Park Pilot Malfunction (Causes, Solutions + Prevention)

park pilot malfunction

Park Pilot, also known as Assistive Parking, is a system designed to make the parking experience as smooth as possible. It also aims to improve the safety of those in and around the car by preventing collisions during parking.

The system uses sensors mounted around the car to detect obstacles and helps guide your car into the parking space with ease. However, like most technologies, Park Pilot is occasionally prone to errors and malfunctions.

In this article, we will discuss the causes of Park Pilot malfunction, how to fix it, and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

What is a Park Pilot Malfunction?

A Park Pilot malfunction occurs when something has gone wrong with the system that prevents it from working. This means that you won’t be able to use Park Pilot and its many helpful features until the cause of the malfunction has been addressed.

Park Pilot malfunctions can manifest as error messages on your dashboard, such as “Park Pilot malfunction Service Required” or “Parking pilot malfunction.”

Causes of Park Pilot Malfunction

There are several reasons that can lead to a Park Pilot malfunction. In most cases, the problem has to do with the parking sensors that the car uses to detect its environment.

Because of their location on the outside of the car, these sensors are exposed to the elements and other hazards that can affect their operation. The following are some common causes of Park Pilot malfunction:

Blocked by Dirt

One of the most common causes of Park Pilot malfunction is the external sensors being blocked by dirt or debris. This can happen after driving through muddy or wet roads.

The tires can throw up mud, water, or snow that sticks to the sensors and blocks them. This interferes with their ability to detect obstacles and can result in a malfunction.

Sensor Contains Water

The parking sensors are located on the outside of the car, usually on the front and rear bumpers. This exposes them to water, especially in rainy conditions and on wet roads. Water entering the sensors can affect their operation and cause a malfunction.

Damaged or Broken Sensor

The parking sensors are located on the bumpers of your car, which exposes them to bumps and collisions. They are sensitive equipment, and even a minor collision or impact is enough to stop them from working. A single damaged sensor is enough to cause the Park Pilot malfunction warning to appear.

Faulty Control Module

In some cases, the problem may not be with the sensors themselves but with the control module that manages the Park Pilot system. A faulty control module can cause the system to malfunction and display error messages on your dashboard.

Low Battery Voltage

If the battery voltage in your car is low, it can cause the modules controlling the Park Pilot system to behave unexpectedly, leading to a malfunction.

This is more likely to occur if your car has been sitting idle for an extended period or if the battery is not functioning optimally.

How to Diagnose a Park Pilot Malfunction

Before attempting to fix a Park Pilot malfunction, it is essential to diagnose the cause of the problem. The following steps can help you identify the cause of the malfunction:

  1. Visual Inspection: Check the rear and front bumpers for the parking sensors. They are typically located on the corners and center of the bumpers. Look for any visible mud, dirt, snow, or debris on the sensors. If you notice any obstructions, clean the sensors and see if the malfunction warning disappears.
  2. Listen for Sensor Ticking: You can manually check whether the sensors are working by using a cardboard tube or simply by placing your ear close to each sensor. With the car in reverse, the ignition on, and the engine off, listen for a ticking noise from each sensor. Sensors that are not ticking may be faulty.
  3. Check for Error Codes: Some vehicles allow you to access error codes related to the Park Pilot system using an OBD-II scanner or diagnostic tool. These codes can provide more information about the specific issue causing the malfunction.
  4. Battery Voltage: Check the battery voltage using a multimeter or by accessing the battery information through your car’s dashboard, if available. If the battery voltage is low, consider charging the battery before attempting any further troubleshooting.

How to Fix a Park Pilot Malfunction

Once you’ve identified the cause of the malfunction, you can often fix it within minutes. The following solutions can help you resolve a Park Pilot malfunction:

Clean the Sensors

If your sensors are dirty, simply wiping them clean with a damp microfiber cloth can resolve the malfunction. Make sure to dry the sensor afterward to prevent water from getting into it. Don’t use anything sharp or abrasive to scrape debris or mud off the sensor, as this could damage the sensor’s surface.

Remove Water from Sensors

If your sensors are filled with water, you can fix them easily without needing to open them. You can drive the water out by spraying the sensor with WD40 or any other oil-based lubricant.

After spraying the parking sensor, wipe it down with a rag to remove the excess oil and water.

Alternatively, you can use a can of compressed air to force water out of the sensor. Aim the nozzle at the creases surrounding the sensor, where it joins the bumper, and give it a few bursts of compressed air. The high-pressure air should force out any water in the sensor.

Replace Damaged or Broken Sensors

If cleaning the sensors hasn’t resolved the malfunction warning, you may need to replace a damaged parking sensor.

You can find a replacement sensor online, making sure to purchase one that is compatible with your car’s make and model. To replace the sensor, you’ll need a panel remover and a wrench, as well as the replacement sensor itself.

Follow these steps to replace a damaged sensor:

  1. Use the wrench to remove the bolts that hold the bumper to the car. Some of the bolts may be covered by panels or push pins, which can be removed with the panel remover.
  2. Locate the faulty sensor and remove it from the plastic sensor bracket.
  3. Remove the sensor from the wiring harness.
  4. Push the new sensor through the hole in the bumper.
  5. Slide the sensor bracket onto the new parking sensor to secure it in place.
  6. Plug the wiring harness into the sensor.
  7. Reinstall the bumper on the car.

After replacing the sensor, test the Park Pilot system to ensure it is functioning correctly.

Reset the System

In some cases, a simple system reset may resolve the malfunction. Disconnect the battery for a few minutes or pull the fuse for the parking module, if accessible, to force a reboot of the system. Reconnect the battery or replace the fuse and test the Park Pilot system to see if the malfunction has been resolved.

Read also >> BMW Parking Lamp Malfunction (Here Is How To Fix)

Read also >> How to Fix Parking Aid Malfunction (Helpful Tips)

Read also >> Will Parking on a Steep Hill Damage the Transmission?

How to Prevent Park Pilot Malfunctions

To keep your parking sensors in good working order and avoid future malfunctions, consider the following precautions:

  1. Keep the Vehicle Clean: Regularly clean your car, paying particular attention to the parking sensors. Check for obstructions before getting in the car to ensure they are not blocked by dirt, ice, or snow.
  2. Protect Sensors from Water: Cover your car with a waterproof tarp when it is left out in the rain. If possible, avoid pouring water directly on the parking sensors when washing your car manually. Consider using duct tape or another type of waterproof tape to cover the sensors before going through a car wash.
  3. Drive Carefully: Parking sensors are delicate and can be easily damaged or misaligned by minor collisions. Drive carefully and be mindful of the sensors’ locations on your vehicle to avoid accidentally damaging them.

What is ParkPilot Parktronic?

ParkPilot or Parktronic is a system that uses sensors to assist drivers in parking by guiding them into spaces safely and easily.

The system is based on tried-and-tested parking sensor technology with ultrasound sensors at the front and rear of the car.

Mercedes’ Parktronic system uses sensors in the bumpers to help drivers park safely and easily in parallel parking spaces, with the correct steering wheel positions displayed on the instrument cluster [1]. BMW, Volkswagen, and Lincoln Navigator all have variations of these systems.

The PARKTRONIC® with Active Parking Assist system uses an array of advanced sensors in a vehicle’s bumper to determine if the Mercedes-Benz car or SUV can park in a space.

Is ParkPilot the same as Park Assist?

ParkPilot and Park Assist are similar systems that use sensors to assist drivers in parking, but they are not exactly the same.

ParkPilot is a parking sensor system that can detect obstacles in front and behind the vehicle, providing audible and visual alerts to the driver to help them avoid collisions.

Park Assist, on the other hand, is a more advanced system that not only detects obstacles but also automatically steers the vehicle into a parking space, with the driver only needing to control the speed and braking.

However, the availability of these systems and their features may vary depending on the car manufacturer and model.

How much does it cost to fix a park assist sensor?

The cost of fixing a park assist sensor depends on the type of sensor and the extent of the damage. Generally, the cost of replacing a backup warning system sensor or a radar sensor embedded in the rear bumper can range from $524 to $2050.

According to a study by AAA, the cost of repairing or replacing components of vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), including park assist sensors, can be twice that of vehicles without ADAS technology, with sensors and cameras costing between $500 and $2,050 each to replace.

It is important to note that the cost of labor and parts may vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle and the location of the repair shop.

What is the difference between park assist and parking sensors?

Park Assist and Parking Sensors are similar systems that use sensors to assist drivers in parking, but they have some differences.

Parking sensors use ultrasonic sensors at the front and rear of the car to detect obstacles and alert drivers with beeps or visual indicators.

On the other hand, Park Assist is a more advanced system that not only detects obstacles but also automatically steers the vehicle into a parking space.

Park Assist uses camera-based parking guidance systems and computer processors tied to multiple sensors.

The technology is also known as Intelligent Parking Assist System (IPAS) and uses sensors fitted to the front, back, and sides of the car to detect parking spaces. However, the availability of these systems and their features may vary depending on the car manufacturer and model.

How do I reset my service Park Assist?

There are several methods for resetting the Park Assist system, including disconnecting the battery, long-pressing the Park Assist button, and using a diagnostic tool. Park Assist is an automatic parking aid that uses ultrasonic and camera-based technology to help drivers park more precisely and avoid damage or scratches.

It works by using sensors to measure the space around the car and gives guidance for parking. On the other hand, parking sensors use ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles and alert drivers, while Park Assist uses camera-based parking guidance systems and computer processors tied to multiple sensors to detect parking spaces and automatically steer the vehicle.

If a “Park Assist Blocked” warning is displayed on the car’s dash, it means that the car’s sensors are obstructed, and the feature is no longer operational.

The causes of parking sensors not working include washing the car, harsh weather, off-roading, high speed, a damaged bumper, and poor battery.

Ford Parking Sensors, easy fix or not ? >> Check out the video below:


Park Pilot is a helpful feature that can make parking easier and safer. However, occasional malfunctions can lead to frustration and inconvenience.

Understanding the causes of Park Pilot malfunction, how to diagnose and fix the issue, and how to prevent future malfunctions can help you maintain the effectiveness of your parking assistance system.

By following the steps and precautions outlined in this article, you can ensure that your Park Pilot system remains functional and reliable, making your parking experience smooth and stress-free.

Steve P.

Steve is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Riviera. Steve is based in Boise, Idaho.

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