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Factory Integrated Dash Cams (Toyota Genuine Dash Camera, BMW Advanced Car Eye, etc.)

For many years, customers have been asking us why manufacturers haven't gotten into including dash cams at the factory level. They have done so for other accessories like backup cameras, navigation, and head-up displays but very few have really offered one as a factory installed accessory. Some dealerships, including our own partners, have taken upon themselves to sell and install aftermarket systems as a dealer installed accessory. Below are some of the obstacles that car manufacturers have to work around to release a dash cam at the factory or dealership level.

Obstacle 1: Memory Cards

There are a number of reasons why car companies might be hesitant to release a dash cam at the factory level. For starters, there is the issue of liability and warranty. A factory dash cam would need to be covered by the bumper to bumper warranty by the manufacturer which is typically between three to five years. Whereas most dash cam manufacturers only offer a 1 year warranty. In our experience, the vast majority of dash cams last well beyond the 1 year warranty but Micro SD cards have a limited life cycle and are unlikely to last much more than a year. This means that the driver needs to stay on top of the memory card status and condition, but it can certainly create a dilemma for the manufacturer if the camera doesn't record an accident due to a failed memory card.

Memory Cards

Obstacle 2: Support

Another obstacle for car companies and dealerships may be the overall ease of use with dash cams. Higher end devices with WiFi apps and parking mode are harder to use and may be hard for sales and service staff to troubleshoot for customers. If the camera does offer parking mode, battery discharge is another concern as it does put stress on the car's battery and will cause some premature wear. Since the battery is another warrantied part of the car, they must also be mindful of covering and replacing that. Traditionally dealerships would deny warranty on batteries if a dash cam was hardwired but that wouldn't be an option with factory or dealer-installed dash cams.

Tech Support

Obstacle 3: Liability

There is also a matter of legality since the vehicles will be sold in different markets. In certain markets, having an LCD screen attached to the windshield can be illegal, making dash cams hard to implement at the factory level. Dash cams that are added as an aftermarket or dealer-installed accessory are a way around that obstacle as they can ensure compliance for certain jurisdictions. Aftermarket dash cams may also be sold as "for off-road use only" accessories to reduce liability.

Law justice

Chevrolet Performance Data Recorder (PDR)

We've seen systems like GM's performance data recorder that offers video and data overlays that help in motorsports applications. This system records to an SD card and even offers a valet mode to record while the car is being driven by others. That being said, this system is an $1800 option on the 2018 Corvette Stingray and the actual video quality is not as good as our entry level VIOFO systems that only cost about $100. This system works great as a driver tool on a racetrack, but it's not really marketed as a tool to promote safe driving or help with insurance purposes. Instead, the emphasis is to use the recorder as a recreational/sports gadget.

BMW Advanced Car Eye

Back in 2015, BMW released their factory accessory, the BMW Advanced Car Eye which was a 2 channel system that offered parking mode recording. The price point and size were not the most appealing but it was a decent dash cam setup overall. This accessory was only offered at the dealer level and was not installed from the factory unlike GM's performance data recorder. The large LCD screen on this dash cam also made it illegal to use in certain jurisdictions. As of 2017, the Advanced Car Eye is no longer listed on BMW's online accessory store

Toyota Genuine Dash Camera

Recently Toyota launched their own dealer installed dash cam, the Toyota Genuine Dash Camera. This is a compact wedge shaped dash cam that is more discreet than most manufacturer branded systems. It doesn't use an LCD screen which helps with compliance in various states. Instead, it offers a WiFi app (Toyota Dashcam Viewer) for setup and video downloads. It can record incidents in parking mode but just offers the front channel for recording. This option goes for $558.50 installed in Canada which is a hefty price for a 1 channel system in our opinion. The video quality from the app screenshots seem pretty average and better systems are available for the money offering more advanced features as well.

What do we recommend?

We understand that there is a demand for reliable dash cam systems but we don't think it's necessarily worth it to spend what various manufacturers are asking for their dealer-installed accessories. For the same money (or less in many cases) we can recommend better systems that have a proven track record of dependability. In contrast, although these manufacturer backed systems often carry the balance of the factory warranty, their actual reliability is unknown due to very limited market data. We also have concerns about after-sales support compared to more popular dash cams. 

Signature mazda blackboxmycar

A model that we recommend and regularly install for dealerships is the Thinkware line of dash cams. From the entry-level Thinkware F50 to the top-of-the-line Thinkware F800 Pro, Thinkware offers a comprehensive parking mode setup that is easy to use. We also like their dash cams as they offer excellent alerts that will let the user know as soon as there are any memory card related issues. We have reliability data from thousands of Thinkware devices and recommend them highly based on an incredibly low defective ratio. Furthermore, should you have any issues with your dash cam you can contact our friendly team of experts at BlackboxMyCar as well as Thinkware's North American headquarters for help with your dash cam. We believe that these systems offer not only better video quality, but better support at a lower price point than manufacturer branded dash cam systems. 

MYTH: Thinkware F800 Unsecured WiFi Network Issue

Many customers have inquired about a reported "issue" in an Amazon review for the Thinkware F800 where the camera broadcasts an unsecured WiFi signal with no password. The concern is that anyone near your vehicle can connect to this WiFi network using the F800 app and download or delete your videos as well as change your settings. Here are just a few reasons why this is not a legitimate concern with the F800 or F800 PRO

Automatic WiFi Broadcast

The unsecured WiFi will only automatically broadcast when you first install your dash cam. This is so that you can get in and set up your dash cam to your personal preferences. When you go through your settings you need to also input your phone's hotspot settings (instructions: iOS & Android) so that your camera can connect to it. Once you have the hotspot programmed that will turn off the automatic broadcast of the unsecured WiFi signal.

WiFi button

With your hotspot properly programmed, the only way to get this unsecured WiFi to appear is to physically press the WiFi button on the dash cam. If you do not press this button, you will not see the unsecured Thinkware WiFi network on your phone's WiFi settings menu. 

Access While Parked

Another reason why this is not a real concern is that WiFi is disabled in parking mode. This means that someone cannot park next to your car and tamper with your videos or settings. In order to access it they would actually need to break in and start your car, at which point accessing the dash cam's WiFi would be the least of your concerns. 

What if I don't Configure my Hotspot?

The F800 WiFi signal is intended to be used only within the vehicle and has a rather short range. So if you are driving along in traffic, if a vehicle is more than one car length away from you, they will not be able to connect to your dash cam's WiFi network and get a solid enough connection to use the app. 

The Solution?

As mentioned, the simple solution is to program in a hotspot, once you do so you'll never really see the unsecured WiFi again. The hotspot connection is more stable in our experience and will not interrupt your smartphone's data connection. This means that you can still use apps for things like navigation which typically require an internet connection. 

F800 Hotspot

Distracted Driving and Dash Cams

In recent years, distracted driving has been a top priority for legislators, police departments, and road safety advocates. Smartphones in particular are a cause for concern, especially if drivers are typing a message and not paying attention to the road ahead of them. It's no surprise as we've seen a number of crashes caused by distracted drivers. Here are just a few examples of perfectly avoidable accidents (had the driver been paying attention) shared by our customers:

Crash Caused by Distracted Left Turner
Pedestrian Struck by Distracted Driver

More Tickets and Greater Fine Amounts

Law enforcement has been cracking down on distracted drivers with aggressive campaigns. The Vancouver Police Department for example had issued almost 2000 tickets in the span of just one month in 2017. Fines for distracted driving are also only increasing as the problem worsens, along with driver points increases that can effect insurance premiums. With stiffer fines and even the possibility of jail time for repeat offenders, one must also consider the potential impact this legal/political landscape has on the civil liberties of drivers. A recent video from our friends at New Jersey Dashcam was a bit of a wake up call regarding this seemingly noble crackdown on distracted drivers.

New Jersey Dashcam

*Note that you can use the discount code NJ10 to support New Jersey Dashcam's channel and get $10 off on orders over $100!

In the dash cam footage, you can hear that the driver was not on the phone (@0:10) but the police officer accused him of having his phone up to his ear while he drove past him (@1:40). The cammer makes a good point by mentioning that the car has bluetooth so it wouldn't make sense for him to have his phone up to his head any way. Ultimately, the officer sees that he has a clean driving record and lets him off with a warning but it's clear that the driver was frustrated about being unfairly pulled over.

Some might see this as a minor inconvenience since he was let off with a warning. But had he been issued a violation ticket, he would've had to spend significantly more time dealing with a formal dispute process to present his evidence and perhaps even take time off work to go to court. We must also consider that what feels like an unjustified traffic stop for the driver could escalate if they are in a hurry and visibly frustrated when speaking to the police officer.

What Can We Do To Protect Ourselves?

Perhaps the best advice if you're unjustly pulled over for distracted driving is to stay calm, be cooperative, and remain professional when interacting with the police officer. If you know you have done nothing wrong, politely explain your case and try not to be aggressive or confrontational. There are many examples of different motorists getting pulled over on YouTube that give an idea of what to do and what not to do.

If you are issued a ticket unjustly, dispute it following the necessary legal processes. Having a dash cam like the video above will help as far as providing evidence to dispute the allegations made by the officer. A camera system like the Thinkware F770 with the infrared rear camera accessory would be an ideal setup for disputing distracted driving claims. This sort of dash cam, traditionally popular for rideshare drivers, is great at showing what the driver was doing even in very dark conditions. It can show where a driver's hands where and even where their eyes were focused and should make it easy to prove innocence.

We feel that the peace of mind knowing that your own driving habits are caught on video. Not only might it hold a driver more accountable for their actions but it can also reduce the driver's stress if they're accused of something they didn't do. Having a silent eyewitness recording both the traffic stop and the incidents prior might just be what is needed in a changing legal climate. If you're interested in getting a dash cam to protect yourself in situations like this, feel free to contact one of our sales representatives today!

Other Interesting Videos

We wanted to also share some of the videos we came across when researching this topic. These are other instances of police stops recorded by drivers:

Fire Marshall Shuts Down Officer
Clifton Cop Brake Checks Motorist