Is it a Cop Running Radar? Or a New Car Running K Band?

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Radar detectors have always had to keep up with the latest developments in police radar – from X to K to Ka band (and laser, too). But in recent years, it’s civilian radar that’s been giving radar detector makers  – and owners – fits.Hero ticket

It began about five years ago, when “safety” (really, lazy driver/idiot-proofing) technologies like Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Braking/Collision Avoidance, Park Assist and Blind Spot Monitors became mass-market features. Today, most new cars either come standard with or offer some or all of these systems – like power windows and air conditioning.

But why is it a problem for radar detectors?

Because these systems use radar (and sometimes, laser) to sense the presence of other cars and obstacles in the vehicle’s path, in order to alert the driver to a potential collision or even to automatically take steps to avoid a collision. And the radar signals emanating from cars equipped with these systems are of the same type as cop radar and so trigger false – and frequent – alarms in radar detectors.

Is it a speed trap up ahead – or just a new Audi?

It might be neither.

Your radar detector may also detect the radar/laser signature of your car, if it has one of the systems just mentioned.  In which case, the false alarms will be continuous, too.civvy radar

Because even if you turn off the Lane Keep Assist or the Blind Spot Monitor, the detector still detects the radar signature – which in this writer’s experience as an automotive journalist who test drives new cars each week – continues to “leak” from the vehicle, even if the system is (nominally) turned off.

This is even more annoying than the clutter generated by other cars’ radar-using systems, because while that Audi up ahead will eventually turn off (or you will pass him) and his false-alarm signal will fade away, the false alarms triggered by your car’s leaky radar signal never fade away.

Either type of false alarm would be less annoying – and less potentially expensive, ticket-wise – if the radar clutter being generated by new car gadgets were of an obsolete wavelength, like X band – which very few (if any) cops still use. X band warnings can be safely ignored. The problem, though, is that these systems generally use K band – which is very much still in use by cops.

Laser, too.V1 image

As I just mentioned, I test-drive new cars every week and also use the Valentine 1 radar detector, which is one of the best (if not the best) radar detector on the market. It has saved me thousands of dollars over the years – not just in tickets I didn’t get but also insurance “surcharges” I didn’t have to pay.

I also live in one of those states (VA) that has a demented “reckless driving” statute that defines this offense as driving in excess of 80 MPH anywhere – including Interstate highways with a posted speed limit of 70. Yup. In my state, a driver can be arrested and jailed for driving as little as 11 MPH over the posted limit on an Interstate highway.

My V1 is like the American Express card. I don’t leave my driveway without it.

But lately – over about the past five years or so – about a third of the new cars I evaluate will have at least one (and sometimes, several) of the V1’s K band warning lights flashing and the audible alarm beeping even though I haven’t left my driveway yet and there aren’t any other cars around, let alone a cop car. I live out in the Woods – on 16 acres in the middle of rural SW Virginia. I can be in the center of the 16 acres, literally a half-mile or more away from anything else on four wheels that’s not a tractor  – and the detector’s having a fit, as if a state cop were standing on the hood, pointing his radar gun at me.idiot proofing

And once out on the road, I get a lot of false alarms from nearby Audis, Acuras, Infinitis and Cadillacs (these cars in particular seem to “leak” a lot of radar signal). It’s gotten much worse over the past 2-3 years as more and more cars contribute their radar signature to the mix. It’s not unlike the way Daytime Running Lights have reduced visibility by creating visual clutter.

The only option – up to now – has been to turn down the audible alarm and try to ignore the constant false visual alarms. But this, of course, greatly reduces the usefulness of the detector as far as detecting police radar – and avoiding a speeding ticket. You stop paying as much attention to the warning lights and audible alarms, which increases your reaction time when the real-deal is drawing a bead on you.

Or you could just turn it off, which eliminates the detector’s usefulness entirely.

Better yet, figure a way to tune out the false alarms without reducing the detector’s abilitie to suss out the real thing.

It’s high time someone did.

Well, V1 has.V1 junk fighter

It’s called Junk-K Fighter – a new filtering system added to the latest model V1 and – the really cool part and one of the reasons why I use the V1 myself – Junk-K can be added to older units that didn’t come with it from the factory. Other detectors aren’t upgradable. You get what you bought – and once cop radar (or civilian radar or some other thing) outpaces the technology it was built with, it’s time to replace the detector.

Given that a good radar detector – one that will actually save you from getting tickets (as opposed to letting you know you’re about to get a ticket) costs $400 or more, one that can be perpetually upgraded for a fraction of that to state-of-the-art is a deal.

Here’s the link to Valentine 1’s update info page. You enter the serial number of your unit and you’ll get a price for parts and labor. Any V1 built during the past 20 years is upgradeable to the latest cop-sussing (and false alarm suppressing) technology. The new units (and upgrades) also can pipe warnings about real cop radar to your smartphone, via Bluetoof.

It’s very cool.

And very necessary.

If your detector can’t detect the difference between civilian-generated and cop radar, you might as well just turn it off.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve owned a V1 since 1998. I upgraded it once in 2001, and just upgraded it again a couple weeks ago to get all the newest stuff (including the Junk stuff). It’s a great detector, but I’m still getting lots of X and K falsies, usually from behind, even with full Logic mode enabled (uppercase L in the display). Still, I wouldn’t drive without it.

    The big problem where I live, though, is that cops use radar only about 10% of the time. The rest of the time it’s laser, which is pretty much indefensible because you never get a warning unless it’s you being targeted.

    I found a thing called “Blinder” that claims to be a laser jammer but I haven’t been willing to spend the money on it. I wish somebody would get one and test it and see if it really works. If it did, I’d be all over it.

  2. I’m paranoid. I commute 40 miles each way. Having a radar detector would embolden me to drive faster and cut my commute time drastically. It’s mostly highway. I’m already a semi loyal clover and do only about 8 mph over the limit. Still slower than vast majority of traffic.

    I’d rather not risk the hassle of an interaction with these swine and just drive like I usually do.

    • If someone could convince me on a v1 I’d consider it. I just think that a v1 would make me speed or constantly slam on my brakes to the speed limit when the thing alerts,

      • Hi C_lover,

        It makes driving at reasonable speeds (as opposed to driving the unreasonable speed limit) so much more enjoyable. Instead of having to sweat that at any moment some asshole cop will ruin your day – and so you drive like a Clover, “doing the limit” – you can now drive at the reasonable 10-plus or so over the unreasonable limit, knowing you are largely immune to the revenue collectors. It is liberating. Also, it makes possible safe passing maneuvers. Instead of the cruise control passing (don’t exceed the speeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed limit!) type that fear of cops engenders. Now, you can floor it and blast pass the slowpoke, knowing there isn’t a cop around to nail you to a cross for executing a safe pass.

        PS: A good detector like the V1 gives you plenty of advance warning – so you merely slow down rather than slam on the brakes! 🙂

    • And that is why driving sucks nowadays.

      My V1 has made driving enjoyable again. I run 75-80 on the main road that takes me from my place to downtown (a trip of about 30 miles, one way) and it is so much fun! Driving that same road at the posted 55 – a speed selected on the basis of the least common denominator/half-blind feeble old man driver, which isn’t me and hence I do not consider myself obliged to obey it – is like having had your balls (and dick) removed and then given a “10” for a girlfriend… why bother?

  3. Can you imagine having to go home at night and explain to your children that you write traffic/speeding tickets for a living?

    Is there anything more cowardly?

  4. The problem with Valentine is one of the attributes they advertise. The ability to upgrade is great but the time to change the design is long past. I am talking about the visibilty of the unit stuck on the windshield yelling out, the the owner does not obey speed limits. I am certainly no engineer however why can’t Valentine design a detector with only a small front/rear antenna visible and the rest of the device out of sight? A few years ago at SEMA, a radar manufacturer had a prototype navigation device with built-in radar detector. One of the representatives told me, the navagation wasn’t very good but the radar detector was invisible. It was being developed for countries where radar detectors are illegal. Unfortunately, the unit had only X and K band so it would not work in countries using KU band (Valentine has KU but radar detectors are very illegal to use in Europe so few take the risk). Not only is Valentine missing a huge market in Europe and Canada but probably a lot of customers in the US, Russia and other places where drivers want to keep a low profile. Perhaps making a radar detector nearly unseen is not possible or developement expense is too great. Since Valentine is a supporter of your Site, maybe they will answer here – because they did not return my call or answer my E-mail.

    • Hi Doug,

      I live in VA – the only state that still has a law on the books forbidding the use of radar detectors. I’ve been using one (V1) daily, for years – no problems. No one can tell you’ve got a detector from more than about 20 yard out. In states where detectors are legal – which is all of them except VA – it’s a non-issue regardless. Who cares whether the cop sees the detector – especially once yo’ve already slowed down and are no longer “speeding”?

    • That’s my problem with all radar detectors. They look like radar detectors and cops see people with radar detectors as people that deserve tickets. I did see a nav/radar detector unit but it did both poorly according to reviews. I don’t even want a radar detector to do the other function, I just don’t want it to look like what it is. Maybe I should buy a V1 and make new housings for it. But it probably relies on the die casting’s properties for grounding or signal or something.

      Back in the day the only thing to hang on the windshield was a radar detector but today there are so many things. It wouldn’t take much to make it look like a dash cam. I could even design the housings. I’ve done both die castings and electronics packaging.

      • Hi Brent,

        This is very easily addressed. I simply wad up some duct or electrical tape and use it to stick the unit on the dashboard, where I can easily snatch and stash it in the event of a Hero Encounter. I do this because detectors are illegal in VA and also because I go from car to car each week. But it hasn’t affected the V1’s cop-sussing prowess at all. It’s very low profile; no cord obvious, etc. You have to be right next to (or very close to) me to notice the unit. From a distance of more than 20 yards – car moving – forget it. It’s invisible.

  5. Maybe going with a crapass Cobra, as a starter detector. It’s a 16 year old in a white Ford Mustang with college scholarship offers likely being made soon.

    The price ceiling is a first female’s fatwa, so there’s no easy way to spend more unfortunately.

    The 13 Best Radar Detectors for Your Car (To Keep You Ticket-Free)
    http://www.bestproducts.com/cars/auto-accessories/g247/best-radar-detectors-for-every-budget/

    Cobra getting owned by constant on
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u66soPw0AQE

    Cobra SPX-7800BT Constant On KA 34.7 Solid Alert Good Reactivity
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=II9VCFUWrus

    • As a radar detector user from the mid-70’s I have some words of advice in choosing one. If you simply want a bit of help to not get caught accidentally speeding in some speed zone, buy one of the more sensitive, less falsing jobs. If your intention is to haul ass sometimes for any reason and esp. for a long trip, buy the best unit that can be had. $650 for that top of the line Escort is for me, worth every cent for not being stopped one time. A stop is a stop is a stop no longer describes getting stopped. Once stopped for speeding, things can quickly escalate and even if it only saves you a simple speeding ticket, it’s still worth it. It won’t be the last.

      • Agreed, got an Escort 9500ix for the wife a couple years ago when she was commuting to Temple from Austin every day. Got tired of fighting her tickets for her, that detector put an end to it.

        • There is that factor of people who think they’re radar proof with a detector. Not saying your wife was one of them but it sounds that way.

          My first Escort was so good I went 6 years before getting a ticket due to the new instant-on. I had recommended it to several people, most of whom never got a speeding ticket. One guy blew past a DPS sitting on the side of the road on the access road and was mad as hell i had lied to him. A woman saw a DPS and just kept on balling the jack since he had no radar. Since she was going over 90 he stopped her and gave her a ticket. She blamed me. Situational awareness helps a lot and thinking you can go any speed by a cop with no radar and not get a ticket is simply stupidity.

  6. Just wondering, does this extra clutter affect the accuracy of cop radar readings? Perhaps a silver lining here, if it helps motorists contest radar/laser tickets.

    PS. My newer V-1 has the Junk K Fighter. Since I activated it, the false signals from other vehicles are greatly reduced, while sensitivity to cop radar seems undiminished. Can’t speak for its effectiveness in screening my own vehicle’s radar/laser emissions, because none of cars spew any of that stuff.

    • Even if it is, I doubt it would stop any department from using them. Since so few people contest tickets, there isn’t any reason why they would stop writing tickets using them.

  7. Any bets as to whether the gunvermin is somehow subtly encouraging this radar leakage to lessen the effectiveness of detectors and thereby boost income?

    • They likely aren’t, actually. That could be demonstrated, blow then lid off the whole conspiracy.
      But mandate light (to allow for the mandates of Safe and Efficient), and the “problem” occurs automagically… 😉

      Why would you worry about tipping the scales….?
      Putting fingers on it, or using bad weights, easy to catch.
      But an electromagnet, placed under the table, where you put the scale…? You could adjust how it pulls…? It’ll always be the same, always predictable, and always erring on your side.
      It’s that sort of out of sight we need to realize applies when the biggest bully on the block shows up.

      • Sort of a feature, not a defect for the government drones . It’s probably way more work tightening up those systems to begin with. So it doesn’t happen.

    • PTB there is no doubt the gov’t uses that frequency for a reason. To confuse radar detectors. Just another tiny way to slow down “speeders”. But with all these new car features using this radar, one day there are bound to be problems when you go down the road and every car is putting on its brakes randomly, causing gridlock and leading to increases in road rage. So the gov’t can add to the reasons for imposing more controls on drivers. And if the gov’t can get more of your taxes to fight the war against Russia and China that the MISIG complex is looking for, so much the better. A win for gov’t by violence all around.

  8. I have had the best escort passports that were offered over the last 15 years. I got a V-1 almost 3 years ago. After having it, I found it to be superior as far as build quality. My passports over the years have come apart and my most recent one just quit working. While the range was just as good when new, I have noticed they don’t stay that way.

    The latest passport with the arrows may be a great detector but it is $200 more than a V-1. And my history has taught me that they don’t last as long. As a long term investment, V-1 is unmatched. If surpassed in performance, V-1 will upgrade. No other radar detector will. Not that it matters, since they don’t last more than 5 years anyway, at least under the conditions I place them under.

    • When the Escort hit the market Car and Driver immediately tested one and it was so far beyond everything else they couldn’t say enough good things. I can recall it detecting K band 5 miles away and it was so good with it’s meter and sound you could continue to haul ass right up to where you knew the radar would be. Then I had it upgraded when that happened and it was even better. It got dropped out of trucks onto concrete and fared better than I could believe. It was Timex, took a lickin and kept on tickin. When the first Passports came out in ’85 I ordered one and it was even better. i still have both of them and they operate flawlessly….except nearly every radar in Tx. is Ka so they sit on a shelf.

      But CM changed hands right after V1 came out. I called Valentine back then and spoke with Mike. He said the Passport I had was so close to as good as the V1 he couldn’t really guarantee me some big advantage. He didn’t need to though since when CM changed hands it went downhill in quality. It took a long time for them to regain their name and quality. In the past couple years everyone I know who have bought the high-end Escorts have been very satisfied with them.

      But CM took a hit in perception of quality that took a long time to regain, mainly because it took them a long time to regain the quality they once had. It sorta reminds me of GM not being able to sell diesels for many years due to their first bad effort.

  9. OT again. (mea culpa.)

    I’m gonna buy a radar detector for a kid this week. Is this $225 Passport x50 my best bet. Or is there something else I can get for less than $225 that you recommend.
    https://postimg.org/image/gqgo8z6yv/61db920f/

    Northeast outside the beltway Houston uses K and Ka I believe and gives you lots of false positives from garage doors, etc.

    beltronics PRO200 8X Range Other Radar Laser
    by Beltronics
    $209.99new(5 offers)
    4.5 out of 5 stars 77

    beltronics PRO300 10x Range Radar Laser

    Beltronics – V10 Radar/laser Detector – Platinum

    Amazon
    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_p_36_0?rnid=386442011&rh=n%3A172282%2Cn%3A%21493964%2Cn%3A3248684011%2Cn%3A10981291%2Cn%3A172529%2Cp_36%3A20000-24000&qid=1470134628&bbn=172529&low-price=200&high-price=225&x=9&y=7

    I wonder if one could get their hands on a bunch of radar detectors and refurbish them and resell them.

    Is there money to be made in this, and what are the potential risks and problems from doing something like that.

    • Hi Tor,

      Honestly – not because Valentine advertises with this site – I have found the V1 to be the best of the bunch and worth every penny. It is in my experience the most sensitive (critical, if you want to avoid swine) and I love the unit’s ability to track multiple threats simultaneously and also tell you where the pig is in relation to you. Also, the construction of the unit is superior. Very rugged/durable. I’ve had my current one for five years and it has yet to so much as hiccup on me.

      Mike Valentine also supports this site – and that’s something to consider, too!

      • The Valentine is what the forums mostly recommend too. The cheaper brands will detect, maybe not as well, but with all the false positives you’ll get, it will be a huge ordeal to use the thing.

        • Yup.

          I’ve been doing this (driving fast) a long time. And the V1 is the pick of the litter. It has saved me several “reckless driving” cites in just the past two years alone. For those not hip, “reckless driving” in my state is anything faster than 20 MPH above any posted limit and over 80 MPH anywhere (even on a highway with a PSL of 70). They can arrest you on the spot for this and take you to jail. You will spend thousands on lawyers and fines and insurance rape.

          • If you can pack up your gear and travel. Come on down to Space City and run your site from Texas. It’s the least Orwellian place to speed in these here ameriKan heimats.

            Go ahead and speed: Texas is the MOST lenient state for reckless driving
            http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/article29815543.html

            Strictest And Most Lenient States on Speeding and Reckless Driving
            https://wallethub.com/edu/strictest-and-most-lenient-states-on-speeding/14211/

            • Hi Tor,

              No offense to Eight and other good people, bit Texas is overflowing with Clovers – some of the worst “law n’ order” and “good Republican” types. Remember: Texans loved The Chimp (and love that smirking little psychopath Ted Cruze, too).

              • Hi Eric,

                Actually, if your concern is the ability to test how fast a car can go, and how long it takes you to get there, Texas has a stretch of road with basically no cops on it with a speed limit of 85 MPH, and thousands of miles of roads with a speed limit of 80.

                The problem is that Texas roadways are overcopped. The pigs are all over the place.

                And, since testing handling and the ability to handle curves at high speeds is important, your choice of SW Virginia seems like overall a better choice. Though why you don’t move further south to Tennessee baffles me, since that Virginia auto felony thing for driving 11 over seems like it ought to be a non-starter for your profession. Sooner or later, even with your radar detector, you’re gonna run afoul of that law.

                • Hi Jim,

                  Living in a very rural area greatly improves your odds of being able to successfully lose a pig, if you have the bad luck to run across one while hauling the mail. Lots of country roads with twists and turns. Easy to just… disappear. The “reckless driving” stuff merely encourages this. Why not, after all? If you stop for the buzzcut asshole, you will probably be going to jail anyhow – and it’s a certainty you will be going to court and paying thousands in fines and lawyer bills.

                  PS: TN has its own (different) Cloverific issues; there’s really no good place to be anymore. Just less worse options.

              • One thing about Texas is the speed limit isn’t “law” as most other states. Oh, they’ll give you a ticket for going faster but it is a “suggested” speed and as such is more easily fought in court. There is a speed now that constitutes reckless driving but I think it’s 25mph over the PSL which is over 100 in most places and higher than that in other places. Something like 69 miles(for whatever reason and not all) of I-20 as well as most of I-10 are 80mph PSL.

              • I agree with you 100% Eric. For all the hype about being so independent and awesome in reality it’s all bullshit. Property taxes are ridiculously high and state laws are as bad as federal fatwas. The good-ole’ boys network runs deep here and it fights hard to protect their interests.

                Gary Vaynerchuk told a story about how his company winelibrary.com was selling $6 million+ a year to Texas customers. Specs Liquor Stores (defacto liquor store monopoly here) decided they had enough of the internet undercutting their bottom line so they lobbied the state to pass a law making it illegal to sell wine online to Texas customers. 20% of his sales vanished overnight and now Texas customers are safe from scrupulous online stores selling them product at a lower price. Costco private label hard liquor (which is 1/3 the price of name brands) is illegal to sell in Houston/Harris county.

                On the bright side…local governments here in Houston are banned from using red light cameras! On my most recent visit to my hometown of Miami I’ve noticed that there is a red light camera on every single intersection because you know…it makes things safer.

                I don’t drink but it’s laws like these that infuriate the hell out of me and reminds me of how blind clovers really are. They truly believe we are free. Welcome to the Matrix.

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