Updated: October 14, 2016

Parking Sensor Reviews:

What happens when you have to parallel park? Or back a friend's much bigger vehicle out into traffic? Do your palms get sweaty? Do you feel like you're in drivers' Ed. all over again? Well, you're not, kid. This time around you have parking sensors on your side. You know how when you're trying to park or back up, you have your passenger right there, giving you advice every step of the way? He may even get out and direct you from the curb. Well, this is nothing like that. You get all the great help you need to park and none of the "I drive better than you" attitude. A parking sensor system uses ultrasonic proximity detectors in the front and rear bumpers. This is the high-tech, less irritating version of your friend shouting, "Hey stop! Forward! Now stop!" The sensors measure the distance to nearby objects or obstacles, such as sidewalks, fences, buildings, other cars, and more, helping you navigate your vehicle more smoothly. If you're thinking of replacing your backseat driver with good parking sensors, you've come to the right place.
parking sensor

Parking Sensors in Your Car - More manufacturers are including parking sensors with the cars that drive away from their factories. Lexus is a luxury brand in which you can find sensors, but the Big 3 are also putting rear parking sensors in their vehicles. If your car doesn't offer this option, you can always install them as aftermarket car accessories. Before you install a parking sensor system, here are some things to think about:

*Your vehicle. Sometimes in the rush of buying something, we forget the basics. Make sure you get a set of sensors that is made for your car type. Some are made specifically for a particular brand, and others are more broadly designed for cars, trucks, and SUVs.

*How many sensors you need. You can find rear parking sensors, and systems with both rear and front parking sensors. Rear sensors are helpful backing up and difficult parking situations, so you may find that you don't necessarily need the front sensors, too. You can get 2, 4, 6, or 8 sensor systems.

*Wireless or wired? Everything is wireless now, so should your parking sensors be as well? A wireless system requires much less installation work, which can be expensive. You won't need to wire the display to the control unit, but you do have to wire the power supply to the display, to the main control unit, and the connections between sensors and the control unit.

*Feedback. Some parking sensor displays have a visual display which shows you how far you are from an object. Others provide audio feedback by beeping when you get too close. A long, continuous tone is sounded when you are in imminent danger of hitting it.

How Much Does a Parking Sensor System Cost? - You can find parking sensors for as little as $30, and you can find "parking aids" for even less. They range in price to about $150 (for 8 sensors). Price is based on brand, the number of sensors, whether the system has a visual display or audio feedback, and whether the system is wired or wireless. If you have it installed by a mechanic, you will pay from $80 to $160 per hour; a 4 sensor system typically takes 2 to 3 hours to install, while a 6 or 8 sensor system can take 4 to 5. Is getting a car parking system worth the cost? Say you opt for the most expensive 8 sensor system you see, and naturally, your mechanic charges $160 per hour, and doesn't he take all 5 hours to install that system. So, all told, you spend about $950. Yes, that is pricy. But let's say you don't buy yourself that sensor system and get into a parking lot fender bender with your Ford Focus. It's not a Lexus or a BMW - how much could it possibly cost to fix? According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, if you sustain an impact to your front fender at whopping 3mph, it'll cost you about $991. And that's the cheap corner. If you get hit - at 3 mph - full on in the front, it'll cost $1620. Prices aren't any prettier for the rear or for cars like the Jetta or Maxima. And to keep the good news coming, you may have to pay more in insurance. If you avert just one of these low-speed impacts, the sensors have more than paid for themselves. You can browse the best selling parking sensor systems here.

Best Parking Sensors:

About a third of accidents are caused by driver error when parking or reversing. Let's see what products can help reduce that number. The AutoSonar Backup Parking Sensors with Display Grey and Silver Sensors is a popular system that features 4 "in bumper" sensors with attached cable, waterproof main system control box with 3M self-adhesive (Velcro), color display, and compatibility for both domestic and imported cars. You can find this system for about $80 on Amazon. Check out this video on Autosonar installation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glXO4wlIS-Q). SteelMate is a name you'll see again and again as you look for car parking sensors. The Steelmate PTS400T Parking Assist System with 4 Wireless Rear Sensor features 4 rear sensors, 5 color LCD display, and audible beeping and voice prompts. The display shows green for a safe zone, yellow for a caution zone, and red for an alert zone. Flashing blue or white prompts you when it's time to park or stop. The system is $100. You can cut that in half by opting for Steelmate's PTS400 model. This also offers 4 sensors but features only audible alerts. You'll notice that the second Steelmate received negative reviews, not because of the performance, but because of the color. They are shown as black but are really white. Other than clashing, there was no problem with the unit itself. Parking Dynamics is a UK-based company that is gaining attention around the world for their electromagnetic sensors (as opposed to ultrasonic) and "no holes" design. The PD 1 Rear Parking Sensor is their most popular product, and it features an instant, automatic self-diagnostic function and 3 different audible tones. One of its main selling points is its invisibility when fitted, so there is no need for drilling. This sensor system costs 79.97, or just over $124. Parking Dynamics ships internationally, so if you want the latest and greatest, this may be perfect. You can check it out here (http://www.parkingdynamics.co.uk/). You can also check here for a good selection of parking sensors. Parking sensors may not be a strict necessity, but they can certainly come in handy in parking lots, your garage, and anywhere else dangerous curbs, buildings, and bikes lurk.