Does The Dashcam Work When The Car Is Off? - Yes, If You Have Parking Mode!
Written by Nick
Updated On 
Nov 2, 2021 @ 11:37 pm

Can a Dashcam Work When My Car Is Switched Off?

Dashcams are a smart device which can not only protect us when driving but also help us identify dangerous drivers on the road, however, how do these dash cams work when the car is turned off and parked? 

Well, for your dash cam to utilise its parking mode and continue to record dash cam footage while your car is turned off, it will either need to be powered by a battery or hardwired into your cars circuit, most parking modes come with a sensor on a dash cam which can turn on when someone comes close to your car.

To find out more about how you can get your dash cam to work when your car is turned off and why parking mode is important on your dash cam, we have composed a short information guide below that will give you everything you need to know. 

So without further chat, let's get into it!

How Is a Dashcam Powered? 

Before we can get into how dashcams record when your car is turned off, it's a good idea to explore the different ways you can power a dashcam so as you can see which type of installation is most suited to you. 

Battery Dash Cams

A few dashcams on the market are powered by an internal battery, allow you to keep the videos powered even when the car is turned off and parked, this is a nice idea to keep the dash cam running, but does mean you will have to remember to charge it often. These models will also have limited memory cards.

Hardwired Dash Camera 

Having hardwired power for your dash cam to your car's battery allows the dash cam to also stay running when the car is turned off, as it draws power from the vehicle batteries, this means you don't have to remember to charge your camera. The downfalls however is that over periods of time, the dash cameras can cause a dead battery for your car, so many people hook their dash cameras up to an external battery pack to avoid this.

Cigarette Light Power Outlet

Another popular dash cams installation is via the cigarette lighter outlet in the car, however, this will not keep the majority of dash cams running once you turn the car off, as the power will be cut. 

It is noted however, there are some modern dash cams such as the modern dash cameras made by Nextbase which have an intelligent parking mode, this allows the expensive dash cams to record a point of motion when they detect a bump without any power.

What Is Parking Mode? 

Parking mode dash cam modes allow you to continue to have the dash cam running while your car is parked and turned off, hardwired cams will then use the battery life from your car to support the video recordings made during parking mode. 

Normally, the video footage made from parking mode on your quality dash cams will only be supported for around 1-4 hours till it shuts down, this is because it is using the drivers battery for it to run.

Some more high-quality models will have a cut-off point that will shut your dash cam down when it detects the battery voltage is getting too low from the car, how long it lasts will mostly come down to whether or not you have a healthy car battery.

Parking mode additionally will come in two types, actual impact detection or optical motion detection, the latter is better and found on more expensive models as it can film the lead up to the incident, rather than just when your car gets hit at the moment of impact.

How Do I Make Parking Mode Last Longer When My Car Is Switched Off?

If you want your parking mode from your dual dash cam to last all night then a nice feature to include with your rear dash cam or dual dash cam is an external battery pack. 

Dash cam owners who plug their dash cam fitting into an external battery pack can enjoy parking mode video for up to 6-8 hours rather than just a few hours, allowing you to prevent your car battery from depletion and give a higher level of protection for your car all night time.

Benefits Of Using Parking Mode From Your Dashcam

Hardwiring your dashcam can seem like an effort and needs an installation kit while investing in an external battery pack is not cheap either, so why use these parking surveillance features at all? 

Well, having your dash cam on when your car is off not only offers parking protection from theft but also offers optimum protection against non-collision accidents that can happen to your car when your not around, this is due to the fact they can detect motion over a period of time.

We have listed a few benefits you can get from buying a dash cam with parking mode video clips below. 

  • If someone hits your car door. 
  • Protects against theft and attempted vandalism. 
  • If someone does a hit and run on your car while it's parked. 
  • If you are given an undeserved parking ticket. 

How To Hardwire a Dashcam Into Your Car

A lot of dash cam owners avoid hardwiring their own dashcam into their car as the process can be quite confusing, but without hardwiring your dash cam or using quality battery packs, you will have to do this anywhere for you to get parking mode surveillance video working. 

We have listed out some basic steps for hardwiring your dashcam installation below if you want your smart power device to work while the car is turned off. 

  • Step One - Decide on the placement of your single-channel dash cam or dual-channel dash cam then locate the fuse box which should be on the passenger's side of the car. 
  • Step Two - Begin routing the power cable from your dash cam and cover it with your car's interior, most cables can be covered by slipping it into the a-pillar of the car, route this power cable all the way down to the fuse box on your car. 
  • Step Three - Figure out where a hot-start cable is on your cars fuse box by using a circuit tester to detect whether or not power is present only when you start the car or when it's turned off. 
  • Step Four - Remove this hot-start fuse then install it into the add a circuit installation guides/kit you have for your dashcam, then plug this 'add a circuit' back to where your hot start cable was originally removed. 
  • Step Five - Locate a ground point on your car and install the other end of the product features installation kit. 
  • Step Six - Tidy up any loose cables underneath with a cable tie and turn on your car to see if all is working how it should be and the video quality is adequate.

Frequently Asked Questions About If a Dashcam Works When Your Car Is Off

Will a lighter power outlet power my dash cam when in parking mode? 

No, the cigarette lighter plug or accessory plug will not power your dashcam when the car is turned off as this plug is only powered when the car is switched, meaning you will not be able to use motion parking mode if your dashcam is set up like this.

Does a dual-channel device offer a better level of protection than a single-lens dash cam? 

A dual-channel dash camera that has front and rear cameras does tend to offer a better level of protection than a single-channel dash cam does as it can monitor motion not only at the front of your car but also at the back, which is great if you get a hit and run from behind your car and you need to identify the number plate.

Is a dash cam fitting expensive? 

No, installation of your pre-purchased dash cam should only be around £30-£50 but might be a bit more expensive if you are fitting both a front and rear dash cam. 

The most expensive part of a dashcam is the product itself!

Final Words 

To conclude, a dashcam will only work when a car is powered off if it has an internal battery, connected to an external battery pack, or if it is hardwired into your cars circuit, which is the most popular method.

Do be aware that the cam will use your car's battery power, so make sure that the battery of your vehicle is in a good condition before leaving parking mode on, or use an external battery pack just in case.

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About the author
My name is Nick and I am a self-diagnosed tech-geek! I am the owner of DashCamExperts.UK where we review various dash cams. Having owned a dash cam store where we sold and installed them, starting a website around the subject seemed to be a no-brainer, so here we are! Hope you guys enjoy my reviews!
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