Putting an aftermarket car blind-spot warning system to the test
A blind-spot warning (BSW) system can reduce both stress and the risk of a crash by helping you keep tabs on vehicles lurking over your shoulder and out of sight. But until recently, the only way to get one was to invest in a new car.
Never ones to miss an opportunity, the ever-vigilant automotive aftermarket has risen to the occasion, and a handful of kits are now available to update almost any vehicle with the technology. And we purchased one to try.
The Goshers Blind Spot Detection system includes a sensor for each side of the rear bumper, a left and right side LED warning display, an audible alarm unit, a controller, and all the necessary wiring to link the whole thing together.
The suggested retail price is $250; we paid $200 from an online retailer. A Premium model with two more sensors for the front is available for $350.
Installation is somewhat complicated. It requires splicing into the car’s wiring, holes in the rear bumper for the sensors, and removing and reinstalling various interior trim pieces to route the wires and keep them out of sight.
The company website stresses that professional installation is required, but it does not provide a list of installers or a cost estimate to do the job. Your local repair shop should be able to perform the installation, but get an estimate first if you decide to buy the kit. One of our staff certified automotive technicians needed about four hours to install the system in a Chevrolet Cruze test car.
Overall, we found that the Goshers system works as advertised; it consistently warned us of other cars in the Cruze’s blind spots with both an audible and visual warning. If anything, the system was a little overzealous, at least until we set the adjustable sensitivity level to its lowest setting and opted to receive warnings only when a turn signal was switched on. Without making those adjustments, warnings were pretty much constant, as the Gosher system warned us of guardrails, roadside walls, tunnels, and other large objects.
What cannot be changed is that unlike a built-in system that typically deactivates below a certain speed threshold, the Gosher kit operates at any speed, and there is no on/off switch. Sound can be turned off, but expect to be looking at LED warnings even at low speeds, such as when parking or stopped at a traffic light.
The Goshers system may not be perfect or have the built-in integration of one from the factory, but if you’ve been wishing for the added convenience and security of a blind-spot warning system, it might be worth a look. It’s a lot less expensive than a new car. But even with this limited technology, these systems are not a replacement for common sense practices of glancing over your shoulder and checking your mirrors.