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This dash cam gives me peace of mind while driving—here's why

This is how I cope with driving anxiety after getting into an accident.

We keep a dash cam in our car at all times—here's why. Credit: Reviewed / Valerie Li

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Owning a car isn’t easy; there’s insurance, maintenance, and—if you’re unlucky like me, legal hurdles. Though I wasn’t the one driving when I got into a fender-bender last year, the aftermath was so chaotic and stressful that I couldn’t sleep for days.

While my fiancé was driving, another driver cut in front of us without using their turn signal, totaling our car. But they disputed our claim, and without proof, the police determined we were at fault. We ended up paying a higher premium and struggled to replace our vehicle.

To give myself some peace of mind with our new car, I looked for a solution to keep aggressive drivers accountable. After some browsing, I decided to install a dash cam to ease my anxiety and prevent future disputes.

What’s a dash cam?

What's a dash cam
Credit: Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

We compared the interface, scalability, and functionality of dash cams to find the best one.

A dash cam, or a dashboard camera, is a device typically installed on the dashboard of a car to monitor and record the road as you drive. Some dash cams may have a dual-camera system with which there’s a back camera that records the back view of the car and assists with backing up.

While many new car models are fitted with built-in backup camera systems, investing in a recording dash cam may still be worth considering since these built-in backup cameras only work when driving in reverse and don’t record footage for you to use later. Our editor Séamus actually tested the best ones in his motorhome while driving around North America, but I didn’t read his recommendations until I started working at Reviewed.

Although dash cams are legal in the state I live in, you should check that dash cams are legal in your state before proceeding with installation.

Our experience with the Toguard dash cam

Our experience with Toguard dash cam
Credit: Reviewed / Valerie Li

The monitor with forward-facing camera replaces the rear mirror when it's off.

After looking high and low for a cost-effective, highly-rated dash cam, we decided to give this Toguard dual-lens rear mirror-mounted dash cam a try.

In the package, there’s a mirror dash cam, a charger, a backup camera with tape, an 18-foot cable for the rear view camera, and three rubber straps for securing the camera. Since the SD card for storing the recorded videos is not included, we also purchased a 32GB micro SD card.

I didn’t install the camera myself, so I asked my fiancé Tom about his experience. “The installation process of the forward facing camera and monitor unit (which are one piece) was very simple,” he said. You can simply fasten the unit to the rear view mirror using the rubber straps provided in the box, and run the provided power cord to the cigarette lighter (most cars will have at least one on or near the center console).

However, to enable the dual-lens recording system, you’ll need to set up a second camera near the back of the car, which according to Tom, is not an easy job. “Attaching the rear view camera is more difficult, requiring you to find an unobtrusive way to run a wire back from the main unit to the rear of the car and to pass the wire through the car's tailgate to overlook the pavement immediately behind the vehicle. It’s also recommended that the rear view camera be wired in with the vehicle's reverse lights, so that the rear view will automatically appear on the monitor when the vehicle reverses,” he explained.

What we like about this dash cam

While the Toguard isn’t the fanciest dash cam that money can buy, it definitely gets the job done. The dash cam fits snugly over the rear view mirror, and acts as a normal mirror when turned off. It loop-records clear visuals of the road in short clips, which means the oldest videos get erased as the new ones are recorded once the SD card is full.

With the backup camera installed, it can switch to the view from the back of the car, as the sensor detects the car is in reverse motion—allowing the driver to reverse the car safely. There’s also the G-sensor that detects and records if there’s a collision. We can’t compare the video quality since it’s our first dash cam but most reviewers said it was very good, with clear details of things like license plates, which can be useful.

Initially, we were worried about mounting a camera on the rear view mirror because the weight could potentially damage the mirror. But the camera plus monitor combo is actually so lightweight that—after a whole year of use—it’s sturdily attached to the mirror.

What we don’t like about our dash cam

As we mentioned, the installation of the second camera wasn’t easy. The user manual didn’t explain clearly enough about how to approach the task. It’s an option to go without the second camera if you’re buying a dash cam for the purpose of recording the road conditions in front of you.

After a year of use, we also noticed it stopped recording to the memory card at some point. We could still turn the camera on and off but it just wouldn’t record anything, which we suspected was a memory card malfunction. After replacing the memory card, it started to work again.

Should you buy a dash cam?

Whether you’re a confident driver or not, keeping a dash cam in your car can guarantee there’s an unbiased record of what happened while you’re driving. “My advice would be get a simple dash cam without the backup camera function, or have a professional install the second camera for you,” Tom suggested.

One of Reviewed’s editors actually drove thousands of miles across the country testing dash cams, and he found the Garmin 65W dash cam to be the best overall pick. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly dash cam, he also recommends this Crosstour camera that has features similar to mine but without the second camera.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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