How to Troubleshoot a Malfunctioning Reverse Parking Sensor

Close-up view of the reverse indicator on a vehicle's gear shift.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Advanced
  • 100-200
What You'll Need
New sensor
Owner's manual
Code reader

Reverse parking sensors may begin to malfunction over time, or if you have been in an accident, and when a driver isn't aware of the problem, things can quickly get dangerous. If you notice anything off with your sensor, test it out immediately. Then, read the following information for steps you can take to ensure that your sensor is in top working condition.

Step 1 - Clean

One of the best things that you can do for your sensors is keep them clean. Most of the time, whenever there are any issues with the reverse parking sensor, it is because gunk from driving has settled over it. Fortunately, cleaning it is a simple task that can be done quickly and is usually very effective. You will find that the best way to do this is to simply take out the sensors and clean them with a soft cloth or rag. There may be dirt and debris trapped on them or they may be oily or dusty. Make sure that you have it completely cleaned off before you put it back in. Then, turn on your car and see if there are any more issues arising after this has been done.

Step 2 - Listen to the Sensor

If you've cleaned your sensors and you find that you're still having problems, there are a couple ways you can check if you need a replacement. First, switch on the PDC (Park Distance Control). With this one, get as close as you can to the sensor and put your ear near it. Listen to see if there is a buzzing sound. If there is, then the sensor itself is working. If you cannot hear anything or if you do not want to put your ear that close to the sensor then you can simply put your finger up against it. If the sensor is vibrating just slightly, then there's no need to replace it. However, if there is no buzzing or slight vibration, go ahead and remove the sensor and take it to your local automotive store to purchase a new one.

Step 3 - Check the Error Code

Obviously, there will be cases in which the sensor itself is working perfectly, but there is still a problem. In this case you'll need to get out the owner’s manual for your vehicle. You will find that all of the error codes that could possibly pop up on your vehicle will be listed in here. Hook up a code reader to your car; then, find the error code that is showing up, and see what needs to be done to fix it. You may be able to fix the problem yourself, depending on what it is, but it's obviously always a good idea to take it to a mechanic if you are unfamiliar with what steps to take.