By on October 27, 2010

Backup beepers are everywhere, it seems. Wherever the heavy metal–trucks, steamrollers, steam shovels, cement mixers, buses, or any other vehicle with substantial girth–is backing up, you know it, even if you can’t see it. Because like [monochromatic] laser light, monotone sounds carry further. And now, within the last couple of years, the backup beeper comes standard equipment on your Prius (and, pending passage of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, all electric-drive cars). But if you don’t like it, you can disconnect it. My brother Tom—who has always considered cars to be appliances, but LOVES his Prius—has not disconnected his. “I am not bothered by it particularly,” he says. TTAC Prius owners: what about you? Have you left it on? Disconnected it? Why or why not?

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23 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Backup Beepers?...”

  • avatar

    The backup beeper in my Prius is only audible inside the car.   I haven’t turned it off, it’s not that much of an annoyance to me or anything.   Seems like it would be more useful if it were audible outside the car, I have had pedestrians not realize the car was backing up (reverse in the Prius is all done with the electric motor to reduce parts).

  • avatar

    I love the idea, but I’m reluctant to the accept that we need hundreds of dollars of sensors in our bumpers. Bumpers which are made to hit things. Further, they destroy an otherwise clean line on the exterior.
    If they could find a way to put them under the bumper, but still make them effective, I’d be completely on board. They are extremely nice for tight parking spots, as well as for emergency purposes (eg kid runs behind car).
    If you want the total jerk answer: What happened to rear visibility?

  • avatar

    As long as they are only audible to the person or persons in a position to decide whether to turn them on or off; great.
    When they become a tool for disturbing the sleep and concentration of others who are not in a position to turn them off; just so some politician can scam half literates into believing he/she is somehow the “safety candidate”, they are just another illustration of why any society with even the faintest pretense of being civilized, have 2nd amendment like laws covering anti tank rockets, as well as justifiable anger exceptions in their criminal justice code.

  • avatar

    In my Prius I have mine kept on, as it’s not immediately obvious what gear you’re in. The gear selector nubbin always pops back to the D location no matter what “gear” you’re in. In other cars, I keep my hand on the gearshift while I’m in reverse, so I have a constant physical reminder that the transmission is actually in reverse. As I haven’t had the Prius for long, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet to look at the dashboard indicator to remind myself what gear I’m in. The auditory clue is helpful.
    And yes, it’s only audible inside the car.

  • avatar

    I once worked at place where some of the vans (Dodge minivans and Pontiac Vibes) had a back-up beeper that said, in a female voice “This vehicle is backing up….This vehicle is backing up….” over and over at a very loud volume as long as the vehicle was in reverse gear.  It worked, but was very embarrassing to the driver.  I’ve got a cellphone recording of it, but I have no idea how to put it on here.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe upload it to youtube and provide a link.

      And I guess you could include an appropriate pic as well just like the many songs there only show album covers, not videos.

  • avatar

    I am pretty sure that the Prius has a back up beeper because the shifter control panel is all white and on the dashboard.  The beep is to signify that the car is in reverse, as opposed to a normal floor mounted AT where the transmissions positions are in different colors.
    And as for the sound bothering me, it is a bit annoying, but I understand why it is there.  I don’t really notice it much anymore.  I forget about it when I drive 500 miles on 9 gallons of gas all the time.

  • avatar

    I’m confused, isn’t the beeper to alarm pedestrians behind your car and not to alarm the driver? When I drive any car, I’m usually aware where I’m about to drive (unless I’m drunk, but then I don’t drive)
    And all newer cars are pretty quiet. Why wouldn’t legislation make it mandatory in all cars, not just EVs? If safety really is the concern here. And shouldn’t EVs and the Prius then have a beeper when driving slowly forward (assuming then pedestrians are nearby) also? And beeping to the outside, not inside.
    If the Prius really has a hard time to tell in normal ways what gear it is in, this is an ergonomic design problem that doesn’t necessarily has something to do with the Prius or EV itself. It is just bad design.
    I guess the beeper wouldn’t bother me when I’m the driver. It will just bother my neighbors who try to sleep.

  • avatar

    The interior backup beeper on the ’04-09 Prius could be turned off by the owner via a simple hack found on the ‘net. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there were many that turned it off.

    On the new 2010 Prius, however, the backup beeper cannot be turned off completely. Instead, it’s a modification that stops the continuous beeping to one, single beep, but it must now be performed by a Toyota dealer service department. It only takes a few minutes but Toyota will charge up to two hours labor, which in many areas, means over $100).

    IOW, Toyota makes the Prius annoying, and then makes it so the only way to stop it is to pay Toyota even more money above the price of the car.

  • avatar

    My fellow 2ZZ owners with stick shifts (Not sure about the Elise or Exige) will tell you that Toyota has had a backup beeper in their cars since 2000 starting with the Celica GTS.  This was done because the reverse gear is kind of close to first gear and Toyota thought it necessary to warn the driver that they were in reverse. 

    It annoys the heck out me (the reverse gear isn’t really that close to first anyway) and everytime I have someone new in my car they always ask why my car beeps when I am backing up.   

    • 0 avatar

      …nope, no backup beepers for us, but our gearbox is twisted around remotely for the mid-engine such that reverse is actually pretty far removed from first gear – it even requires pulling up a little collar to engage, quite unmistakeable…

  • avatar

    Please God, no more audible warning systems in cars.  You’re not wearing your seatbelt, you’re baking up, you’re speeding, etc etc – I’ll handle all this without reminders thank you.

  • avatar

    I *love* my new 2010 Prius.

    I *hate* the inside backup beeper. And the seat belt beeper. And the outside locking/unlocking beeper. And the auto-locking/unlocking ‘feature’. They’re distracting. I’m getting them all turned off when I bring it in for its 10K oil change. They should be in the settings menu but they’re not. Damned lawyers.

    I couldn’t hear whether the engine was running in my grandmother’s ’66 Olds either. WTF?


  • avatar

    IMO the best “backup beeper” I’ve got is the sound of a burbling V8.  If your rev that thing then people will look over and make sure they’re not about to get flattened.

  • avatar

    I had a Datsun 310GX for a short time that also had an inside beeper for when reverse was selected. It had the “racing H” shift pattern where 1st gear was to the left and back, with reverse where 1st would normally be. So it made sense to have the beeper. I still managed to take off in reverse at a toll booth when I had the stereo blasting and did not hear the beeper – simple force of habit as to where 1st “should” be on a late night when I was tired. Luckily nobody behind me, but the toll booth lady sure looked at me funny!

    If it were my Pious, I would turn the damned thing off.

  • avatar

    What happened to rear visibility?

  • avatar

    You know, I learned to drive in my dad’s 1960 Impala 4 dr. hardtop – 283, powerglide, MANUAL steering AND brakes, no A/C, but a very nice vacuum-tube radio. You had to actually turn your head and LOOK behind you through windows you could actually SEE OUT OF and see the edge of the trunk (ditto for the hood edge). In other words, you needed to watch where you were going and be alert for other people and objects. The manufacturers must be under orders of some sort to add this content in the interest of saving us from ourselves and giving us snooze-boxes that allow us to merely guide our vehicles down the road with all the “hard” stuff about what driving actually entails edited-out. Please don’t get me wrong – I enjoy the ease of which contemporary automobiles drive and would never go back, but sometimes technological overload rears its head and content becomes irrational.

    Yeah, I’m venting a bit, and call me old if you like, but apparently this is the world we’re stuck with. I do suppose, though, that the back-up beep or noise is the one sound other than the horn that people pay attention to. But, with the proliferation of this device, will people start regarding this as “crying ‘wolf\'” as they do about car alarm systems?

    Another thing: as cars are driven more and more “buttoned-up”, all the racket of the outside world is filtered out due to increased sound deadening materials and powerful audio systems, in addition to styling seemingly dictated by the windtunnel and “stylistas”. So, are or aren’t these additional devices irrevelevent?

  • avatar

    When I first got my Mini I had a hard time differentiating between 1st and Reverse, it’s my first 6-speed.  There were a few times I almost backed into the car behind me at a traffic light.  Would have been nice to have some kind of indicator that the car was in reverse, like a single beep, with the option to turn it off.  I wouldn’t need it now that I’m used to the tranny, but my wife still gets into reverse by accident occasionally.

  • avatar
    Tree Trunk

    I disabled mine. Funny how you can reprogram the car doing a little raindance from the internet.

    Wonder what else you can do by opening and closing the doors times, turning the lights on and off number of times.

  • avatar

    Maybe upload it to youtube and provide a link.
    And I guess you could include an appropriate pic as well just like the many songs there only show album covers, not videos.

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