Radar detectors—scanning certain frequencies and knowing when your vehicle is being tagged by a radar, whether it be a speed trap or during a late night. They come in many types, ranging from a few hundred dollars to some even scraping into that one thousand dollar buy-in, and the questions that may be on your mind when making a purchase is: Is it worth it and Are all Radar Detectors the Same?
When deciding between an inexpensive radar detector and a more expensive one: be aware of false positives. A cheaper radar detector may pick up frequencies ranging from K-, X- to Ka-band.
The first thing you have to understand is what a radar detector will do for you. Some may be more expensive than others, sure, but the features they give you access to are commonplace among the industry. Knowing when a radar gun is scanning your vehicle so you can properly adjust your speed to not be pulled over—now that is a common reason to own a radar detector.
Modern cars also set off a wide range of those false positives; adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring systems. If these systems in your modern economic daily driver or suburban are enough to set off your alarm—if it is not high end.
Most radar detectors pay for themselves in the long run, however, it is up to you to determine what that long run is for you. Buying an expensive, top-of-the-line radar detector can give you impunity from law enforcement and speed traps for years to come, but like a brand new smartphone, your detector may become obsolete quicker than you’d think.
Getting into the more technical aspects of buying and using a radar detector, there are a few key details that set one another apart: Features, Efficiency and Barrier of Entry (Cost).
Before we dive into commonplace features of detectors, know that in some states or jurisdictions, it may be entirely illegal to even use one. Radar detectors emit certain frequencies that are able to detect when a radar is used on your vehicle, but know that Police often will have a ‘Radar Detector Detector’.
These types of devices are designed to pick up oscillations emitted by your radar detector and will let law enforcement know that a radar detector is in play. Some radar detector companies have offset this by selling models that specifically shield those oscillations and will even shut down the detector when a RDD (Radar Detector Detector) is sending out frequencies.
Some radar detectors have voice alerts as well as smartphone integration that can remember certain areas of high police traffic and red light cameras. If you go the route of a smartphone friendly detector, know that most will connect via bluetooth and can send you notifications or buzz alerts without lighting up your whole car.
Instant-On Radars automatically aim at you once you drive past and the unfortunate news is that there is no clear way to know—as soon as it’s aimed at you the police will have a reading and your radar detector will be moot because by the time it gives you an alert, it is already too late. That’s why investing in a High-K band sensitive radar detector can do wonders for you.
The high sensitivity of the detector will emit and notice that a car in front of you has been pinged, giving you ample time to adjust your speed and avoid ticketing.
Another simple yet key feature is a GPS radar detector. If you are familiar with the navigation app Waze, there is a feature that tells you where police are located as well as your vehicle’s speed, sometimes dinging and displaying red when you are exceeding the limit.
GPS-integrated radar detectors are some of the more lucrative (and expensive) buy-ins when it comes to detection, though are touted to be worth every penny.
There are long lists of differences, similarities and cost of entry for radar detectors sprawled across the entirety of the internet. When purchasing one it’s best to know what works for you and what specifics you need when it comes to detection.