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Dash Cam Discreet Setup Guide

Setting up your dash cam discreetly

How to install your dash cam discreetly

One of the reasons why some drivers don’t install a dash cam on their windshields is the fact that these devices may potentially attract thieves. Remember old dash cam models, especially those with huge camera screens and buttons? One look at these dash cams, you’ll know that these tech devices can be easily stolen and sold.

However, most dash cams now have incorporated a low-profile design, looking discreet and camouflaged after being mounted into the vehicle. Thanks to their form factor, in addition to the glare that’s reflected from the car’s windshield, it’s now difficult for someone to notice a dash cam on board. Some excellent examples are BlackVue, Thinkware, and the new ones from VIOFO. In this article, we’ll help you identity Discreet dash cams, and set them up to be as stealthy as can-be.

What should I consider when setting up my dash cam?

Discreet Shape of Dash Cams

A discreet dash cam setup does begin with its form factor. Form factor refers to the shape and size of a dash cam. This can affect the driver’s field of view as well as the amount of attention drawn from people outside the vehicle.

The good news is dash cams from BlackboxMyCar, like BlackVue, Thinkware, and VIOFO, measure below 4 inches in width and length, which makes them very easy to hide. The typical dash cam design is a cylindrical shape with a flat mount, meaning the dash cam is able to mount directly onto the windshield without a thick or long mount. This design blends in nicely with the shape of the rearview mirror, especially if the color of the material is black. Another popular form factor is a rectangular design that also comes with a flat mount.

Moreover, the adhesive mount adds to its discreteness since it allows the unit to mount directly against the windshield without anything sticking out noticeably. This is why dash cams with a suction cup for example, are less ideal, as not only does the suction cup take up a fair bit of space, but the unit often hangs below the mount, taking up even more space. Learn more about suction cups vs. adhesive mounts here.

Which is better? Dash cams with or without an LCD screen?

Nearly BlackVue and Thinkware dash cams are non-LCD. However, some still do come with LCD screens, especially the ones from VIOFO

For dash cams without an LCD screen, they come equipped with a Wi-Fi feature that pairs the dash cam to a dedicated smartphone app, allowing you to see live footage, configure settings, download footage, and share them to your social network as well.

On the other hand, for dash cams that do come with an LCD screen, their form factor is typically a thick wedge design, like the VIOFO A119 V3. These units are often smaller in length and width but are bulkier with a thicker mount as well. The LCD screen will turn off automatically after staying idle for a few minutes, depending on your preference in the settings.

Mounting Your Dash Cam

The typical mounting position for the dash cam is in front of the rearview mirror or near this area. This allows the dash cam to blend in quite nicely with the rearview mirror.

However, you should keep an eye out for any sensors in the vehicle that the dash cam could potentially interfere with. Since almost all our dash cams now come with a dedicated smartphone app and Wi-Fi integration, you’re free to launch a live-view feature to see what position and angle you prefer. We also recommend angling the lens so that the footage shows 60% road and 40% sky. The Live-view of many cameras, especially if they have ADAS, feature positioning lines in live-view to help with this. Check out our mounting guide here.

Hiding the Cables

Hide the wire along the headliner

Hide the wire between A pillar to B pillar

Hide the wire between rubber to A pillar

Dealing with the wires is the most complicated part of the setup, but we have solutions for it.

The wires can be run up the windshield and through the headliner – and a plastic trim tool would make it easy to tuck cabling without causing damage. Here, you simply run the wire along the headlining until it’s at the A-pillar. For the most efficient installation, get the BlackboxMyCar Install Package here.

At the top of the A-pillar, there’s generally a slit where the cables can be tucked into. Just remember to be careful, as some vehicles have clips at the top edge which do not allow for the cable to run in this channel.

Running the cable down the side of the vehicle and down to the fusebox is done best with the wire going through the weather stripping on the door frame. This rubber material can be pulled from the vehicle with ease and is flexible enough to hold the cables inside without compromising the seal.

Dash cam cables are often thin, and they only need to fit between the headlining, weather strips, or panels so make sure to locate the right placement. Aside from being pleasing to the eyes, a clean dash cam installation will be considerably more discreet, making it difficult for criminals to perceive any other reason to break into a vehicle.

What are the Advantages of a Discreet Dash Cam Setup?

Less Distracted Driving

Setting up your dash cam discreetly ensures that it does not obscure the driver’s view, or generate distractions while driving. This helps in prioritizing safety and keeping the eyes on what really matters when driving – the road.

Neatness and Aesthetics

Car drivers, especially those who are super organized, want their car to look as neat as possible – both in and out. Installing a dash cam discreetly can help you avoid bulky or obvious additions, especially the wires. It can also blend in with the overall style of the vehicle!

Anti-Theft & Break-Ins

We have also seen that a discretely fitted dash cam is less likely to catch potential thieves' attention. Again, huge dash cams may look like a sparkling dollar sign for criminals, especially if they are easily detachable or appear to be expensive. If your camera is small and well hidden, you won't give a burglar a reason to break in. Read our Break the Box blog here.

Captures True Stories

If you want to record unbiased and authentic videos of your driving experiences, a dash cam that is discreetly installed is recommended. This is useful for fleet and ride-sharing vehicles when hailing passengers, or for those who encounter cops on the road. People's behaviour can vary when they are aware they are being recorded, therefore using a dash cam that is less visible can produce a more accurate record of events.

Legal Considerations

Depending on where you live, there may be laws prohibiting the usage of dash cams or any car accessory installed in the dash or windshield that can distract driving. If you have a large dash cam that is out of the restrictions of your state or province, it may raise privacy issues, or worse, violate some laws.

Our Recommended Dash Cams for a Discreet Setup

Thinkware F70 Pro

If you’re looking for an essential, space-friendly dash cam, we recommend the Thinkware F70 Pro.

The Thinkware F70 Pro is the tiniest Thinkware to date. Measuring only 3.23 x 1.3 x 1.35 inches, it is a reliable option for discreet and easy installations. Despite its small form factor, this dash cam also happens to be the brand’s latest Full HD single channel dash cam equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity, advanced parking modes, and safety alerts to keep you protected on the go.

VIOFO A119 Mini 2

Designed as tiny as a car key, the VIOFO A119 Mini 2 is highly recommended for its video resolution, power and quality. Measuring only 1.8 inch x 2.9 inch x 1.6 inch, the wedge-shaped A119 Mini 2 can be easily mounted on the windshield with the VIOFO static sticker that comes in every package.

am with the advanced Sony STARVIS 2.0 sensors, the Mini 2 is the one for you. Aside from built-in GPS, dual-band 2.4Ghz/5GHz Wi-Fi, and Parking Mode, the VIOFO A119 Mini 2 also has Smart Voice Controls to keep you focused and less distracted on the road.

BlackVue DR770X Box 3-CH Full HD Cloud Dash Cam

In terms of maximum theft security, this premium triple-channel full HD camera from BlackVue is our strongest bet. Composed of three small cameras for the front, rear, and interior that’s almost the size of a mini car charger, the BlackVue DR770X Box also includes a Box that carries the dash cam’s processor, power cable, and memory card.

What’s more to love is that this Box can be kept like a battery pack, all safe under the seat or the glove compartment. You can also add more protection as it is compatible with the BlackVue Cloud, enabling you to keep track of everything that’s happening in your vehicle, wherever you are. Can a car thief break inside this Box? Here’s what we think about it.