Troubleshooting Your Reverse Parking Sensors

Reverse parking sensors against a white background.

If your vehicle has reverse parking sensors that are not performing the way they should, there are several different reasons why they can't be used to help you avoid obstructions when backing up your vehicle. Some problems are simple to troubleshoot and correct, while others can be more challenging to track down and remedy. This article will provide you with useful information you can use to find the problem with the reverse parking sensors in your vehicle and make corrections as needed.

Problems Due to Faulty Installation

Many problems with reverse parking sensors are not caused by defective parts or a malfunctioning system. No, most problems with reverse parking sensors are due to faulty or improper installation. Many installation problems are related to the incorrect placement of the sensors.

For example, if you put the vehicle in reverse and the sensors cause the system to begin beeping continuously — even when there is no obstruction behind the vehicle, this is usually an indication that the sensors are positioned and installed incorrectly. In this case, the sensors are probably installed too close to the ground. Most reverse parking sensors need to be placed about 18 to 24 inches above the gound in order to work properly.

When the sensors are too close to the ground, they pick up the ground surface and cause the monitor to beep or buzz as if there were something behind the vehicle. To correct the problem, just choose another location a few inches higher on the rear of the car.

Aftermarket Sensors and Luxury Cars

Although many luxury cars come with built-in reverse parking sensors, it is an upgrade or option on many cars. That means there are many luxury cars that are sold without the option. Many owners of these types of vehicles then go on to have reverse parking sensors installed in their luxury vehicles, only to experience strange problems with intermittent beeping.

If you purchased a nicer car and then had the sensors installed, you may be experiencing a problem where the reverse parking sensors cause the monitor to beep about every 30 seconds or so — even if you are driving forward and not in reverse. This is usually caused by the car's central computer processor testing the continuity of the brake lights or turn signals while the car is running. This will cause a small electrical current to be passed to the sensor (because they are usually wired to the brake or turn signal light's power source).

To correct this problem you will need to purcase a Single By-Pass Circuit Relay for your vehicle and have it installed. This will prevent the odd electrical current from being passed to the sensor, and the system won't beep when the car is not in reverse.

Now you're all set to troubleshoot your reverse parking sensors. Safe driving!

Reverse Parking Sensors FAQ

How do you reset a reverse parking sensor?

Reverse parking sensors have a control unit, which is often near the center of the rear bumper. Find the reset button on the unit and press and hold it for several seconds.

This should reset the sensors.

Why are my reversing sensors not working?

Sensors stop working properly for multiple reasons. You should first check for dirt or debris affecting the sensors, such as little rocks or dirt or ice.

If the sensors are clean and still malfunctioning, you may have a loose wire or blown fuse.

Why do my reversing sensors keep beeping?

Beeping noises alert you that something is wrong with your reversing sensors. These sensors may be dirty and need a cleaning, in which case the beep alarm will sound to warn you that you are not getting a proper view of what's behind you.

If this doesn't make the beeping go away, you probably have an electronic issue with the sensors.

How much does it cost to fix parking sensors?

Parking sensors vary greatly in price and quality, as some sensors are designed to do a lot more than others. The more features you have, the more you will pay.

It will cost anywhere from $5 to $150 or more to replace a single sensor. If you're buying sensors with a rear assembly, you will spend closer to $500.

Can you clean parking sensors?

Parking sensors can be cleaned and should be cleaned often so they are not blocked with snow, ice, dirt, and other debris. You can get this done easily enough with plain water and mild liquid soap.