Can GoPro be used as a dash cam in your car?

/ / Car Accessories
GoPro on dark table

For better or worse, videos are ingrained into our everyday lives, whether it’s through social media, video doorbells, or a car’s dash cam. Dash cams, short for dashboard cameras, are exactly what you would expect: cameras that sit on or near your dashboard and record everything that happens on the road in front of you. While they are primarily used by law enforcement, they have been growing in popularity among everyday people to the point that many now consider dash cams a must-have upgrade for your car.

There are many things to consider when buying a dash cam, but if you have a spare GoPro lying around, you’re already halfway there. Yes, you can use a GoPro as your car’s dash cam. You won’t find it ranked among the best dash cams for your car, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get the job done. At the end of the day, a GoPro is a video camera. As long as it’s stable and has consistent power, it will record anything that’s in front of it, whether that’s extreme sports or your daily commute. Technically, any device that records video can be fitted to your dashboard and used as a dash cam, but a GoPro is a particularly solid option.

The downsides of using a GoPro as a dash cam

wet GoPro on rock

Of course, just because a GoPro can be used as a dash cam doesn’t mean it was made to be used as one. We would be remiss to tell you how to use the action camera in your car without mentioning the problems you may experience by doing so, and there are a few substantial drawbacks to consider if you opt to go this route.

Dash cameras automatically begin and end recordings based on what happens to and around your car, but you won’t have that luxury if you use a GoPro. Instead, you will have to manually start and stop recording every time you get in your car. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s something that could easily slip your mind, and if you forget to hit record and get in an accident, well, you’re out of luck. Similarly, you’ll have to manually turn a GoPro on and off, whereas most dash cams work in tandem with the car’s power supply. And if you don’t wire it to constant power, battery life becomes a factor, as a GoPro can quickly die while your car is off.

If it’s connected to a consistent power source, you may encounter overheating issues from constant use or even just from the ambient temperature. Cars can get very hot, especially during warmer seasons and in hotter locales. Although they can withstand harsh climates, GoPros aren’t made for long-term use in extreme temperatures, and they can easily succumb to the heat of a car’s interior, particularly during the summer.

Follow these steps to get your GoPro working as a dash cam:

dash cam recording traffic

Understandably, cameras that are made to sit on your dashboard will have features built toward recording your drive, while a GoPro won’t. However, it doesn’t take much to get the action camera working as a dash cam.

Follow these steps to set up your GoPro as a dash cam:

  1. Use one of the best GoPro mounts for your car to set up the camera.
  2. Plug in your GoPro. It’ll need constant power to record everything, so plug it into your car’s USB outlet. If you don’t have one, pick up a cheap USB adapter for the cigarette lighter.
  3. Enable video looping. Depending on the model, this can be found by either tapping the Video Mode or camera icon at the bottom of the display.
  4. Change the field of view to the widest setting. Look for either the “Lens” or “FOV” setting.
  5. Adjust the video quality to your preferred settings. Recording at 4K at 60 fps will include the most details, but reducing the quality or frame rate will allow you to store more footage.

Enabling video looping means your camera will capture footage until the memory is full, recording over the oldest clips once it maxes out your storage. This prevents you from needing to regularly replace the microSD. The video quality settings can also help preserve storage space, while changing the field of view will ensure your GoPro captures as much of the road in front of you as possible.

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