How to Read Radar Detector Codes and Alerts

how to read a radar detector

So you after asking yourself if radar detectors are worth it or not, you finally pulled the trigger on a good quality radar detector. Assuming this is your first time, you know next to nothing about these things, other than they are supposed to alert you to a police officers radar.

When you plug in a radar detector, you can sometimes be overwhelmed on how to read a radar detector properly. Depending on the model, there can be countless different alert signals and codes they produce that can leave you wondering… “What the heck is this?”.

Radar Detector Codes and Alert Meanings

When you break it all down, radar detectors are quite simple in function, especially when only pay attention to the things that matter. Different codes that are present on detectors will vary slightly, but overall they mean the same thing across the board.

When it comes down to ALERTS that go off, that is something we will break-down into easy to understand bite pieces. Radar detector alert meanings in all instances mean one of two things, you are either getting a signal from a police officer, or it’s a false alert signal.

how to read your radar detector

Alerts and Codes by Manufacturer


Uniden radar detectors have been a huge hit for half a decade now, with the Uniden R3, R4, R7 and the newest R8 being top-tier detectors, sometimes there’s a learning curve to know what each alert and code means on their screen. Below I’ll break down their most popular ones.

  1. X-Band (a rare police radar frequency)
  2. K-Band (a police radar frequency sometimes)
  3. Ka-Band (almost always a police radar frequency)
  4. Laser (sometimes police laser and sometimes a false alert)
  5. Pop Radar (will appear as either K or Ka band for a brief few seconds, and almost always at full blast).
  6. GPS Connected notification can appear on the screen if the detector is GPS compatible. Usually this appear when there is obstruction of the detector from satellite view. Once the obstructions are gone, it can automatically reconnect.
  7. Speed Camera Alarm is an alert that goes off when you are approaching a stationary radar or laser speed measuring device. This alert will appear if the location is marked in Unidens database.
  8. Red Light Camera Alert is the alarm you’ll see when approaching a traffic light area where a speed measuring camera is either nearby or built into the traffic light system.
  9. User Mark Detected will appear when you are manually adding a specific location via GPS to be marked.
  10. MRCD Alarm will appear on the newer R4, R7 and R8 detectors. This method of radar is tough to detector, but when the top tier performers do a decent job at it. When the alarm goes off, its going to appear as K-band.


Escort radar detectors have been around for far longer than Uniden. The functionality seems to be the same overall, but with a bit more current options on the market, their features vary.

Escort detector alerts and codes that appear on their screen do vary slightly, outside of the standard ones that are covered. To get the ball rolling, you’ll see the obvious ones such as:

  1. X-Band (a rare police radar frequency)
  2. K-Band (a police radar frequency sometimes)
  3. Ka-Band (almost always a police radar frequency)
  4. Laser (sometimes police laser and sometimes a false alert)
  5. POP Mode (some of the higher-end detectors have this feature, you should hear the Ka-band frequency alert tone).
  6. Red Light Camera Alert. When getting ready to pass an intersection or a stop light, some have speed measuring equipment installed. This along with speed trap alerts is stored in Escorts database and is fed to you through the alerts.
  7. MRCD Alert. Growing in popularity, the MRCD detection that some newer Escort products have will appear on the screen as “MRCD”. That is essentially, photo radar.
  8. Speed Trap Alert. For applicable detector, GPS allows the detector to warn you of a stationary speed trap like a sign or a mounted camera.
  9. Bluetooth Symbol. This symbol means you are able to connect to a bluetooth device, such as your cell phone. With Escort, they have their own application called Escort Live Radar.
  10. Low Battery Warning. When the detector sense low voltage of your vehicles battery, the screen on the detector will briefly indicate this warning.

Valentine One

Valentine One radar detectors have been mostly unchanged from day one. It wasn’t until the last few years where the Gen2 of the V1 came out, giving far better performance and a sleeker look. This has to be one of the simplest detectors on the market. Below are the codes and alerts you can expect to see on the detector while in use.

  1. X-Band. Rarely used police radar.
  2. K-Band. A common police radar frequency that is often mixed into many false alerts.
  3. Ka-Band. Most common police radar band frequency.
  4. Laser. This alerts to the use of Laser from either the front or back of the detector.
  5. POP Mode. This alerts when a quick burst of K or Ka band is used to measure speed. This one is rare like X band.
  6. Arrows. The OG of arrows on detectors, you’ll see the front, back and left/right arrow flash, indicating from which direction the signal is coming from.Strength Bar. These light grow 
  7. in number when the strength of the radar source increases or decreases.
  8. Bluetooth Icon. This will turn ON when your detector is paired with a device (commonly used with aftermarket applications on iOS and Android phones).
  9. Mute Icon. This will light up when a radar signal is muted.
  10. Bogey Counter. This number grows to let you know how many radar sources its picking up at the same time.


Cobra radar detectors have been around for ages, much like Escort. Unlike Escort, Cobra has been known for making low-end to OK (at best) detectors that are often just recommended to stay away from. Regardless, some people don’t want to spend more than 200 dollars for a decent detector, so Cobra can give you somewhat of peace of mind.

  1. On the Cobra detectors, let’s talk about their codes and alerts that you can easily see on the screens.
  2. X-Band, K-Band, Ka-Band, and Laser are indicated on all the detectors.
  3. POP Mode when this goes off, it helps to alert of fast K or Ka band that is being used.
  4. V Mode according to Cobra is their “Stealth” mode that makes the device undetectable, to the VG-2 RDD… that is almost never used nowadays. Luckily, the newer detectors like the DualPro 360 (similar to the Max360) has far more options and extra settings that make the detector pretty good.
NOTE: Because Cobra detectors are not immune for use in Virginia and Washington D.C., see our latest article on how to properly hide your radar detector to stay stealthy.
low battery warning meaning

Low Battery Warning Alert Meaning

A vast majority of medium to high-end detectors will alert you when your vehicle has a weak battery. Escort, Uniden and Valentine One have audible and visual alerts that appear on the screens, letting you know your battery has low voltage.


Did you know?

We put together an in-depth article on the top performing detectors of 2022 and 2023. The best of the best with and without arrows. See the top performers here for 2023.