What Is The Best Radar Detector For Your Car? – 2018 Edition
If you’re looking to pick up a cool upgrade for your car that will help you save money on speeding tickets, a radar detector might be the right choice for you.
In this article, we’ll walk through five of the best radar detectors on the market so that you will understand what to purchase when it comes time to avoid getting tickets.
Our Radar Detector Reviews
Without wasting any time, let’s jump right into the reviews!
1. Whistler XTR-130 Laser Radar Detector
The Whistler XTR-130 Laser Radar Detector is a multifunctional detector which will help you detect police radar no matter the environment. Thanks to its four detection modes you’ll never need to worry about confusing background noise for a radar signal.
- Multiple sensitivities
- Easy to understand cues
- Unobtrusive aesthetic
- Built-in mounting kit isn’t very effective
- May drain car battery
This radar detector’s four modes are its strongest points. There are three separate city modes, and one highway mode. The modes vary in the strength of the signal that triggers an alert.
The city modes offer you an initial quiet alert of a radar signal in the area — perhaps an automatic garage door opener — then give you a follow-up alert when the signal gets stronger instead of weaker.
This means that you won’t need to worry about false positives, or, worse, false negatives. You’ll be kept abreast of all of the radar activity in the area, and notified more urgently if there is a radar source which doesn’t seem to be going away.
The detector also has various quiet modes which don’t make any noise at all. There’s also a voice-alert mode where you’ll have a narration of the radar in the environment.
2. Wewalab Radar Detector
A long-range radar detector which is the best for wide open spaces. With the Wewalab detector, you’ll get radar awareness out to 2500 meters, far more than most other commercial grade detectors.
- Very long range
- Links with your GPS to pinpoint radar sources
- Faster than the fastest radar guns
- Also detects lasers
- Range isn’t symmetrical
- Harder to install than other units
With this radar detector, you’ll also be able to detect speed-tracking lasers. This means that you are unlikely to be caught unawares by radar guns or any other speed tracking technology.
The extreme range of this radar detector makes it one of the most powerful detectors on the market. While the long range is the most useful while on the open road in a desert or somewhere else similarly flat, it works perfectly well in cities.
The Wewalab detector also links into your GPS system which means that you can triangulate the exact location of the source of radar. Furthermore, the detector also uses technology which renders it invisible to most radar detector detectors.
3. Meter.LLC Radar Detector
A no-frills-attached radar detector which works up to a moderate range. With this detector, you’ll also get a notification regarding stationary traffic monitors and wireless speed cameras, which is a nice touch.
- Also detects speed cameras
- 360-degree coverage is of uniform range
- Good range
- Camera detection isn’t entirely accurate
- Mounting mechanism is not ideal
The 360-degree coverage of this unit isn’t a joke. You’ll even get an indicator of how strong the source is if it is lateral to where the detector is pointing, which not all detectors can do. Unlike other detectors, this detector doesn’t come with a mounting system beyond a sticky pad.
The sticky pad is effective at keeping the detector roughly in place, but it’s hard to remove, and it might leave a mark on your dashboard. If you don’t plan to be moving the detector around that frequently, this isn’t an issue.
The side effect is that it can be a bit hard to position the radar detector for optimal detection.
While the unit’s detection of speed cameras and stationary measuring devices isn’t as great as you might want it to be, they are still good features. You can expect roughly 90% accuracy when the unit informs you that there is a stationary speed camera nearby.
4. Beltronics RX65 Red Professional Series Radar Detector
The Beltronics RX65 is a solid radar detector that is a little bit difficult to use despite its powerful feature set. With this radar detector, you’ll get a 1-year warranty and a great mounting system too.
- Great mounting system
- Very sensitive detector
- Good warranty
- Complicated interface
- No laser detection
The radar detector calibrates itself and has a great digital signal processing suite which allows it to nearly eliminate false alarms. If you decide to switch this setting off, you’ll find that the detector is immensely sensitive, even at long range.
Because the detector is so sensitive, it can detect threats very far out. It can also provide you with false alarms very far out. You should probably stick with the detector’s highway and city settings, although the auto scan setting is also functional.
The detector’s LED screen is very legible, and you’ll know exactly what mode the detector is in and what threats it has detected. This means that it is easier to understand than most radar detectors.
Unfortunately, the radar detector’s buttons are a bit more involved than others. You will need to read the manual to get the most out of this detector.
5. Escort Passport S55 High Performance Radar Detector
The Escort Passport S55 is an all-in-one radar detector and laser detection system which intelligently discriminates between different kinds of speed detecting hardware in a way that makes it easy for you.
- Discriminates against false-positives very effectively
- Multiple types of signal processing and representation
- Great mounting system
- Difficult to configure properly
- Laser detection system may get the occasional false positive
The Escort Passport radar detector alerts you only if there is a strong speed-detecting source in your area. This means that you’ll never need to worry about getting false positives from traffic sensors which aren’t oriented at detecting speed.
You’ll also get a readout explaining the rough strength of the radar source. For laser sources, there isn’t any correlate, but you’ll get a sharp warning. It’s possible for the laser detection to be triggered falsely by other ambient lasers, but there aren’t so many that it is something worth worrying about usually.
This unit also comes with a good mounting mechanism. The only real downsides are that the visual indicators on the unit’s screen are somewhat easy to miss. You can enable audio alerts to make up for this shortcoming.
What Should I Look For In A Radar Detector?
Now that you know a bit about the top radar detectors on the market, what should you be looking for before making your purchasing decision?
This feature will guarantee that you won’t be falsely confident in your ability to avoid radar because it will inform you when there are alternative speed detection systems in use.
If you don’t have built-in laser detection, you’ll still get pulled over for speeding. Furthermore, if you can’t detect lasers, you’ll be vulnerable to passive speed detection systems which use lasers.
So, active radar speed detectors won’t be able to detect your speed, but you still might get a ticket in the mail if you get lazed, and they get a photo of your license plate number.
Importantly, don’t trust any detector which claims to have the ability to detect lasers beyond line of sight — these are physically impossible with consumer grade hardware.
Strong mounting system
Weak mounting systems make for a hassle when it comes time to calibrate the detector, and there are many examples of great mounts on the market.
Finally, if you expect to face a high level of police activity on a regular basis, you should get a radar detector which has a built-in radar detector detector.
While this is a rare feature, knowing that the local police are trying to detect people who are using radar detectors provides you with valuable information: the police are aggressive against speeders.
You won’t necessarily have to pay anything extra for the feature, and you’ll get a bigger benefit to your peace of mind as a result.
Are Radar Detectors Legal?
In most of the United States, radar detectors are legal. In some niche circumstances — like at military bases or on federal property — they may be illegal or regulated more tightly than elsewhere.
You should look up the legality information specific to your state, but, in most cases, you won’t have to worry about equipping a radar detector. No matter the state, you can legally possess a radar detector if it is not equipped on your car.
Is A Mounting Bracket Necessary?
A mounting bracket might not be necessary depending on the kind of car you have. Some cars can comfortably fit a loose radar detector on top of the dash and still experience 360-degree coverage of detection without any issues.
Most cars will probably need a mounting bracket, however. A bracket prevents the detector from sliding around the car, and guarantees that the detector is held in the best spot for wide coverage.
Will The Police Know That I Am Using A Detector?
The police may know that you are using a radar detector. Some police departments utilize radar detector detectors which can see when people are using a radar detector. Most departments won’t have this specialized equipment, however.
Typically, the police will not know you are using a radar detector unless they see the detector itself mounted in your car.
Should I Get Expert Installation?
Some radar detectors offer expert installation packages. These packages typically mount the detector in your car, then test its coverage with pings from an active radar. Sometimes, these packages can be very expensive.
For the most part, the installation packages are only suitable for cars with odd bodies that may have heavy parts obstructing critical coverage areas. These cars require a greater standard of testing before you can be confident in the detector’s coverage.
Most cars don’t need expert installation, though it may improve the results that they experience with the detector.
Do Radar Detectors Detect All Types Of Speed Measurements?
No, radar detectors are not universally capable of detecting all speed measurements. Especially more recently, police have started to use laser-based speed detection methods which cannot be detected by a radar detector.
These new methods are not yet widespread, however. Furthermore, there are certain advanced radar detectors which incorporate laser detection.
Are Radar Detectors Easy To Use?
Most radar detectors are easy to use once you understand the information which they convey. At a minimum, radar detectors provide you with a visual cue when your car has been hit by a radar.
You shouldn’t need to perform any setup for your radar detector beyond plugging it in and mounting it on your dashboard. Once you turn on the detector, you can pick which mode it uses by pushing the buttons on the detector.
Some detectors are more minimalistic with their interfaces than others. The more buttons your radar detector has, the easier it will be to use. Detectors with only one or two buttons may seem easy until you have to push them a bunch of times to get the result you want.
Some radar detectors require calibration while on the road. Calibration should be as simple as pushing a button and waiting for the detector to tell you that calibration is complete. You may need to calibrate your detector frequently, so auto-calibrating models are preferable.