Answers to Your Dash Cam Questions

Buying a dash cam, especially one from a reliable manufacturer with the smart features that make the device reliable and easy to use, can be an investment. Whether you're still considering whether you should install a dash cam in your vehicle or you already have one, questions are likely to come up. Our experts have addressed many of these questions in separate articles, but you'll find some quick answers to common dash cam questions below.

Do you have additional dash cam questions not covered here? Take a look at the related section of our FAQ page.


Can I Use My Phone as a Dash Cam?


While you can technically use your phone as a dash cam, that's not what it's designed for and, as a result, doesn't work well for this purpose. Once you install your dash cam, it records automatically whenever the car is running so there's no fumbling with setting up the camera or making sure that it's recording. Dash cams are designed to work while in motion, and a quality device will provide smoother, higher resolution video. Continuous loop recording ensures that you don't run out of space for video, while a G-sensor automatically locks video clips when an accident or an impact is detected. Dash cam video is also typically recorded in clips of just a few minutes long, making the footage easy to find, view, edit, and share. While the phone on your camera is great for taking photos and recording short video clips, it just can't replace a good dash cam.



Can I Create a Dash Cam Live Stream?


Live streaming events has become increasingly popular, and whether or not you can watch or stream live footage from your dash cam has become a more common dash cam question recently. It is possible to create a dash cam live stream, but this feature depends on the camera and what type of internet connection it has. Most dash cams - including all Cobra dash cams as of 2021 - do not offer live streaming capabilities, although you may find that this feature is more common in cameras designed for fleet vehicles. Some Cobra camera models do offer Wi-Fi connectivity so that you can quickly and easily view and download footage from the SD card to your phone when within range of the camera.



Is GPS Necessary for a Dash Cam?


GPS is not necessary for a dash cam, but it is a valuable feature that's included on most quality products. With GPS, your camera will record both your location and your vehicle's speed. In the case of an accident or other incident, this information can provide additional evidence to your insurance company or the police, proving that the dash cam footage was recorded at the location you claim, as well as showing that you were traveling within the speed limit. Dash cams with GPS may also be able to provide additional safety features as well, such as Mayday Alerts, which notify a designated contact about your location in case of an accident. And if you have a smart dash cam, you may be able to get real-time alerts with a smartphone app.



Why Does My Dash Cam Stop Recording?


There are several reasons why your dash cam might stop recording, but here are some common reasons:

  1. Your camera has lost power – make sure that all cables are undamaged and plugged in firmly, or if it runs on batteries, that the batteries are fully charged and working properly
  2. The SD card is not installed correctly or is not formatted
  3. The SD card is full – if you have many videos locked or protected, the card may not have room to record new video
  4. The G-sensor is too sensitive and automatically locking too many clips; check your settings and adjust the sensitivity to low
  5. Continuous loop recording is turned off or video clip settings need to be adjusted

If you've confirmed that none of these common reasons is the cause of your camera not recording, contact the manufacturer to see if your device needs servicing or you're due for a software update.


How Long Does Dash Cam Footage Last?


How long dash cam footage lasts depends on the size of your camera's memory (usually an SD card) and how many protected video clips you have locked. Most dash cams use continuous loop recording, which means that the oldest video is recorded over with new footage once the SD card is full. If your camera has an SD card with less memory, that older video won't last very long – a single-view dash cam with an 8GB SD card recording at 1080P resolution may only record about 55 minutes of footage before older video is overwritten.



The best way to save dash cam footage is to lock any important videos as soon as possible, then upload them to your computer or to the cloud. Saving a copy of the video clips allows you to free up space on your camera's SD card to record new footage.


Can a Dash Cam Drain My Battery?


A dash cam is unlikely to drain your battery, but it depends on how the device is installed. If your camera is plugged into a standard 12-volt socket or USB port, it will only draw power when the vehicle is running. If you have an "always on" socket and your dash cam is plugged in when the car is off, it can drain your battery if it's operating for a long period of time (although some dash cams have an auto shutoff setting that can turn off the device after a certain period of time). This is also true if your dash cam is hardwired into the car's electrical system and the camera is set to record at all times. However, most smart dash cams that are designed to record when the car is turned off have features to minimize the risk of draining your battery. If your dash cam has parking mode or motion detection, the camera should only draw a very small amount of power to allow it to detect an impact or movement near the vehicle. This allows it to power on quickly and record for only as long as needed to capture an incident.



In busy areas, the motion detector may be triggered frequently and cause more drain on your battery – especially if you're leaving the car parked for 48 hours or longer. As mentioned above, check if your camera has an "auto surveillance shutoff" or similar setting to make sure that the camera goes into a sleep state after a set amount of time.


Want to learn more about dash cams? Visit our knowledge base and check out these articles: