This week in the shop we had the pleasure of working on a client’s 2014 Mercedes CLS AMG. For this vehicle, our task was to install both a K40 radar and laser system as well as fabricate a stealth custom subwoofer enclosure. We had previously installed a JL Audio amp and subwoofer over the Winter, however the enclosure was pretty big and took up a large portion of the trunk. Like most consumers, this client wanted the benefits of an amp and sub, but he didn’t really want to see it.
K40 radar and laser systems are usually pretty stealth as it is, but for this particular Mercedes we took integration and stealthiness to the next level by installing a Mid City Engineering K40 instrument cluster interface. This interface eliminates the need for the K40 LED indicator lights and instead displays warnings in the instrument cluster of the vehicle.
Aside from the K40 system and stealth custom sub install, we had one other task to accomplish. We planned to do a frequency sweep to investigate an inherent rattle that was baffling Mercedes engineers. Prior to us working on this vehicle, the client had been experiencing an annoying and inconsistent rattle coming from the rear shelf. After several failed attempts to identify and eliminate this rattle, the dealership called in Mercedes engineers who also failed to identify and repair the problem. A frequency sweep would be the easiest way to reproduce the rattle, identify where it was coming from and then repair it.
John focused on the K40 installation first. We sell and install and lot of K40 systems at our shop. There are several combined reasons for why we love the K40 systems.
Reliability (Funny side story – I can’t remember the last time I had a defective K40 product – On the other hand I sent out an Escort system for repair back in December. Turn around time for Escort is usually 6-8 weeks. This time they lost the parts and kept giving me the run around every time I tried to follow up. I finally just received it this week only to find out they sent back the wrong laser shifters. Consider reliability and customer service when choosing your Radar system.)
Exterior discreetness will be the same from brand to brand as most companies have radar receivers that can be hidden behind bumpers and laser shifters that are small enough to be blended into the vehicle’s front grill.
When you step back from the vehicle you really can’t see the left and right laser shifters. They really kind of blend into the front grill.
The coolest part about this install is what you see inside. Normally with K40 you have two small LED indicator lights as your display. One indicates for front, one indicates for rear. Additionally, there is a hidden speaker that announces the alerts and a wireless remote control to change settings and turn the system on and off. For an even more discreet and integrated installation, we installed a Mid City Engineering K40 instrument cluster interface. Check out how freaking cool this is.
No LED’s are needed with this setup, your display is right in front of you integrated into your factory instrument cluster. Mid City Engineering has a few different models listed on their website, but give them a call if you don’t see your application listed.
Check out this trunk. Would you believe we’ve got a 12″ W6V3 subwoofer enclosure in there?
Looks pretty stock, right?
Disclaimer – We did sacrifice the inflate a spare to accomplish this.
John built a down-firing sealed enclosure for the 12W6V3 and remade the entire trunk floor as it needed to be raised up 3/4″. He removed the factory hardware from the original trunk-liner and attached it to his newly fabricated trunk-liner.
He also dynamatted the entire trunk well while he was in there.
The JL symbol on the top of the box is a foam inlay he made before carpeting the enclosure. Whenever adding an amp and subwoofer to a factory installed audio system, it’s always a good idea to install a bass knob or subwoofer control knob. In this particular vehicle, John mounted it towards the bottom left side of the driver’s seat panel. It’s discreet, yet easy to access.
To identify the rattle that eluded Mercedes engineers, John played a frequency sweep and then listened and located the rattle in the rear shelf. The culprit was a control box mounted on top of the deck lid bolted from the bottom. Even though it was securely mounted, it needed sound dampening material underneath it.
This was a thorough and meticulous installation designed to be discreet without sacrificing performance. This vehicle now sounds fantastic and has the added benefit of radar and laser protection, yet you’d never know it from appearances. If you’re in the vicinity of Brookfield, CT (Fairfield County) and in need of a polished and discreet installation for your vehicle, contact us today to see what options are available.
In this Mercedes SLS AMG we installed a K40 RL360i, Defuser G5 and secondary laser defuser LTS. We do also sell and offer Escort radar detector products, but our shop does think that K40 offers the best radar detector.
The K40 RL360i provides front and rear radar detection. The radar detector sensors can be installed in a discreet manner hidden behind panels in the vehicle bumper while still accurately detecting radar threats. The laser defusers can be discreetly mounted, but must be mounted in open area without obstruction.
When it comes to laser detection and defusing, two sensors are always better than one. So in this Mercedes SLS AMG we installed K40’s Defuser G5 and secondary laser defuser the LTS.
To recap – in this Mercedes SLS AMG we have front and rear radar detection and dual front laser detection plus laser defusing.
Why do I think K40 makes the Best Radar Detector?
At our shop we carry both K40 and Escort for radar detection and laser defusing, however, I think K40 offers the best radar detector for a few reasons outlined below.
Unlike Escort’s 9500CI Pro, which utilizes a wired control pad and wired display, K40 has an extremely discreet display and a convenient, wireless remote control.
K40 utilizes simple LED lights and a hidden speaker to alert you to Radar and Laser threats. If you go for the front and rear system, the RL360i, you will have two LED’s: one to indicate front, one to indicate rear. If you opt for the front only RL200i, you will have one LED indicator.
This is the extent of what you see on the interior of the vehicle. It’s an incredibly discreet and clean radar and laser detector installation, yet it is also an extremely reliable system. You can basically set your settings on the remote and forget it. The system will turn on and off with the key, so really the only time you really need to access the remote control is to change settings, adjust volume or if you need to turn the system off for any reason. The K40 remote also comes with a convenient visor clip mount as well.
Value and Flexibility
Aside from the clean installation of a K40 system, I like the fact that you can piece together your K40 system a la carte. This allows you to purchase a radar detector with laser defusing that works best for your specific application – unlike Escort which has a one size fits all front only system.
For reference, Escort’s 9500ci Pro comes with one radar detector and two laser detectors with defusing and sells for $1999.95 plus installation. In our shop, we charge about $1650 for the same configuration of sensors from K40.
K40 also offers the speeding ticket guarantee. If you manage to get a ticket with their product installed, they’ll actually pay for your ticket.
I’ve been selling K40 since 2006 and I’ve only had a couple of customers actually have to take K40 up on this offer. One of them was admittedly traveling double the speed limit. Read on to find out why it didn’t save him in these conditions.
Reliable Radar and Laser Protection
I have had both Escort and K40 radar detectors in my own personal vehicles. From my own personal experience, I can tell you this. K40 does not have the same kind of long range detection that you will find with Escort. Yet for me, the K40 radar detector proved to be more accurate than Escort.
For example, my Escort radar detector would often pick up signals and alert me, yet I would never see a cop. It might have been a valid threat on the next street over, but it wasn’t a valid threat to me. Factor this in multiple times a day and my reaction time to these alerts started to wane. It was like the radar detector that cried wolf.
My K40 on the other hand rarely goes off. Yet when it does go off, it’s accurate. And because it’s not going off all the time, I react right away and avoid a ticket (or two or three).
The Best Radar Detector Does Not Make You Invisible
You have to understand how these systems work to really insure optimum protection. There are a few things you need to remember. A radar detector with laser defusing does not make you invisible to cops. It gives you early warning detection in ideal operating conditions. So what are ideal operating conditions?
This is the typical scenario in which most people are using and relying on their K40 radar detector system. Most commuters acknowledge the following: you often have to speed just to keep up with traffic. So I think it’s safe to assume most highway drivers are traveling 10 – 15 mph over the posted speed limit. State patrol officers know this and often set up speed traps to catch violators and issue speeding tickets.
Most speed traps on highways are using laser. Laser is instantaneous. He points, he shoots. If your K40 detects laser it will alert you and then defuse the laser signal for 10 seconds. At this point, the officer will probably continue to shoot and try to lock on to get an accurate reading. This means you need to react and react quickly. Hit the brakes and slow down to the posted speed limit. This way when he shoots again you’re already down to the posted limit. The officer will then most likely forget about you and focus on catching the next driver speeding through.
If you’re driving double the speed limit, 10 seconds (remember that includes your reaction time) may not be enough time to slow down to the posted speed limit. Having a K40 system in your vehicle is not a license to speed – Common sense rules still apply.
Advice for anyone interested in a K40 system for their vehicle
Contact K40 directly. They can answer any questions you may have about the product itself and put you in touch with a K40 dealer in your area. As always, it’s important to find out additional details from any potential installer such as:
How long have you been in business?
What kind of warranty do you offer?
How many years experience do you have installing?
Are you licensed and insured? (this is not required in most states)
I hope you have found this post about helpful. Any questions or comments, feel free to post them in the comment form below. Thanks for reading!
Find out what the better radar detector with laser shifting is. This post is for the consumer who is looking for the best performing installed radar detector and laser shifter. Find out the pros and cons of the Escort 9500ci with laser diffusing vs the K40 RL360 with laser from a retailer that sells and installs both.
As a successful independent mobile electronics retailer (voted Top 50 mobile electronics retailer in the country in 2011) that sells and installs both the Escort 9500ci and the K40 RL360 with laser shifters, I will give you an unbiased overview of each system. This post will go over the benefits of each radar detector/laser diffuser system assisting you in making the right decision for your unique application. Customers look to me for advice over which is the best installed radar detection system. I simply lay out the facts allowing my customers to make the decision as to which one is the better option for them and I am going to do the same for you.
UPDATE 2014 – Escort now has the 9500CI Pro which features their latest technology in laser shifting. Aside from updating the laser shifters (rumored to be supplied by Blinder), Escort also dropped the rear shifter so it is now packaged as a front only system. They also raised the retail price to $1999.95 plus installation. Escort also has the added benefit of Escort Live (additional part and subscription required) which allows users to connect to a live database of other Escort Radar users to receive up the minute alerts based on drivers connected to the network.
K40 has also updated their system from the RL360 to the RL360i (for front and rear radar protection) and the RL200 to the RL200i (front only radar protection). The remote is more user friendly and there are more options as far as settings go compared to their previous version (volume adjustment, quiet ride, turning select bands on/off). K40 still utilizes the Defuser G5 Laser Shifter. They still sell their products and package their system in an a la cart fashion to suite your driving needs and they still utilize the minimalistic and discreet LED indicator lights and a wireless remote to control the system. K40 also still offers their speeding ticket guarantee. They have excellent customer service, a very dedicated staff and committed network of dealers (more like small business customer service than big corporation customer service).
Despite these key updates mentioned above, the overall points and description in this post still accurately reflect the key differences, pros and cons of each system.
What’s the difference between an installed radar detector vs a windshield mounted radar detector?
For those of you that are not familiar with installed radar and laser detectors, let me give you a brief overview of the benefits of an installed radar and laser detector over the more common windshield mounted variety. A windshield mounted radar/laser detector is just that. It detects radar and laser emission and it’s mounted on your windshield for all to see. It will detect different bands of radar and laser that are used in the radar and laser (AKA lidar) guns commonly used by law enforcement officers.
There are a few weaknesses and downsides to the dash mounted radar detectors. For one, they’re not very attractive sitting on your windshield with a curly cord hanging down and swinging about while you drive. You can easily buy a hard wire kit which will allow you hard wire the power for the unit for a cleaner look on your dash. The second problem with these units is mounting it on your windshield, for ideal performance, you want to mount your portable radar detector in the center of your windshield. Nearly every state has a law regarding windshield obstruction which prohibits mounting anything to your windshield that could obstruct your field of vision. How well this law is enforced varies from state to state. The biggest and most important weakness to note with the dash mounted radar and laser detection systems is the laser detection feature.
The thing about laser, commonly known as lidar, is that it’s instantaneous. Just like a real gun, the officer points then shoots. If your dash mounted detector alerts you for laser, most likely it’s too late. He’s either got you or the guy right next to you. With little to no warning, the laser detection feature is kind of a moot point with these units. You have a lot more notice with radar. When law enforcement is using a radar gun, it is typically left on and emitting a much larger wave that is easier to detect. In Connecticut, I find that radar is much more commonly used on rural roads by local law enforcement. On highways it is much more common to see laser being used. So depending on your driving habits and location, your dash mounted radar detector may suit your needs.
If you are looking for better performance, a cleaner installation and true laser protection, you need an installed radar detector with laser shifting like the Escort 9500ci or the K40 RL series with laser diffusing. Both products offer laser sensors/diffusers that are installed in a stealth manner on the front and/or rear bumper which is where law enforcement are typically aiming their laser guns. The diffuser, will not only detect laser, but it will emit a signal back confusing and shifting the signal being received at the laser gun. Basically the officer will get an inaccurate reading giving you time to slow down and avoid a ticket.
Is laser shifting or diffusing legal?
Yes. In almost all of the United States, use of these detectors, in non commercial vehicles, is legal. However, where it is illegal, I recommend following the law. In Washington DC and Virginia it is illegal to use radar detectors and they are very serious about enforcing this law. If you happen to be driving through one of these areas, remove your dash mounted radar detector and hide it; turn off your installed detector. I’ve known people who have had their radar detectors confiscated and they have received court dates for simply having the detector in the car (not even powered on!). They mean business there, so don’t risk it.
Escort 9500ci vs K40 RL 360
So now that you know the basics, let’s get to the details. The Escort 9500ci is a complete system consisting of 5 sensors: a single front radar, dual front laser shifters and rear laser shifters. Inside the car you have an LED display panel and a separate control pad. The Escort 9500ci also includes their Defender GPS database which includes thousands of known locations for speed traps, speed cameras and red light cameras. If you know of a location not in the database you can mark it using your control pad.
The Escort 9500ci also includes a cool feature called Auto-learn which is designed to reduce the number of false alerts that you receive. For example, every time I drive by my local grocery store, their automatic door sensors set off my radar detector. The Escort 9500ci pays attention to repetitive alerts and will lockout a signal if it receives the same signal more than 3 times in the same location. For $1699.95, plus installation, the Escort 9500ci uses some pretty cool technology to provide its users some attractive features.
What’s the installation like? That’s probably the one thing that customers struggle with, where to mount the control pad and the display. Here are some cool mounting options for the Escort 9500ci display and control pad.
This is an example in an Audi S4. In this particular vehicle, we removed the compass/temp display inside the rear view mirror and replaced it with the Escort 9500ci display. The result is a very clean integration of the Escort 9500ci display. Using the factory mirror is not an option for every car. Some vehicles have the auto dimming circuit board imbedded between two layers of glass without any cutout for any display. If you don’t have the type of mirror that will allow this, or have access to a professional installer who can do this for you, check out Radar-Mirror.com. For around $500, these guys can sell you a replacement rear view mirror with the display installed or they can install the display for you in your existing mirror (you will have to send in your mirror and Escort display).
The lucky drivers of select Mercedes models have the unique option of interfacing their radar detector into their instrument cluster display as shown to the left. Mid City Engineering offers options for both Escort and K40 systems. Prices for the interface range from $450 – $750. For a complete list of compatible vehicles and pricing, contact Mid City Engineering.
For those of you working with what came in the box, here are a few installation pics to give you an idea of alternative display options as well as control pad mounting locations.
Some display mounting options including inside a sunglasses holder, flush mounting into the headliner or flush mounting into another panel on the dash. As you can see, the control pad is nice and small, so you can almost always find a nice mounting location for that in any car.
The pros of the Escort 9500ci:
It is an all inclusive system, it comes with every sensor you could possibly need.
It uses pretty advanced technology to eliminate false alerts as well as to alert you to possible speed traps, speed cameras and red light cameras.
As reported by my customers and my own personal experience with both systems, it has longer range and more sensitivity than K40 systems.
The cons of the Escort 9500ci:
Because it is all inclusive, it is pricier than other options.
Because it is so sensitive, it may be more susceptible to false alerts.
The display and control pad inside the vehicle cannot always be concealed in the most stealth manner.
The K40 offers more flexibility when it comes to pricing, options and stealth installation. K40 offers two different radar options and two different laser diffusing options. Let’s say you like the idea of a stealth radar install, but you don’t want to spend $1700 bucks on a system. Well let’s think about this for a minute. Where are officers most likely to be aiming their radar/laser guns when you see them enforcing speed limits? The front of the vehicle as you are approaching them. So if most speed traps involve officers aiming a radar or laser gun at your front bumper, why not save some cash and buy a front only system?
K40 allows you to do just that and custom tailor a radar and laser shifting kit to your specific needs. Offered a la carte, you can purchase a front only radar, also known as their RL200 and a single laser diffuser, also known as an EX. Both parts together will run you around $1100 plus installation. If you want front and rear radar, you would want to get the RL360. If you want two laser diffusers (either one for front, one for rear, or both for the front), you would need the EX-2 in addition to whichever radar system you go for.
The major attractor for K40 is the installation, it can be truly stealth. Controlled via a wireless remote control, with visual alerts from one or two LED’s (depending on if you do front only or front and rear), and audible alerts from a speaker hidden under the dash, you really can’t see any evidence of a radar/laser detection/shifting system being installed. Take a peak at a recent install we did in a brand new Mercedes SLS AMG.
Only the best will do for our local Mercedes Dealership. This picture was taken post install. The laser diffuser can be seen if you really look for it on the bottom, center section of the mesh grill. The radar sensor in the front was hidden behind the upper plastic portion of the front bumper, see below.
In this particular Mercedes, we did a front and rear radar. Check out the stealth radar sensor installation in the rear.
All of our radar detection and laser shifting installations are tested with our own radar gun and laser tester to insure reliability and accuracy.
The install of Escort sensors is basically the same. The real stealthiness is in the interior of this vehicle. For the minimalistic K40 display, you have to mount your front and rear indicator LED’s and under dash audible alert speaker. One of my husband John’s favorite places to hide these LED’s is inside the grills of dash speakers. When the LED’s light up, they reflect off the windshield, similar to that of a heads up display. It’s very cool looking. Here’s a picture of him mounting the LED’s inside the driver’s side dash speaker grill assembly.
K40 also has their own GPS feature. You can mark your own known locations where you’re likely to get tagged. This is a great feature for things like known speed traps, speed cameras and red light cameras. K40 is definitely less sensitive, but this leads to less false alerts. I remember the 1st two months I had my system, I didn’t think the sensors were working properly because it NEVER went enough. Then one day it finally did, and it was accurate and surely saved me a ticket. So being less sensitive than Escort is not necessarily a bad thing, it leads to less false alerts. Less false alerts means when your detector/shifter finally goes off, you pay attention and respond promptly. A quick response and correction of your speed is the best way to avoid a ticket. With fewer false alerts, your response time is likely to be better with the K40 than with the Escort 9500ci.
The pro’s of the K40:
Very clean display installation, wireless remote to control the system i.e. minimal display
Less sensitive which means you should have less false alerts which means you’ll probably make a quicker correction when it does alert you
Can purchase and install systems a la carte which helps keep costs down
K40 will reimburse you if you get a speeding ticket!
Allows you to mark your own known locations for speed traps, red light cameras, speed cameras, etc.
The Con’s of the K40:
Lacks GPS database built in for known locations of speed traps, speed cameras, red light cameras
Lacks technology built in to block out repetitive false alerts
As you can see, both systems have their own unique benefits. It’s really up to you as a consumer to decide what features are more important to you. Please remember, having one of these systems installed does not give you a license to speed. You still have to pay attention to your surroundings and have some common sense. Your radar detector and laser shifter can’t always save you from a ticket. If you are cruising along at 110 mph in a 65 mph speed zone, don’t expect your laser shifter to bail you out as you approach that state trooper with his laser gun. How quickly do you think you can respond to the alert and slow down? Probably not quick enough to avoid a ticket.
What’s your experience with the Escort 9500ci? K40? What system do you prefer? Thanks for reading and drive safely.