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Installing a Dash Cam with a Cigarette Lighter Adapter (CLA)

The Easiest Way to Install Your Dash Cam: The Plug-and-Go Method

Installing with a Cigarette Lighter

When you purchase and install a dash cam from BlackboxMyCar, you’ll be happy to know that you have a dependable product from a reliable company. From classic corvettes and exotic Lamborghini’s to North American built Fords and Chevrolets, we have a dash cam that's right for your car. Regardless of vehicle or product type, it’s important that your dash cam installation is done correctly, or you may miss out on important video footage. Dash cam installation looks more difficult than it is, but once you get down to it, it's more straightforward than you think.

Our Suggestion

Note that the downside to installing a dash cam with a cigarette lighter adapter (CLA) will mean that your vehicle will not have access to parking mode unless your vehicle has an always-on cigarette socket (available in some domestic brands). For various reasons listed below, we do not recommend installing a dash cam with a CLA, and instead recommend installing via a hardwiring kit (good), using an OBD cable (better) or installing with a battery pack (best).

If you would still like to use a CLA with parking mode, you can install using a CLA with a battery pack. If you have any questions, our in-house product experts are here to help.

What You'll Need

12V Power Cable

Mounting Tape

This guide is designed for installing 1-channel dash cams. If you are installing a 2-channel dash cam, same steps apply, but you will add a rear connecting cable connecting your rear camera to the front (included with your purchase).

Installation in Six, Easy Steps

1) Attach the dash cam to the front window with the mounting tape included. Rotate the shooting angle.

2) Hide the wire along the headliner. You can either use a trim tool or with a credit card.

3) Hide the wire between A pillar to B pillar.

4) Hide the wire between rubber to A pillar.

5) Hide rest of the wire underneath the carpet.

6) Plug into the cigarette power socket.

Installation Video

Note: If Your Vehicle Has an Always-On Cigarette Socket...

The 12V/cigarette sockets in most vehicles are ignition-switched but in some vehicles, particularly domestic brands like Ford, Chrysler and Chevrolet may have sockets that are always on, even when the vehicle is switched off. If this is the case for you, you may think that you won't need to hardwire your camera to take advantage of parking mode. While this may work in some specific cases, we would generally recommend against this due to two main issues:

Issue #1:
Lack of Voltage Detection / Cut-off

Many always-on cigarette sockets are not sophisticated enough to detect the voltage and switch itself off should the car's battery drop too low. With most passenger vehicles, a 2-channel dash cam can drain a vehicle's battery down from 12.6V to 12.0V in 12 hours or less.

When the vehicle's battery drops below 12.0V, it may have issues or hesitation upon start up and causes extensive wear and tear on the battery due to deep-cycling. This means that on most vehicles, if they're parked overnight, the battery can drain to a point that is hard on the car and battery.

The user can bypass this by unplugging the camera when the vehicle is parked overnight, but this can be a hassle on the driver's part to perform on a daily basis. If the driver forgets, they run the risk of needing to jump start the car in the morning. With dedicated hardwire kits on parking mode dash cams, voltage cutoffs can be set to protect your battery from extensive deep cycling.

Issue #2:
Lack of Ignition-Switched Power Feed

If you were to cut open a dash cam's cigarette power adapter, it would have two wires inside, a positive and a negative. Because of this, the camera only knows whether it's receiving power or not and can't distinguish from when the car is switched off.

If the car is switched off and the cigarette socket stays on, the camera will still assume the car is running. In contrast, cameras that use direct hardwire kits have cables with three wires so the camera can be powered while the car is off but also lets the camera know when the engine switches on and off. This is required to activate parking mode on many parking mode-capable dash cams, otherwise they can only record in continuous mode.

Downsides to Recording Permanently in Continuous Mode

  1. Videos get overwritten a lot more quickly as they aren't only triggered when motion or impacts are detected.
  2. Power consumption in continuous mode is typically a fair bit higher than in parking mode
  3. The G-sensor sensitivity in parking mode will be a lot more sensitive as the car should not be in motion. This is important for picking up light bumps like door dings or parking impacts.

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Got More Questions?

Not to fret, our in-house product experts are here to help. We have spent years curating helpful content and video guides, helping customers with their dash cams, but we understand that we can always do better. Contact us using the form below and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. We love what we do, because we're here to help you make the most informed purchasing decision.