Attention towards Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) has increased manifold especially due to prevailing security situation in the past decade. An integral part of ITS is video-based surveillance systems extracting real-time traffic parameters such as vehicle counting, vehicle classification, vehicle velocity etc. using stationary cameras installed on road sides. In all these systems, robust and reliable detection of vehicles is significantly a critical step. Since, several vehicle detection techniques exist, evaluating these techniques with respect to different environment conditions and application scenarios will give a better choice for actual deployment. The paper presents a concise survey of vehicle detection techniques used in diverse applications of video-based surveillance systems. Moreover, three main detection algorithms; Gaussian Mixture Model (GMM), Histogram of Gradients (HoG), and Adaptive motion Histograms based vehicle detection are implemented and evaluated for performance under varying illumination, traffic density and occlusion conditions. The survey provides a ready-reference for preferred vehicle detection technique under different applications.