Side Detection Temporarily Unavailable: Causes and Fixes

A ‘side detection temporarily unavailable’ warning is a sign that the system has been disabled. The system is usually disabled because the sensor(s) can’t identify the objects in the blind spot. The sensor’s failure is often triggered by dirt, corrosion, mounting issues, rear-end collisions or low battery. 

What is a “Side Detection Temporarily Unavailable” Warning?

The side detection system is part of General Motors’ active safety technology. It alerts the driver to the presence of objects in the blind spot while driving. 

It uses a set of sensors mounted on both sides of the vehicle. The failure of these sensors will consequently cause the system’s failure. The system notifies the driver of the failure by setting off the side detection warning every time the driver starts the vehicle. 

Causes of ‘Side Detection Temporarily Unavailable’ Warning

The following factors could cause the failure of the side detection system:

Dirt

This is one of the leading causes of the failure of the side detection system. The sensors are mounted under the left and right sides of the rear bumper. And it monitors the objects in the blind spot while the vehicle is in motion. 

The sensors will have difficulty detecting objects when the rear bumper or sensors are covered. Mud, dirt, snow, or ice will obstruct the sensors from detecting the objects in the blind spot. 

Heavy rainstorms can also block the sensor, temporarily disabling the side detection system. 

Corrosion

Corrosion is another factor that can cause the side detection sensors to fail. Water intrusion, especially when washing vehicles, is one of the causes of corrosion. Driving through a flood also swarms the sensors with water. Both instances create moisture. 

Repeated exposure of the sensors to moisture causes corrosion. Similarly, exposure of the sensors to road salt also causes corrosion. Corrosion causes voltage and current flow degradation, causing the sensors to stall. When the sensors fail, the side detection warning appears on the dashboard every time the driver starts the vehicle. 

Rear-end collisions

A rear-end collision can also damage the system sensors. Even the slightest rear impact to the bumper is enough to damage the sensors. The failure of either sensor will cause the side detection system to malfunction. 

Low battery

The battery supplies all the vehicle’s electrical components with power. A low or failed battery wouldn’t supply the electrical power the sensor needs to run. The lack of power will temporarily cause the breakdown of the sensor until power is restored. 

Mounting issue

A misaligned sensor can also trigger the side detection system’s failure. The side detection system sensors are mounted at a 45-degree angle — not at the rear or side of the vehicle. 

Besides being mounted at an angle, they are also precisely positioned. A rear-end collision can shift the sensor’s angle. Also, other mounting issues, such as a broken mount, tabs, or brackets, will cause the sensor to fail. 

How to fix the ‘Side Detection Temporarily Unavailable’ Warning

You should ensure you exhaust all available options before replacing the sensors. Below are some possible fixes that could help restore the sensors:

Clean off the dirt

This is the first thing you should do. Wash off any obstruction on the rear bumper. Having mud or other dirt on the rear bumper blocks the sensor from detecting objects. 

However, don’t use water if the obstruction is directly on the sensor. Get some detail spray and a microfiber cloth, and give the sensors a quick wipe. 

Recharge or replace the faulty battery

If the failure of the sensors were due to a bad or low battery, you would need to replace or recharge the battery. Restoring battery power will reactivate the sensors and get them up and running. 

Adjust the sensor

If the sensor still doesn’t work after cleaning, the next fix you should try is recalibrating it. Both sensors won’t detect objects if they are poorly mounted. You may even need to call in a professional, as the process requires precision and accuracy. 

Replacing a sensor(s) when it needs recalibration would have it working. But, it will only work for a while before failing as it would still have difficulty identifying objects. It is only until you readjust the sensor(s) that the system will function properly. 

Replace the sensor

Replacing the sensor should be the last resort and only be considered after all other possible solutions fail. You will also need to reprogram the sensors after replacing them.

How Much Will It Cost To Fix a Failed Side Detection System?

Fixing a failed side detection system can set you back as little as $50 and could get as high as $1,500. The total price depends on the defective components and whether you are paying for labor. 

Ordinarily, cleaning the sensor will cost under $50. Replacing components is where things get pricey, costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. And if you are hiring the services of a professional mechanic, the overall price will go up even further. 

Final thoughts

The side detection system is an active safety feature that helps the driver watch the blind spots during lane changes and while driving. But, a couple of factors could cause the breakdown of the system’s sensor, triggering a side detection warning. 

The most common cause of the failure is dirt covering the sensor. Ordinarily, cleaning off the dirt should restore the sensor. But if it doesn’t, you probably have a damaged sensor, a mounting issue, or a low battery.