My latest modification to my HCHII is a device that I have found very useful on all of my other cars. Rear Collision Avoidance Devices (RCAD) or more commonly known as Backup Sensors have been very useful on more than one occasion in preventing my wife and me from backing into things. We really were disappointed that the HCHII did not offer this device as an option here in the US, despite the fact that it is offered in just about every other market worldwide. From the time we bought the car over a year ago, finding a backup sensor solution has been something that has been on the HCHIIs mod list. This last week, I finally had some time to check this one off the list.
There are various retrofit solutions out there with prices ranging from $25 to $300 or more. There are even OEM parts that can be had from CRV, Pilot, and Odyssey parts bins. All of the systems consist of an acoustic sensor array, a control unit, and a display and/or audible alarm head unit. The unit turns on when the car is placed in reverse, and will start to beep with increasing frequency as the cars gets closer to an obstacle, finally turning into a solid alarm when the car is about to hit something. The sensors are usually arrayed in a way that the rear coverage extends out from the rear edges of the car as well as straight behind.
There are many affordable retrofit units available on eBay (keyword: backup sensor), and are all less than $100.
After some research as to what was out there, I settled on a unit from a Chinese manufacturer called the P-Star Car Safety Device. The kit ended up being about $42.00 delivered from an eBay store called The Xbrightstore. This seller is based in Southern California has a 99.7% positive rating, and shipped promptly with a product that was of very high quality.
The kit included 4 sensors, a control unit, a head unit that has both an audible alarm as well as a LCD display. In addition the head unit communicates with the control unit wirelessly. The kit even comes with a drill bit the correct size for the sensor holes.
For my installation I had some other costs including $20 for some body paint, and a few other connectors, conduit, etc. So all and all this mod cost me about $65 and a few hours of my time.
In looking at where to install the unit, one has to decide where to put the sensors, the control unit and the head unit. Here is what I ended up doing.
I first wanted to concentrate on installing the head unit in the cabin. It is about 3”w x 2”h and needs a switched power source. I did not want to stick it in the center bin or above it, or on the dashboard, so my options were limited.
On the US HCHII there is an area to the left of the steering wheel that has a small bin that is about the same size as the head unit. On coupes and other 4Dr Civics that bin is replaced with a switch bezel for the side mirrors or stability control and fog light switches. It is also right above the fuse panel. This seemed like a good place, so guess where I chose to install my head unit?
I removed the left dash panels to get at the bin from behind. I have to compliment Honda on the easy way that the dashboard is pretty much clipped together. I only had to remove one screw to get all the covers off.
After I removed the bin from the dash, I cut a slot in it to position the head unit in it. I cut a slot rather than just cutting off the back of the bin, because the alarm speaker is in the back of the head unit, and by leaving the rear of the bin intact, it reflects the sound out the front of the unit better. Plus the bin gives the head unit a nice bezel surround to integrate it into the dashboard.
The head unit was originally painted silver, but I repainted it to a semi-gloss black that is close to the color of the bin. After I slid the head unit into the bin, I fastened it in place with black silicone sealant.
The net step was to install the head unit back into the dash panel. Notice that I put a connector on the head unit so that if the dash panel needs to be removed in the future, it is easy to unplug the head unit’s power cable.
Providing power to the head unit is easy, there are 3 unused fuse positions on the lower row of the HCHII. 2 are unswitched, and one is switched. The head units needs switched power, because when it is on it is constantly listening for the control unit to send data to it. This could cause an unnecessary battery drain on the car when it is not being used. It is very slight, but still unnecessary. A fuse tap is perfect for getting power easily.
In the picture above, the grey tap is for the electro-luminescence doorsills, and the red tap is for the backup sensor head unit.
With switched power attached, then putting everything back together is a ‘Snap”.
Now it’s onto the rear for the installation of the sensor array and control box.
I have to say that the most difficult part of this installation for me was the installation of the Sensor array. And the thing that was difficult for me was getting a straight line across the back bumper cover to cut the sensor holes. Our driveway and garage floor is not level in relation to each other, so measuring off the floor was as difficult as was getting a reference point on the car to measure off of. I’m sure that others will have no problem with this step, but for me it was tough. What I ended up doing is to take my laser level, mounting it on a tripod, and connecting the laser line with the body accent lines on the sides of the bumper covers.
After that it was easy to establish the spacing. Or so I thought……
After cutting the holes, I found out that I had about 1/3” of interference from the rear aluminum bumper ram under the cover. Oh well, I was going to take the bumper cover off anyway to run the wiring.
Removing the rear bumper cover is as easy as removing the front. It is held in with 8 screws and 2 clips, and pops right off. The bumper ram inside is a dual square tube made of a relatively soft aluminum that is designed to deform in a collision.
Cutting 4 notches in the top outboard corner of the ram solved the interference problem, and did not affect the structural integrity of the bumper ram. But there is a simple solution that could have prevented this whole issue. Just make the cut line for the sensors on the bumper cover about 1/3” to ½” higher than the bumper accent lines. This is my learned wisdom to you!
The sensors are black plastic, but are easily painted. I bought a pint of body paint from a local auto repair supplies and paint store, and applied the paint with a refillable spray paint can. This is just like a spray paint can, but with a glass supply jar, and a replaceable propellant can. They are $5-$6 at home depot. The paint went on fine after a light coat of primer, and then was covered with a clearcoat.
Each sensor simply press fits into the bumper hole and has a signal line that must be connected to the control unit. Here is a view of the rear of the bumper cover, with the wiring. I also used more silicone sealant to hold the sensors in place.
On the rear end of the car there are plastic plugs on each side of the trunk that can be cut in an “X” pattern to run the sensor wires into the trunk where the Control Unit will be mounted.
On the inside of the trunk, the Control unit needs to be activated whenever the car is put in reverse. The easy way to do that is to tap power from one of the reverse lamps. After the trunk garnish is removed it is easy to get the reverse lamp with an inline tap, and a central grounding point is also handily available as well.
The interior hole for the sensor cable routing is right under the grounding lug.
I mounted the control unit as close as I could to the front of the car, so that the wireless signal would be as strong as possible. The left rear shock tower has excellent signal strenth for the control unit.
So after I put the dash back together and the bumper cover and trunk panels back on, it was time to test the backup sensors out.
The rear sensors on the bumper blend right in and have a very OEM look.
The dashboard head unit also looks very “factory”
How does it perform?
When you turn on the car, the head unit makes a quick beep, and the display lights up as it goes through its self-test. It then goes dark until the car is placed in reverse, then it makes another beep and starts monitoring the rear of the car. The unit usually starts beeping when the sensors are about 2 meters from an obstacle. The display shows the distance, and where the obstacle is (left, right or center).
As the car gets closer to the obstacle, the distance counts down, the beeps get faster, and an LED meter goes from green to yellow to red. When you are within .3 meters of whatever you are about to hit, the tone goes solid, and a big “STOP” lights up. Take the car out of reverse and everything goes on standby until your next close encounter.
All in all I am very pleased with this kit. While I probably went a little overboard in getting the OEM look, the kit is essentially very easy to install and use. I recommend it!
Now, those that might say that Backup sensors are too wussy, are just those people that have not backed into something yet, and have not experienced the "Aw Sh*t" that comes with the crunch of plastic and scraping of paint as your bumper hits whatever you didn't see. It is not whether you will back into something or not, it is just when. Backup sensors can delay that event for quite a while!
Last edited by Orient Express; 11-12-2007 at 06:01 PM.
Hybrids: '06 Civic Hybrid Magnetic Pearl w/Navi (as of July 1, 2006)
Re: My latest HCHII Mod - RCAD
That looks sweet!
Thanks, Orient, for the (always) great pictures and explanations of everything. I think I could do this, even!
Question - do you like the black-painted head unit better than the as-supplied silver? It seems to me the silver one would look just fine as well. Were you after more of a black-out look when not in reverse? I imagine it DOES look better in black - just wondering if you think it was worth the extra effort.
STOP terrorism - Drive a HYBRID
350 miles a week ------------ 2006 HCH II, Magnetic Pearl, w/NAVI (born on May 25, 2006)
350 miles a month ---------- 2003 Mazda Tribute ES-V6
350 miles a year (for now) - 1986 Mercedes 560SL
OE... friggin sweet! That really looks sharp and very OEM/Factory Installed. I'm sure they will come in very handy with all that parking in the Bay Area. It's a good thing they are not on all the time with the way that people like to ride your bumper on the freeway and have to be 3" from your bumper at a stop light!
I just happened to "bump" the garbage can today when I got home . No scratches thankfully (I was going slow), but this RCAD would have come in handy!
So, with all the mods you've done to your HCHII, plus having the stickers, you should not have to worry about losing resale value at all. You're definetely braver than me tearing the car apart, but once I see someone do something to enhance the car, I'm all over it! Are there any HCH groups in the Bay Area? I'd drive down from Sac to talk Hybrid and mods with the group.
Anyway, again... great job on the install and documentation.
Hybrids: 2007 White Honda Civic Hybrid, 2013 Fit EV
Re: My latest HCHII Mod - RCAD
Great job OE!! I'm always excited to see your mods... Now I'm late gotta go!
To add on to what I was saying earlier, you never cease to impress me with your cool mods and detailed DIYs. It's nice that you take the time to document what you do and share it with others. It really helps.
I have one question for you though: How exactly do you tap into the fuse line? I have been thinking of several ways to do this, but I am not sure which is the correct way.
Last edited by giantquesadilla; 11-13-2007 at 01:34 PM.
This is indeed a worthwhile mod and despite the understandable frustrations with the bumper, it is a good looking job you did there.
I must admit that I have been tempted to do a similar thing for most of the last year, but my main concern has never been the rear of the vehicle. Instead, my concern is the front bumper and where it actually begins. Ultrasonic sensors mounted on the from bumper would not work well for folks in my climate.
In European and on many high-end Japanese cars there are distance sensors on the front of the car that are active all of the time. I wonder how those systems compensate for ice and snow buildup on the front bumper.
I almost got a kit with 2 front and 4 rear sensors.
I guess a microwave solution would be typical for distance measurement but they are as expensive as they are hard to source. For now, they remain as probable options for higher end lux models and hardly the realm of the DIY market.