Do Radar Detectors Work in 2019 & Are They Worth It?

are radar detectors worth it

Before going into the details, I’m gonna give you the simple answers.

Do radar detectors work in 2019?

Yes, they do, unless you go for a really cheap radar detector. Latest radar detectors can save you from any kind of speed traps on the road.

Are radar detectors worth it?

Speeding ticket costs around $100. Considering that good radar detectors are available under $200, a radar detector costs around two speeding tickets. In other words, if a radar detector saves you from two speeding tickets, then you can say the radar detector was worth it.

Okay, now to the details. Do radar detectors work anymore? Are they legal? Do radar detectors detect modern radars or just old ones? Do they work when the weather is bad? Can radar detector apps replace radar detectors?

Do Radar Detectors Work?

The duty of a radar detector is to alert when a cop radar is around. I will have to say that almost all the radar detectors today are able to detect all the police radars – even the latest ones.

Of course, there are $30 and $50 radar detectors which do not detect some of the radars. But I am talking about the good ones, the ones with GPS and costing at least $100.

See this Reddit user‘s answer for a similar question to ‘are radar detectors worth it and do radar detectors work still in 2019?’

I’ve got a Passport 8500 X50 that’s saved me numerous times over the years. I drive primarily between MD-NY so outside of the rare Laser warning from the “photo enforced” construction zones in MD and NYPD traffic officers it’s all Ka-band.

They’re not foolproof, but 9 times out of 10 I’ll see a weak Ka signal pop up which gives me a good amount of time to slow down before I’m the car being targeted by radar. Almost always picks up around corners and at the bottom of hills too. If you customize what bands it looks for to take out X band (K Band is still used for speed cam radar in MD/DC) it can run pretty quietly.

Reddit thread

The problem is with the false alert filtering systems.

The automatic door openers in shopping malls and collision avoidance systems in cars use same frequency of waves as police radars. Radar detectors often mistake them as police radars and go off.

While cheap radar detectors do not have an efficient system to avoid this, good ones have many technologies to filter these out. And so it is unfair to say ‘Radar detectors don’t work’ based on this.

For example, the Escort Passport S75 has ‘GPS auto lockouts’. This radar detector mutes automatically if it detects a signal at the same spot more than thrice.

The latest Whistler CR97 can efficiently filter out collision avoidance system from a car if it comes nearby frequently on a highway.

The false alert filtering gets better as the price increases.

Most of those who complain about false alerts use cheap radar detectors. Always keep in mind that you get what you pay for. If you are ready to spend around $200, you get a neat balance between affordability and quality.

The best in the game?

The Escort Max 360C.

This one almost never gives false alerts and has an extremely long range of detection, thanks to the regularly updated firmware.

Now, to the common misconceptions.

Do radar detectors work in bad weather?

A question arising from misconceptions. Radar detectors just detect signals from a radar. So if a radar signal is able to reach you in bad weather, the radar detector is able to detect it also.

Can radar detectors detect lidars or lasers?

As good as they detect radars.

Even though they are still called ‘radar’ detectors, they can detect laser threats also. Almost all radar detectors now come with this feature.

The laser detection is as good as the radar detection also.

What about Instant-on radars and FMCW radars?

do radar detectors work

In my review of the Whistler CR97, I wrote about its excellent FMCW radar detection. The CR97 was able to alert long before the threat.

Lesser radar detectors used GPS database to alert about FMCW before. Now, they are able to detect it using the antenna itself long before the threat.

Costly radar detectors don’t have any problem with FMCWs.

In case of instant-on radars also, the problem is with cheap ones.

Good radar detectors will alert two or three seconds after the radar is on. You get enough time to slow down. It will alert you when the police are targeting other vehicles also.

Can apps like Waze replace radar detectors?

The Waze vs Radar detector debate has been going on for a while.

This question arises from misconceptions. An app like Waze can never replace a radar detector.

Waze is a crowd sourced app. The problem with them is that they work based on the very few people who actually care to enter police locations on the database.

It will alert of some threats for sure. But it won’t alert on low traffic areas, at areas where Waze users are absent or fail to enter it on the app.

It is better to use an app like this if you don’t have a radar detector. But you can’t rely on them.

Are radar detectors worth it?

They are more worth than increased insurance premiums, potential tickets and the court fees of course.

Let’s say, if a radar detector saves you from one ticket, it has paid for itself.

If it saves you from two, you’ve profited at least $200.

Never a bad deal!

Are radar detectors worth it if they cost less than $100?

They will still alert you of police radars.

The problem?

They won’t alert you of all threats, especially of FMCW and red light cameras. This comes from the lack of GPS.

Another major issue is indeed the false alerts. False alerts will be so common that you stop trusting the radar detector. And then when a real threat is nearby, you might ignore it.

Are radar detectors worth it if they cost less than $100?

Absolutely not. But it is still better than not having any.

Always read radar detector reviews before buying one.


Do radar detectors work?

Radar detectors work still in 2019.

Are radar detectors worth it?

They are worth the money you spend.

Good luck!

One comment
  1. Randy Chorvack

    I’m glad to learn that radars can still work in bad weather because it’s pretty rainy in the area I live in. I have gotten a few too many speeding tickets so I decided to finally invest in a radar detector so I can avoid getting more. Now all I need to do is find the best one for me.

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