What do you gain by using a backup device and do you need a visual clue on a display screen and an audible signal to make parking or driving safer?
These are some of the questions you’re faced with when buying a new car or van. Just four wheels, a comfy seat and a custom color used to be all that was needed, but in today’s world it’s all about gadgets.
My 2016 Ford Transit came standard with a backup camera and display, but I still wanted to consider a backup sensor.
Backup Camera System
I can’t compare it with after-market custom camera systems, but during the last few months, I have started to embrace the camera and display.
The tiny camera is situated closed to the license plate on the rear door and very unobtrusive.
The included display varies with the radio setup that you choose. When you upgrade the radio package, a larger display screen is included and located on the dashboard. This display is also used by the backup camera.
The standard radio doesn’t have a separate display, so Ford includes a special rearview mirror, that displays your backup area, inside the mirror when you shift into backup mode.
Only a small screen, yet so naturally located, where your eyes already tend to gravitate to during a backup. It’s also easy on the eyes to switch from the display to the larger view in the remainder of the rearview mirror, without moving your head. And the inclusion of your wheel orientation into the picture, is probable its best feature.
As a first time user, I have grown to love it and regard it now as indispensable, especially on these larger vans. But, when the backup camera does such a great job, why need another backup system?
Need is always a relative term. Most of these electronic gadgets are not required. Parking a large van, such as the Transit, Sprinter or ProMaster, is an easy feat with a little experience and the help of just its large exterior mirrors.
It makes parking a lot easier though, and adding an audible signal is like adding a second security layer. I found, while backing up, that sometimes there are too many places to look at: left mirror, right mirror, rearview mirror, display screen, look backward over the shoulder and then the display sometimes looses out.
During the last few weeks, while testing the backup sensor strip, I found out that in these situations I was always saved by the highly pitched sound of the audible backup alarm. Again, while not necessary, I’ve grown to see it as an additional safety feature.
You can simply add it yourself (see Step-by-Step Guide to Installing a Sensor Strip) for very little money or have it installed as an option from Ford (I am describing a Electromagnetic system, while Ford uses Ultrasonic Sensors).
I will also install the same sensor strip in my front bumper, where it will have an even more important function. While the view from the driver’s seat in these big vans is fantastic, parking the van with its nose facing a wall or tree, often remains a guessing game. That’s where a front sensor shines.
While the sensor strip has its false positives and while you may feel irritated by the single beep, when you put the van in reverse, my experience with it in general, has been very positive and I wouldn’t want to park without it. My thumbs up for this $10 gadget!