory card doesn’t improve video quality, but a poor quality card will result in lower resolutions when you try to review footage. For HD video, make sure you use an SD with a write speed of at least 10 MB/s (Megabytes per second) from an established brand like SanDisk or Viofo.

Dash Cam Installation

A dash cam is put together in a car

Dash cams should not obstruct your view of the road. For this reason, it is best to install them behind your rearview mirror and to tuck the cables into the upholstery. Many dash cams then plug into your car’s 12.0-volt lighter socket, though some can be wired directly to your car battery.

Tucking dash cam cables into the upholstery is a fairly easy, if time-consuming process. Attaching your dash cam to your car battery is much more involved and best left to a professional.

There are two common means to mount a dash cam to your vehicle: adhesive mounts and suction mounts.

  • Adhesive mounts attach to your windshield using some sort of glue. These are easy to attach but can detach in extreme heat. Cameras mounted this way will eventually need to be remounted with new adhesive applied.
  • Suction mounts are easier to apply and remove and less likely to fall off during operation. Generally, this is a superior (though less common) method for mounting a dash cam.

How Are Dash Cams Used In Court? 

If you’ve purchased and installed a dash cam in your vehicle, chances are you’re using it to help clarify what happened to the proper channels in the event of an accident. But how does dash cam footage actually get used in a courtroom?

There are primarily two places where traffic accidents are handled in a legal setting: traffic court and personal injury cases.

  1. Traffic court: These are simple, usually minor offenses such as speeding tickets, expired registration, or a vehicle cited with improper equipment. These are typically handled within a single day in court.
  2. Personal injury case: If someone was injured physically or suffered non-bodily harm from a car crash, another potential avenue would be a personal injury case. A personal injury case usually takes significant time to resolve. 

“Car accident cases, especially those involving personal injury, are much more serious and often take months or even years of litigation to get clients the damages [financial compensation] they need,” according to John Martello, a personal injury lawyer in White Plains, New York.

Is Dash Cam Footage Admissible In Court? 

For dash cam footage to be used in court, or be classified as admissible, Martello says it has to be clear the footage hasn’t been edited or altered.

He explained the rules of evidence vary from courtrooms from state to state, but they usually require two components:

  • The video is relevant to the case
  • The video shows an accurate depiction of events

“As long as the video is limited to just the driving leading up to the accident and its aftermath, it should have no problems with relevancy,” Martello said. “If you have 20 minutes of video of the other driver swerving around leading up to the crash, that might be relevant as well. As long as the video was not doctored and has a pretty good vantage point and view of the road, it should be considered an accurate depiction, too.”

Barry P. Goldberg, a personal injury attorney based out of California, said many jurors expect video to clearly show who is at fault in a personal injury case. He explained that lawyers can bring in as many experts, charts, and graphs, as they want, but jurors tend to believe with their eyes. 

“If a jury sees the crash and is able to put it in any kind of context at all, then that’s what carries the day,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg further mentioned that any video footage can be obtained from various sources, including traffic cameras, or household doorbell cameras found in many residential areas. While footage is often offered willingly, sometimes it is also forcibly obtained by court order. 

What about accident reports from law enforcement?

When a car crash or collision occurs, first responders often visit the scene and draft a report. But in many states, those reports are not inherently admissible in court. This is due to several factors, but primarily because accident reports from law enforcement agencies are written by individuals who did not witness the crash.

“Police reports are also hearsay and inadmissible on their own,” according to California-based Barry P. Goldberg. “So the materials in a police report have to be authenticated just like we have to authenticate dash cam footage.”


Best Dash Cams For Cars: Bottom Line

If you need a reliable, affordable dash cam for insurance purposes, you should consider the Vantrue N2S. It is moderately priced, records with excellent clarity, and is easy to use. Those looking for a dash cam that records in 4K might consider the Viofo A139 Pro. Garmin makes the most compact dash cams, while the Nexar Pro Dual dash cam is one of the most user-friendly.

Below are our picks for the best dash cams for cars in 2024:

  1. Best Night Vision Dash Cam: Vantrue N2S
  2. Best Dash Cam Front and Rear: Nexar Pro Dual Dash Cam
  3. Best Dash Cam for Uber: Nexar One Dash Cam
  4. Best 4K Dash Cam: Viofo A139 Pro Dash Cam
  5. Best Front and Rear Dash Cam with Parking Mode: Vantrue N4 Pro Dash Cam
  6. Best Small Dash Cam: Fanttik C8 APEX Dash Cam
  7. Best Mini Dash Cam: Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2
  8. Budget Infrared Vision Dash Cam: Cobra SC201
  9. Best Dash Cam Under $100: VIOFO WM1 Dash Cam

Dash Cams: FAQ

Below are some common frequently asked questions about dash cams:

What is the best dash cam?

While there is no single best dash cam for every purpose, we think the Vantrue N2Sl Dash Cam is the best all-around dash cam. It has excellent resolution and an easy-to-use interface, and it is mid-priced for a dash cam.

Are dash cams legal?

While it is legal to record video on public roads, it is not legal in every state to attach objects to your windshield (as many dash cams are). You will need to check your state laws.

In most states, dash cams are allowed as long as they are installed in a way that does not obstruct the driver’s view of the road.

What is the best affordable dash cam?

The Kingslim D5 4Kl Dash Cam is a relatively affordable dash cam (at under $100) that nonetheless offers exceptional recording quality. Our review team rated this dash cam the highest among those we tested and it was also the least expensive.

What should I look for when buying a dash cam?

The best dash cam for you depends on your needs. Generally, you should make sure the dash cam records at least 1080p, though 4K recording is preferable if you want to be able to make out small license plate details when reviewing video footage. Also consider how the camera is installed – some dash cams are easy to install with a suction mount, while others require a little more work.

Are dash cams worth it?

A dash cam can be worth it if you have a special reason to monitor your vehicle. If you are involved in an accident, it can be hard to prove you were not at least partially at fault. In many states, an insurance company may reject your claim without better evidence than your word (when filing against another driver’s liability insurance). Dash cam footage is often the best proof of exactly what happened.

Since many insurance deductibles are $200 or higher (if you have to file with your own insurer), a dash cam can pay for itself after a single incident.

How much does a good dash cam cost?

Most quality dash cams cost between $150 and $250. That said, you can find lower-cost dash cams that will work well. After testing several dash cams, our team’s favorite was the Vantrue N2, which only costs around $200. For a budget option, we recommend the Viofo WM1, which is priced under $100.

Do I need a 4K dash cam?

If you are going to purchase a dash cam, a 4K resolution camera will provide the best image quality. However, anything 1080p or above should be good enough for most purposes. At this resolution, major details will be clear, but you may have a hard time making out smaller details such as license plate numbers.


Dash Cam Ratings: Our Testing Process

The dash cams in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching retailers like Amazon, RealTruck, and Advance Auto Parts for top products, looking at objective metrics such as frame rate, field of view, and prices.

Our product testing team then ordered the dash cams that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on a 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE, taking note of how easy the dash cam was to install, video quality, overall user interface (UI), and extra features. Each dash cam was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria.

Ease of Installation

Our ease of installation score is based on the time and hassle it takes to install each dash cam. Those that require little setup out of the box and include easy-to-follow instructions scored highest in this category. Our ease of installation score also considers how difficult it was to adjust (and readjust) the position and angle of each dash cam.

Video Quality

Our video quality score is based on the clarity of the dashcam footage. This is partially related to video recording quality, but that isn’t the only factor that makes dash cam footage legible. How a dash cam processes video and the dynamic range (difference between light and dark values) can make a big difference when it comes to dash cam footage quality.

Dash cams that provided the clearest view for reading license plates (both during the day and at night) scored highest in this category.

User Interface (UI)

Our user interface score is based on how easy the dash cam menu is to navigate. Dash cams with simple, intuitive menus scored best here. Also important is how easy it was to access dash cam footage. Dash cams with multiple methods for reviewing footage (such as downloading to your phone, connecting to a computer, or viewing directly on the dash cam screen) score highest in this category.

How We Score Products

Every dash cam we test is given a score between 1.0 and 5.0 stars in each category. Here’s what those star ratings mean in concrete terms:

  • 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating means a dash cam is among the best in a category. It can be installed in minutes, records at 4K with excellent low-light performance, is easy to use without reading instructions, or includes atypical extra features like infrared recording.
  • 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating means a dash cam performs better than average in a category. It is easy to install in under 20 minutes, records at 2K with good low-light performance, features an intuitive user interface, or includes extra features like multiple cameras, event detection, and sentry parking mode.
  • 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating indicates what is average or typical for a dash cam, based on our testing experience. It can be installed in about 30 minutes, records at 1080p minimum, has a straightforward interface once you learn it, or includes extra features like a parking mode though these may not all work well.
  • 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating indicates the dash cam performs poorer than average. It is complicated to install, records at 720p, has a confusing interface, or lacks any features beyond loop recording.
  • 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating indicates that the dash cam performs well below expectations in a category. It is impossible to install without advanced electrical knowledge, has poor video quality, has a malfunctioning interface, or doesn’t even offer loop recording.

Why Trust Motor1.com

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.