How to install rear parking sensors

Written by jackie lohrey
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Are your parking skills "less than perfect?" Do you back up an inch at a time for fear there is something behind the vehicle you cannot see? Unfortunately, that "something" could be a garbage can, a bicycle or your child. Consider installing rear parking sensors that activate when the vehicle goes into reverse, using radio waves to detect objects hiding behind the vehicle. A warning signal becomes progressively louder as the object gets closer, alerting the driver in time to avoid hitting it. Installing rear parking sensors is not a difficult project and can be complete within a few hours.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Eye protection
  • Vehicle owner manual
  • Marking pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Double-sided tape (may come as part of installation kit)
  • Drill
  • Drill buffing bit

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  1. 1

    Decide on location of sensor units. Measure the length of the bumper and divide the measurement in half or in quarters, depending on whether you will install two or four sensors. Find the centre of each half or quarter. Then, consider the shape and curve of the bumper. To work properly, sensors must point straight ahead. Sensors angled up or down will orient to objects in that direction and may not work effectively. Make sure the sensor will sit flush with the bumper in a position approximately 24-inches from the ground. Mark sensor locations with a marking pencil, place a piece of double-sided tape at the location and fix a sensor to each piece of tape.

  2. 2

    Connect and test sensor placement. Plug sensor wires into the control box. Create a connection between the control box and one of your parking lights. To connect the control box to your parking light, refer to your vehicle owner manual for instructions specific to your vehicle model to access the wiring harness and tap into the parking light. To test, have someone start the car and activate the parking lights. Move objects of varying sizes in and out of the vicinity of the vehicle bumper. Adjust sensor placement if necessary. Once you establish a successful connection, unplug the sensors from the control box and disconnect the car battery to protect against voltage shocks.

  3. 3

    Install sensors. Using the drill bit that comes with your installation kit, drill the appropriate number of holes, stopping to clean metal shards from the drill area to avoid scratching the bumper. Smooth the area using a drill and drill-buffing bit. Insert a sensor head into each drill hole and pass sensor wires through to the boot of the vehicle. Plug sensor wires into the control box.

  4. 4

    Install control box. Most users place the control box in the boot of the vehicle, under the left or right bulkhead. This will ensure no water can damage the control box unit. Use double-sided tape to secure the control box in place and press firmly.

  5. 5

    Install warning siren. Since the siren can become quite loud, installing it in the boot of your vehicle is a good idea. Plug the siren connector into the control box and use double-sided tape to secure in place.

  6. 6

    Install display unit. Some rear parking sensors include an LCD monitor that you can install on the dashboard of your vehicle. Use double-sided tape to place and secure the monitor and run the wires back through to the location of the control box, and then plug the monitor wire into the control box.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure to allow enough slack in the connecting wires. Stretched or pinched wires may cause the sensors to fail.
  • Do not forget that professional installation is available. If you do not feel comfortable working around wiring or if you feel this project is above your level of expertise, consult a professional.
  • Wear eye protection when drilling sensor holes. Metal shards can cause serious injury.
  • Rear parking sensors do not replace your eyes and ears. Always look behind and check rear-view mirrors before attempting to back your vehicle.

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