Mike Valentine
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radar detector questions answered


  Why am I getting laser alarms when I follow some cars?
- J.J., Michigan

  Red neon is occasionally used for the CHMSL (Center High Mounted Stop Lamp) on new cars. We know of these models: GM Trailblazer and Envoy, the Lincoln Mk VIII and the latest BMW 3-series convertible.

These lights use a neon-plasma light source. The red lens allows red visible light to pass, and also invisible energy near infrared. The source is powered by a pulsating voltage on a frequency that happens to be similar to the repetition rate of legitimate laser-gun pulse trains. In other words, the CHMSLs have an invisible energy leakage that’s nearly identical to the beam used by traffic laser. If we suppress the interference, we’re likely to damage laser sensitivity.

Another source of alarms: a few new cars have cruise controls that use laser to measure distance to the car ahead. This feature is available on the Lexus LS430, Infiniti FX35 and FX45. This, of course, is real laser, not a false alarm.

If you’re really bothered by these alarms, you can reprogram V1 to disable its laser reception. It’s a DIY project. Here’s a link to the instructions on our website: Tech Report 3