There are a wide range of different reasons why buying a dash cam is likely a good idea. Not only will you be able to better protect yourself in the event of a car accident at which fault is disputed, but you may even be able to unlock a pretty sizable discount on your car insurance at the exact same time. It’s also, however, not a situation you should enter into lightly. One dash cam model can vary wildly from the next in terms of size, capability and even cost. Therefore, if you really want to make sure that you’re getting the right type of model that will meet your every need and exceed your lofty expectations, there are a few key things you’ll want to know.

Dash Camera

1. The Legality of It All

The first thing that you need to become aware of before buying a dash cam is also the one with the biggest long-term ramifications: the legality of it all as it relates to where you live. Truth be told, dash cams are completely legal to use in the vast majority of all places in the United States – provided that you’re using them as a dash cam and not as some type of hidden camera. Having said that, however, you also need to be aware of the fact that if you’re planning to use your footage as evidence in court, it cannot be edited in any way. Likewise, if your dash camera has a microphone, you’ll legally need to obtain permission from ALL passengers in your vehicle before you can record them.

dash camera

2. How Do You Get Those Video Files?

A dash camera ultimately won’t do you any good if you’re not able to access and save the critical video information that it’s recording. Most dash cams come with memory card slots, meaning that all files are constantly being saved to micro SD or SD-based flash cards. However, some may have their own internal hard drive, and because of that, you’ll need to connect them to your computer to retrieve the files. Always make sure you know how to access these files BEFORE you need to in order to save yourself a lot of time (and potential hassle) moving forward.

3. The Cord-Free Era Has Arrived

Most dash cam models that you can buy now are cord free – meaning that you don’t have to wire them into your car’s power system or run a long cable down to the power adapter on your dashboard. However, this also means that they’re battery powered – meaning that you’re going to need to make an effort to charge them. Always pay attention to the battery life indicator and make sure your unit is fully charged BEFORE you need to use it.

4. Do You Really Need a Screen?

Likewise, it’s important to understand that not all dash cam models come with a screen. Some are essentially just a camera, and to see what you’ve recorded, you’ll need to connect it to a computer (or insert that Micro SD card) and review the files. Dash cam models without screens are more discreet, but you also won’t be 100 percent sure of what you’ve captured until after the fact. Always keep this in mind when making a purchase.

5. What Additional Features Should You Look Into?

Finally, you need to understand that a dash cam is rarely just a dash cam – many modern-day units come with a wide range of additional features that came make them more versatile than most folks expect. Some dash cam units also have GPS functionality, for example, that allows you to get turn-by-turn directions between any two points AND record your journey along the way at the exact same time. Others stream the footage they record right to the internet, so you can always access that live feed from any computer or mobile device with an active network connection.Dash Camera

These features are definitely nice, but they’re not totally necessary in all situations. Likewise, they’ll almost always inflate the price – so be aware of exactly what you’re paying for before you hand over your hard-earned money for your next dash cam.