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Parking Sensors & Reversing Cameras

Parking Sensors

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As parking spaces get smaller and ever harder to find, the once-simple act of parking has become the bane of the modern motorist’s life. The average car is now longer, wider and taller than ever before.

Yes, alloy wheels and painted bumpers look much smarter, but scuff or dent them and it can be expensive to repair the damage.

Parking sensors and rear-view cameras are now easily available for all manner of vehicles at affordable pricing. These systems take the stress and guesswork out of parking and could potentially save you an expensive repair bill or insurance claim.

Ultrasonic parking sensors

Ultrasonic sensors bounce sound waves off obstacles, using the ‘echo’ time to indicate how far away they are. A speaker in the car bleeps – increasingly frantically – as they get closer.

Pros of ultrasonic parking sensors

+ The least expensive method of parking aid.
+ Sensors can be perfectly colour matched to the vehicle’s exterior.
+ Sensors detect objects even when the vehicle is stationary.

Cons of ultrasonic parking sensors

- Ultrasonic sensors can miss smaller or narrow objects, and inclines can deflect the sound waves.
- The sensors only detect objects directly behind or in front of the vehicle, and may not function correctly if they are dirty or out of alignment.
- Fitting usually requires drilling the bumper, though stick-on sensors are available (but look unattractive).
- Ultrasonic parking sensors are not suitable for use with a tow bar.

Electromagnetic parking sensors

Electromagnetic parking sensors create an invisible electromagnetic field around the car’s bumper; any objects entering it trigger a warning sound.

Pros of electromagnetic parking sensors

+ Suitable for use with tow bars, cycle racks, etc.
+ Electromagnetic sensors are mounted inside the bumper, therefore eliminating the need for drilling.

Cons of electromagnetic parking sensors

- Electromagnetic parking sensors are expensive.
- Electromagnetic sensors only detect objects once the vehicle has started moving.

Reversing Cameras

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Reversing cameras work in conjunction with an LCD display screen normally situated in the vehicle’s dashboard.

They are available as an option on many new vehicles and are usually bundled together with the satellite navigation system.

A compact, wide-angle lens mounted on the tailgate or rear bumper relays a ‘live’ image of the area directly behind the vehicle.

The picture is ‘flipped’ so that a mirror image appears on the screen, otherwise the driver’s perception of left and right would be reversed.

The camera image usually appears automatically on the screen when you engage reverse.

Many systems also use guidelines superimposed on the image to show the path of the car as you turn the steering wheel, helping to position the car.

Pros of reversing camerasreversing_camera_2

+ Aids rear visibility, particularly in larger and luxury vehicles such as SUVs.
+ Provides a clear view of the ground immediately behind the car, not usually visible from the driver’s seat.
+ Guidelines on some systems can help you park more accurately.

Cons of reversing cameras

- Should not be used as a substitute for checking the mirrors.
- Practically limited when the camera is dirty, and at night when it relies on the car’s reversing lights to illuminate the ground.
- A potentially expensive option.