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Parking sensor installation
What are parking sensors
Parking sensors are neat bits of tech that alert the driver to objects when they are parking or driving at slow speeds. Usually, these sensors emit a beeping noise within the cabin which will increase in frequency the closer the car gets to an object. Once a point is reached where the sensor perceives contact might be made, it will emit a constant beep. Some cars also have a visual display on the dash showing the driver which corner of the car is causing the beeps.
It wasn’t until the early 2000s when parking sensors in cars really took off in a mainstream (i.e. not an overly expensive luxury model) vehicle: the Toyota Prius. In 2019, you generally only miss out on having parking sensors as standard equipment if you buy the base models of a vehicle in the entry-level category. However, even then, thanks to manufacturers increased efforts to entice customers to choose them over their competitors, you’ll often get parking sensors as standard.
Types of parking sensors
There are two types of parking sensors. The first uses ultrasonic sensors that uses sound waves to detect objects near your vehicle. The only problem here is that ultrasonic sound waves may have trouble picking up thin objects like poles, and they’re generally limited to the immediate front and rear of your car. The second type of parking sensor uses electromagnetic tech. These parking sensors create an electromagnetic field around your vehicle and will alert you to everything that enters this field. This system is great for complete 360-degree coverage but only activates when your car is moving.
Aftermarket systems can also vary quite a bit. For instance, you can buy reverse sensor systems only. Similarly, you can buy sensor systems that are for the front of your car only. More differences are found in the way these different systems are mounted.
A company called Hopkins has created an easy to install system that uses a bracket that mounts to the top of your number plate. For a system that perhaps looks more discreet, brands such as Parksafe make systems that require you to mount each sensor in your front or rear bumper. Yep, that’s right, systems like these require you to drill into your bumpers in order to flush-mount the sensors. The end result is neat and looks like it was installed at the factory.
Reasons for installing parking sensors
The reasons for having or installing a parking sensor system are quite obvious. They act as extra sets of eyes around your vehicle, alerting you to anything that might come in contact with your car. This is especially handy when parking, as you no longer have to creep back or forwards hoping that you don’t go that little bit too far and come into contact with another car, or anything else.
Parking sensors are super handy when navigating tight spots, but they can also play a valuable role in alerting you to things that you might not have seen. For example, small children or pets that have wandered into the path of your car may not be visible through any of your mirrors. A potentially horrible situation. Your parking sensors may be able to pick them up and alert you of their presence before you start to move.
Who can install a parking sensor system?
Some aftermarket parking sensor systems will be advertised as DIY, whilst others will explicitly require a professional to install. In any case, it’s always recommended that a professional install any safety features on your car, especially where rewiring or modifications to your car panels are required.
You want to ensure that the sensors are giving off accurate readings and working correctly. If you do not install them correctly, the first time you go to park in a tight spot may end in a nasty bump, scrape or dent on your car.
Generally, an auto electrician will have no dramas installing your parking sensor system. These professionals will ensure the wiring is done correctly and that the sensors are working as they should.
Things to consider when installing parking sensors
Some drivers may complain that sensors are oversensitive and will emit an alert when objects are not that close to them. The chance of this can be reduced by ensuring a professional does the installation. Some people also find the beeping noise extremely irritating to the point that they’d rather turn the system off then have to listen to it. In light of this, it might be worth sampling a few systems in order to try and find a beep that still alerts you but doesn’t drive you insane.
When purchasing a new car that comes with a parking system, you don’t get a choice in the beep noise or sensor sensitivity. However, you generally do have the option to turn the system off.
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