Review: Ring Car Cam Keeps an Eye on Your Ride


Ring is known for innovative video doorbells and home security networks, and now it’s venturing into our beloved car space. Dashcams are a thriving market, and to make it, a product needs to stand out. Based on our time with it, Ring is up to the challenge with its new Car Cam.

The Ring Car Cam features a dual-face HD camera for views inside and outside the vehicle. It can detect movement from any angle and send real-time alerts to your phone via the Ring app, so you can easily keep an eye on the comings and goings around your ride. It even connects to Amazon’s Alexa. Inspired by the opportunity to plug our vehicle into our home network, we decided to take the Car Cam for a spin.

Ring Car Cam

Ring Car Cam

Notable features

The motion-detecting dashcam game isn’t new, but how Amazon’s Ring Car Cam delivers alerts to car owners is: Notifications are sent to your phone in real time. Yep, as soon as the Car Cam detects movement, it pings your phone. You can then investigate the cause of the malfunction through the Ring app, where you can access a real-time camera view of either the outward- or inward-facing cameras. Fairly smooth.

The Ring Car Cam achieves this by connecting to your home Wi-Fi while parked. It’s great for the driveway or garage, but what if you’re on the go? If you opt for the Ring Protect Go subscription service, you can access real-time views through LTE connectivity on your mobile device. Say you’re at a hotel and a motion warning pops up in front of your car; with this optional subscription you will be able to see it in real time. Unlike some other devices we’ve tried, there’s a subscription not required for the Ring Car Cam to function; however, to access all its handy features, the subscription is required.

External video is captured in HD, and the Car Cam continuously records while you drive, with no way to disable it. In this sense, it is a traditional dashcam. The video quality is solid, although we did see a few instances where license plates were hard to distinguish. Fortunately, viewing the recordings is easy through the Ring app. Although, as expected – and as with many other dashcams – it struggled a bit in the rain.

ring motor cam review

We tested the Ring Car Cam on a trip around Michigan.

Collin Morgan|Car and Driver

The Ring Car Cam offers another distinctive feature: Traffic Stop. Simply saying “Alexa, record” will automatically record the camera for the next few minutes. The video will be stored locally on the device, but if you opt for the Ring Protect Go subscription, the interaction will be stored on the Cloud.

The Ring Car Cam is powered by the vehicle’s OBD-II port, and Ring wanted us to make sure our vehicle was compatible. There is a full list of incompatible vehicles here, which we definitely recommend checking before you buy.

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Notes and observations

Amazon’s Ring Car Cam was easy to install and set up. It certainly looks funky, but once it’s installed you’ll see why. It’s not big and bulky like the dashcams you’ll see when you take a carpool. In fact, it is quite compact and not distracting. It slides tightly between your vehicle’s windshield and dashboard and attaches to the glass with a pre-installed adhesive. You can then route the power cord from the cam to the OBD-II port by inserting it into gaps along the way.

As mentioned, the Ring Protect Go subscription is required to unlock everything that sets the Car Cam apart from other dashcams. For $6 per month or $60 per year, you can access the two-way talk feature, live alerts, live viewing via LTE, and download recordings. Without the service, your remote connection is limited to your home’s Wi-Fi. Additionally, no removable storage options are currently available. So yes, the whole package gets expensive.

The Ring app is incredibly powerful with the Car Cam; almost also powerful, and it allows for the invasion of privacy easily. Similar to accessing your Ring doorbell remotely, with a Ring Protect Go subscription, you can access the Car Cam’s interior camera and built-in microphone and see inside the vehicle at any time from your phone. You can also talk to anyone in the vehicle using the Two-Way Talk feature. This may be useful for parents of new drivers. But if that’s you, good luck dealing with the backlash from it.

Having a camera in your face while driving can feel unsettling. Ring addresses this with a physical privacy cover that covers the inner lens. It also disables audio, though we wish there was a way to enable audio without the internal video.

ring motor cam ring app review

Amazon|Car and Driver

The Car Cam draws power from your vehicle’s OBD-II port, but only up to a point. With the internal voltage meter set to one of three sensitivities, the device will automatically shut down. While great for an overnight stay or three, leaving the Ring Car Cam waiting over your long-term storage vehicle without a trickle charger will drain the battery.

Being powered by the OBD-II means you can’t use the Ring Car Cam if you have a monitoring device from your insurance company already plugged into your OBD-II port, such as Nationwide’s SmartRide, Allstate’s DriveWise , or USAA’s SafePilot. The only solution here would be an OBD-II splitter, which is widely available on the aftermarket – and notoriously unreliable.

ring motor cam review

The Ring Car cam, unpacked.

Gannon Burgett|Car and Driver

Finally, at the risk of sounding too paranoid, connecting a dashcam to your vehicle’s OBD-II port can potentially provide information about your vehicle and driving habits to insurance companies and other interested parties. This type of access to your personal information via your car’s dash cam can be a slippery slope. While we hope and trust that Ring doesn’t sell your information, it’s worth noting that the company is owned by Amazon.

Our verdict

Yes, the Ring Car Cam might look a bit strange, but the features it offers are quite comprehensive. If you’re worried about break-ins while your ride is parked on the street, it’s hard to beat the real-time view on this thing. Its high price reflects its exclusive features, many of which are only accessible via the Ring Protect Go subscription service. Still, we feel that the seamless integration with the excellent Ring app is an added “worth it” perk — especially if you already use a Ring home security system and tap Alexa to control your smart home devices.

That said, if you’re not willing to shell out for the Ring Protect Go subscription, the Ring Car Cam is really just another dashcam at the end of the day — and there are plenty of less expensive options on the market. We like that sleek design, though.

Collin Morgan header

Associate Trade Editor

Collin Morgan is an Associate Commerce Editor at Hearst Autos, where the former Rust Belt mechanic and gadget enthusiast offers the best gear for your automotive endeavors.