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Common Dash Cam Wiring Issues for Ford Vehicles

As one of the top 10 largest automakers in the world, it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing a Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury vehicle—especially here in North America, where the F-150 pickup truck has been the best-selling vehicle on the market for nearly 80 years.

However, some models may have electrical wiring issues. We have received many inquiries about this, especially from our customers who want to hardwire dash cams in their Ford products. In this article, we will provide our insights on Ford wiring issues, and recommendations on installing your dash cam properly.

Understanding the Issue

Delayed ACC Fuses

The first fundamental issue is that many Ford vehicles, like BMWs and GMs, have delayed ACC fuses. These are ACC fuses that remain powered for approximately 15 minutes after the vehicle is turned off. Distinguishing between delayed ACC and constant fuses is challenging, as many delayed ACC fuses will get “tripped” and turn back on when basic functions of the vehicle are performed, such as opening a door or using the key fob.

This mainly applies to modern Ford models with delayed ACC fuses, including but not limited to: the F-150, Super Duty, and Transit.

Always-On 12V Cigarette Sockets

The second fundamental issue pertains only to some vehicle models, where the cigarette socket ports stay on when the vehicle is off. Cigarette lighter ports that stay on when the vehicle is off are unusable for powering a battery pack or a dash cam, as there’s nothing to prevent them from fully draining your 12V or 24V vehicle battery. If this sounds like your Ford vehicle, we firmly do not recommend connecting a cigarette lighter adapter for either a dash cam or battery pack. Thankfully, if this is a concern for you, it’s incredibly easy to test, as connecting any appliance to the cigarette socket and noting if it stays on when the vehicle is off will confirm if this issue is relevant to your vehicle.

We’ve seen this in certain model years of the Escape, Focus, F-150, and Mustang, among others.

Lastly, in some models, like the Maverick truck, there may not be enough clearance in the fuse box for add-a-fuses. This is particularly important if you plan on installing a battery pack, as they must be on their own fused circuits due to their high current draw. While it’s still possible to hardwire dash cams or battery packs into affected vehicles, you’ll have to use a different approach. More on that later.

Our Dash Cam Installation Tips for Ford Vehicles

We’ll go through the installation options by level of difficulty.

Basic Issues and DIY Installation Tips

Consider using an OBD-II power cable for a plug-and-play installation. If your Ford vehicle has a cigarette socket that stays on while the ignition is off, but you don’t want to hardwire your dash cam. An OBD-II power cable allows you to enjoy the same plug-and-play convenience without worrying about a dead car battery by using the vehicle’s OBD-II port as a switched power source. Unlike a cigarette socket, the OBD-II port can also provide constant power, which works in conjunction with the switched signal to enable proper parking mode operation—just as you would get by hardwiring the dash cam. With that said, it’s worth noting that the OBD-II port cannot be used to power a battery pack as it doesn’t supply the current needed, and OBD-II ports may not be available for much older or imported vehicles. Furthermore, OBD cables are great at bypassing delayed ACC fuses. The most limiting factor when it comes to OBD cables is it’s only offered by certain brands, like Thinkware or FineVu.

Test for delayed ACC fuses when hardwiring. To properly identify such fuses, we recommend testing fuses initially, then leaving the fuse box cover and closest door open for 15~ minutes, and then returning to it for testing; a practice we follow in all of our Ford installs. Any fuses that lost power during that waiting period are your delayed ACC fuses, while the ones that remain powered are your constant fuses. Testing should be done with a circuit tester or multimeter.

Clearance Issues with Tight Fuseboxes

Some fuseboxes lack sufficient clearance for add-a-fuses, being too tight and narrow to properly connect these essential components of Dash Cam installation. Here are some resolutions to this.

Consider using pigtail fuses. Like an add-a-fuse, a pigtail fuse has a wire that diverts power from the original circuit to a new accessory but with the same low profile as a standard fuse. In the case of a dash cam installation, you’ll simply have to splice the ACC and constant leads from the hardwiring kit into the wire on the pigtail fuse. If you’re installing a battery pack or a hardwiring kit without inline fuses, you can simply add your own inline fuses of appropriate amperage. However, to prevent fires or electrical issues, the wire on the pigtail fuse must be of equal or lower gauge (i.e. thicker) than the wire on your hardwiring kit.

Consider wiring battery packs using relays. If you plan on installing a battery pack but your fuse box doesn’t provide enough clearance for an add-a-fuse, this will likely prove more difficult, but it is ideal. A relay setup interfaces with any non-essential ACC connection to act as a switch. It allows the battery pack to draw from a suitable constant connection only when the vehicle is running, acting as a countermeasure to protect your vehicle’s battery and electrical system. Depending on your vehicle, this may either be done with or without splicing. Doing this may expose you to high voltage, so this should only be done by professionals or individuals with the necessary skillset and electrical experience.

Consider getting a professional installation. If the advice above seems beyond your experience or skillset, we recommend seeking professional assistance. A reputable local auto electrician or car electronics installer should be able to do the job. At our shop, we have completed installations into many Ford vehicles with no issues.

And that’s how you can work around the common wiring issues with Ford vehicles! For more installation guides, visit our Dash Cam Installation Hub here. If you are in or near the Vancouver, BC area, book an installation appointment with us here.

For more questions, please reach out to our support team here.