Reversing out of a tight parking spot can be tricky sometimes. To keep your cars dent and scratch free, auto manufacturers have developed the parking assist feature. Though the name of this feature may vary from one manufacturer to the other, they all perform the same function.
The sensors located around the car, typically in the front and rear bumpers, detect when an object is getting too close to the vehicle. If the computer sees the car nearing an object, it will play a chime to warn the driver. These systems will vary slightly between different vehicles so it is important to read over your owner’s manual so that you know exactly how your parking assist system works.
What the parking assist light means
Generally, if the parking assist light is illuminated in green on your dash, it indicates that the system is active and assessing the road around you. You may need to toggle a button to turn the system on or it may turn on automatically at low speeds or when the reverse mode is engaged. This is another reason why it’s important to read the owner’s manual so you’ll know whether or not you need to activate it manually.
With the light on and system active, the sensors will be monitoring the space around you and determining whether anything is getting too close. Once you are within a foot or two of something, the computer will start chiming as a warning. The closer you get to the object, the faster the chimes will sound. Some systems are a little more advanced and can even let you know which side or corner is getting too close to the object.
If the Parking Assist symbol is flashing or yellow in color, or both, the system has detected an issue and will be disabled temporarily. One of the most common malfunctions isn’t actually a malfunction, it may just be some dirt covering the sensors. If too much dirt covers the sensors, they will not be able to measure distances accurately. To prevent any accidents, the whole system will be disabled and you’ll have to rely on your eyes to park your car. Once you clean the car by washing it, the parking assist should return to normal. If washing the car doesn’t help, you’ll need the help of a certified technician to identify any issues.
Is it safe to drive with the parking assist light on?
Using the park assist feature when trying to get in or out of a tight spot will help keep you out of unwanted accidents. Even if the system is disabled, you can continue driving normally because it is a nonessential system and doesn’t affect your car’s overall driveability. That being said, you shouldn’t rely on the parking assist 100% when trying to park. It is possible for the system to make errors, so you should always be looking over your shoulder when reversing. The parking assist mainly helps by checking blind spots that you can’t see even when looking over your shoulder.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What Does the Parking Assist Indicator Light Mean? and was authored by Spencer Cates.