Although reverse parking or parallel parking hurdles are not yet a thing of the past, technological advancements have made parking easier. Some parking sensors and driver-assist features even do all the work for you. But how are front parking sensors activated?
While most car brands have different ways of activation, most front parking sensors are activated only after pressing a button close to the gear button or steering wheel. Sometimes, you can activate both the front and rear parking sensors simultaneously.
This article provides information on activating parking sensors, especially front parking sensors. I also explore the possibility of parking sensors detecting curbs.
How Do You Activate Parking Sensors?
Parking or proximity sensors are driving aids that assist you when parking. Located on the bumpers of your car, they measure the proximity of an approaching object and alert you if you get too close to the object.
The object could be another vehicle or a person. The sensor usually produces a beeping sound that gets faster and more frequent as the object gets closer. They are a necessary help for drivers who find it difficult to maneuver cars into the parking spaces that seem to get smaller as we progress.
You activate parking sensors according to the car’s design, so it would be best to check your user manual for instructions. Regardless, most cars have a similar method for activation, and it could be one of these two options:
- Put your vehicle in reverse gear
It is the most common means of activation (automatic activation), which brings both the rear and front parking sensors online.
- Turn them on by pressing a button.
The button’s location varies by car model, and it may light up when you press it to show that the parking sensors are on. The button has a “P” and cone icon in some Honda cars. It’s a green light when you turn it on, and red when you turn it off
Two types of parking sensors are currently available on the market:
- Ultrasonic parking sensors
These sensors work by pulsating high-frequency sounds that bounce off nearby objects. A receiver catches the reflected sound waves and calculates the distance from the object it detects to your car. It calculates the distance based on radiation time and works while moving or stationary.
Ultrasonic sensors may translate the sound to a pictograph representing the objects and vehicle, or alert you with a sound. A drawback is that they may be unable to detect some objects that are:
- Too low to be noticed—curb.
- Too flat to reflect sounds properly.
- To the side—they only detect objects directly in front of them.
- Too thin to reflect sound—traffic posts
Anything obscuring the sensor can also cause interference and affect how it reads the surrounding area.
- Electromagnetic sensors
They are more reliable and modern, but expensive. These sensors come as a tape installed inside your front and rear bumper and create an electromagnetic field. It forms the field using frequencies, and the field surrounds your car and alerts you when anything enters it.
These sensors don’t work when stationary unless the objects are also moving, like other cars or pedestrians. Unlike ultrasonic sensors, they are more sensitive to picking more objects and objects all around your vehicle.
Apart from the cost compared to ultrasonic sensors, they are the better choice. However, they are mainly available in premium cars.
How Are Front Parking Sensors Activated?
As mentioned above, you can activate the front parking sensors along with the rear sensors when you put the car in Reverse. For those front sensors that need manual activation, a button will suffice.
You can also activate some front sensors based on your driving speed and the object’s height. If the object is high enough to enter their radar, they perk up and begin to signal you. You may activate your front sensor when you also slow down to about six mph.
Another way to activate front sensors is to put the transmission in Drive instead of putting it in Reverse—activates both front and rear sensors.
Do Parking Sensors Detect Curbs?
Curbs and the bumpers of sports cars seem to be at an infernal war. Owners of sports cars love the low ride, connection to the pavement, the hug of the road, but hate parking.
Their hatred stems from the fact that parking involves a lot of stress—neck out the window checking the curb or jumping in and out to check.
Sports cars are not the only vehicles that suffer. Even with front parking sensors, you may still find it challenging to navigate parking spaces with curbs. Most curbs are too low for front and rear sensors to pick up, especially ultrasonic sensors.
This limitation extends to objects that are below the bumper, too far from the car, or too close to it. However, there are alternatives to using parking sensors in the fight against curbs kissing your bumper, and they include:
- 360-degree camera systems
A step above reversing cameras, they are a bit high-end, and they provide a bird’s-eye view representation of your environment. This helps you visually gauge how close you are to objects all around your car.
- Curb Alert
It’s an infrared parking sensor that alerts you of low-lying obstructions. Extending beyond the limitations of regular parking sensors, Brandmotion’s Curb Alert senses parking blocks, curbs, and other low-level objects you cannot see.
The device produces an audible alert when you approach an object within range. Depending on the model, it can also actuate a camera. You can adjust the sensitivity from as little as 12 inches to a maximum of 30 inches.
Additionally, Curb Alert can differentiate between a parking block, someone standing in front of your vehicle, and a wall. There are seven products in the series, and three of them are compatible with any car.
Parking sensors are very convenient, and they ease the stress of parking in small spaces. However, they are an aid and should not replace your watchfulness. Remember to keep your eyes on the road and stay aware of your environment when parking your vehicle.