Aftermarket Vehicle Parking Aids
In the past, we have looked at numerous products to make the inside of your car better, but now we take a look at a handful of products that help make one of the more difficult aspects of driving a car, parking it, an easier task. As technologies have advanced in recent years, new technologies have been incorporated into vehicles to aid parking maneuvers such as sonar park sensors, automatic parking aids including the Active Park Assist available on the Lincoln MKT and even multiple cameras such as Infiniti's Around View Monitor used on the Infiniti EX crossover.
These systems can be expensive on some cars and not available on others, so aftermarket products become a more affordable and easier option especially when it comes to parking. Over the years, most of the cars on the market have grown while houses and garages remain about the same size. Just look at the Honda Accord for instance. Once classified as a subcompact, now the EPA looks at the sedan as a full-size vehicle. Looking at this trend, one of the more difficult parking maneuvers is sometimes just fitting a car in your home garage. With that in mind, we tried out some aftermarket products that help make garage parking easier to reduce the chances of damage to your vehicle or property. The products range from simple to complex in terms of installation, but they all help make parking an easier task.
Backup cameras have grown in popularity lately and are available in small, rearview mirror displays or larger navigation screen displays, but for this a new car usually must be equipped with options that can sometimes cost more than $2,000, and on older cars such cameras weren't even an available option. Audiovox offers the ACA200W backup camera system which mounts a camera to the rear license plate and displays the image on a display screen (not included). Some aftermarket stereo systems with pop-up DVD screens can display the image, but most people will probably opt for a smaller dash mounted display. Another great use of this backup camera is hooking up trailers thanks to its crystal clear imaging. Although wiring the backup camera may seem like a labor intensive task, the mounting and wiring is actually pretty easy to do even for inexperienced installers. Audiovox sells the ACA200W at retailers such as Best Buy for a price of $130.99, but Amazon.com sells it new for less than $70.00.
One of the easiest ways to get a car parked in a garage has always been as simple as tying a tennis ball to a string and hanging it from the ceiling so that when the ball makes contact with your car, you knew when to stop. This is still the case, but for those who like flashing red lights to tell you when to stop, Maxsa Innovations makes an illuminating ball on a string product called Park Right BallPark. The benefit of the BallPark is that while a normal tennis ball may not be visible in the dark, this product automatically lights up as soon as it makes contact with the windshield. Even better, installation is as easy as screwing an eye hook into the ceiling and tying a couple knots. Of the four easy-to-use products tested, the BallPark is the least expensive with a retail price of $14.95.
Another easy way to mark a perfect parking location in a garage is to add some sort of stopper on the ground. In the past, I've seen people screw or glue small strips of wood to the garage floor to indicate when to stop, and again Maxsa Innovations has improved this simple idea with the Park Right Parking Mat. Maxsa's Parking Mat simply sticks to the ground with tough two-sided tape, and it uses small bumps to indicate the desired parking location. After checking out the Parking Mat, I quickly realized that another great use for this product would be outdoor parking of boats and trailers. On concrete, the Parking Mat acts as a wheel chock to prevent the trailer from moving, but when parked on softer surfaces like dirt or grass, the mat acts to evenly disperse the weight of the trailer and prevent the wheels from sinking into the ground. The Parking Mat is available in either black or yellow with a reflective strip on the leading edge, and it retails for $19.95.
While the other Maxsa products are easy for installation, some people may want to keep their garage less cluttered and not have products attached to the floor or hanging from the ceiling. For this, Maxsa Innovations also offers a more discreet parking aid called the Park Right Garage Laser Park. As its name suggests, the Garage Laser Park uses a laser light to indicate a desired parking location. The unit mounts to the ceiling of the garage and it is powered by either a nine-volt battery (not included) or an AC adapter. The built-in sensor turns the laser on when it detects movement and the car is properly parked when the laser hits a predetermined location. With the laser mounted on a swivel, the Garage Laser Park can easily be repositioned without removing its mounts from the ceiling. Maxsa sells the single Garage Laser Park for $29.95, but to park two vehicles in a two-car garage, Maxsa makes a Dual Laser Garage Laser Park that retails for $39.95.
It is apparent that there are many aftermarket products available to help make parking in your garage or around town much simpler, but check out Maxsa Innovations (www.maxsainnovations.com) or Audiovox (http://mobile.audiovox.com/audiovox/) for more information on their products.
Products supplied for testing purposes by Maxsa Innovations and Audiovox.
Select photos by Jeffrey N. Ross