Last Updated on September 8, 2023 by Bernard Juchli
A dash cam for your car is a smart investment. However, some models can be difficult to tell if it’s working. But it’s simple on most. After reading this guide, you will know if dash cam is recording, irrespective of the model.
Generally, dash cams will have LED lights, either red or blue, that light up when they are capturing footage. Some might even make a sound or announce “Halo Recording” to let you know they have started. Some models might have a unique mode that shows a different indicator. Also, you can always play back the footage from the dash cam’s SD card to double-check.
How to Know if Dash Cam is Recording
1. The LED Light Indicator
Most dash cams come equipped with a small LED light that indicates the device’s status. This light serves as a visual cue to let you know if the dash cam is powered on and recording. Here’s a simple breakdown:
- If the Power LED is solid Red, the cam is powered on and in recording mode.
- If the Power LED is Flashing Red, it means the cam is powered on but not in recording mode.
- If the Wi-Fi LED is Solid Green, it indicates that the Wi-Fi is connected.
- If the Wi-Fi LED is Flashing Green, it’s waiting for a Wi-Fi connection.
An audible alarm, like a constant beeping sound, will be activated if the dash camera is not in recording mode.
2. The Memory Card
Dash cams typically use microSD cards to store footage. If the memory card is inserted and seated properly in the dash cam, then it’s a good sign that your dash cam is recording.
Always ensure that the card is not full and is functioning correctly.
If the card is full, some dash cams have a loop recording feature, which means they will automatically overwrite the oldest footage.
3. Check Your Dash Cam App
If you have a modern dash cam with wireless capabilities, you should know if dash cam is recording using the app.
First, make sure to connect to the dedicated app on your smartphone. If you have such a dash cam, you can easily check its recording status by opening the dash cam app. Once you access the app, you will be guided on how to view all the recorded videos and see if the dash cam is actively recording.
4. Check the File Manager
You might be able to connect your dash cam to a computer and access the file manager. If you find a video file with the current date and time, it means that the dash cam is actively recording.
5. Audible Alerts and Beeping Sounds
Listen and closely! Your gadget might have the ability to provide audible alerts to help you know if dash cam is recording.
For instance, if you hear a continuous beeping sound, that could mean that the dash cam is not in recording mode, while a single beep might signify that the recording has started.
Just make sure to familiarize yourself with these sounds, as they can be a quick way to determine the dash cam’s status without having to look at it.
6. Screen Display and Icons
You probably have one of those dash cams that come with a built-in screen displaying important information. Now, when the dash cam is recording, you might see a “REC” icon flashing on the screen.
Some models also display the duration of the recording, battery life, and storage space left on the memory card. Just glance at this screen to know if dash cam is recording.
7. Manual Power Buttons
If your dash cam allows you to manually turn the device on or off, then that’s even an easy way out. You can press and hold a specific button to power on the dash cam. When turned on, LED status indicators might flash, signaling that the device is ready.
If you need to turn it off, you generally have to press and hold the same button or a different one for a few seconds. You should refer to your user manual for the controls and their functions.
8. Vibration or Motion Sensors
Many advanced dash cams come equipped with built-in vibration or motion sensors. These sensors can detect when your vehicle starts moving and automatically begin recording.
Therefore, if your dash cam has this feature, you can test its functionality by slightly shaking the device or starting your car.
If the dash cam starts recording upon detecting motion, it’s a sign that the sensors are working correctly.
9. Voice Commands and Feedback
Some of the latest dash cams now support voice commands. Users can simply speak to their dashcams to start or stop recording.
For some models, saying “Start Recording” might initiate the recording process. In response, the dash cam may provide voice feedback such as “Recording Started” to confirm that the dash cam is recording.
If your dash cam has this feature, enable voice commands and listen for feedback to know if it is running.
10. Connectivity and Remote Access
Some high-end dash cams will allow you to connect to the internet, either through Wi-Fi or cellular networks. This connectivity even works helps to access the dash cam remotely using your smartphone. If you have such a model, log in to a dedicated portal or app from anywhere and check the live feed. With this real-time access, you should know if dash cam is recording.
Do Dashcams Only Record When the Car is On?
Most dashcams do not only record when the car is on. If your dash cam has the parking mode, it will be able to record even when the car is parked or the engine is off. This feature is handy for those who leave their cars in public areas where there’s a risk of theft or damage.
However, to use the parking mode, the dash cam needs to be hardwired to the car’s battery. If it’s just plugged into the car’s 12V accessory outlet or OBD-II ports, it will not stay on when the engine is off. So, if you are keen on using the parking mode, get the dash cam professionally installed.
Some dash cam brands have cameras set to parking mode by default. When the car is off, these cameras stay active but only save footage when something happens.
How Long is a Recording on a Dash Cam for?
A dash cam records the road while you drive. It gets power from your car and records whenever the car is on. Some dash cams can also record when they sense a collision or detect motion.
Also, the time a dash cam can record depends on the quality of the recording and the size of its SD card. For example, with a high-quality recording (1080p):
- 8 GB SD card: 55 minutes
- 16 GB SD card: 110 minutes (or 1.8 hours)
- 32 GB SD card: 220 minutes (or 3.6 hours)
There is also the loop recording factor. Some reliable dash cams have a feature known as loop recording. When the memory card is full, the camera starts recording over the oldest videos. So, you don’t have to worry about running out of space. But, important videos, like those recorded during an accident, are saved and will not be overwritten.
Cloud factor also comes in. Modern dash cams let you save videos to online storage. This way, you can free up space on the SD card and easily share or edit the footage. That means your dash cam can record for a longer time depending on the cloud storage capacity.
Modern dash cams now come with user-friendly features, including easier ways to know if dash cam is recording. Depending on your model, you should have either the LED light indicator or an audible alert whenever your dashcam is running.
If yours supports wireless capabilities, make sure to connect it to apps on smartphones—this way you can fix possible bugs that may be keeping it from indicating when recording. Ultimately, before you hit the road, be sure your dashcam is running so that you can drive with confidence.