Let's be honest, there are so many bad drivers on the road these days doing all kinds of crazy and illegal things that it's become a good idea to fit a dash cam inside your car to record these idiots, and help with an insurance claim if things do go wrong.
Of course, you can also use it to record your journeys where thanks to a removable microSD card you can save it to your computer, or even publish it to the Internet.
Being a gadget man myself, I'd been thinking about buying a dash cam for a good 12+ months, but was concerned about fitting one since my car (a 3rd generation BMW Mini) was less than one year old, and I didn't want to start removing plastic trims, rubber seals or any part of the interior.
After looking around the interior of the Mini I decided it was just about doable, but I was far from 100% confident. Nevertheless, I bought a Transcend 32GB DrivePro 200 Car Video Recorder with Battery, which has a 160 degree wide angle lens and captures a good amount of the road in 1080p HD.
The dash cam itself is roughly 3 inches square in size and uses a fairly chubby cable which has to be run from the cam into the 5V power port, more commonly known as the cigarette lighter inside the car. It is possible to hardwire the dash cam directly into the interior roof lighting or fuse box by buying an extra wiring kit, but I didn't fancy doing this so the 5V power port was the only option for now.
When it came to fitting the dash cam inside the Mini, the 1st challenge I came across was where do I locate it? The problem with the 3rd generation Mini it has a compact windscreen with a very bulky rearview mirror, which also has a plastic housing on the back which hides the alarm light cable. Most people like to fit their dash cam directly behind the rear view mirror for security reasons, as it makes the cam more obscure and less likely to attract thieves.
Unfortunately, there is very little chance of you being able to install the dash cam directly behind the rear view mirror, unless it is unbelievably compact and has no screen, which usually only applies to the very cheap models. After some experimenting, I decided the best location for my dash cam was about 3 inches from the rearview mirror on the left-hand (passenger) side.
Naturally, I'm in UK and UK cars are right-hand drive, so if your car is left-hand drive then attach the dash cam to the right-hand side of the mirror. The good thing about attaching the cam in this location is that it doesn't interfere with your vision and provides good and clear dash cam footage.
You're free to experiment with the best location for yourself and you can use Blu-Tack on the back of the dash cam mount if it's not one of those suction types before you stick it in its permanent location.
Now my biggest concern was of course the cable and where to hide it. Naturally, I didn't want it dangling down the windscreen and across the dashboard, so I had to find a way of hiding it behind all the interior trim.
This was actually a far easier job than I initially thought. When you do this you need to make sure that you install the cable from the dash cam down to the 5V power port, not the other way round, unless you're gonna end up with a load of excess cable that you can't hide.
To actually install the cable, all you'll need is a small, thin screwdriver and around 3 or 4 cable ties.
The 1st step is to push the cable up into the gap between the roof lining and the windscreen. There's actually a massive gap here and this is by far the easiest stage when it comes to hiding the cable.
The next stage is to run the cable across the gap between the roof liner and the door pillar. You will need a thin long screwdriver to help push the cable right down into the void of the door pillar. This is the most difficult and nerve wracking stage as the actual door pillar lining is very tight and rigid, so do this at a very slow and careful pace.
The next step is fairly easy and all you have to do is gently peel back the door seal and run the cable all the way down until you come to a gap in the plastic trim on the passenger side.
After threading the cable down inside the door seal, you should roughly reach the end of the glove box on the passenger side where you will see a nice little gap which you can thread the cable through and underneath the glove box.
Once the cable is underneath the passenger foot well, this is where you will need some cable ties to attach the cable to the nooks and crannies underneath. There's actually loads of nooks and crannies underneath the passenger side, so you shouldn't find a problem finding a hole to thread the cable ties through. You can also bunch up any excess cable with a cable tie in this area.
From the foot well, the final step is to push the cable up underneath the plastic trimming on the passenger side until you reach the gap in the plastic and then thread the cable up and around until you reach the power port/cigarette lighter. Unfortunately, the final 10 or 15 inches of the cable will be visible as there is no way to hide this unless you make some major modifications to the central console, which will be costly.
If there's any excess cable during the final stage, you can easily pull it back up into the foot well and bunch it together.
That's basically how you fit a dash cam to a 3rd generation BMW Mini. The whole process will take you between 1 and 2 hours depending on your skill level. Overall, I will say the process is fairly easy and the only tools you need is a long, thin small screwdriver and a couple of cable ties.
You can view a selection of videos on my YouTube channel that I have shot using the Transcend DrivePro 200 dash cam at the following link