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Best Place to Mount a Radar Detector

Photo credit: horaceko via Visualhunt / CC BY-ND
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Having a high quality radar detector is not enough. If you do not mount it in the proper location, it will not be effective.

Determining where to mount your radar detector can be a challenge because there are very few people who are trained or who have enough experience to tell you where to put the device. And, unlike some of the other accessories in your vehicle, you will be the one to mount your radar detector, not a professional.

You could consult the owner’s manual that comes with the radar detector and get a general idea of where to mount it. But if you do not understand why one location is better than another, you can still make mistakes in mounting the device that will affect its functionality.

Why Choosing the Right Location to Mount Your Radar Detector Is so Important

Law enforcement officials will use radar guns to clock your speed. Your radar detector should detect the frequencies law enforcement officials are using long before they detect your vehicle. The position of your radar detector plays a large role in how soon you will detect the frequencies used by a police officer.

For example, a test done with the Valentine One and the Escort 9500i proves this point. When both devices were mounted on the grill of the vehicle, the Valentine One was able to detect the radar signal from 300 yards away. The Escort model could not detect it at all.

When the same units were placed on the lower part of the windshield, the detection distance for the Valentine One unit jumped up to almost 400 yards. The Escort model registered at around 150 yards away from the traffic radar frequency source.

So where should you mount your radar detector? Let’s look at the pros and cons of choosing different mounting areas.

Best Radar Detectors

Low Windshield Mounting

This is where most people will put their radar detecting unit. They’ll set it above the middle of the dashboard, right where the dashboard and the windshield meet.

The advantage of this mounting location is that the power cord does not travel through your line of sight. Additionally, suction cups that are used to mount the unit can be easily removed.

The downside is that most manufacturers recommend mounting your unit as high as possible. This allows the unit to better pick up signals. Additionally, when you use suction cups to mount your unit to the lower part of your windshield, it is likely that the suction cups will come undone when the temperature changes.

High Windshield Mounting

If you mount your unit near the top of your windshield, you are going to have an improved view of your surroundings. Your unit will be able to pick up traffic radar quicker and from a farther distance.

The downside is that the unit’s power cord is going to travel through your line of sight. This limits your visibility and can be dangerous. In certain states like Minnesota and California, mounting anything on the windshield is illegal.

Of the two options, mounting the radar detector high in the windshield or mounting it low in the windshield, we recommend to mount the radar detector low. Here’s why:

  • It Provides Less of a Distraction While Driving
  • It Is Not Illegal in Most States
  • The Radar Detector Is Not As Visible, So Thieves Are Not Attracted to It
  • It Will Not Attract the Attention of Other Drivers, Thereby Minimizing the Chance of an Accident
  • You Will Have Ease of Access to the Controls

Radar Detectors

The Best Place to Mount Concealed Radar Detectors

There are some radar detectors that are designed to be concealed. These are mostly used in locations where the use of radar detectors is not permitted by law. While not advocating their use, we will say that the best place to put them is behind the steering wheel or underneath the main consul.

If you choose to place the unit behind a sun visor, make sure that you do not store identification papers behind the sun visor. If you do, when law enforcement pulls you over and you go for your ID, your “concealed” radar detector will be visible.

The Best Place to Mount a Permanent Radar Detector

There are a lot of pros that come when installing a permanent radar detector. These include:

  • First, the unit turns off and on with your vehicle. So you do not have to worry about leaving it plugged in and accidentally draining your battery.
  • Second, the cables pass through the body of your vehicle. There are no power cables hanging out that would impede your vision.
  • Third, it is difficult, if not impossible, for a person to steal your unit without damaging it.

The best place to mount one of these permanent units is hanging from your rear view mirror.

Really, the best place to mount your radar detector is going to vary depending on the model that you purchase. As you saw in the example we used at the outset, two models were placed on the grill of the vehicle and one did not register anything at all, while the other was able to pick up the traffic radar signal from approximately 300 yards away.

Most radar detectors will come with instructions from the manufacturer on the best place to mount the unit. Research agrees that a high position on the windshield is the best place to mount a radar detector. However, since that is illegal in most parts of the United States, connecting it to your rear view mirror or placing it low on your dashboard are acceptable options.

A Few Final Thoughts

Person mounting a radar detector

Photo credit: NoWin via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Here are some points to remember when deciding where to mount your unit.

Radar detectors have two purposes:

  • Ensure That Every Encounter Is Detected
  • Maximize the Chance of Advanced Warning

Unfortunately, these two strategies require different mounting locations.

To detect every encounter, your radar detector would need to be where law enforcement officials aim their radar gun. This is usually at your front license plate. So you would need to install a radar detector that has remote sensors on either side of your license plate.

This means that the actual unit is installed behind your grill. In doing this you must make sure that the unit does not have metal in front of it because metal blocks radio waves.

However, advanced warning comes from catching the scatter produced as radio waves or as lasers travel through the air. To accomplish this goal, you will need your radar detector to be mounted high with the goal of identifying a traffic radar signal at the earliest possible moment.

So you can see what you need to do to detect every encounter and what you need to do to detect encounters early are polar opposites of each other.

When determining where to mount your unit, ask yourself, why do I want to use a radar detector? If your goal is to know when law enforcement has pinged you, then install it in the grill of your vehicle with the sensor on your license plate.

If your goal is advanced warning, then install it high in your windshield with the hopes of avoiding a speed trap.

We have created an awesome detailed guide that will help you identify the best radar detector for you. Take a look at it. We are sure you will find something that meets your needs.