Be Careful of the Pitfalls of a Cheap Radar Detector


A cheap radar detector may look good mounted on your dash and give you a warm and fuzzy feeling as you speed down the highway, but it may also give you something else — a speeding ticket.

Basically, there are five features of a radar detector drivers are looking for: good sensitivity and range, good filtering, easy to understand sound alerts, good visual alerts, and rear protection. A cheap radar detector will probably have poor sensitivity and the range may not be what you’re looking for.

A rule of thumb for radar detectors is being able to locate six times farther out than the police radar gun’s typical one-quarter mile range. If a cheap radar detector doesn’t have a range of one and a half miles, it’s not going to do you any good. On winding and twisting roads, however, you’ll want the range to be at least four miles.

The Chicken Little Effect seems to be prevalent in a cheap radar detector. That is, the detector gives you so many false alerts you tend to ignore them all, even the real alerts. The filtering abilities, which tune out most signals that could be caused by other radar detectors, in a cheap radar detector are not very good.

You Need To Know Meaning of Alerts

If you can’t understand the different tone alerts from your cheap radar detector then it’s doing you no favors. Some companies offer detectors with voice alerts in addition to the sounds and lights. Higher-priced detectors will use visual readouts that are easier to understand than a row of flashing LED lights found on a cheap radar detector.

On higher end units, there will be a notification not only that there is radar present, it will give you the type of radar with the letter X, K or Ka, and a bar of lights to show the signal strength of the radar with which you may be targeted, This will not normally be available on a cheap radar detector.

A cheap radar detector probably will not include rear protection for that officer in an unmarked cruiser that sneaks up behind you. According to Radar Roy, a retired police officer and radar instructor who now tests radar detectors, there is no such thing as true 360-degree detection. On top of all that, a cheap radar detector will most likely be worthless against the laser radar guns in use by many state police units everywhere except Pennsylvania.

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