Hanging out in the RAV4 Prime forums over on RAV4World is dangerous: people are always posting the cool accessories and customizations they’ve made to their vehicles. Based on some threads there (and in the Facebook group), I decided to try installing a dash cam!
The recommended model was the Fitcamx Dash Cam but according to their web site (and the item page on Amazon) the current model wasn’t compatible with the 2022 RAV4. The photo they had showing the incompatible camera housing didn’t match mine though (it had vents, mine has no vents) so I sent them some photos asking if it would indeed work. They said it would, so I ordered one.
Installation was pretty easy. Oddly, there are no written instructions, just a YouTube video, and if you watch it, it’s missing a major piece (how to slide off the main housing) right off the bat! Anyway, I just had to slide off the current plastic camera housing (behind the rearview mirror), transfer some plastic clips from the old housing to the one from the kit, unplug the power cable from the car’s camera and plug it into a new wiring harness, plug the new dash cam into that same harness, then snap the whole assembly back together. It took me about 20 minutes and most of that was me just being slow and cautious to make sure I didn’t break some small plastic piece, and then getting all the wiring stuffed back inside the new assembly. The end result, though, is a dash cam that looks factory installed and uses the inline power that was already going to the RAV4’s front-facing camera so everything is seamless. The kit came with a new plastic cover plate as well but I ended up re-using the small plastic OEM cover plate since it had a smaller opening than the included one (and it fit just fine).
Setup was a little problematic. Like with most devices, the dash cam broadcasts its own wireless network that you connect your phone to. I had a bit of a WiFi fight initially since my phone kept connecting to wireless CarPlay and disconnecting from the camera. Once I managed to prevent my phone from reconnecting to CarPlay, I was able to connect to the camera and get everything set up. From the mobile app you can view a live display of the camera, view recordings and snapshots, and change the settings. I made some minor changes like the wireless network name and password, then increased the resolution to the max 3840×2160 (4K). Once I had everything configured and tweaked, I “forgot” the network on my phone to prevent WiFi conflicts.
The dash cam turns on and off with the car, but a physical power button also allows you to turn it on and off if you want (otherwise, it’s always recording). There’s also a “camera” button that will take a still photo. A slot on the side houses the included 64mb microSD card (but based on recommendations from the forum threads, I replaced it with a 128gb one from Lexar). At max resolution, a 3-minute clip takes up about 530mb so that larger card should give me about 12 hours of footage (at 2560×1440, the 3-minute file size was 332mb). You can set the clips to be longer and also have the old ones be automatically overwritten when the card is full. The dash cam also has a “G-force” sensor meant to detect collisions. This will “lock” the current video recording to prevent it from being overwritten. I also discovered there’s no file size difference with audio or off. There’s always a 63kbps mono track being recorded so apparently the settings to turn off audio just mute the microphone. I don’t need to hear in-car conversations or my singing along to the radio, so I’ve left the audio off for now.
You can review and download photos and videos using the mobile app (if you connect your phone to the dash cam’s wireless network). I imagine it would take a while to download the video clips, over WiFi so I find it easier to just pop out the microSD card, plug it into my computer, and grab them that way. You’ll find a Movies, Photos, and RO folder, which I learned is “read-only” and contains any of the locked videos from the G-force sensor. I noticed that any time I pressed the camera button to take a photo, the corresponding video was moved to the RO folder. Not sure if that’s a feature (i.e., a way of saying you want to save the current clip when you take a still photo) or if my pressing of the button is triggering the G-force sensor (I lowered the sensitivity because in my initial driving tests rough roads were enough to trigger the video to be locked).
There’s a definite lack of detailed, understandable documentation. The high-level points are there, but for questions like the one above with the RO folder and camera button, I guess the only thing to do is contact Fitcamx via one of their social media accounts or e-mail. That being said, they were pretty responsive to my initial inquiry about the compatibility with my RAV4. It’s also clear the company is not US-based and the manuals and app are not written in English originally. There are a lot of misspellings and odd turns of phrase like “delete successed” or “I See” instead of “OK”. But the quality of the product, price, final installation, and footage itself is worth it. Here’s a sample video I took showing day and night drives:
I wish the lens were slightly closer to the windshield which would avoid the reflections of my dashboard at the bottom of the frame, but other than that I am really impressed with the video quality. Now to see what interesting things I can capture on video. 😉