What is a dash-cam?

  • What's the purpose of a dash-cam?
  • How do they work?
  • Parkers explains the tech

Dash-cams record video footage of the road ahead while you’re driving, and are commonly fitted to give the driver peace of mind in the event of an incident, and to protect you against false claims.

What are dash-cams for?

There are several types of dash-cam, but in essence, they are small video cameras (like those fitted to your smartphone), and will record what they are pointed at. In order to keep the latest footage, they record in short ‘loops’ – so the latest one will overwrite the oldest one.

They need a memory card fitted (like those found in digital cameras), and the larger the card you fit, the more footage you can store.

What type of dash-cam do I need?

If you’re buying one to keep a record of any potential incidents, the best approach is to buy the highest quality item you can afford – and bear in mind that some insurers will offer a discount to drivers who use an approved device.

Factors to consider:

  • Recording resolution

These days, you can pick up a camera from £20, with the best ones costing anything up to £300. When choosing a dash-cam, look at the resolution of the recording  all dash-cams support at least 720p resolution (1,280×720 pixels – which equates to good quality TV output) with some devices recording with a resolution of 1080p (1,920×1,080 pixels – which is about the same as HD television). The higher the output quality, and the better the lens, the more likely your dash-cam will capture number plates even in poor light.

  • Number of lenses

Another consideration is single vs multiple lens. The former has one camera, and you point it through the screen, while the latter will give you forward-facing and rear windscreen cameras, which is good if you’re rear ended. Single-lens systems are good because you just mount them to the windscreen and can drive them from your power outlet in the cabin.

A multiple lens dash-cam will incorporate a forward-facing lens mounted to the windscreen, and a secondary lens mounted to the rear windscreen. They will require a fuller installation, and inevitably cost more.

  • GPS

Tracking your location is essential if you want to know where you are at any time, or need to record speed data. Recommended if you’re thinking in terms of fully recording any incidents.

  • G-force sensors

When there’s a sensor, most devices will automatically save moments of high G-force, such as in a crash.

  • Parking mode

Any incidents that occur when the vehicle is stationary will be recorded and saved. Car park impacts are on the rise – don’t rule this out as a feature.

Similar to

Blackbox telematics, sat-nav

Looking for more jargon-busting motoring meanings? Head over to our Parkers Car Glossary page and take a look at our other definitions