Driver's Guide

Do Dashcams Work When Car is Parked?

Do dashcams work when car is parked? Well, it varies. The power source of the dashcam is the key.

Usually, dashcams are powered by the car’s accessory plug, often known as the cigarette lighter socket. For many cars, this power source stops when the car is turned off. But some cars, like VW Jetta, keep this socket powered even when the car is off. This means the dashcam will keep recording unless you manually turn it off. Others that are hard-wired into your vehicle’s battery are always powered.

It’s handy for the dashcam to stop recording when there’s no power. If it doesn’t, it might fill up its storage quickly. However, modern dash cams will overwrite files that you may wish to keep. The oldest files get overwritten with the newest content.

But imagine if someone tries to break into your car or accidentally hits it with a shopping cart. Having the dashcam on could capture these moments.

Cars like Tesla have a special feature known as Dog Mode. If they sense movement around them, they’ll turn on their camera to record. This is great for security and doesn’t drain the battery much.

Do Dashcams Work When Car is Parked?

Do Dashcams Work When Car is Parked

Some dash cams work when car is parked. This is because of a special feature called “Parking mode”.

What does Parking mode do? It lets your dash cam keep recording even if your car’s engine isn’t running. This is great for people who leave their cars in public spots or places where someone might try to steal or vandalize them.

But remember, for the Parking mode to work, your dash cam needs to be directly connected to your car’s battery. If you just plug your dash cam into the car’s cigarette lighter or OBD-II port, it won’t record when the car is off. So, if you want this feature, get your dash cam set up the right way.

In short, if you want your dash cam to record while parked:

  • Get a dash cam with Parking mode.
  • Connect it to an external battery or directly to your car’s 12V battery. And make sure it has a setting to protect the battery’s voltage.

How Does Dash Cam Detect Parking Mode?

Some dash cams work when car is parked, even when your car’s engine is off. But, they only save videos when something happens.

Here’s how they know when to record:

  1. Motion detection.
    • Some manufacturers call it “Easy Sleep Mode”.
    • The camera starts recording if it sees any movement around the car.
    • Both the front and back cameras can spot this movement.
    • But, it might take a bit to start, so it might miss what caused the bump or movement.
  2. Impact detection.
    • This is a smart feature. If the car gets hit or bumped, the camera will know and start recording.
    • It’s a great way to catch anything that happens to your parked car.
  3. Eco parking mode.
    • Only some dashcams with an environmental focus use this feature.
    • It works like motion detection but uses radar, not the camera.
    • Eco mode is also better for your car’s battery. But, only the front camera of the M7 can use this mode.
  4. Alert mode.
    • It keeps recording but only saves the video if something happens.
    • If it notices something, it saves the video from a little before and after the event.
    • When you get back to your car, it tells you.
    • If your camera has Wi-Fi, it might even send the video to your phone.
  5. Picture journal mode.
    • The camera takes a picture every few seconds.
    • If there’s a sudden move or bump, some cameras switch to video mode.
    • This is good if you’re parked somewhere busy, so you don’t get too many unnecessary videos.

Depending on the product manufacturer, some dash cams record between 10-20 seconds before and after the event. So, you won’t miss anything that happened before or after the main event around your vehicle.

How Long Does Parking Mode Last on Dash Cam?

Different dashcams and vehicles have different views on how long a dashcam can work in parking mode. I’ve used a U1000 dashcam for more than a day on a Volvo XC90, sometimes even a day and a half.

  • Most car batteries can last for about 20 hours when they are used continuously. For example, a typical car battery can handle a 2.5A load for 20 hours before it’s empty. If you use half of its power, it’ll last around 10 hours.
  • In parking mode, a dashcam only uses 0.5A, which is much less than 2.5A. So, if your battery is in good condition and fully charged, your dashcam could last up to 50 hours in parking mode. But, this might not always be the case in real life.

If your dashcam only works for a short time (like within 30 minutes or 1 hour) in parking mode, there might be an issue. Maybe there is a problem with the power adapter or the settings. You should check your car’s battery power before you start driving. Sometimes, your battery may need replacement.

Is Parking Mode Worth It on Dash Cam?

“Parking mode is worth it” and you can say that again.

Ever come back to your car and find it damaged or broken into? It’s a terrible feeling. But with dash cameras, you can breathe a bit easier.

It’s worth it if dashcams work when car is parked. Here’s why:

1. You Can Capture Everything with Clarity

If something happens to your car, a dash cam records it in high-quality video. This footage can be super helpful when you’re talking to the police or your insurance company.

If someone takes something valuable from your car, you might be able to claim it on your homeowner’s insurance.

2. Every Camera is On Alert

Some dash cams only activate certain cameras in parking mode. However, you can still get one that activates all. If something triggers the parking mode, all connected cameras spring into action. So, every angle of your car is covered.

3. Wide Surveillance Coverage

A standard dash cam comes with both front and rear cameras. That’s a whopping 270º view around your car.

4. Extra Eyes Inside

Depending on your dashcam manufacturer and model, you can add an interior camera. This means you can see what’s happening inside your car when it’s parked. Super useful if there’s a break-in or if you are using your car for ridesharing.

Will Dashcam Parking Mode Drain Battery?

Dash cams are designed to protect your car’s battery. They have a special feature that turns them off if they sense the battery is getting low. So, if you are worried about your dash cam draining your battery, the answer is that it won’t.

Your car battery gets charged when you drive. If you leave your car parked for a long time, the battery might not have enough power for the dash cam’s parking mode.

If you plug your dash cam into the car’s cigarette lighter, it won’t work when the car is off. But, if you have an older car model, the dash cam might still work and could use up some battery.

If you connect your dash cam directly to the car’s electrical system, it can record even when the car is off. But don’t worry, it uses very little power, about half of what a light bulb uses. Also, some dash cams have a feature to turn off if the battery gets too low.

Conclusion—Should My Dash Cam Record All the Time?

It should; helps with insurance claims. Dash cams don’t record non-stop. They use a looping feature, recording for a set period (usually between one and five minutes) before stopping and starting again.

When the memory card is full, the oldest footage is deleted to make room for new recordings.

The recording duration depends on the memory card’s size and the quality of the image. For example, a 16GB or 32GB card can typically record about two hours of footage on high quality.

So, do dashcams work when car is parked? The answer is that it depends on the dashcam, the car, and how everything is set up.


  • Is a Dash Cam Worth it? Cobra
  • Installing a Dash Cam Could Help with Accident Claims and Road Safety.
  • The Pros and Cons of Dashcams. U.S. News
  • Driver Technologies Research Finds Dash Cams Increase Driver Safety. Yahoo!

Read alsoCan You Make a Living Off Uber?

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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