The 7 Best Dash Cams With Parking Mode 2020

If you want to keep your car safe from vandalism or hit-and-runs while it’s parked, you may be wondering which dash cam is best fit for this purpose.

Modern dash cams provide various levels of protection. The more expensive models support connecting remotely to your camera over the cloud, so you can see video and/or receive an alert on your phone when  the camera detects an incident. Other, more affordable, cameras support the classical buffered and other parking modes, but don’t have cloud connectivity.

Let’s start with an overview which level of protection you can expect at each price.

Levels Of Protection: Overview

HighestLive View Over Cloud$400+
HighAlerts Over Cloud$300+
GoodBuffered Parking Mode$150+
BasicOther Parking Modes$50+
Simple InstallInternal Battery~$100

How Parking Mode Works

If this is your first time shopping for a dash cam with parking mode and you’d like to learn just how exactly this works, what the difference between buffered and time-lapse parking mode is, and (most importantly) how to power your dash cam properly without risking depletion of your car’s battery, have a look at the following sections:

Highest Protection: Live View & Alerts Over Cloud

Dash cams that support live view over the cloud offer the highest level of protection. You can download the video feed from you parked car with you phone, see if there’s anything going on, and do what’s needed such as moving your car out of harm’s way, or contacting law enforcement.

Of course, dash cams with remote live view are also the most expensive. Dual dash cams with this feature start around $400. If you only need a forward-facing camera, you can get it for about $100 less.

Dash cams with remote live view will also send alerts to your phone when an incident is detected.

For cloud connectivity to work, you need an independent wireless access point in your car so the camera can be connected to the internet at all times. Access points are usually not included with the camera.

Thinkware U1000: Live View & Alerts Over Cloud (4K)

Thinkware U1000 True 4K Dash Cam

Price: Amazon US / CA / UK (affiliate links) – see more vendors

Resolution: 4K front, 1440p rear

Forward Video Quality: Very Good

Rear Video Quality: Fair

Reliability: Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered* (*needs extra radar module)

Other Features: Live view over cloud, alerts over cloud, integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, capacitor, lock file button, overheat protection, CPL filter (optional)

Power Supply: Hard-Wiring Kit (sometimes included) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: Thinkware U1000 Review

Thinkware’s flagship camera, the U1000, is one of the most advanced dashboard cameras on the market today. It can record at 4K resolution forward, and up to 1440p to the rear. One of its unique features is its radar-activated buffered parking mode (which needs an extra radar module though, priced around $100).

This is one of the most expensive dash cams currently available, and you can spend quite a bit more on all the optional extras (you’ll need at least a hard-wiring kit for parking mode to work, or a battery pack). If money isn’t an issue, this is the best parking mode dash cam you can get at this time.

BlackVue DR750S: Live View & Alerts Over Cloud (1080p)

BlackVue DR750S front and rear car camera

Price: Amazon US / CA / UK (affiliate links) – see more vendors

Resolution: 1080p front and rear

Forward Video Quality: Very Good

Rear Video Quality: Good

Reliability: Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered

Other Features:  Liver view over cloud, alerts over cloud, integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, capacitor, lock file button

Power Supply: Power-Magic Pro (sometimes included) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: BlackVue DR750S Review

The BlackVue DR750S is a classic. It’s been the first dash cam to support remote live view over the cloud, and it is still a best seller. Make sure to get it with a Power Magic Pro or a battery pack if you’re going to use the DR750S in parking mode.

A great feature of the BlackVue dash cams is that you can select which areas of the field of view should trigger an event when motion is detected. This is to reduce unnecessary recordings that might be triggered by trees moving in the wind, etc. Check out this graphic that explains the concept:

BlackVue's region-based motion detection

A word of caution: This camera has been known to suffer from overheating, so if you live in a hot climate, you may want to consider a different model.

There’s also a 4K version of this camera, called BlackVue DR900S. It can record up to 4K front and 1080p rear. Overall, we found that the DR750S is better though.

High Protection: Cloud Alerts Only

Some dash cams, like the Thinkware F800 Pro, can send an alert to your phone when an incident is detected, but do not support remote viewing over the cloud. At $300, the dual channel version of the F800 Pro is about $100 cheaper than the Thinkware U1000, so you can save some money if you don’t need the live view feature.

Thinkware F800 Pro: Alerts Over Cloud

Thinkware F800 Pro all black front and rear car camera

Price: Amazon US / CA / UK (affiliate links) – see more vendors

Resolution: 1080p front and rear

Forward Video Quality: Very Good

Rear Video Quality: Very Good

Reliability: Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered

Other Features: Alerts over cloud, Wi-Fi, integrated GPS, overheat protection, capacitor, lock file button

Power Supply: Hard-Wiring Kit (sometimes included) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: Thinkware F800 Pro Review

Thinkware’s F800 Pro can connect to the cloud to send you alerts when an incident is detected, however it doesn’t support remote live viewing. It does support buffered, time-lapse, and impact-triggered parking modes though.

Good Protection: Buffered Parking Mode

A dash cam with buffered parking mode records continuously while your car is parked, and saves the video footage temporarily to internal memory. Only when an incident is detected, video footage starting some 10 to 20 seconds before the event, and ending 10 to 20 seconds after, will be saved permanently to the camera’s SD card.

These video files will be placed in a special write protected folder so they can’t get overwritten. An alert will also be shown when you get back to your car, so you will be aware something happened.

Front and rear dash cams with buffered parking mode start around $150. The cameras in this category do not support cloud connectivity.

Viofo A129 Pro – Buffered Parking Mode, 4K Resolution

VIofo A129 Pro front and rear dash cam

Price: Amazon US / CA / UKAliExpress (affiliate links) – see more vendors

Resolution: 4K front, 1080p rear

Forward Video Quality: Very Good

Rear Video Quality: Good

Reliability: Very Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered

Other Features: 2″ screen, Wi-Fi, capacitor, lock file button, overheat protection. Optional extra remote lock file button. Optional CPL filter.

Power Supply: Hard-Wiring Kit (sometimes included) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: Viofo A129 Pro Review

Viofo have become the go-to brand in the mid-price dash cam sector. All of their cameras now support buffered parking mode, so we wholeheartedly recommend them if you don’t need (or don’t want to pay for) cloud connectivity.

The A129 Pro records high-quality 4K video to the front, and 1080p to the rear.

Viofo A129 Duo – Buffered Parking Mode, 1080p Resolution

Viofo A129 Duo front and rear car camera

Price: Amazon US / CA / UKAliExpress (affiliate links) – see more vendors

Resolution: 1080p front and rear

Forward Video Quality: Very Good

Rear Video Quality: Good

Reliability: Very Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered

Other Features: 2″ screen, Wi-Fi, capacitor, lock file button, GPS included in mount. Optional extra remote lock file button. Optional CPL filter.

Power Supply: Hard-Wiring Kit (sometimes included) or External Battery Pack

Full Review: Viofo A129 Duo Review

The A129 Duo is another great front and rear dash cam by Viofo that records good quality 1080p video, both front and rear. Like the other Viofo dash cams, it supports all three types of parking mode (buffered, time-lapse, and impact-triggered).

If you prefer a taxi cam (that records the interior of the car instead of the view through the rear window), check out the Viofo A129 Duo IR.

Viofo A119 v3 – Buffered Parking Mode (1080p, Forward Video Only)

Viofo A119 v3 dahs cam with GPS and CPL

Price: Amazon US / CA / UKAliExpress (affiliate links) – see more vendors

Resolution: 1080p

Video Quality: Very Good

Reliability: Very Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple, Time-Lapse, Buffered

Other Features: 2″ screen, optional GPS in mount, optional CPL filter, capacitor

Power Supply: Hard-Wiring Kit or External Battery Pack

Full Review: Viofo A119 v3 Review

If you don’t need a rear camera, the Viofo A119 v3 is an excellent choice. It supports buffered, time-lapse, and simple parking modes, and records very good 1080p video. Extras such as a CPL filter and GPS are available.

Basic Protection: Other Parking Modes

Many dash cams support non-buffered parking modes, such as time-lapse or impact-triggered modes. There are too many of these to list here. If you’re interested in non-buffered parking modes, have a look at the corresponding links.

Quickest To Install: Internal Battery Powered

Maybe your priority isn’t to have optimum protection, but to get a relatively low-cost dash cam that’s simple to set up and that supports a basic parking mode so you have some evidence in case anything happens? In that case, we recommend you consider a dash cam with an internal battery.

Internal batteries are not ideal in dash cams, for a number of reasons. First of all, batteries are heat sensitive, so high quality dash cams usually come with a capacitor instead that can hold just enough charge to safely power down the camera in case of a power cut. If you live in a hot climate, we don’t recommend internal batteries.

However, if you’re living in a relatively cool region and are looking for a dash cam with parking mode, and can’t be bothered to get an extra battery pack (or hard-wire your camera to the fuse box), dash cams with an internal battery make for a really quick and easy installation. Just stick the camera to your wind screen, plug the power cable into your cigarette lighter plug and you’re ready to go.

One of the most popular battery-powered dash cams with simple (impact-activated) parking mode is the Vava Dash Cam, which is available in single and dual channel versions.

Vava Dash Cam – Internal Battery Powered, Quick & Easy To Set Up

VAVA Dash Cam VA-CD001

Price: Amazon US / CA / UK (affiliate links) – see more vendors

Resolution: 1080p

Video Quality: Fair

Reliability: Very Good

Supported Parking Modes: Simple

Other Features: Wi-Fi, internal GPS, remote control button, can easily rotate the lens 360 degrees

Power Supply: Internal Battery (included)

Full Review: Vava CD-001 Review

The Vava Dash Cam is available in single or dual channel versions (i.e. front only, or front and rear). It is one of the most popular dash cams that can run on an internal battery, so setting this one up for parking mode is dead easy. A nice feature is that you can swivel the lens 360 degrees around a vertical axis, so you can record the passenger windows or to the rear when needed.

What Is Parking Mode?

Curios to know how this all works? Let’s dig into the details.

Parking mode allows you to keep your dash cam running while your car is parked. That way, you’ll have video footage in the case of a hit-and-run or vandalism incident.

In order to not fill up its memory card with useless files in which nothing is going on, the dash camera should only save files when it detects an event. An event can either be an impact that is detected by the camera’s G-sensor, or a motion that is detected visually in the camera’s field of view.

Note that while virtually all modern dash cameras have a G-sensor that can detect impacts to your car, only some of them additionally support visual motion detection. Keep in mind that using motion detection makes sense when you’re parking in a quiet spot. On a busy street however where people are walking by all the time, it may lead to your camera recording all of the time, wasting precious battery power as well as storage space.

Different Kinds Of Parking Mode

1. Simple parking mode: If an impact or motion is detected by the camera, it will come alive and start recording, hopefully catching the perpetrator. This type of parking mode is by far the most energy efficient of the three. The problem with simple parking mode is that in the time it takes the camera to wake up and start recording, whoever damaged your car might already be gone.

2. Buffered parking mode (recommended): The camera records continuously, and saves the video footage to internal memory. When an impact or motion is detected, a couple of seconds (typically 10 or 20) before and after the event will be saved to the camera’s SD card, in a special write protected folder so it doesn’t get overwritten. An alert will also be shown when you get back to your car, so you will be aware something happened.

3. Time-lapse mode: An alternative to the above modes is time-lapse mode, in which the camera shoots a still picture every second or so (1fps). This allows you to watch a time-lapse version of what was going on around your car while you were gone. Some cameras will additionally switch to normal recording for a certain period of time after they detect an event.

So which of the three modes is best?

Usually, we prefer buffered parking mode, as you’ll get a video of everything that happened before and after the event that triggered recording.

However, when you’re parked on a busy street or in a parking lot with lots of movement, motion detection might kick in all the time and fill your memory card with scores of useless videos. In that case, time-lapse parking mode is better.

When parking for long periods of time (several days), simple parking mode may be preferable, as it consumes the least amount of energy.

Choosing The Best Dash Cam For Parking Mode

A dash cam that will be used for parking surveillance should fulfill the following criteria:

  • Should be dual channel ideally (but see below).
  • Discreetness: You probably don’t want your dash cam to be too visible, especially if you will be using it for parking surveillance. In a sketchy neighborhood, a large shiny camera might attract the attention of thieves.
  • Video quality: Should obviously be as good as you can get. If going for a dual channel dash cam, get one that records at least 1080p resolution both ways. 4K resolution is better at day, but can perform worse during the night.
  • Reliability: This one is huge. You don’t want a dash cam that you can’t rely on, especially if you’re going to have it running for long periods of time.
  • SD card: Last not but least, make sure to get a memory card that’s made for heavy use. For further details, refer to our article about Which SD Cards Last Longest In Dash Cams.

Single Channel Or Dual Channel?

For maximum protection when parked, a dual channel (front and rear) dash cam is very much preferable as it doubles your field of view and therefore increases your chances of seeing who damaged your car.

That being said, single channel dash cams cost less, often record at higher resolutions, and have better video quality than dual channel devices. Also, if you usually park backed up against a wall, a single channel dash cam would be enough.

If you’re really going for optimum protection, you could even get two single channel cameras to have the best of both worlds. However, this also doubles the installation and maintenance work that will have to be done. You’ll also have two SD cards to deal with that won’t be synchronized, so this option is probably a bit over the top for most people.

Power Supply: How To Avoid Depleting Your Car’s Battery

A dashboard camera’s internal battery typically has a very low capacity, mainly intended to allow the device to shut down gracefully and not lose any footage in case of a power cutoff. For the camera to keep recording even when ignition is off, the dash cam needs to be hard wired to your car’s internal electrical circuitry (with a Hard Wiring Kit) instead of simply plugged into the cigarette lighter.

Note that a simple hard wiring kit will NOT prevent you car’s battery from being drained if you keep your dash cam running continuously. To keep your battery healthy, there are a couple of options available:

1. Battery Discharge Prevention (BDP):  A device that is installed between your dash cam and the car’s fuse box. It continuously monitors your car battery’s voltage, and when voltage drops below a preset (often configurable) level, power to the dash cam will be cut off in order to prevent further draining of the battery.

Battery discharge prevention devices typically cost around $20-$30 and are available from various manufacturers. You don’t need to worry about getting them from the same manufacturer that made your dash cam, as long as they come with the correct power adapter.

One of the most popular BDP devices is BlackVue’s Power Magic Pro. It allows you to set a cutoff voltage and a timer additionally. VicoVation used to have a great BDP called Vico Power-Plus, but it has unfortunately gone out of production as VicoVation aren’t manufacturing dash cams anymore.

2. External Battery Pack: A more elegant, but also more expensive, solution is to install a battery pack that powers your dash cam. The battery pack holds enough charge to keep your dash cam running for anywhere between 12 and 25 hours, depending on which model you choose and how much power your camera consumes.

The battery pack eliminates the risk of depleting your car engine’s main battery. Also, there won’t be a load on the car battery while the car is off, which some modern cars may interpret as “parasitic” which may cause them to cut the circuit.

Cellink NEO Battery Pack for Dash Cams

The Cellink NEO is a high-end battery pack with more than 76Wh capacity. Charges in 45 minutes. Order from: Amazon US / CA / UK

This setup basically serves as an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for your dash cam. It will recharge while your car is running, typically charging in less than an hour.

Popular, high quality battery packs include the Cellink NEO and Blackvue’s B-124.

BlackVue B-124 battery pack for dash cams, with accessories

The BlackVue B-124 battery pack will power a DR750S-2CH for up to 20 hours. Charges in 40 minutes. Order from: Amazon US / CA / UK

If you need higher capacities, you can get expansions for both the B-124 and Cellink batteries. Connect multiple expansion batteries in series to achieve the desired overall capacity.