Navigation, Wi-Fi, backup cameras, blind spot sensors, lane departure detection, remote start…we can’t all afford to have the best vehicle containing the latest technology package. Possessing none of these features can make our current vehicle feel a bit outdated. Thankfully there are affordable gadgets available that can be added little by little, such parking assistants. FenSens, Inc. has been generous enough to let me try out their smart wireless parking sensor appropriately named, FenSens.
Smart Parking Features
Serving as a vehicle guidance system, FenSens aids in estimating how close you are to an object when traveling backwards or forwards. Many of us, myself included, have backed into a parking space only to get out and realize that there was plenty of room to keep going. FenSens’ preeminent feature is that it’s completely wireless. There’s no need to spend hours taking apart your vehicle, running wires, or having to take it to an auto shop for installation. Bluetooth technology is encased within the license plate frame that can be installed on the front or rear of an automobile. This design allows FenSens to be installed onto practically any vehicle, no matter what year it was manufactured in.
Installing the License Plate Frame
All of the necessary tools required to install the parking sensor are included in the kit which, I must say, is very sharp looking. The AA battery powered parking sensor frame is secured to a vehicle using custom security screws in order to prevent the theft of your $150 parking assistant. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to return to my car only to find that my parking sensor was stolen. Thumbs up to FenSens, Inc. for taking this into consideration.
Once the license-plate-based smart wireless parking sensor is installed, the remainder of the action takes place on your iOS or Android enabled device. Install the app, register, pair and get ready to drive. During the onboarding process you will be prompted to enter the distance between the end of your bumper and the license plate frame. Do not ignore this step! Doing so will cause the app to read distances incorrectly. A.K.A. you must really want to run into something with your car. Radial distance markers will be displayed on the screen after setup, with greed representing further space and red signifying closer.
The app also presents the remaining battery capacity of FenSens. Tests have shown that that the batteries should last for 5 months, using the assumption that the device is activated 5 timers per day. FenSens automatically resides in sleep mode when not engaged so that battery life can be extended as long as possible.
FenSens is able to register objects that are within 10 feet in front or behind your vehicle, coupled with a radial range of 4 feet (2 feet per sensor). Now you may be thinking, “It’s going to be a pain in the butt having open the app every time I want to back up.” The company has taken this issue into consideration and has introduced the welcomed solution of including a magnetic smartphone holder and physical QuickLaunch button.
The TAP Button comes encased in a rubber holder with a ring that can be slid over a steering wheel. If that’s too uncomfortable for you, it can be removed from the holder and mounted anywhere inside of your vehicle using the included pad equipped with double-sided 3M tape. As soon as the button is pressed the app will display an outline of your automobile along with a visual display of what the sensors are reading.
“F” or “R” can be pressed to active the sensor corresponding to the direction of intended travel. FenSens also keeps up with today’s assistants, enabling the app to be opened on Android by saying “Open FenSens” and “Hey Siri, Launch FenSens” on iOS.
As you backup (or drive forward) the app will beep in slow intervals, followed by quicker ones as an object gets closer and closer to FenSens. Once your vehicle is within the red zone the series of beeps turns into a constant sound to signal extremely close proximity to an object.
Results During Testing
FenSens has worked relatively well for me since its installation a few weeks ago. However, no gadget is without its flaws. Below are few tips and issues I have come across thus far upon using the smart device.
The battery encased within the TAP Button was depleted in the unit I received. Replacing it may solve your issue if you’re unable to get the app to recognize it. The battery is a CR 2032. I picked up a replacement from Walgreens and everything worked as it should after that.
The diameter of the TAP Button holder seems small compared to the thickness of today’s steering wheels. I was afraid that the holder would break if I stretched it to the width of my steering wheel, so I opted to go with the included 3M tape. Having it on my steering wheel would have probably felt uncomfortable anyway while making turns.
There was an initial issue with the FenSens app that prevented me from being able to register a new account; The app cannot be used without it. Thankfully their support team was pretty responsive and I was able to sign up the following day.
The app crashed on my LG v30 more frequently than any app I use on a daily basis. This seemed to especially occur upon entering my vehicle to start the app after it had been asleep for a few hours. After uninstalling and reinstalling the application, the crashes have completely stopped. I also recommend using an automation app, MacoDroid for instance, to start FenSens whenever your device connects to your vehicle’s Bluetooth signal. If your car isn’t equipped with Bluetooth, pick up a Bluetooth receiver. It connects to the AUX port and, viola! Your car now has Bluetooth.
The Wireless Sensor
FenSens sleeps a little too well. After sleeping for a few hours, the sensor does not want to immediately wake up after opening the app. The app will launch without a problem but no readings will show on the screen. Holding the TAP Button for 3 seconds as the instructions suggest has not worked either. Closing the app and reopening it again seems to be a workaround for this issue.
The wireless sensor comes with the ability to secure it to your vehicle using 4 custom security screws. If your vehicle only has two predrilled holes for screws, you should be just fine. FenSens is still sturdy after driving it a few hundred miles while being held by only 2 screws.
After your car has been sitting outside for a while in the rain or snow, the precipitation may stick to the two round sensors on the bottom of the license plate frame and cause the app to display false proximity readings. Using your hand to wipe the sensors off is enough to get them clean again.
Keep the custom security wrench/ screwdriver in your vehicle. It won’t be easy removing the parking sensor without it.
Installation will take much longer than 5 minutes if the included security screws are too small for the existing mounting brackets that your license plate screws currently utilize. Unless you want to break off your current mounting brackets (the objects that the screws actually fasten into) so that they fall between the trunk and its lining, you’ll have to remove the lining entirely in order to remove the brackets and replace them with new ones. This caused the installation to be closer to fifty-five minutes for me since I was performing the installation in the cold had no experience removing the lining. If I was to do it again it’d more than likely take only twenty-five minutes. On the bright side, the new mounting brackets give me peace of mind that my FenSens isn’t going anywhere.
Is It Worth the Money?
The price for wired backup sensor systems range from $15 to $100+. That doesn’t even include the $130 installation fee or the time it will take to remove portions of your vehicle, run wires, drill holes and troubleshoot. The opportunity to avoid all of those makes FenSens worth it’s $150 price tag. The smart wireless parking system includes a 30-day money back guarantee, in the event it isn’t to your liking, along with a 1-year warranty and free shipping. It can be purchased directly from their website with a chance for a coupon if you spin the wheel, or from Amazon.
There is a slight inconvenience of having to get your phone out to use FenSens, but that’s a small price to pay for a technology upgrade. The included magnetic car mount and TAP Button ease this paint point a bit. The entire system has a high-quality feel, the battery life is pretty decent and the fact that it can be installed on any vehicle that is shorter than 30 feet (due to Bluetooth range limitations) makes FenSens hard to pass up. When you finally part ways with your vehicle, FenSens can easily be uninstalled and placed onto another.
If you’re in the market for a parking system, I absolutely recommend FenSens. It’s already shown that it will continue to make improvements to the app and the ease of installation is hard to overlook. In a world that is becoming more and more connected every day, a smart wireless parking system is a welcomed addition.