You Need A Dash Cam. Here’s Why And 6 Buying Tips Where To Get One.

What is the best dash cam to buy

Maybe you have seen online the many videos coming out now of in-car video recording systems in vehicles recording some incredible footage, plane crashes, meteorites, accidents on freeways, etc. I have even travelled on bus services and seen a dash cam setup. This week’s article prompted me to write about dash cams and come up with some ideas what are the best types of dash cams to buy. I have never owned a dash cam for my car but are interested in buying, not only to record during driving which I do a lot of but it could provide evidence in the case of any situations on the road. There have even been cases of road rage incidents leading to the conviction of the other driver as the moments leading up to the incident were apparently caught on the dash cam camera in the vehicle.

Dash cams used to be the thing of cop shows and showing the police in the US pulling over motorists, however, in recent years the costs of these on board car camera devices have dropped dramatically and the quality of the video and recording including sound has improved. What was born out of emergency vehicles and evidence gathering has now become very affordable for everyday motorists to mount in their vehicles. You can buy dash cams for as little as $50.00.

If you want to see how great dash cams are check this case involving Ken Olsen and Edward Sullivan in a nasty road rage incident caught on camera.

Why would I need a dash cam for my car?

Dash cams record the trip of the vehicle . The footage is useful in the case of a vehicle crash. The footage from the dash cam can be shown to the investigating police or even your insurance companies as to what happened in the leadup to the incident and the incident itself.

Dash cams are usually windscreen mounted and have a camera that looks forward to record the outside environment of the vehicle. There are more advanced models that have rear facing cameras as well to record everything behind you including reversing of your vehicle.

Dash cams tend to not record continuously like standard video recorders do. Dash cams tend to record for shorter periods of time (usually storing the footage on a SD card) then delete the images and record another short video. There are dash cams that have sensors eg. To record the car suddenly stopping and its these sensors that tells the dash camera to hold the video from being rewritten over. The manufacturers have been quite smart about preserving space on the SD cards.

The main reason you would need a dash cam is for footage to prove your case in the event of an accident. The footage could be submitted as legal evidence in the case of a courtroom situation. This aspect though is outside my knowledge (presentation of evidence) and best if you are in this situation to consult with your lawyer. I would also be careful about “privacy” regulations overlapping with the use of a footage in certain cases especially uploading to youtube. This is all a grey area I am unfamiliar with and you should make your own enquiries as to the use of the footage in a courtroom or public situation such as social media usage of the dash cam footage.

Are dash cams legal in Australia?

Well, in the last decade the cops have been hot on all sorts of things mounted in the car and on the dash especially if it obscures the drivers vision or distracting such as in car videos, radar detectors, things hanging down from your console such as fluffy dices and toys etc.  I could not find any reference to dash cams on the Queensland Department of Transport and roads website as with the NSW department of Roads RTA site.

Its hard to say what the legalities are.  It might be best to ask at your local police station, however, laws with respect to accessories on vehicles and motor cycles are changing all the time in compliance with health and safety regulations and driving. These are recording devices and you will be recording conversations eg. If you are pulled over by the police at a roadside stop. Maybe reading the laws around surveillance may assist and telephone recording laws. There may be readers that would like to comment and clarify.. Whirlpool is a large discussion forum and the discussion whether dash cams are legal have been raised. This discussion is quite old and the laws may have changed since such as the laws about mounting gopro cameras on motorcycle helmets. You might want to check the Dash Cam Owners facebook page as well and ask the question relevant to your state or territory.

Installation of the dash cam is easy. Generally, they plug into your 12 volt socket – aka the cigarette lighter but remember to not have the cords blocking any vision or blocking the rear view mirror. Cable ties might be useful as a means of keeping the power cables tidy.

Ive put some examples of dash cams below but there are dash cam units for as little as $50 on the market these days. You can have many addon features with the units such as GPS, speed monitoring systems, rear facing cameras, larger SD cards allowing a lot more recording etc. At the moment in Australia I don’t know of any cars that are providing dash cam systems as a “standard” accessory.

Which dash camera to buy.

Its hard to say. This article was prompted as I would like purchase a dash cam for my vehicle. There are famous brands such as Garmin that also make navigation devices.

Quick tips for buying the best dash cam for your needs.

  1. Dash cam resolution: make sure its high definition, particularly 1080p at 30 or more frames per second. This will show clearly licence plates and street signs when you playback the video. HD is really cheap these days so don’t stinge on something cheap and that the footage will show something grainy thats good for nothing. Previously 720p used to do the job but you can get higher resolution cameras now for reasonable prices. The other thing is be careful viewing footage on youtube or videos online as this footage may have been adjusted or even reduced the quality for better playback.
  2. Auto stopping and start: The cameras are plugged into the dash 12 volt power supply aka the cigarette lighter. You don’t want to be thinking about turning on and off the dash cam units. They need to power on when you activate the vehicle and power off when you turn off the vehicle. Most of the dash cams provide this feature. Remember, you want to have the dash cam in and not even think about it.
  3. Get a camera with a display: With a display you can tweak the things like exposure settings etc. Displays let you see if the camera is angled correctly and to capture all the necessary vision in the field of view.
  4. Dash cams with night vision: No cameras will work better at night as they do during the daylight hours. You do want a camera though that will function well enough at night. Its just an extension of the lens and camera light sensor capabilities. You might find the dash cams have disappointing night time display where licence plates are hard to read or glare from street lights and cars. I’ve heard the cameras with the infrared surround to the lens are quite useless.
  5. Batteries: Generally the batteries on the units are limited to holding enough charge. You need to have connection to the cars power source. The mAh figures are therefore apparently useless as the battery life is generally limited especially for long trips to run on their own.
  6. GPS? Do you really need a GPS on your dash cam? These may be exciting upsells and to pay the extra price to not feel like your missing out on the best features but do you really need GPS? Look at the overall purpose of the dash cam and with footage there isnt really much to argue about the cars location. Road signs, posts, etc will give you the locality of your vehicle in the event of reviewing an accident on camera. GPS allows perhaps recording of speed. This may not be a good thing for you.

There are many dash cam models being manufactured out of countries like Taiwan, Korea or China. Theres perhaps over 100 brands I am told currently on the market globally. There are lesser number of brands targeting the english speaking markets. Well known brands like Garmin, HP, Panasonic even have started making onboard video dash cams. No doubt, the brands will command a much higher price than the lesser known Asian models.

Warranties If you can go for an extended warranty through the retailer, go for it. I recall buying Tom Tom navigation devices in the early days of GPS navigation units and had no end of trouble within the first month of buying the unit. The extended warranty I got from Harvey Norman was a saviour. The problem was the inbuilt battery in the unit and the battery problems affected the use of the unit.

Most popular selling dash cams on Amazon.  if the camera cannot be posted to your address read our article how to get around shipping problems with Amazon to a non-US address.

KDLINKS® X1 Full-HD 1920*1080 165° Wide Angle Car Dashboard Camcorder with GPS, G-Sensor, WDR Superior Quality Night Mode

For more dash cameras, check out our selection here on Amazon – Many great dash cams at discounted prices.  Brands Amazon stock include: Cobra,  Garmin,  Black Box,  Falcon Zero, PAPAGO, HDE, Amacam, Hittime, KDLINKS, Dowson, Azshine, DASH CAM, WickedHD, AUTO-VOX


Examples Where Dash cams have recorded evidence on the road.  Road rage, accidents etc. There are many examples on youtube.

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