Consumer Reports looks into usefulness of dashcams for personal use

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Consumer Reports researched why putting a dashcam in your car can be handy in many ways. (KABC)

Consumer Reports researched why putting a dashcam in your car can be handy in many ways.

Placing a dashcam in your car can help prove you're not at fault in a crash, show you how a parked car got damaged or even expose what you feel is an unfair traffic stop.

"A dashcam can provide evidence and be used by an insurance company to prove that you weren't liable and that the other person is at fault," said Michelle Naranjo with Consumer Reports.

Most insurance companies will accept dashcam footage from their policyholders in the case of an accident to assist in a claim. These gadgets are also useful in disputes about racial profiling with police and come in handy if your car is damaged while parked.

They're legal, as long as you record what's going on outside the car on public roads. But inside is another matter.

"If someone gets in your car, because of privacy laws, it's important that you inform them that they are also being recorded because it really varies from state to state whether that's legal or not," Naranjo said.

So what should you look for in a dashcam? Consumer Reports compiled a list of essential features a driver would need.

Detailed images are key, so get a high-definition camera with a resolution of at least 1080p. Also important is low-light capability for when it's dark outside.

Get a camera with ample storage - at least 32 gigabytes - to preserve footage. Also, make sure it comes with long loop times, about 5 minute files are best, so you do not record over essential footage.

Dashcams can give you peace of mind, but don't forget your own footage can also be used against you.

It's important to note that there's really no legal obligation to save your dashcam footage. However, Consumer Reports points out that if you do end up getting rid of it that can lead to complications in the event of a civil action or criminal trial.
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