This dash cam install was done on a 4th Gen Legacy, but it should be similar to other models, as well.
Time to Complete
: A couple hours of research and buying parts, and 60 minutes of work time on the power harness and car.
: Easy, except proper soldering may require some skill.
: Incredibly boring video:
: Nearly all dash cams run on +5V. Failure to use a voltage regulator to convert the car's +12V power down to +5V will result in damage to your dash cam! Dash cams use +5V because USB provides 5V power and the camera's interface is USB. And because China = cheap.
: You must use a fuse to prevent potential damage from electrical short circuits. Many years ago, my old car started on fire because I was too stupid to use a fuse properly. Don't be stupid.
: Currently, most dash cams come from China or Korea. Be careful choosing a vendor because shipping can take weeks. Spytec on Amazon stocks dash cams in the US, so Amazon Prime 2-day got me my camera fast.
Parts to buy
- Dashcam. Check out http://www.dashcamtalk.com for reviews and select a popular camera. I went with the A118-C model for $80 from
- Voltage regulator. I bought an
- Fuse Tap (ATM). The mini-fuse tap allows you to add a new fused circuit from your fuse box. ATM is the mini size that you'll find under the steering wheel in the dash fusebox. I went with the Bussman ATM. Here
for $8, but you can find these in auto parts stores.
- Micro-SDHC Card (also called TF card). Dash Cam's don't include these, but this is the mass storage required for video recording. I went with the
- Low amperage ATM fuses to add a fuse for your new dash cam. I bought a kit of ATM fuses from a local auto parts store for $5. 2A is good. Do not buy the "low profile ATM" fuses since Subaru isn't using this style.
- USB Charge-only Cable. $5. Surprisingly, not all USB cables will work properly. Using the improper type will confuse the dash cam because it thinks it is plugged into a PC instead of a raw power source. Only 1 out of 3 USB cables I owned worked, and it's the same cable that didn't work on my AccessPort. I just bought this
from Amazon for $8, and it should allow any USB cable to work for powering up the dash cam.
- Philips head screwdriver
- Flat head screwdriver
- Zip ties
- Soldering iron / electrical tape / heat shrink tubing (or some other method of joining wires i.e. butt crimps)
- Spade or ring terminal (for attaching to chassis ground)
Pictures of the goods in their boxes and then opened up:
1) Add a ground terminal to the Regulator harness.
Before working inside the car, you can prepare the 5V Regulator wiring harness. Carefully use a scalpel or razor to pull back the outter sheath of the Regulator harness about 6" back from the power/gnd leads. Solder and heat shrink a spade or ring terminal to the black/ground wire. This will eventually hook into chassis ground under a bolt or screw.
2) Attach the Fuse Tap power lead to the Regulator harness.
3) Remove the A-pillar plastic cover by releasing the metal clip.
You can see the metal clip if you use your fingers to carefully peel back the top of the A-pillar cover. Shine a light in there and you you'll see it. Stick a flathead screwdriver straight down and push and the A-pillar will pop right out. You'll see wire bundles behind the A-pillar, and this is where the Dash Cam power wires will eventually go.
: Once you place the screwdriver into the "pushing slot", you need to push the A-pillar cover tightly against the A-pillar to release it. Use one hand to push down on the screwdriver and the other hand to push the cover against the A-pillar. This will allow it to be released. Don't push down on the screwdriver while pulling the A-pillar cover off or it will get stuck.
4) Remove the dash side cover.
Simply grab the top rear corner and pull outwards. It comes out pretty easy.
5) Remove reading light console assembly.
Remove the plastic lens cover over the reading lights. Just use your fingernails and pull gently by the plastic near the light button. Next, remove the two Philips head screws that attach the entire plastic assembly to the roof of the car. The assembly will now easily pull down. Using your hands again, just pull down near the white plastic pop rivet to create some space between the headliner and the windshield. You'll need this to snake a wire to the Dash Cam, and to help route the Dash Cam power wires.
6) Route the Regulator harness above the headliner.
Try to find a spot that creates as much cable slack as possible. You can't waste an inch here or the harness won't reach the fuse box. I had good luck stuffing the regulator box into a crevice and running the wire to the windshield and over to the A-pillar. Run the harness down the A-pillar and use zip ties to attach it nicely to the other harnesses.
Screw the ground ring terminal into the chassis ground. Any of the metal frame/bracketry you see in that area is chassis ground.
7) Install the fuses into Fuse Tap and install into Fuse Box.
The orientation of the Fuse Tap is critical. If you put it backwards, the fuse will be bypassed and you will be risking an electrical fire. See the picture for how the Bussman ATM Add-a-circuit should be installed. Also, the ground ring terminal has a few places you can mount. My ring terminal was too small to fit the ideal hex head bolt, so I settled for a screw. Good enough.
8) Hook up the Dash Cam to the power source (USB female-to-male connector on the Regulator harness). Put everything back together.