Last Updated on September 18, 2019
A dash cam is a necessity, and one that every driver should have in their car. However, most users are somewhat confused as to how to connect a dash cam to your car. There are a couple of methods, but by far the most popular option is to hardwire it to your fuse box.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to hardwire a dash cam, you should know that even though it might sound complicated at first, it’s actually a really simple thing if you’re careful. We’ll also discuss the alternatives, but know that nothing is as good as hardwiring.
What other options do you have?
If you want to avoid hardwiring, you can either use a battery, or you can connect it to a USB port or lighter port in your car. With a battery, the downside is obvious and glaring – you’ll need to charge it, and chances are that you’ll forget to do that when you need it most. There’s also the fact that you’ll need to turn it on every time you start the car, which is another thing to forget. Oh, and lest we forget, you may not get parking mode since it consumes quite a bit of power.
The other alternative is to use a lighter or USB port. While there is no battery to charge here, you may still not get parking mode, and you’ll definitely need to start it manually when you start the car. Also, you’re occupying the (possibly only) lighter port in your car, or a USB port that you could use for something else.
So, how do you hardwire a dash cam?
The first thing to know is that you’ll need a hardwiring kit, and your car’s owner’s manual. You should already have the manual, and as far as a hardwiring kit goes, there’s a host of hardwiring kits available for dash cams. They’re what gives your camera power from your fuse box, as well as prevent the battery from discharging. Once you’ve got the things you need, grab your manual and let’s go.
The first thing you’ll need is to find where the fuse box is located. This is why you’ll need the manual, but in a pinch, you should be able to find the information online. Note that you may need to remove some of your car’s panels, or lift a tab, or something, in order to get to it, because it’s made to be hidden. You should find it pretty easily, though.
Which fuse slot?
Not all fuse slots are made equal. Some, for example, control the airbags, stability control programs, the horn etc., and these are ones you don’t want to mess with. Others that control the radio, or sunroof, are usually a safer alternative.
Now, almost all hardwire kits come with either two, or three wires. The two wires are for a fuse, and a ground bolt, and the additional wire may be for a constant fuse. A constant fuse provides power even if your car is off, and you don’t want the camera to only be connected to that, as it will drain the battery. If you have two wires, one should go to an ignition-switched fuse. The wire for a ground bolt will prevent an electric shock. You’ll want a circuit tester to determine which fuse on your fuse box is constant, and which is ignition-switched. Turn the car off, if you get power, that means you have a constant fuse.
Once you’ve got these things figured, go ahead and connect the wires. If you have a red, yellow, and a C-shaped wire, the red usually goes to a constant fuse, the yellow in the ignition-switched fuse, and the C-shaped is the ground wire. A hardwiring kit will come with labels, so make sure to read them before you proceed. A thing to note is that you can get an add-a-fuse kit if you want a cleaner looking installation. Or, you could wrap the wires around the fuse’s leg, for a more secure connection.
When you have connected the power wires, it’s time to ground the kit. Take that last wire, that’s either in a ring, or C-shape, and slip it under a bolt, or screw it in your vehicle. You’ll want a socket wrench to loosen a bolt, and make sure that it’s connected to an unpainted, bare metal section. Avoid plastic, as it may cause issues. The best grounding spot is to find a factory ground. Whichever the case, make sure you tighten the screw well – a loose ground can, and will result in power issues.
Test things out
Before you go and put back the panels, etc., you’ll want to test if things work. Once all the wires are connected, plug the kit into your camera and start your vehicle, to see if it works. If you did everything right, the camera should start automatically.
Once you’ve checked this, it’s time for some cable management, as you don’t want a cable hanging from the dash cam. The way to go is to tuck the cables inside the fuse box loose area, and guide however much you need tucked inside the A-pillar. Zip ties are your friend, as they help keep things tight. A loose cable may be kicked when you’re getting in or out of your car, and potentially destroy your effort. However, make sure you test things out first, because troubleshooting is usually easier if your cables are readily accessible.
Now you know how to hardwire a dash cam, and hopefully you’ve done everything right. If you have, you can go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back, knowing that you’ve got a silent witness in case something happens when you’re driving.