What Are The Best Parking Sensor Systems? (2020)
Have you ever tried to parallel park on the street in front of a bunch of strangers? Or navigate the twists and turns of a tiny parking garage? Parking your car isn’t always simple and easy. Many times, it can be the most frustrating part of driving!
Fortunately, technology has made parking easier, safer, and faster than ever before. Car parking sensor systems automatically detect and help you avoid obstacles such as cars, fences, buildings, and even people.
If your car doesn’t already have a parking sensor system, adding one is usually easy. Here’s a closer at how they work plus the five best parking sensor systems for 2020.
Get ready to park like a pro!
Quick Picks: Top 3 Best Parking Sensor Systems of 2020
- Best Overall – Frostory Car Parking Sensor System
- Best Cheap Option – Zone Tech Backup Radar System
- Best Value for the Money – Car Parking Monitor System by Pyle
- Honorable Mention 1 – n-Vision Back Up Parking Sensor System
- Honorable Mention 2 – Ekylin Backup Radar System
- Bonus Mention – FensSens Smart Wireless Parking Sensor
- Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Parking Sensor System
- Vehicle Type
- Type of Sensor
- Number of Sensors
- Wireless Capabilities
- Type of Feedback
- Parking Sensor System FAQ
- What is a Parking Sensor System?
- What are the Benefits of Parking Systems?
- Improved Safety
- Reduced Potential for Auto Damage
- Insurance Discounts
- Improved Driver Confidence
- How Do Parking Sensor Systems Work?
- Driver Interface
- Does a Parking Sensor System Automatically Park My Car?
- What are Garage Parking Systems?
- Do Parking Sensors Record Video?
- Can I Add a System to My Vehicle Myself?
- How Do I Install a Parking Sensor Kit in My Car?
- Find the Parking Sensor Spots
- Bumper Strips
- Direct Bumper Placement
- Connect the Power
- Connect the Sensor
- Mount the Video or LED Display
- Can I Paint Parking Sensors?
- How Do I Maintain Parking Sensors?
- Final Thoughts
Best Overall – Frostory Car Parking Sensor System
Best parking sensor system with wide coverage range and dynamic audio alarm which fits practically any car, truck, or SUV.
- Complete kit includes 4 sensors
- Detects dangers within four feet
- Works well in wet and cold temps
- Buzzer makes shrill noise after a few seconds
- Instructions can be confusing
Our favorite overall of the best parking systems isn’t packed with fancy features, but it’s easy to set up and provides reliable warnings. It includes a command module, power supply cable, two double-sided stickers, and 4 sensors.
A double CPU allows for detection up to 150 cm (up to four feet). The sensors are water and freeze-resistant, making this kit a good choice for all-weather use.
Stick the command module practically anywhere with the double-sided tape. It beeps with increasing frequency as objects grow nearer.
Best Cheap Option – Zone Tech Backup Radar System
You don’t have to spend big to protect your car from dents with this affordable parking sensor system from Zone Tech.
- Includes four weather-proof sensors
- The LED display provides visual warnings
- LED display mounts above the rearview mirror
- Includes no live video
- Designed only for the rear of the vehicle
Zone Tech’s system provides maximum coverage at a minimum price. The system includes 4 sensors and a double CPU chipset. A colorful LED display augments the audio warnings. Green, yellow, and red lights flash in relation to the distance from an obstacle.
Protective circuits and other durable components protect the system from overheating. It’s also resistant to cold weather and freezing temperatures. Each parking sensor has a 96-inch long wire which connects to the hub.
However, this is a rear-view parking system only. All 4 sensors are made to be mounted on the back bumper. While it’ll help protect your car when parking, it doesn’t provide any side collision warning. (Of course, you could always place the sensors on the side, but you’ll probably have to drill holes.)
Best Value for the Money – Car Parking Monitor System by Pyle
Watching for obstacles has never been easier with this system’s wireless camera and color LCD display.
- Affordable video-based system
- Includes 4.3 inch LCD
- The wireless receiver allows for easy setup
- Only includes one camera
With a price rivaling many audio-only systems, Pyle’s video system is a great overall value. It features a 4.3 inch LCD with a 2.4 GHz wireless video receiver and NTSC/PAL video system. Instant, real-time video is sent to the display so you can clearly see potential hazards.
Setup is simple, too. The wireless transmitter means you don’t have to work with long wires. Instead, mount the camera on either the rear license plate or the front dashboard.
The camera is versatile and built to last. It has marine-grade waterproofing with a rating of IP-67. Plus, the night vision filter allows you to see clearly even in night and fog.
Honorable Mention 1 – n-Vision Back Up Parking Sensor System
A durable and reliable back up system which mounts quickly and securely on your vehicle’s license plate.
- Detects dangers within 5.5 feet
- Easy to install around the license plate
- Includes sensors, mounting bracket, wires and more
- Includes installation wires might be too short for larger vehicles
Perfect for practically all types of cars, trucks, and SUVs, n-Vision’s backup system easily mounts behind your license plate. It detects potential hazards up to five and a half feet away from the rear bumper.
The kit includes two radar sensors, an audio alarm, installation cables, and a mounting bracket. It’s a good choice if you want a simple, reliable backup camera which won’t take all day to install. Plus, n-Vision offers a three-year warranty.
Honorable Mention 2 – Ekylin Backup Radar System
A reliable, affordable backup system which includes an LED display and a sound warning.
- Warning system using lights and sounds
- Includes 4 sensors
- Sensors are available in many colors
- Included drill bit isn’t very strong
Ekylin’s system makes warnings clear and easy to understand. You’ll hear a beeping sound which speeds up as you approach an obstacle. Plus, a dashboard-mounted LED display lights up from green to red.
The set includes 4 sensors which can be installed on the front, back or both. All sensors are durable enough to withstand harsh and wet weather. They’re available in a variety of colors to blend in with your car’s color scheme.
Bonus Mention – FensSens Smart Wireless Parking Sensor
A unique, easy to install parking sensor which connects to any iOS or Android device.
- Connects to iOS and Android devices
- Easy to install
- Displays live video when reversing
- Batteries only last for five months
- Requires smart device
No other system is quite like FensSens Smart Wireless Parking Sensor, so we didn’t want to include it with the more traditional options, but it’s still worth a look.
The system contains one camera mounted in a license plate frame. You connect the system to your iOS or Android phone to view live video. It can even be launched by telling Siri to “Open FensSens.”
The kit includes the license plate mount with camera, batteries and an anti-theft security screw. It uses Bluetooth 4.1 wireless technology, so no wires are needed for installation. You don’t even have to hook it up to your car’s battery.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Parking Sensor System
Not sure what’s the best parking sensor? Here’s what to consider:
Start with the basics. Make sure the parking sensor set is designed for the specific make and model of your vehicle.
Most systems have a broad design which fits most types of cars, trucks, and SUVs. However, others are designed for specific brands or vehicle sizes.
Type of Sensor
Most systems use radar sensors to detect objects. High-end systems typically augment the radar system with video cameras.
Video-only systems are pretty rare. After all, you can’t have your eyes glued to a monitor when moving your car.
Number of Sensors
Systems typically include an even number of sensors from two to eight. Although you can find systems with just front sensors or just rear bumper sensors, the best parking systems have both front and rear bumper sensors.
Choose a system with at least 4 sensors total, two in the front and two in the rear. Of course, additional sensors allow for more precise warnings. However, extra sensors do increase the system’s price tag. Generally, four to six sensors will provide plenty of protection. Eight can be nice, but it’s often overkill for most vehicles.
Parking sensor systems can be either wired or wireless. Both are common. Wireless systems are easy to install, but also typically more expensive. Note that wireless systems require wires to connect the power supply to the display, control unit and sensors. You just don’t need wires to connect the display to the control unit.
Type of Feedback
The warning system can provide either visual feedback, auditory feedback, or both. Systems with both a visual direction indicator and a warning sound are the most common. However, audio-only systems can be a bit easier to install because you don’t need a monitor.
Parking Sensor System FAQ
What is a Parking Sensor System?
Think of a parking sensor system as a helpful buddy standing outside your car, monitoring its proximity to objects and obstacles. When sensors detect a potential collision, the system emits a warning beep or image on a display.
Parking systems sense danger by using cameras, radar, or a combination of both. If the system has cameras, it can display real-time video on a display monitor. Typically, the video will flash a colored bar indicating the direction of the potential obstacle.
Both camera and radar systems typically emit a warning noise, too. Although specifics vary by manufacturer, generally warning noises remain consistent for most systems:
High-pitched, continuous beeps indicate an object in front.
Low-pitched beeps indicate an object in the rear.
What are the Benefits of Parking Systems?
Sensors provide a variety of benefits for practically any driver:
People, especially kids, can be hard to see when they’re behind your car. Over 60,000 people are injured and 500 killed each year in parking lot accidents. Drivers act recklessly because they feel overconfident due to the slow speeds. But even a slow-moving vehicle collision can be fatal to a pedestrian.
Sensors dramatically reduce your chances of backing into someone accidentally. Radar provides an instant alert to warn you even if a fast-moving child darts behind your car.
Reduced Potential for Auto Damage
You’ll probably walk away from a minor collision with a curb, pole or parked car. But even minor fender-benders can result in high repair bills. Parking sensors help you avoid bangs, dents, and scrapes. Not only will you save on repairs, but your car will look great, too.
Parking sensors have a documented record of helping improve vehicle safety. Many insurers recognize this by offering a discount for vehicles with parking systems. Check with your insurance company for details. Make sure you inquire about the details, as some insurers require a certain number and placement location of parking sensors.
Improved Driver Confidence
Parking makes many drivers nervous. Parking sensor systems often help boost confidence in any driver, but they’re especially effective for students, beginning drivers, and seniors.
However, make sure young drivers still have plenty of practice parking without using a parking sensor system. Otherwise, they can become over-reliant on technology, which can be a problem if the system ever fails or they need to drive a car without one.
How Do Parking Sensor Systems Work?
They’re divided into two parts:
- Driver interface
Parking sensors are mounted onto the vehicle’s exterior. They’re typically placed slightly underneath the bumper, behind grills or within contours and recesses. The specific locations vary based on the design of your vehicle and the number of sensors in the system. However, all parking sensors need a clear, unobstructed view outward.
Most parking sensors emit radar waves to gauge distance. Camera video assists the driver, but the cameras don’t “see” objects for the system. Instead, radar bounces off nearby objects and reflects back to the parking sensors to determine the distance between the car and potential obstacles.
Generally, front parking sensors detect nearby objects up to four feet in front of the car. Rear bumper parking sensors detect nearby objects up to eight feet away. Rear bumper parking sensors are usually considered more important because the driver has less visibility behind the vehicle.
The interface is usually a small monitor with a speaker which displays collision warnings. The warning can either be visual, auditory, or both.
There are two types of visual warnings:
- Live video
- Multi-colored lights
Live video is captured from mounted cameras and displayed in real-time on a monitor. If your vehicle is already equipped with a display in the center console, most systems can be connected directly to it.
However, if your system doesn’t have a factory-installed parking system, it likely doesn’t have a built-in console display either. But that’s not a problem! Many systems include a monitor which can be mounted to the console or windshield using suction cups or a bracket. High-end systems allow you to display real-time video directly in the rearview mirror.
Advantages of live video:
Provides a clear, detailed picture of the actual environment
Often includes collision cameras and other video features
Disadvantages of live video:
Video systems are typically the most expensive type
Connecting the system to a car can be complicated
The other type of visual warning doesn’t display video footage. Instead, it uses colored LED lights to indicate the distance between the vehicle and an obstacle. A green light means an object is detected; yellow means it’s near, and red warns of an imminent collision.
What’s the Difference between Camera and LED Display Systems?
LED light systems don’t provide as clear of a picture as a video camera. However, it turns out live video isn’t as important as it may seem. After all, you need to avoid everything detected by the parking sensors.
LED light systems still provide plenty of information to keep you safe and damage-free on the road. Plus, they’re usually more affordable than systems with live video.
Most systems with a visual indicator also make sounds, too. But some inexpensive systems are strictly audio-only. They emit beeps indicating how close the vehicle is to a potential obstacle.
While different systems emit different tones, generally warnings become louder, faster, and higher-pitched as the obstacle grows closer.
Systems which only detect one direction – such as rearview systems – typically only emit one type of noise.
However, systems which detect obstacles in both the front or the rear will have two different sounds depending on location. Generally, low tones indicate an item or person behind the car, while a high pitch beeping noise warns of a front-end collision.
Does a Parking Sensor System Automatically Park My Car?
No. Terms like “parking assistance features” can be confusing. They’re often used to refer to everything from a pair of radar sensors to full-blown automated parking.
Parking sensors are different from systems which automatically turn the wheel and move the car. Parking sensors alert you to dangers, but you’re 100% in control of the car at all times. Auto-parking features are almost always factory installed.
Of course, even though you still control the car, parking sensors make parking significantly easier.
What are Garage Parking Systems?
Garage parking systems are different than car parking systems.
A garage parking system fits into a specific area, such as the garage in your house. It uses sensors for a specific parking location. For example, many garage systems flash green, yellow, and red warning lights as you drive into the garage and approach the opposite wall.
Garage systems require initial calibration. But once they’re setup, they’ll guide any vehicle attempting to park in the location. They’re a great option if you have a place on your property which is hard to park in. Otherwise, car parking systems provide more flexibility for about the same price.
Do Parking Sensors Record Video?
The parking sensors themselves do not record video. However, certain vehicle camera systems do. The feature is typically called Automatic Collision Detection or similar.
Automatic Collision Detection automatically starts recording the instant anything hits your vehicle. The vehicle doesn’t have to be running for video to record. It’s designed to capture images if another vehicle runs into your parked car.
Collision detection is part of a more extensive car camera system. It’s not directly related to radar collision detection, which operates only when the car is in motion.
Can I Add a System to My Vehicle Myself?
Most parking sensor systems aren’t difficult to install on your own.
Wireless systems are the easiest to install. You only need to mount the sensors or cameras. We’ll cover the specifics later but generally mounting is a fairly straightforward process. Even wired systems often aren’t terribly difficult to install yourself.
Here’s a closer look:
How Do I Install a Parking Sensor Kit in My Car?
Here’s a general rundown of how to install a standard parking sensor system.
Find the Parking Sensor Spots
Sensors have two potential placement locations:
- Bumper Strips
- Directly on the Bumper
They sound like the same location, but they’re actually different.
Many cars have sections of the bumper marked specifically for parking sensors. It’s common if the manufacturer offers some models with factory-installed sensors and others without.
If your bumper has a pre-marked strip for sensors, installation is easy. You don’t even have to do any measuring! Simply drill and insert the sensors in the designated spots.
Direct Bumper Placement
You can also install sensors directly onto the bumper. Although this does require some accurate measurements and drilling, it’s definitely do-able for the D.I.Y. mechanic. You’ll need:
- A drill
- Masking tape
- A pencil
First, you need to clean and dry your bumper. Even small bits of dirt and debris can mess up your measurements.
Next, find the correct height. The middle of the parking sensor should be between 19 and 31 inches from the ground. Exact placement will vary based on the height and size of your vehicle. Generally, you don’t want the sensors to be too high, because they can “overlook” smaller obstacles.
Once you’ve found the proper height for your vehicle, place a piece of masking tape at that height horizontally along your bumper. You’ll mark on the tape (with the pencil) as you determine parking sensor placement locations.
Measure your car’s bumper from end to end. Mark the halfway point. You now have a left and right quadrant.
Mount the first two sensors between seven and 10 inches from the end of the left and right bumpers. Generally, it’s better to mount them closer to the end of the bumper. Otherwise, extremely close objects can go undetected. If you have more than two sensors, mount them about 30 to 40 centimeters apart.
Drill at a 90-degree angle. Doing so helps the parking sensor sit securely.
Connect the Power
Before drilling through the bumper, make sure the sensors work correctly. You can connect the system up to your battery and chassis ground wire to test the system before installation.
All system power passes through the control unit. It has a power lead input divided into red (positive) and black (negative). The red connects to the reverse light circuit.
Check the owner’s manual for the location of your light circuit. It’s not in the same place for all vehicles.
Strip the reverse light’s wire. Connect it to the red wire. Solder the new wire and wrap it in electrical tape. Next, ground the black wire.
Connect the Sensor
Each sensor will have a wire. Feed each wire through the mounting hole. From there, feed it through a grommet hole up to the front of the car. Grommets are holes in the metal of your car designed to provide a pathway for wires and other components.
Finding a path from the rear of the car to the front isn’t always easy, but it’s usually possible. Consult your owner’s manual for help.
Each sensor plugs into a corresponding input slot on the control unit. Most sets color code their wires to make setup simple.
Mount the Video or LED Display
If your system has a display monitor, you’ll need to mount it in a secure and easy-to-see location.
Most LED displays are designed to fit on top of your rearview mirror. That’s usually the best spot because you’re already looking towards the mirror when reversing your car.
LED displays are usually mounted somewhere near the center console. You’ll look at the monitor instead of the mirror when backing up.
Can I Paint Parking Sensors?
You can, but it’s usually not a great idea.
Most sensor units have a plastic or metal mounting ring surrounding the radar sensor. If the ring isn’t the same color as your vehicle, it’ll stand out.
Technically, you can paint this ring with any type of auto paint or spray. However, precision is incredibly important. Just a small stray fleck of paint on the clear sensor cover can dramatically reduce the system’s effectiveness.
Fortunately, most sensors are available in a wide range of colors. Choose the color closest to your vehicle’s existing exterior color. In most cases, it’s better to choose a color which is close enough rather than risk damaging the sensor by painting it yourself.
How Do I Maintain Parking Sensors?
Once mounted and connected to your vehicle’s power supply, maintenance is usually minimal. The biggest potential problem is snow buildup. You’ll want to wipe the sensors with a soft cloth after a snowstorm.
Parking is often one of the most dreaded aspects of driving. Fortunately, parking sensor systems are incredibly effective at preventing accidental injury and damage. They’re also easier to install and more affordable than many people think.
Whether you’re a new driver or a veteran on the road, a parking sensor system provides peace of mind when behind the wheel.