Although a radar detector is a valuable tool for any driver, the truth is that it could do more harm than good if used improperly. Situations, when motorists perceive them as a license to break the law and eventually get tickets only to qualify the devices as being useless once their fines start piling up, are fairly common these days. And that’s just one of the most common examples.
However, it is important to note that what the radar detectors do is capture the frequencies emitted by the radar gun, utensils commonly used by law enforcement officers to determine the speed of vehicles.
The following are a few tips on how to properly operate your device as well as some information regarding what you can expect – or cannot expect – from a radar detector.
Situations When a Radar Detector Makes All the Difference in the World
The ideal time to have a radar detector installed in your vehicle is when you are driving on the highway or a city road, and you have several cars in front and behind you. The reason why this makes a perfect scenario resides in the fact that your device can effortlessly detect the radar gun when it captures the speed of the automobiles around you. Fortunately, driving in heavy traffic is a very common situation that motorists will find themselves in daily, especially during the rush hours.
Its Performance Greatly Depends on the Installation
Granted, some radar detector manufacturers advise users to install the device as high as possible for better performance and signal to capture.
If it weren’t for the limited visibility and the dangers resulting from this, chances are they would even recommend placing it in the middle of your windshield.
However, it is necessary to mention that “as high as possible” is not such a bright location for a radar detector considering that the police officers will not point their gun at the windshield, but rather at the lower part where they can see the nameplates of the vehicle.
Besides, although radar detectors are permitted in every state except Washington and Virginia, law enforcement officers tend to frown upon drivers utilizing such devices.
In short, their instinct tells them that you speed regularly, and the current encounter is merely an exception. Given these reasons, an efficient location for your radar detector is as low as you can, preferably on the dashboard.
Change the Radar Detector’s Modes Accordingly
Perhaps the most common complaint regarding radar detectors is the number of false alerts, which on a side note, will determine the driver ignore the visual and/or audio signals emitted by the device sooner or later.
However, the truth is that this issue could be easily solved if drivers would remember to select the appropriate modes according to the road. There are just four modes these gadgets come with, namely:
POP mode – detects bursts of signals from radar guns, although this might also increase the number of false alerts in certain conditions.
City mode – because numerous things in the city emit similar frequencies as radar guns, this mode considerably reduces the false alerts.
Auto mode – very useful for when you are making the transition from the city to the highway or vice versa.
Highway mode – it enhances your device’s sensitivity to detect weak and/or quick signals.
Learn the Device’s Signs and Alerts
Since the icon and LED alerts emitted by your radar detector might be a bit confusing, it is highly advisable to check the gadget’s manual and learn them before heading for a ride. Besides, as most radar detectors also include voice or audio alerts, it is in your best interest to become familiar with them and respond accordingly. On a side note, since most devices work on a system that sends alerts that increase in intensity as you approach the source, make sure to select an audio alert that you can hear even in difficult conditions.
How To Keep Your Radar Detector In Tip Top Condition?
If you intend to get a radar detector and you are worried that your device will require a lot of maintenance to work properly, then let us put your mind at ease.
Unlike many other items that can usually be found in a car, the radar detector only needs an occasional dusting with a dry and soft piece of cloth.
It is important to note that sprays and liquid substances are best avoided because they can easily protrude through the small openings of the device and, consequentially, damage the unit.
Your device Doesn’t Need Washing, But The Suction Cups Do
In general, drivers prefer to install the radar detector in the lower section of the windshield so that the cord of the unit doesn’t get in their line of sight.
However, almost all manufacturers recommend mounting it as high as possible for the device to pick up signals more efficiently. While many don’t like the idea, they eventually opt for a high windshield mounting to enjoy the maximum benefits of the radar detector. This type of installation will generally require utilizing suctions cups for easy access and removal.
While cleaning your radar detector implies wiping the dust off, it is necessary to mention that you can wash the suction cups with warm water and mild detergent. Depending on where you bought them from, you can even wash and rinse them in the dishwasher, as some owners have pointed out.
However, this method is not viable during hot summer days as the high temperatures might cause the suction cups to get unstuck, and the fall could damage the device.
Consider Using a Visor Holder
It is important to note that some manufacturers sell radar detector mounts that you could easily attach to the sun visors.
These mounts will not only ensure that your gadget is placed as high as possible for optimally detecting the signals, but represent a good method of protecting the unit from sun exposure.
Whether or not the visor holder is a viable solution for preventing damage to your radar detector depends a great deal on the type of car you are driving.
To put it simply, as automakers continue to manufacture vehicles with tinting on the top, it will become increasingly difficult for you to mount the holder in a suitable position safely.
Besides, some drivers have complained that the cord is seriously affecting their comfort and line of sight during driving.
Fortunately, some radar detectors come with accessories that allow you to connect the unit to a hidden power cord, so it no longer hinders your driving.
Not to mention that keeping them clean does not imply a lot of work, and it is similar to washing the suction cups.
Don’t Leave It in the Sun, Ever!
As most manufacturers point out, to keep it clean and to work properly, it is highly advisable to avoid leaving it on the dash exposed to heat and direct sunlight for prolonged periods.
For instance, if you are going to the mall with your family and you know you have to leave your car out in the sun for a few hours, then remove it from the dashboard and place it in a dry and cool location.
While some devices are built from top quality materials, sun exposure will eventually cause warps on the frame.
On a side note, besides causing exterior or/and interior damage to the gadget (as it can happen with poor quality devices), it is necessary to mention that leaving the radar in plain sight might make your vehicle more attractive to thieves.
As it happens with most things people carelessly leave in their cars, someone can simply smash your windshield and claim it.
To avoid receiving any ticket at all, you should consider playing it safe and driving slower when you are alone on the road, near bridges, underpasses, overpasses, curves, and hills. After all, let’s not forget that the radar detector is not your ticket to speeding, but rather a tool you should use responsibly.