Isn’t it time for a dash cam?

Remember when cars were mostly about engines and wheels? Those days have long passed. Computers came into cars in the 1980s. Initially all they did was control engine functions. They slowly spread throughout the mechanics of the car, sensing failures and enhancing safety. By 2000 I personally thought cars were about as computerized as they were going to get.

While the amount of computerization in cars seems to increase every year, there’s a new category of product you’ll find in a lot of new cars and it has practically nothing to do with pure driving experience.

Cameras, cameras, cameras

Today’s new cars are actually required to have at least one camera. All 2018 model year cars must have a rear backup camera. It’s a smart move because the tall trunks of today’s vehicles make it very easy to miss someone or something right behind the car. Many new cars don’t stop there: They add cameras on the sides and front to sense oncoming traffic and help you park. Personally I love the little trick that some cars do where they use cameras and software to simulate the view from above. This makes parking between the lines a snap. But, it’s not the most important safety feature.

What if there was a way to prove that fender bender wasn’t your fault? What if you could remember a drive through town or through a national monument easily? Both of those are possible with a dash cam.

Dash cams: the quiet observer

A dash cam sits on your dashboard or mounted high near your rear-view mirror. All it does is look outside while you’re driving and record what it sees onto a memory card. Like a surveillance DVR, it deletes old footage to make way for new footage, so it’s always keeping the most recent stuff.

Normally, you wouldn’t care what a dash cam is doing, and when you have one installed you don’t really think about it much. Sure, you’ll use it when on vacation. You might save some footage of your drive through historic Springfield, Illinois or as you approach a Wyoming sunset. This is an easy and fun way to use a dash cam. It’s just not the most important way.

Prove your point with a dash cam

Fender benders happen all the time. Sometimes you’re at fault and sometimes you’re not. No one is perfect. But most of the time you’re so stressed out you don’t know for sure. Oh sure there are going to be the times when you’re stopped and someone rear-ends you. That’s pretty clear. But what if that guy swerves into your lane on the freeway and you can’t recover in time? Wouldn’t you like to know what happened?

A dash cam can tell you that. It can also tell you what the license plate number is of that hit and run, or whether that pedestrian who jumped in front of your car was doing it just to get some easy insurance money.

Right now there’s no law saying you have to use a dash cam or keep its footage, so if you’re in the wrong, you may be able to keep that information to yourself, unless the other guy has a dash cam of course.

Some insurance companies will give a discount for dash cam users but then they will require you to produce the footage.

What makes a good dash cam?

There are several options at Solid Signal, and there’s quite a difference in price. More expensive cameras will have better lenses and sensors that give you full HD. You’ll want the most data possible if you need to prove your point. Don’t worry too much about having a large screen because most of the time you’ll be pulling the memory card and looking at the footage at home. You might want just enough of a screen to know what you’re looking for.

Choose a camera system that mounts the way you need. Some are designed to be hard wired into your car’s 12 volt system. This is a good choice if you have only one utility (lighter) socket and you plan on using it for your phone. Often times the hard wired systems need pro installation, though, and that can be expensive.

Some systems are designed to mount to your dash with adhesive or screws. This is fine but it can be a little hard to remove and the potential damage may cause you some issues if you’re leasing. Personally I like the ones that mount with a strong suction cup on the windshield.

Find the best dash cam at Solid Signal

You won’t find a better selection of dash cams than Solid Signal. From the least expensive to the most powerful, you’ll find a dash cam for every need and every budget. Check them out now!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.