I picked up a dashcam a couple of years ago, wanting to get in on all of the great YouTube videos of meteorites, and explosions, and cars flipping over, and everything else that definitely happens during my daily commute. I’ve mounted it temporarily in a couple of cars, but never permanently. After picking up the MKZ last week, I decided to get it in there for real, because otherwise I’m going to see Bigfoot and have no proof.
I bought this dashcam, which offers full HD recording and a host of other nice features.
The first step was to find a good mounting location for the camera. I wanted to give it a good view of the road, but also try and hide it from my view to minimize any blind spots created by extra junk on the windshield. I ended up putting it on the passenger side of the rear view mirror. I have the lane-keeping feature which means I have a bulky camera housing behind the rear view mirror, which made things a bit more difficult. In the end, I have some of the housing in the dashcam’s view, but it should block any important area of the frame. From the front of the car, the camera is mostly hidden in the mirror’s outline, which will hopefully reduce any attention it gets from potential thieves or police thinking it’s a radar detector.
With the camera mounted, I was ready to wire. My primary goal here was to leave the car untouched – no holes drilled and no wires tapped, spliced, or cut. I started at the fuse box trying to find a circuit that was on with the ignition. The fuse box is under the dash to the left of the steering column. I found that dropping the lower dash down provided the easiest access. There are two clips on the left side of the steering wheel and one on the right. Yank the dash carefully, as close to the clips as possible, and it pops out and folds down.
I settled on fuse #37 – heated steering wheel and all-wheel-drive relay. My car has neither of those, so I didn’t mind messing with that circuit. The add-a-circuit kit will allow you to keep the stock circuit functional, but I’d rather not mess with something important like steering or seat belts or the ignition. The MKZ uses “Micro2” size fuses, so I picked up a Micro2 add-a-circuit kit with a 5A fuse. The kit works by taking power from the original power feed and splitting it across two fuses. The first fuse is the original fuse, and power gets routed back down into the fuse box. The second fuse goes to a pigtail that can be crimped or soldered to your new circuit.
That gives me +12V, now I need a ground. Any bare metal on the car is generally a ground, so I found a hole in the metal structure behind the dash and slipped an M5 bolt through it. I crimped a ring terminal onto a short length of wire and tested with my multimeter to ensure a good ground.
The camera came with a cigarette lighter power adapter and an extra long USB cable. I popped open the power plug and soldered positive and ground leads to the circuit board to replace the standard contacts. In hindsight, it would have been easier to pick up a hardwire kit like this one, but a few minutes of soldering beats two days of waiting for Amazon.
With the add-a-circuit in place, I tested for voltage with the ignition on and off to confirm it worked as designed, and everything was perfect. I crimped a spade terminal onto the end of the ground pigtail and the add-a-circuit so that the power to the cam could be unplugged if needed.
Time to route the USB cable! I started at the camera and, after leaving just a little slack, tucked it between the windshield and headliner headed toward the driver’s side of the car. Once I got to the A pillar, I grabbed that trim at the top and pulled down and toward the passenger side of the car, and the top of the trim popped out.
This gave me enough access to route the cable across to the outside of the A pillar and then down toward the dashboard.
The triangular piece of trim that caps the part of the dashboard hidden by the door when it’s closed popped out with a little persuasion. I sent the cable in through that area and right in front of the fuse box.
From there it was a matter of plugging my spade terminals into one another and securing the plug to the dash bracing with some zip ties. I popped the trim back into place and everything now not only looks factory, but can easily be returned to 100% factory condition in just a few minutes with no permanent modifications to the car.
Here are a couple of quick clips to help give you an idea of the picture quality. The second clip shows the Pre-Collision Warning Avoidance feature in action when the car in front of me slows down to allow a truck to merge.
The camera records video in 5 minute chunks and once the SD card is full, it just overwrites the oldest chunks. I have an older 8GB MicroSD card in the camera, and it was able to hold 2-3 hours of video before the oldest files were overwritten. My goal is to be able to hold an entire day’s typical driving on one card so that I can save the video once I’m home. I ran some extra errands yesterday and the beginning of my morning commute where someone tried to plow into me in a roundabout was gone. I ordered this 32GB MicroSD card so that I’ll be able to easily hold a couple days of driving.
So bring it on, erratic drivers and apocalyptic events, just please happen in front of my car and not to my car.