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How to Buy the Best Radar Detector

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

How to Buy the Best Radar Detector

Bernard Phifer, Jr.
June 26, 2006

What is the best radar detector I can buy for my car? There are many different ways to buy the best radar detector that will satisfy your needs.

In this article, I will be sharing 7 steps I used for buying the best radar detector. Here are the 7 steps to know you are buying the best radar detector.

1. Find out if a detector is legal in your state. Before you start your radar detector research, find out if a detector is legal in your state. It is important to know your local and state laws regarding radar detectors before you buy. You could be facing fines for an illegal detector. You also could get your detector confiscated. Radar detectors are illegal in the District of Columbia and Virginia. Radar detectors are also illegal in most provinces in Canada and U.S military bases. Radar detectors are illegal in commercial vehicles in most areas. The best way to know if radar detectors are legal in your area is to go to your state's department of motor vehicle website or call your local law enforcement.

2. Determine your budget. There are a lot of radar detectors now on the market with a lot features. They range in price from $50 to more than $400. Figure out what you can reasonably afford for a radar detector. Remember, the most expensive detector is not always the best radar detector.

3. Determine the type of radar detector you want to buy. There are three types of radar detectors: corded radar detectors, cordless radar detectors, and remote-mount radar detectors. Corded radar detectors are usually mounted on the windshield in the vicinity of your rear view mirror, and offer the best range of detection. Cordless radar detectors are easily more transportable and are easier to install than corded radar detectors. Remote-mounted radar detectors are permanently mounted to your vehicle and are virtually undetectable to thieves.

4. Identify the model and features you want. There are a lot of radar detector models on the market. Stick with the major brand name radar detector manufacturers such as Beltronics, Cobra, Escort, PNI, Rocky Mountain Radar, Valentine and Whistler.

There are a lot of radar detectors on the market with a lot features. You've got range, sensitivity, visual alerts, audio alerts, false alarm control, etc. With all these different features on the market, which one is best for you? The amount of features you get will depend on how much your budget is that you determined in Step 1. No matter what you budget is, you should look at radar detectors that have these basic features:

> Select a radar detector with a wideband. The radar detector should be able to pick up the entire X, K, and Ka band. You want different indicators for each one of these bands that include a separate flash or beep for each band.

> When shopping for radar detectors, look for radar detectors that have at least 110 dB.

> Pay close attention to the display. Make sure you can see it clearly.

> Also look for a mute feature with an adjustable volume control.

5. Research your radar detector. You know your budget, what bands you need to detect, the model brand names and the basic features. You now are ready to research your radar detector. There are many different websites that will allow you to compare different radar detector models, features, reviews, and prices. The trick is to find the best radar detector with the best features at the your price. Obviously, if you're spending 400 bucks for a radar detector, you are likely going to get more features and a better range that your radar detector can detect to than if you spend 100 bucks.

6. Buy and install your radar detector. When buying a radar detector, you need to decide if you're going to buy from an online store or from a general electronics store.

After you buy your radar detector, you need to decide if you are going to install the unit yourself or have someone else install it. Some radar detector installations are as simple as plugging your unit into your cigarette lighter socket. Other radar detector installations can be as complex as having the entire vehicle wired throughout. Depending on your knowledge and the complexity of the job, you may need to get your radar detector professionally installed. A car audio store is an excellent place to have this work done. Radar detectors should be mounted on your windshield in a high position to give you the widest possible detection range. 7. Watch out for scams. As with any purchase, you need to watch out for scams. Deal with a honest, reputable supplier. Check out the warranty. If dealing on line...call the phone number to see if a real business does exist.

Bernard Phifer is writer and administrator of PhiferRadarDetectors.com, a radar detectors superstore.

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