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How to Hardwire Install a Dash Cam

How to power your dash cam for parking mode

Hardwiring to your Fusebox

Hardwiring your dash cam to the vehicle’s fuse box is one of the most common installation methods to power on your dash cam when the vehicle is off, thus offering parking mode recording.

Hardwiring kits are available for our dash cams (typically included in a 2-channel dash cam) and have become widely popular over the years for new and experienced drivers alike. They provide power to your dash cam, prevent battery discharge, and allow your dash cam to capture all the important moments, whether on the road or parked. All while being the cleanest install option.

“How do I hardwire my dash cam?” is a question we get asked all the time. If you have been wondering the same question, continue reading to learn the steps.

Check out our Installation Gallery to see the cars we've installed into


5 Steps on Hardwiring Your Dash Cam

Step 1: Gather everything you need

Next, you will need to find where the fuse box is located. This is why you’ll need the user manual (or if you don’t have your manual, you should be able to find the information online). Note that you may need to remove some of your car’s panels, or lift a tab, or something, in order to get to it, because it’s made to be hidden.

Note: If you're installing with a battery pack too, see our battery pack guide.

Pliers
Socket Wrench
Electrical Tape
Car Manual

We recommend purchasing the essential BlackboxMyCar install package for a smooth install.


Step 2: Locate the fuse box

Once you gather all the tools, the next step is to find where the fuse box is located. Here, we recommend you have your vehicle user manual with you so you can ensure you are connecting to the proper fuse, and understand the fuse’s function. If you don’t have your manual, you should be able to find this information online, just ensure to specify the year and make of your vehicle, as some manufacturers will change the functions of fuses.

Your vehicle’s fuse box is made to be hidden, so you may need to remove some of your car’s panels, or lift a cover in order to get to it. Common places are under the steering wheel, in the glove box, or in either front footwell. If your car has multiple fuse boxes, you’ll generally want to pick the fuse box closest to where you’ll be installing your camera.

If your car has multiple fuse boxes, you’ll generally want to pick the fuse box closest to where you’ll be installing your camera.


Step 3: Determine which fuse slot to use (from the fusebox)

The next step is determining which fuse slots to use. Not all fuse slots are made equal by design – some control airbags, stability control programs, the horn and so on — and those are the ones you don’t want to mess with! Others that control the radio, cigarette lighter or sunroof are usually a safer alternative. You'll need to ground the circuit tester to an unpainted power source, though this will depend on your circuit tester.

1) Constant Fuse

With the engine off and your key out of the ignition, use the circuit tester to find a constant fuse. If the fuse lights up your circuit tester, you’ve got a constant fuse.

2) Ignition-Switched ACC Fuse

Next, you’ll need to find an ignition-switched fuse. A switched fuse will read cold while your engine is off, with no response from the circuit tester. Turn on the ignition of the vehicle, and if the circuit tester lights up, you’ve found your ignition-switched ACC fuse.

We always recommend selecting fuse slots that are rated between 10A-30A for wiring a dash cam, in order to provide enough power to your dash cam properly. Always refer to the vehicle’s owner’s manual to avoid fuse slots that could pertain to certain safety features within your vehicle. For wiring a battery pack, 20A-30A is recommended instead.


Step 4: Connect the Add-a-Fuses to the Hardwire Kit

Once you’ve got the fuse slots figured out, it’s time to connect the wires. The red usually goes to a constant fuse, the yellow in the ACC/ignition-switched fuse and the C-shaped is the ground wire. However, some kits will switch this around, so ensure you follow the labels attached to each cable.

We always recommend using add-a-fuses and fuse-taps for hardwire installations (available in our BlackboxMyCar Essential Install Kit).
The add-a-fuse kit, also known as fuse taps are a popular option for hardwiring as it offers an easier, more professional-looking installation and are more secure in the long run than wrapping the wires around the legs of a fuse.

Insert Fuse Tap into Add-a-Fuse Kit

Our add-a-fuse kit will always include a fuse tap, which is meant to be put into the “New Fuse” position, while the fuse that you select from your fuse box goes into the “Old Fuse” position, only if you are using a slot with an existing fuse.

If you set them up with the wrong order, it will not feed power to the hardwire kit. The amperage rating of the fuse you select does not need to match the amperage rating of the fuse that we include.

Crimp the Add-a-Fuse Kit to Connect the Hardwiring Kit Cables Together

Next, using your needle nose pliers (or a crimping tool), trim off some of the rubber tubing (if necessary) to expose some bare wire of your hardwiring cable. Insert the hardwiring cable into the other end of the add-a-fuse (plastic tube), then crimp them down together to make the connection.

Once the crimping is done, use some force to tug on the add-a-fuse and wire to ensure nothing is loose. If everything feels tight, then the crimp is good, and the connection is properly made.

Put Add-a-Fuse Kit into the Fuse Slot

In total, you will need two add-a-fuses for your hardwire installation (one for a constant fuse, and another for the ignition-switched fuse) if you're installing with a traditional hardwiring kit.

Once everything is complete, the add-a-fuse simply needs to be put back into the slot that the fuse was taken out of. The ground wire of your hardwiring kit does not need an add-a-fuse kit and only attaches to a metal ground bolt.


Step 5: Test your dash cam

Once all the wires are connected, plug the kit into your dash cam and start your vehicle. If your dash cam has a screen, you can check the angle directly on it. Alternatively, use the dedicated smartphone app to check the viewing angle of your camera, which will frequently have positioning lines to assist as well. Make sure to get the best angle, even before you tidy up the wires, it will help the adhesive if it doesn’t need to be moved later, and help with reference on how far the wire needs to reach.

If the dash cam powers on, it means you did everything right. If it works, you can go ahead and tidy up the cables - you don’t want any cables to be dangling from the dash cam or around the fuse box.

The best way is to tuck the loose cables inside the fuse box loose area and along the A-pillar of your car. Zip ties and electric tape are your friends, as they help keep things tight and out of the way. We recommend you not to wait until after you've tucked away all your wiring to plug in and test your camera, as it will typically be easier to troubleshoot when the wires are readily accessible.

Common Hardwiring Mistakes

If it's your first time hardwiring a dash cam, there are a number of common mistakes that you may come across. If you are experiencing issues that aren't listed below, then our in-house product experts are to help.

  • Reversed orientation of the accessory and ignition switched wires: The dash cam will behave abnormally if the wires are switched and in some cases even result in battery drain. Please double check with your specific hardwire kit for the wire orientation.
  • Bad Ground: When an incorrect ground is used the camera won't get power. A loose or weak ground may result in restarting when the vehicle hits a bump.
  • Add-A-Fuse Incorrectly Set Up: If you don't put a fuse into the top fuse slot of the add-a-fuse, it will not feed power to the hardwire kit.
  • Blown Fuse: If the fuse on the add-a-fuse is blown, the kit will not receive power. There might also be inline glass fuses on the cigarette cable or hardwire kit that can also be blown. If this happens, please contact us for a replacement.
  • Loose Wire in Add-A-Fuse: On some hardwire kits, the wire is much thinner than the socket on the add-a-fuse. Because of this, they may wiggle loose in the add-a-fuse leading to an inconsistent current. Make sure that the crimp is tight and the wire is held in tightly.

What other options do I have?

If you want to avoid hardwiring, you can either use an external battery pack, or you can connect it to a USB port or lighter port in your car. With the external battery, the downside is you’ll need to charge it, and chances are that your commute is not long enough to charge the battery fully.

The other alternative is to use a lighter socket. While there is no battery to charge, you will not get parking mode and you’re also occupying the lighter socket in your car. The USB port will enable parking mode, but if you need the port for something else (ie. a telematics device or an insurance dongle), then you have to unplug and plug it back in every single time.

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