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Dash Cam Maintenance and Upgrade Tips

All the tips you need to be ready for the adventures ahead

Is your car equipped with a dash cam? Are you confident that it will work and serve its purpose in all weather, seasons, and various driving conditions? Nowadays, unexpected occurrences on the road can happen anytime, and having a reliable dash cam installed in your vehicle can make your drive (and life) easier.

This is why you must ensure that your dash cam is in optimal condition. To help you get your dash cam ready for all the adventures ahead, we’ve put together some top tips that apply to all dash cam types, from motorcycles to external cameras!

Lens, Windshield & Wipers

You may have centered your dash cam and made sure it captures the right angles, but if the camera lens or the windshield is dirty, you will be left with nothing but blurry, smudgy footage.

Dash Camera Lens

While it isn’t hazardous, a dirty camera lens certainly makes it challenging to record clear images. Even in perfect daytime conditions, dirt and scratches can cause a loss of contrast and colour. For best video recording results, ie. no “blurry” or “foggy” videos or excessive sun glare, you should clean the camera lens regularly to improve the quality of recorded videos.

  1. It’s a good idea to first remove the dust from the lens using a soft brush. Wiping the lens with dust still on it could lead to scratches.

  2. Wipe the lens with a non-scratch lens cloth, optionally dampened with isopropyl alcohol or other car windshield solution

  3. Make sure to allow the lens to air dry.

A CPL filter can also reduce glare on your dash cam. After installation, rotate the filter to get the angle just right.

Clean Your Windshield

Not getting crystal-clear video quality? A dirty windshield could be the problem, especially for those who drive on heavily salted roads. Salt stains can quickly collect on car windshields during winter, leaving a white and gray film.

When cleaning your windshield, stick with a non-ammonia-based cleaner to avoid leaving an invisible film that can refract light. In other words, avoid cheap Windex, etc. You can try a 50-50 solution of water and white vinegar.

Don’t Forget the Wiper Blades

Blades are easy to overlook until you need them to see through rain and muddy road spray from other cars. Clean the blades with a paper towel or cloth soaked in windshield washer fluid (or a mild detergent). If you have them, also remember the rear windshield wipers.

Also, keep in mind the coverage radius of your wipers. A common problem with many vehicles is that the windshield wipers do not cover the entirety of the windshield, ie. the upper portion. This is especially true for older Honda Civics, and similar vehicles. While it’s always a good idea to have the camera in an area the wipers will reach, sometimes it’s easier said than done. Don’t worry, because we have a recommendation.

Our Recommendation: Use the BlackboxMyCar Aqua Shield

No matter how advanced your dash cam is – whether you’re using a full HD, 2K QHD, or 4K UHD, the moment Mother Nature blows with rain, sunlight glares or dust, your footage will be negatively affected.

This is what the BlackboxMyCar Aqua Shield solves head-on, ensuring your dash cam’s vision stays clear. The Aqua Shield Dash Cam Film is designed to be mountable to the exterior of your windshield, guaranteeing that any rainwater simply rolls off, keeping your dash cam's view clear and unhindered even in adverse weather. It can also be cut and moulded to your specific needs, making it adaptable to various car models and windshield shapes!

MicroSD Cards

One of the main reasons a dash cam falters is that the SD card has not been regularly cleared and/or changed in a considerable amount of time. Dash Cams have a naturally aggressive read/write cycle, and to ensure the health of the SD card, it should be cleared out regularly to avoid corruption, and replaced on occasion.

Make sure you have the right SD card for the job

All dash cams we carry have continuous loop recording, which means when the memory card is full, it will automatically overwrite the oldest video. If you plan on doing a lot of driving, you may want to consider getting a larger capacity SD card. A higher capacity SD card means more data can fit onto the card before it runs out of storage space and needs to start overwriting old data. It is important you use an SD card from a reliable source that can handle the stress of continuously overwriting.

All memory cards have a read/write limit. For instance, say you have a 32GB microSD card, which can store 90 minutes of footage (Dependant on camera and image quality). If the SD card is good for 500 total writes, and you drive everyday. If you upgrade to an SD card with a larger capacity, it loops less, resulting in a longer life-span.

As of this writing, more and more dash cam models have begun upgrading their micro SD card capacities. For example, VIOFO dash cams such as the A119 Mini 2, A229 Pro, and A229 Plus can now carry micro SD cards up to 512 GB. The new BlackVue DR970X Plus series including the DR970X Plus Box, and DR970X Plus 2-CH LTE have also doubled theirs to 512 GB. Want to check out the recording capacities of SD cards on other popular dash cam models? We have a chart for you! 

Format Your microSD Card

Because of how the dash cam writes and overwrites on the SD card (ie. starting and stopping recordings as you turn your car on and off), it is essential to format the card in your dash cam periodically. This is because partial files can clog up the card, resulting in performance issues or false memory full errors. With that said, it is recommended that you format the memory car around once every couple of months. This can be done via the on-screen menu on the dash cam, using the smartphone app, or via a desktop viewer.

Note that when you format an SD card, you will be erasing all existing data and information on the card. In other words, if there’s any important footage you need to save, you will need to back up the files first. If you have a Cloud-compatible dash cam (like the BlackVue DR970X Plus or the Thinkware U3000) you can back up the files onto the Cloud, first.

But keep in mind that there will be a time when you need to replace the microSD card, and it’s not a bad thing at all - it ensures you get the best performance from your dash cam. It is not unusual for a dash cam SD card to have to be replaced after 6-12 months of constant use.

Dash Cam Firmware

Does your dash cam have the latest firmware? Don’t remember the last time you updated your dash cam’s firmware?

Update the Dash Cam Firmware

The truth is, not many people are aware that they can or should update their dash cam’s firmware. When a manufacturer launches a new dash cam, the camera is assembled with firmware designed at that time. Sometimes, Dash Cams have bugs or software issues on release that are later resolved through firmware. Updates generally contain fixes or feature enhancements but will also include new features. These are all essentially free upgrades to your dash cam.

Upgrading your Thinkware, BlackVue, VIOFO, and FineVu Dash Cam? Check out our dedicated firmware and viewer download page here.

We recommend checking for updates after you purchase a new dash cam, and then on a semi-regular basis, every few months or so after that. If you’ve never checked your dash cam for a firmware update then now is a good time to do so. Here’s how:

  1. First, check the firmware version of your dash cam. This information is found in the menu options.

  2. Next, check the manufacturer’s website for the latest firmware. (Tip: Check in the Support and Download section)

  3. Read the instructions very carefully before updating the firmware - you don’t want to end up having a dead dash cam. Often restarting or altering the camera during the firmware process is heavily recommended to avoid.

Time to Upgrade Your Dash Cam

Say you’ve cleaned your windshield and the dash cam lens, reformatted the SD card, and updated to the latest firmware, but you’re still not completely satisfied with your dash cam’s video quality. Perhaps you are looking for a better resolution, a new Sony STARVIS 2 sensor, a cloud-enabled dash cam, or multiple channels. But…

I don’t want to re-do all the wiring and mounts

Well, if this applies to you, then we recommend staying with the same manufacturer.

For example, say you have the BlackVue DR750X and you want to upgrade to a 4K UHD dash cam, then we recommend the BlackVue DR970X Plus. The BlackVue DR970X Plus, which are also compatible with the previous X and X Plus Series power cabling. This is not applicable to all models, as sometimes the cabling is upgraded to a new, incompatible version. This is also the same case if you are upgrading from the Thinkware F800 Pro Full HD to the Q1000 2K UHD dash cam, or from the VIOFO A129 Duo Full HD to the VIOFO A129 Pro Duo 4K UHD dash cam.  

Pro tip: if you already have a battery pack, and would like to extend parking mode further, consider adding an expansion pack. An expansion pack easily doubles the capacity of an existing battery pack, while being a plug-and-play addition.

I need a longer-lasting parking mode

Sometimes, after we get a dash cam, we find that parking mode isn’t lasting quite as long as expected when parked, and is leaving the vehicle vulnerable without its silent guardian. This can be due to many factors, but most commonly, the issue is that the car battery of your vehicle isn’t strong enough to fully support the camera, be it due to growing old over time, or due to natural wear and tear. Rest assured, we have an easy solution to add to your setup and significantly extend your parking mode: A Dash Cam Battery Pack.

Dash cam battery packs are robust options that act as the sole power supply of the camera when parked and offer an average of ~25 hours of parking mode (dependent on the power consumption of the camera and size of the battery). Furthermore, they protect your vehicle battery from wear and tear. Battery packs are an easy addition to any dash cam setup. Just rewire your power cabling for your front camera, and you’re good to go!

If you are looking for best-in-class parking mode features, we strongly recommend the Thinkware U3000 dash cam with the built-in RADAR sensors. The radar sensor feature is already built right into the unit – not only on the front cam, but for the rear cam as well, an industry first.

With the help of the buit-in radar sensors, the U3000 can be drastically more energy efficient than other models, offering ~2-3 days of parking mode off an average car battery, and ~15 days of parking coverage when combined with a battery pack!  

I need a system where my colleagues and I can all connect to a central viewer for easier management

What you need is a multi-channel, tamper-proof dash cam system and it needs to be an intelligent system and is remotely accessible, giving a comprehensive view of the vehicle and the road. Cloud integration offers scope for instant alerts and notifications, thus transforming any vehicle into a “connected vehicle” on and off the road. Cloud dash cams are much more helpful than simply downloading footage after an incident. Whether your main goal is to protect your drivers and vehicles, eliminate fraud attempts on your business, keep your drivers accountable, or reduce your insurance premiums, equipping your fleet vehicles with cloud-ready dash cams is a worthwhile investment.

Here are some highly-recommended Cloud-ready dash cams:

Follow the tips above to get your dash cam ready for all seasons. If you have any questions or want to speak to our dash cam experts, you can always reach us online via email or Live Chat. You can also give us a call!