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How to Choose a Blind Spot & Backup Warning System
Aftermarket companies offer three types of backup systems: rear-view cameras, sensor systems, and mirror
tilt-down. Use Types to
decide which type best suits your needs. For all camera and sensor systems, we recommend professional installation.
No matter what type of system you choose, consider these things when deciding on a specific model:
Know how the device mounts on your vehicle.
Camera and sensor systems that are mounted on the vehicle’s bumper or bodywork may necessitate drilling. They may not be the best choice if you lease your
If you have a hitch, you can consider a model that mounts in the trailer-hitch receiver. But you would have to remove the system to use your hitch.
Other camera and sensor models mount on the license-plate frame. But some states prohibit frames because they can obscure the plate.
Within types, features vary. This is especially true with the sensor models we tested. The ultrasonic systems were generally the most sensitive, but their performance was adversely affected
by rain, snow, or other inclement weather.
The microwave-based sensor systems we tested were not affected by weather but are less sensitive as a group. They also don’t warn the driver unless the vehicle
or object behind it is moving.
The display quality of the camera-based models is very good, although it doesn’t match that of the larger screens on some carmakers’ systems. Most of the system displays turn on when the
vehicle shifts into reverse, but one, the Audiovox, must be turned off and on manually.
LaneFX Standard Features to Make Every Lane Change Safer
Q. Even though LaneFX is ultra simple concept, you've managed to make LaneFX a very feature rich product. Correct?
A. Absolutely. Let me give you a brief walk through of the features and add-on options of the LaneFX system:
- First we talked about the universal fit of LaneFX.
- Second, ease of installation (which you have to remember quick installations mean less cost of ownership to the customer
and faster seamless installations mean higher customer satisfaction). The way we were about to simplified installation on hundreds if not thousands of power mirror systems is by using an Intelligent
Learn Technology. So all the installer has to do is hook up a set of 3 wires on either side of LaneFX module. And then all the installer has to do is start learn mode and the unit "learns" the
wiring setup of the vehicle and configures itself on that basis. No complex wiring diagram, no programming required.
- Third, all mirror movements are fully customizable at installation. We wanted to make LaneFX as responsive to the
driver and tailored to the driver's preferences as possible. So with every LaneFX unit, each driver can customize how far the mirror opens up, how long it pauses when it gets there, and even
how fast the mirror should move. You can control your preferences separately for the right and left mirror.
- LaneFX is intended to be a concealed unit either under the dash or in the trunk. So these adjustments should be made at installation and you can always tweak them or change occasionally after
- Another feature we offer in the system is control of both mirrors. So you control the left and right mirror separately or concurrently.
Q. And all of these features you mentioned are standard in every LaneFX box?
A. Yes. That's correct.
Q. But I also understand that you have a number of optional add-on components that a customer can choose to further enhance his/hers LaneFX system.
A. Our team has worked very diligently to research what consumers would like to have in their complete LaneFX system. Let me share with you a quick list of what some of these options are:
- First is a very inexpensive add-on component we have that we think is going to be very popular, especially among entry level domestic vehicles is the optional Mirror Speed Boost.
With this component owners of vehicles with slow moving power mirrors can safely boost their mirror movement speeds up to 200% of OEM speed.
This will provide drivers with a way to ensure that LaneFX movement is responsive to their driving needs. All of the mirror speeds are customizable by the driver from 80% to 200% of OEM speed,
and those adjustments can be done separately for left and right mirrors.
- Second we have a great optional component that's quite frankly is a driver awareness system in and of itself: ParkFX. ParkFX is an active
park assist and curb exposure system that uses your side mirrors to expose the parking boundaries around your vehicle as your backing up. Much in the same LaneFX moves your mirror outward
to expose the blind spot next to you and behind you, ParkFX tilts the blind spot mirror downward when you put the vehicle in reverse to expose either
the parking lines let's say if you were in a mall parking lot, or more importantly to expose the curb in parallel parking situations. When you take the car out of reverse, the mirror comes
back to its original position, every single time. Just like LaneFX, ParkFX is universal and fully-customizable to the driver's preferences. The
system works on any vehicle, new or old, domestic or import, manual or automatic transmission. And you can choose to have ParkFX control the left, right or both mirrors. And to be complete,
you can also configure at installation how much ParkFX should tilt each of these mirrors when the vehicle is backing up. So for a big SUV, you can choose the blind spot mirrors to tilt down
farther than say someone who drives a small sedan. Everything is universal and fully-customizable to your needs.
- Thirdly is an add-on component we are very proud of: our Turn Signal Link integration kit. I put my blinker on
and that activates LaneFX to show me my blind spot before I change lanes? Yes exactly. And you can also configure the Turn Signal Link integration kit to activate only when the vehicle is moving
above certain speed, like over 55mph to have it only activate on when you're on the highway, or say over 35mph in an urban city setting.
- The forth in our options list is a plug-and-play wireless controls kit. We've heard time and time again that drivers would ideally like the LaneFX controls at the finger tips,
just like your horn or turn signal stalk. this tiny module I am holding is an example of a left-hand wireless control. So we designed this wireless kit so that installers never have to worry
about running wires to the steering wheel (which is a no no) and to give the customer to place the controls anywhere. The wireless controls kit includes two controls for left and right and is
designed to fit behind one of your steering-wheel spokes. The placement is meant to avoid competing with the increasing number of OEM buttons on the front of the steering wheel. Also the placement
behind the top spoke make the LaneFX control within the reach of a finger tip without having to move a hand off the steering wheel regardless in you drive with your hands in the 10-to-2 position
or racing style.
- One more plug-and-play optional component which is our Speed Sensitivity Mode. This is an add-on component that integrates with OBDII port of virtually any vehicle and continuously
reads the vehicle speed. The LaneFX module is pre-programmed to take advantage of this option and it then produces more dynamic mirror
movement based on the vehicle speed. This ensures an ever greater degree of responsiveness to the driver's needs in real-time. So LaneFX moves the mirror faster at say 70mph than at 55mph? Exactly
right, and it also pauses less when it reaches its maximum expansion angle at higher speeds.
Gift Ideas for Car Lovers
Did you know that some folks use cars for reasons other than getting from one place to the other? Of course you did! For many owning a car, suv, or truck is an extension of their personality.
It's about driving a vehicle and making a statement with it. Budget permitting some will choose the latest in suvs or trucks,
while others will choose a more reasonable set of wheels. Everyone loves their Freedom Machine and does their best to enhance and personalize it so a gift of automotive accessories is
a great way to warm their heart.
So what exactly do you buy?
Well your final selection depends to some extent on your budget, but if you are short for vehicle accessory gift ideas, here are a few – a non-magnetic cell phone pad
makes a great little car accessory for that dashboard – maybe an ashtray with some zing, for those who smoke and refuse to quit?, then there are the slightly more expensive accessories
like seat covers, luggage carriers and removable steps for those hard to reach areas like the top of a truck. Ask yourself what kind of person you are planning to gift – you would be the
best judge of that – remember when you are buying an accessories gift, or any kind of gift, try and get something that you know the person in question would love to receive, not
something that you would like to get on your birthday! The dashboard cellmate in particular is a must have for every sports utility vehicle owner, who often go cross country
across rough terrain. Nothing like a CellMate cell phone padto keep that mobile phone, ipod and maybe the ray ban glasses from being knocked all over the place! The custom made seat covers are
a great way to personalize a vehicle. Going custom is the only way for hobbyists even if it means waiting an extra week.
Skis are one of the hardest things to fit in or on a sports vehicle. Maybe you could get your friend a ski rack if he or she is going on a ski trip with the vehicle.
The ski rack goes conveniently on top of the car where they hold the skis parallel and over the vehicle, leaving ample room for other luggage. So you can see there’s something literally for
everyone in terms of car accessories as personal gifts. Such a gift would no doubt be well appreciated from the receiver, and isn’t that what we want at the end
of the day.
Why Turn Your Head Away From Traffic?
Turn your side mirror instead whenever you need to change lanes!
LaneFX is a controller that links your car's power mirrors and turn signals, and whenever you use your turn signal, it automatically moves the mirrors outwards so you can instantly see
in your blind spot. LaneFX can also be outfitted with ParkFX, which tilts both mirrors down so you can see where you're parking.
What a great idea—this beats the hell out of that "objects are closer than appear" concept which gives you a distorted view of reality in that right-side rearview mirror.
LaneFX does make two assumptions, though: that you have power mirrors in your car and that you actually use your turn signals when you're going to change lanes. You do signal when you're changing
lanes, don't you? Sale prices start below $170. What a deal! Get one in time for the holidays and have safer winter driving.
Gifts With Vroom
Shopping for a passionate car lover this holiday season? Here are ten vroom-worthy car gifts sure to accelerate excitement
Auto advertisements are, without a doubt, at their most unrealistic during the holidays. The clichéd Christmas morning TV spot usually has a gift-receiver quizzically finding a set of keys
in a tiny box, then rushing to the window and—surprise!—discovering a previously overlooked new car waiting in the driveway. Sometimes there's even an oversized bow. Probable? Not really.
Even setting aside the questionable practicality of such a stunt, gifting a new car is more than unlikely. Deciding on options, colors, and financing decisions, not to mention arranging insurance
and title, tends to cull even the strongest inclinations towards holiday whimsy. But car lovers need not despair. The holidays can still be filled with copious auto-related gifts within every budget,
from under $25 to way over $10,000.
Enthusiasts who get a rise out of practical gifts could have a lot to look forward to in particular—the old jokes about ties and sweaters notwithstanding. There's the low-cost Griffin's
iSqueez that just may very well be the easiest and least-expensive automotive retrofit in history. The $9.95 rubber iPod stand molds to fit most cup holders, all without scratching your iPod in
And though in the world of auto gifts floor mats are admittedly conservative, for the right person—especially someone who uses the car for work—water and mud-proof mats may prove the
gift that keeps on giving day to day. Edge-to-edge full-cuts like the ones made by RubberTite means mats protect the maximum amount of surface area.
Other practical gift ideas range widely. There are sophisticated electronics, like the $399 Magellan RoadMate 2000 GPS navigation system and the less expensive $149 PNI Silver Bullet Radar Detector.
Then again, there are equally useful low-tech options, like Yakima's SkyBox Pro 21, which enables travelers to carry an additional 21 cubic feet of stuff wherever they go.
Hardcore brand loyalists have it made too. That's because the world's most luxurious and exclusive auto nameplates—from Aston Martin to Lamborghini—offer branded accessories and companion
products. Such licensed products are often geared toward current owners and niche enthusiasts. They make great gifts whether you're already in the club or still saving up.
Hardcore BMW fans all hail the power-mad "M" signifier. That's because M badged versions of BMW's cars are even sportier and more powerful than the company's regular fare. True enthusiasts
can now carry that badge on their wrists with the Tourneau-made M Power Watch for $250. It features classic BMW looks, especially the precision dials.
But some brand loyalists need more than a wrist-top reminder of what's waiting for them in the garage. Enter the Ferrari & Colnago CF2 high-performance mountain bike. This is one brand extension
that proves adept at its purpose. Like the supercars, the CF2 is made of carbon and light alloys, and it has hydraulic disc brakes. Not to mention a body design worthy of the Ferrari name. Price:
Of course, there are still extravagant options for those not fazed by the dealership experience and determined to pull the ultimate surprise. Real enthusiasts will tell you that the Porsche 911
Carrera is the closest man has yet come to engineering perfection in a sports car. And that's why the 911 makes the best over-the-top, all-out car gift. The only difficulty is finding a big enough
bow. Price: $72,400.
Track Your Buddies on the Highway With New Gadget
TomTom's portable car navigator systems
have a new feature called TomTom Buddies. Stuff magazine reports that the new friend tracking system allows people
to not only send messages back and forth but keep track of where their friends are located.
Called TomTom Buddies, the feature lets you track your mates wherever you go – and in return, they get to track you too.
It could be a very useful system for driving vacations involving more than one vehicle. Carpooling parents and corporations with fleets of vehicles might also find this type of service useful.
All you do is invite other TomTom users -- you'll have to shun your Garmin and Navman chums - to be your authorized 'buddy'. The idea is that the Buddies service will be like an exclusive club
through which you can send each other text messages and locations you think are interesting.
If you feel like being a loner for a bit you can select the privacy option which lets you hide your location. Plus, if any of your Buddies keep sending you many Points of Interest -- dodgy McDonald
drive-ins, for example -- you can delete them.