Dash cam installation doesn’t need to be done by a professional. Some dash cams can be quickly plugged in with the help of an installation manual, while others may require a more in-depth process. In any case, you should have yours up and running in no time with these helpful tips.

Where To Install A Dash Cam

A dash cam is mounted to a windshield.

Before you start installing, you want to first determine where you want your dash cam in your vehicle. Depending on the type of dash cam you have and the adhesives that come in the box, you’ll need to decide between two common locations to install your dash cam.

Behind The Rearview Mirror

This is the standard and more common option for users to install a dash camera. Just behind or below the rearview mirror prevents your view of the road from being obstructed while still capturing a good angle. If you have a suction adhesive, you can try to find the best location of the dash cam that works for you. If you have a stick adhesive, you’ll want to be careful about where you place it because you may only have one or two tries to place it in the right spot before the adhesive wears off.

Near The Windshield And Dashboard

If you don’t want your new dash cam installed near the rearview mirror because you think it may be distracting, you can opt for installing it near where your front windshield and the dashboard meet. If you decide to install your dash cam in this location, be sure to place it in the center of your dashboard so the camera can capture every angle equally. 

If you’re unsure about where to place your dash cam, or you’re still looking for a dash cam and want a camera that will be easy to install and adhere to your vehicle’s interior, our team has compiled and tested a handful of the best dash cams and the best budget dash cams available.

How To Install A Dash Cam

A dash cam with installation equipment.

Plug-in installation methods are easier than hardwiring. However, some dash cams do not have power cable adapters so you may have to hardwire your dash cam or purchase a separate power adapter.

Plug-In Installation

If you’re not wanting to hardwire your dash cam, or you just need a quick installation, there are a few methods you can use to get your dash cam up and running.

Cigarette Lighter Or Auxiliary Port

The easiest and most basic way to get your dash cam running is to plug it into your vehicle’s auxiliary or cigarette lighter port. Many dash cams come with a cord for connecting this, making it the simplest installation method, especially if you’re an auto or electronic novice. 

If you want to conceal the cords, you’ll need a longer cord, around 13.0 feet, to wire it along the windshield and underneath the seats. Most dash cams come with tools to allow you to conceal the cords in your vehicle.

OBD2 Port

While OBD2 scanners are usually a diagnostic tool for vehicles, you do have the option to plug in your dash cam to your car’s OBD2 port. This port is usually found underneath the dashboard and is an easy way to get your dash cam working in only a few minutes. 

It’s important to note that not all dash cams come with this extension, so you may need to purchase a separate power connector, usually an OBD2 to mini-USB port adapter.

Rearview Mirror

If you have a powered rearview mirror, you also have the option to plug in your dash cam to the mirror. This is likely the cleanest-looking method, especially if you adhere your dash cam near the rearview mirror.

However, if you choose this method, you’ll likely need to purchase an adapter. It’s also likely that your rearview mirror is a lower power source, so the voltage of your dash cam could not work as powerfully.

Hardwire Installation

Hardwiring your dash cam may require the help of a professional installer. There are hardwire kits online if you feel confident in completing the installation – however, we recommend looking into a professional camera installation.

The positives of hardwiring your dash cam include additional features and a stronger power supply to keep the dash cam running when your vehicle is not on. Features may include parking mode, Wi-Fi, GPS, full HD quality recording, and Bluetooth® connection to your cell phone to easily upload and save dash cam video.

If you install your dash cam with one of the easier methods above, it’s possible that there won’t be enough power or voltage to run extra features, and it may also drain your car battery over time. However, if you want this dash cam solely for recording your surroundings, a simpler installation will save you both time and money.

If you do plan to hardwire your dash camera yourself, you’ll need access to your fuse box and multiple tools including a hardwire kit, a circuit tester, pliers, electrical tape, a socket wrench, your car’s manual, and a car trim remover tool. It should also be noted that working in this manner can lead to personal injury or damage to your vehicle if done without the proper tools and knowledge.

Dash Cam Installation: Bottom Line

Installing a dash cam doesn’t require a professional if you opt for a plug-and-play dash cam with an installation process that can be done in minutes. Location is a key factor to determine how you should install your camera, so be sure to pick one that fits your needs. For hardwiring, a professional installer may be necessary to ensure you don’t do any damage to your vehicle’s wiring or the dash cam.

Dash Cam Installation: FAQ

Here are a few frequently asked questions about installing dashboard cameras:

*Data accurate at time of publication.