How Do Parking Sensors Work?


Squeezing your car into a narrow parking space can be a jaw-clenching experience when you can't clearly see what's behind you, but a parking sensor reduces the stress level. Using either electromagnetic waves or ultrasonics, a sensor alerts a driver before he dents the car behind him.

Sounding It Out

  • Ultrasonic sensors on the front or back of the car work like sonar. The sensors emit high-frequency waves with a narrow aim. The speed at which the waves strike an object and bounce back to the sensor tells it how far your car is from an object. The sensor beeps when it detects an obstacle and beeps faster as your car approaches it. This alerts you before your car dings the one behind it.

Magnetic Appeal

  • While ultrasonic sensors have to be out in the open, electromagnetic sensors can sit under your bumper out of sight and still work. The sensor generates an electromagnetic field around the end of your car and triggers a warning sound if anything enters the field. Parked cars, people and curbs all disturb the field and set off the alert. If you have anything on the back of the car, such as a cycle rack or a spare tire, it won't interfere with an electromagnetic sensor, but it might block an ultrasonic sensor.

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  • Photo Credit Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images simonkr/iStock/Getty Images
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