Tesla Dashcam Explained

Covers what your Tesla Dashcam is, if your vehicle has it and how it compares with other third-party dashcams. 

The Tesla Dashcam

Tesla has a number of cool features – a Dashcam that records video while driving from 4 cameras (front, both side repeaters, and rear), Sentry mode that can record a 10-minute clip when it detects a person moving nearby, crash event video save, and view the video on the car’s screen.

Camera Coverage Area

Vehicles That Include the Dashcam

These video recording features are currently available on all Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, as well as Model S and X vehicles made after July 31, 2017.

The Model S and X with HW2.0 (vehicles made after 1-Oct-2016) that have been upgraded with the AP3 processor get a limited dashcam that only includes the front and side cameras. Currently, on HW2.0 cars, the quality is not ideal, with some streaking and lost frames, even with very fast memory.

Drive Issues

The dashcam feature requires you to supply a flash drive that plugs into one of the two USB ports in the front of the car.

There is a wide range of flash drives, but selecting the wrong drive creates problems, such as failed drives, incomplete images, or other strange problems. Most problems can be eliminated by using the right type of flash drive as we explain in Memory Requirements.

Comparison

When compared with third-party dashcams, the Tesla dashcam is a bit limited, but the price (free) is right and doesn’t require any special installation. It doesn’t perform nearly as well as the best dashcams, such as the BlackVue DR900S-2CH.

BlackVueFront and rear cameras
Feature Tesla Dashcam BlackVue DR900S-2CH
Front camera 1280 x 960 narrow-angle (~40°) 3840 x 2160 (2160p) 162°
Side cameras 1280 x 960 75°, rear-biased 1920 x 1080 (1080p) 139° *  (optional)
Rear camera 1280 x 960 135° 1920 x 1080 (1080p) 139°
Frame rate 36 fps 30 fps (optional 60 fps at 1080p)
Color yes, front muted yes, normal
Image stabilization No Yes
Memory Use 3 GB/hour, 4 cameras 17.5 GB/hour front & back
Maximum Recording 60 minutes max Up to limit of memory
Video Stamps none Timestamp and GPS location
Power 250W 5.6W
Audio recording No Yes
WiFi auto upload to Cloud No Yes
In car Viewer Yes No

* Side cameras can be installed with a second DR900S. With a four-camera setup, usually, the 2160p cameras are mounted front and rear, and the 1080p cameras are mounted on each side of the car.

(Aug-2021 update)