The Garmin Dash Cam Mini works quite well for its compact size and is almost invisible from the outside of the vehicle.
Instead of spending the money on a Garmin Parking Mode Cable, I decided to instead use the USB cable that came with the Dash Cam and power it through a 12V to 5V USB Converter. This was a cheaper alternative, however the only drawback is that the camera won’t work while the vehicle is turned off. If you must have that feature, then these instructions are not for you.
I decided to install a Dash Cam both in the front of my 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe, as well as in the rear. This article contains the instructions for the front dash cam install. The dash cam will be powered from a Fuse Tap added in the Fuse panel beside the steering wheel. The following is a schematic of the wiring:
You will need the following parts:
- DC DC Converter 12V to 5V USB
- Fuse Tap and 3A fuse – to connect the converter positive wire. Make sure you get the correct fuse type – in my case a Low Profile
- Wire Terminal – to connect the converter negative wire to the vehicle chassis. O shape and U shape options shown below.
In addition, you will need the following tools:
- Multi-meter to measure voltage
- Needle nose pliers – to pull out fuse from fuse panel
- Wire cutter / crimping tool
- Plastic pry bars – auto trim removal tools.
The green line in the below picture illustrates where the USB wire of the dash cam will be installed in the vehicle.
First, remove the rubber seal in the door. You just need to pull out the section marked in red in the picture below. This will expose a small gap between the column (marked blue in picture) trim and the chassis, as well allow you to remove the side trim on the dashboard (marked green in picture).
Use a plastic pry tool to take off the side panel of the dashboard, right where the fuse panel is. You can also pull out the cover in the front of the dashboard, to expose the fuse panel behind it. You just use your fingers for that; no pry tool needed.
The column trim can be pulled off just using your fingers. Be aware that there is an airbag behind the column, which is why the top of the trim is held in place by a plastic connection that will allow you to pull the trim off a little, but you can’t take it off entirely. This is fine since we don’t plan on removing the entire column trim; we just tuck the wire behind the gap. It is important that you DO NOT run the wire over top of the airbag; either run the wire around or behind the airbag.
You can easily remove the plastic cover behind your rear view mirror, behind which you can hide the USB wire. The only bit of wire you’ll see is where it comes out from the plastic cover hole near the mirror base, going to your dash cam – see picture below. The rest of the wire can be pushed behind the roof liner along the top of the windshield.
The rest of the wire can be tucked away from view behind the column trim, making sure you DO NOT BLOCK in any way the airbag, and behind the dashboard side trim. The USB wire should now be running from the rear view mirror to the fuse panel.
Next steps are making the proper connections to power the USB wire.
First, you need to find a Switched Fuse. That is, a fuse that is only powered when the vehicle is in Accessory mode or turned on, but not powered when the vehicle is shut off. Most fuses are constantly powered, even when the vehicle is turned off. The only reliable way to determine which fuses are Constant or Switched is by using a multi-meter. You’ll need to set your multi-meter to 20V DC. The black lead has to touch anywhere on the vehicle chassis, or on one of the screws inside the dashboard. The red lead will go into one of the tiny openings at the top of the fuse you are measuring. In my vehicle I found the cigarette lighter fuse to be a good candidate. Once you find a Switched fuse, pull it out – you may need to use a needle nose pliers – and use the read lead of your multi-meter to find which side in the fuse socket is the “hot” side – the side where the electricity from the car battery is coming from. This is important to know and to make sure that your Fuse Tap will be inserted in the right direction. If you insert it in the wrong direction, then the fuse for the dash cam will be bypassed entirely and not be able to protect against surges, risking your wires or dash cam to be destroyed.
Before inserting the Fuse Tap, it needs to be connected to the positive wire of the DC/DC converter. It should come with the proper pieces that you need to crimp together to make the connection.
The negative wire of the converter will need to be connected to the chassis. There should be a few screws inside the dashboard that are good candidates. Use your multi-meter to make sure the screw is properly grounded. Use the red lead on one of the Constant fuses and the black lead on the screw. If there is no voltage, then find another screw. Once you find one, use either a U shaped or an O shaped wire terminal and attach it to the converter negative wire with a crimping tool. The O shaped is slightly better because it won’t come out as easily while you are tightening the screw, however a U shaped terminal will be fine, too.
Insert the original fuse from your vehicle into the bottom socket of the Fuse Tap, and the 3A fuse in the top socket. Then plug the Fuse Tap into the fuse socket, making sure that the far end pin goes into the hot side of the socket. The schematic and pictures above can help you figure it out which side that is. Note that it may be a very tight fit but it should work.
Finally, plug the USB wire into the converter socket. Any excess cable can be rolled up and tied together with a zip tie. Your dash cam is now wired up. It should get power on as soon as you turn your vehicle in Accessory mode or start the engine.
Once you have confirmed everything is working, you can push all the trims back in place and push the rubber seal back into place.