Why should my car have a dash cam?

Are you looking for some extra security on the road? Find out everything you need to know about dash cams below – from the benefits, the types available, the different features you should consider, how to install one and more.

What is a dash cam?

A dash cam is a filming and recording device for keeping a visual record of events during your journey. They are typically mounted on your vehicle’s windscreen or around the neck of the rear-view mirror, facing forwards to the road ahead. Other views are available too, such as to the rear of the vehicle or around the vehicle’s cabin.

Dash cams which come with a tamper-proof time-and-date stamp are especially valuable for insurance purposes, as they can provide visual evidence after any on-road incidents.

Why install a dash cam?

Dash cams are increasingly widespread on UK roads, with almost a quarter of respondents to a 2017 AA survey responding that they owned a dash cam. The cameras themselves are handy for recording and playing back sections of a journey, but their presence could have many other effects.

What are the benefits of a dash cam?


A dash cam can act as a deterrent if someone is looking to steal a car. If your car is parked and left unattended, it can act as a form of security – deterring any potential thieves. Some even have a surveillance mode that can be used when the car isn’t in use.

Capturing accident evidence

If you’re unfortunate enough to be in an accident, having a second set of eyes on the road can help prove fault and make sure your insurance premiums don’t increase. A dash cam can also catch any dishonest drivers who try to flee a scene after causing an accident, leaving you to deal with the costs. With a high-resolution camera, you may even be able to catch their registration plate.

Sharing footage with insurance companies

Insurance rates can be affected by a huge number of factors, including age and driving record. In the event of an accident, having video footage to provide your insurance company will show them exactly how an incident occurred – and prevent any ‘he-said, she-said’ situations.

Sharing footage with police

Dash cams can be used to provide evidence to police if an incident has occurred – whether it’s an accident, a hit-and-run or perhaps someone driving under the influence. Those with a wider lens can even catch pedestrians, cyclists and others who may be endangering drivers. If you happen to catch a hit-and-run, waiting for the police to arrive and sharing evidence can help catch the culprit and benefit a victim who may otherwise be stuck paying for damages and hospital bills. Many professional drivers are encouraged to use a dash cam as standard practice to help clear up any accusations.

Document scenic drives

Want to relive that iconic road trip or a beautiful piece of scenery? Many dash cams will allow you to download, edit and share your footage, meaning you can have a nice keepsake of your journey.

Recording your surroundings

Many dash cams can capture nearly a 360-degree view of your surroundings – not only when you’re driving, but when you’re parked too. More accidents occur in car parks than you think, so they can prove very useful if you return to your vehicle and find a large dent or scratch.

Peace of mind

A dash cam can provide you with some added peace of mind when you’re on the road, knowing that you have back-up should anything unexpected happen. This is especially the case if you’re a new driver.

Promote safe driving

Even having a dash cam there can encourage motorists to drive safely. While they may be wary of being monitored, it’s likely that the mere presence of a camera will make them consider their decisions on the road more carefully.

What types of dash cams are there?

Single-channel dash cams

Single-channel dash cams only film in front of your car. That means they survey the road ahead, including oncoming traffic on the other side of the road, and traffic directly ahead of you and moving in the same direction as you. Of course, these keep track of what’s happening in front of your vehicle, but can’t track what happens to the rear of the vehicle.

Dual-channel dash cams

A two-channel dash camera uses both front and rear recording to capture footage of your journey from the front perspective, while also offering recorded footage of the rear. This gives you a better chance of gaining viable evidence in the event of an accident.

360-degree dash cams

A 360-degree dash cam will give you unparalleled coverage, minimising any blind spots and capturing events from every angle. If you’re looking for greater security or more peace of mind, this may be your dash cam of choice, as it will give you an enhanced perspective of your vehicle’s surroundings, both when driving and when parked.

4K dash cams

Many modern dash cams will over 4K resolution, which means you will get a crystal-clear HD view of your journey. These cameras offer image quality that is as good as a high-end TV or camera.

Rear-view mirror camera

A rear-view mirror dash cam will clip over your rear-view mirror and serve as a forward and rear-facing camera to cover both ends of your car. Not only are they discreet but they also allow you to keep your screen clear while driving.  According to driving statistics gathered by Top Tests, there are about 400,000 rear-end shunts (collisions) each year in the UK, accounting for 27% of all road traffic accidents, so it’s important to keep the rear of your car covered – just in case.

What factors should you consider when purchasing a dash cam?

There are many factors to consider when buying a dash cam – so it’s important to consider what you want from your camera when you go to purchase one. You’ll probably have an idea of the basic requirements, but many of the high-end cameras will come with all kinds of bells and whistles that you might want to consider. We’ve outlined some of the factors you’ll want to think about:


Depending on the model and its features, a dash cam can cost anywhere between £14.99 and £400. How much you decide to pay will depend on the features you require and what you want your dash cam to do. Here’s a breakdown of the cost comparison for dash cams on the market:

  • Under £15-£100
    Features can vary, but expect the basics, such as standard video quality, automatic loop recording and a mounting arm.
  • Mid-range £100-£300
    Many mid-range dash cams offer 4K resolution, GPS, Wi-Fi connectivity and other features, such audio capture, slow motion or a still-photo function. Higher priced models may also cover multiple angles (front, inside, rear) and large SD card storage. Mid-range dash cams are perfect for those who want higher video resolution and greater storage capacity.
  • Premium £300+
    At the business end of the pricing scale is the most advanced dash cams. For these high spec pieces of kit, you can expect to pay upwards of £300 – but don’t let the price put you off, as you can expect a comprehensive set of features, like lane departure warnings and top-resolution image quality.

Memory storage and capacity

When considering your options, it’s important to think about the storage capacity. Some dash cams have a little storage built in, which is helpful if you don’t want to think about externally storing your footage. Of course, a higher-end camera will most likely allow for more footage to be stored before looping over old recordings.

Most dash cams will offer an SD card slot. You may have to purchase this separately, but it will allow you to store more footage – we’d recommend getting one with at least 64GB of memory.

Many high-end cameras include a G-Sensor, which prevents it from overwriting important footage. The sensor detects a sudden change in motion and tells the camera to save footage of that incident – which is helpful if you need to access it later. Of course, you don’t want to fully rely on this – so a larger capacity memory card may be easier to manage.

Video quality

Your camera may have a host of exciting features, but perhaps the most important is the image quality. With a higher quality image, you can get a better picture of the road ahead – which is very helpful in the event of an accident or incident on the road.

Resolution: A camera’s resolution is determined by the number of vertical pixels in an image. Generally, the more pixels the better. For example, if you opt for a camera with at least 1080p HD resolution, you’ll be able to capture important details like licence plates and road signs. However, if you can afford a higher resolution, a 4K camera will offer you an even clearer image. 

Field of view: This refers to how wide the camera can see, which can vary greatly. With a wider field of view, you can capture more of the road and your surroundings. This will help to provide better coverage to record important details such as licence plates and road signs. 

Battery type

Most car dash cams require a constant power source and won’t last long without a charge. However, some do have a built-in battery, so you don’t need to keep your vehicle on to use the dash cam – for example, if you want to record after you’ve parked your car.

The two main types of batteries are capacitors and lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are the norm and can last between five to ten minutes on a full charge. They are easy to use and set up, but not really recommended for long-term use and the battery can degrade over time with repeated use.

Capacitor batteries, on the other hand, are a newer technology which require a constant power source – they are more durable and have a longer lifespan. However, if you’re concerned about power consumption and draining your car battery, most dash cams have a low-power mode designed for parking, so they use minimal power while still being operational.

Mounting options

There are a few ways to mount your dash cam to your car – you’ll generally find them on your windscreen, your rear-view mirror or your dashboard. Adhesive mounts are smaller and more compact, which can help your camera stay more discreet. On the other hand, a suction mount can offer more flexibility, as it can be repositioned and removed more easily.


If your dash cam has GPS connectivity, you’ll be able to log the speed and location of your car with the footage – which can offer vital information if you happen to be in a road incident. This may not be an essential feature for all drivers but if you want to track your car, this could be very useful – for example, this could be very beneficial for employers to monitor employee driver habits.

Single-lens or dual-lens?

For drivers who just want to see what’s happening ahead of them, a single-lens camera will do the job. However, others, such as taxi drivers, might want to see what’s inside the car too with an added camera sensor.  And those who want maximum protection may choose a dual-lens dash cam so they can record road activity in both directions. This will give a clearer picture of what’s happening around you. Of course, this could mean more storage space, so a large memory card may be required.

How do you install a dash cam?

When you’ve found your perfect dash cam, you’ll need to start thinking about installation.

    1. Identify a suitable mounting spot.
      Make sure to position your dash cam so that you get an unobstructed view of the road. Many people go for behind the rear-view mirror or where the windscreen meets the dash board – just make sure it’s securely mounted and not obstructing your visibility. You’ll also want a central vantage point so that the camera isn’t cropped by pillars, the bonnet or the rear-view mirror. You’ll then need to decide whether you’re going for a suction or adhesive mount – as we mentioned above, both have their benefits, but the suction allows you greater flexibility to adjust it if need be.
    2. Plan your cable route and install
      This is perhaps the most complex part of the installation process. The standard way to power your dash cam is to plug it into a cigarette lighter or auxiliary port. Many models will come with a cord to help you with this, as well as fitment tools so you can push the cable behind trim, carpet or headliner. Many drivers choose to route them behind the headliner, behind the door’s weather seal and under the car seat, before then plugging into the port. Just make sure that your chosen power outlet turns off when your vehicle is not in use, as you don’t want to potentially drain your vehicle’s battery.
      Alternatively, you can connect your dash cam to the wiring harness of your car. This does need a lot of care, so we’d encourage you to visit an Arnold Clark service centre for a professional installation if you’re unsure. If know your way around your car’s fuse box, which is usually located inside or beside the glovebox, you’ll need to swap a connection with your hardwiring kit – your dash cam’s instructions should explain the process.
    3. Set up the dash cam
      Start setting up your dash cam, adjust angles where necessary and configuring any settings according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you have a rear camera too, follow similar steps to install it at the rear windshield.
    4. Test and tidy
      Test out the dash cam to make sure it’s working correctly and check that the camera turns on and off when you start and switch off your car. Tidy any loose wiring with a cable tie and resecure any panelling or trim that’s been removed. 

Do insurers give a discount for a dash cam?

Having a dash cam can cut your car insurance premiums, but it depends on the provider.

This is because they believe that having a dash cam will make you drive more safely, in the same way as a black-box policy.

However, if you tell your provider you have a dash cam and they ask you to provide evidence in the event of a car insurance claim, you must be able to do this. If not, they may think you’ve deliberately misled them and ask for the discount back or even invalidate your policy.
Explore our range of dash cams

At Arnold Clark Autoparts, we offer a wide range of dash cams – from the comprehensive Ring Smart Dash Cam 4000 to the Snooper My-Cam Front and Rear Dash Camera to the cheaper Ring Dash Cam 1000. Check out the range here.

For a phenomenal range of vehicle tools and accessories for all seasons, visit Autoparts’ products section.