Car Alarms

Monday, 3 November 2008 | Tags:

With car thefts happening at epidemic rates, locking your car isnít always enough these days. A car alarm may be one of your best bets for keeping your car safe.

The Basics

  • To avoid annoying false alarms, get a dual stage sensor. It starts with a warning chirp and then, if there is any further tampering, the full system engages.

  • A visible red light flashing on the dash is a good warning to would-be thieves, as is an alarm sticker on the window.

  • To really protect your car, buy a system with an immobilizer built in, which disables the car from being started. It doesn’t, however, protect any valuables in the car. Since 2000, most cars come with factory-installed immobilizers, which has dramatically decreased the theft rate. Cars made in the 90s are targeted more.

  • A pager feature keeps you in touch with the status of your car even when you can’t see it. Range varies, however. Pagers with a stronger range also have a larger price tag.

  • A remote control turns the alarm on or off. It usually has a panic button you can use to trigger the alarm in an emergency or if you see someone approaching your car.

  • Very high-end cars have a global positioning system (GPS) that allows you to pinpoint the location of your vehicle within feet, which helps alarm companies alert police. This added protection comes at an added cost.

Other Considerations

  • Check with your insurance carrier if an immobilizer means a further discount on your insurance premiums.

  • For installation:

    • Ask the dealer/installer to make sure there are sensors at all points of entry i.e., doors, windows, hood and trunk.

    • The installation process for a car alarm should usually take between 3 to 4 hours, which will usually run you about $200. If anyone promises a faster or cheaper installation you may not be getting as good a system or one that works properly.


Because alarm systems aren’t easy to test without causing damage to a car, here are some theft prevention tips instead:

  • No matter what type of car alarm, you can deter potential thieves by removing any valuables from the car. At least don’t leave them in plain sight.

  • Always lock your doors and close your windows.

  • Never leave your keys in the car.

  • Park in well-lit areas.

  • Avoid parking behind fences or hedges.


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