How to Troubleshoot a Malfunctioning Reverse Parking Sensor

Close-up view of the reverse indicator on a vehicle's gear shift.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Advanced
  • 100-200
What You'll Need
New sensor
Owner's manual
Code reader
What You'll Need
New sensor
Owner's manual
Code reader

Reverse parking sensors may begin to malfunction over time, or if you have been in an accident, and when a driver isn't aware of the problem, things can quickly get dangerous. If you notice anything off with your sensor, test it out immediately. Then, read the following information for steps you can take to ensure that your sensor is in top working condition.

Step 1 - Clean

One of the best things that you can do for your sensors is keep them clean. Most of the time, whenever there are any issues with the reverse parking sensor, it is because gunk from driving has settled over it. Fortunately, cleaning it is a simple task that can be done quickly and is usually very effective.

You will find that the best way to do this is to simply take out the sensors and clean them with a soft cloth or rag. There may be dirt and debris trapped on them or they may be oily or dusty. Make sure that you have it completely cleaned off before you put it back in. Then, turn on your car and see if there are any more issues arising after this has been done.

Step 2 - Listen to the Sensor

If you've cleaned your sensors and you find that you're still having problems, there are a couple ways you can check if you need a replacement. First, switch on the PDC (Park Distance Control). With this one, get as close as you can to the sensor and put your ear near it.

Listen to see if there is a buzzing sound. If there is, then the sensor itself is working. If you cannot hear anything or if you do not want to put your ear that close to the sensor then you can simply put your finger up against it. If the sensor is vibrating just slightly, then there's no need to replace it. However, if there is no buzzing or slight vibration, go ahead and remove the sensor and take it to your local automotive store to purchase a new one.

Step 3 - Check the Error Code

Obviously, there will be cases in which the sensor itself is working perfectly, but there is still a problem. In this case you'll need to get out the owner’s manual for your vehicle. You will find that all of the error codes that could possibly pop up on your vehicle will be listed in here.

Hook up a code reader to your car; then, find the error code that is showing up, and see what needs to be done to fix it. You may be able to fix the problem yourself, depending on what it is, but it's obviously always a good idea to take it to a mechanic if you are unfamiliar with what steps to take.

Troubleshoot a Malfunctioning Reverse Parking Sensor FAQ

How do you reset a parking sensor malfunction?

Parking sensors can be reset if they are not functioning properly. Some designs have a reset button on the control panel that is relatively easy to find.

If you can't find the reset button easily, check your owner's manual. Information about how to find the reset button should be here.

You may have a park assist button instead of a reset button. Press and hold this button for about five seconds with the car turned off.

Start the ignition, press the park assist button normally and see if this resets the sensors.

Why are my reversing sensors not working?

Reverse parking sensors can malfunction for a number of reasons.

First, they could simply be dirty or blocked by debris. Cleaning the lenses for the sensors should be your first order of business.

Sometimes, the battery in your key fob can affect your parking sensors. Replace the battery and see if things begin working again.

Damage to electrical wires, which can result from pests or bad weather, will also affect how the sensors perform.

Is there a fuse for parking sensors?

Parking assist sensors are designed in many ways, and you can even install aftermarket sensors to your vehicle. Because of this, not all models have fuses and some models have fuses that are located within the senor mechanics.

Look for information about your parking sensors, either in the mower's manual or in the information you have for the sensors, to find out about fuses used to power the sensors, if any.

Can parking sensors be repaired?

Beyond cleaning and some simple electrical wiring fixes, parking sensors cannot usually be repaired. Typically, parking sensors are replaced when they stop working properly.

Do parking sensors need to be calibrated?

Most parking sensors do not need to be calibrated. If they need to be calibrated, this usually requires removing the bumper.