It doesn’t matter what you drive … whether it’s a $500 beater or an Italian supercar, having it stolen is more than just a financial loss, it’s an inconvenience, a liberty, a PITA … so many things. What can you do to stop it happening to you? The very first thing you should do is invest in one of the best car alarms available for your budget.
Table of Contents
- The Best Car Alarms
- Simple vs. Complex
- 1. Avital 3100LX 3-Channel Keyless Entry Car Alarm
- 2. CarLock Advanced Real Time Car Tracker & Alert System
- 3. Python 5706P 2-Way Security with Remote Start System
- 4. Viper 3106V 1-Way Car Alarm Keyless Entry
- 5. Clifford 5906X 2-Way Car Security System
- Buying a System
The Best Car Alarms
There are lots of different products on the market to try and make things a bit more difficult for would be thieves, from car covers through to locking wheel nuts, but one of the simplest things you can fit is a decent car alarm. With today’s tech, some of them don’t really need ‘fitting’, or at least not as they were ten years ago – you could spend a day just wiring in different components.
Of course, a fully-fitted alarm system that needs hard-wiring, will typically offer a little more in terms of security, but even a base model will help … you just need to make it difficult enough to put off any passing potential thieves – if a pro thief is after your car, there isn’t much you can do to stop them.
So what are your choices?
Simple vs. Complex
As I’ve briefly mentioned, choices range from a simple ‘plug and play’ through to something that needs professional installation. With a product that needs properly fitting, the percentages are higher that you’ll deter any would be thieves. It will take a while to disable the alarm, if they can manage it all, while a simple plug & play setup is easily fitted … that’s also its downfall – it’s easily removed.
To an extent, your choice of car alarm could be dictated by the ability to fit it. If you’re handy with a multimeter, wrenches and soldering equipment then fitting a complex system may not be an issue, but you should also consider the actual car itself.
Many newer cars have alarms and immobilizers fitted from the factory, and going beyond that … assuming your car doesn’t have that, you need to think about how complex your car is. If you’re having to connect into the car’s systems, then that could be an issue – complicated body control systems may not let you monkey around with them, no matter how good the intentions are. This is particularly relevant when it comes to functionality such as remote start.
It’s impossible to give fitting instructions for every alarm system, just by their very nature, they could differ as part of the security process, but there are some thoughts that could help you decided which is the best alarm system for your car.
Do you have the ability to fit anything more complicated than a plug and play system? Will you have to pay a professional to fit it for you? Does your car have any specific requirements – like a soft top for example? Is your car old? Will the wiring be able to handle it?
You should also consider the amount of power drawn. If the car is unused on a regular basis, or is in storage, then even a modern alarm system with minimal current drain could cause an issue – especially if your battery is on the limit.
1. Avital 3100LX 3-Channel Keyless Entry Car Alarm
The 3100LX from Avital is the cheapest system here, and when you consider that you’re getting a full system for less than a weeks worth of takeout coffee, you can’t really complain that it’s … cheap.
For me, the idea behind this system is more about having an inexpensive way to add keyless entry to your old beater – providing that it has the door lock motors needed (although they can be brought separately).
Forget about the ultimate in protection, this is just a simple system, you download the fitting instructions from the relevant site, you can have it fitted in under an hour, and it works. Perhaps the only minor niggle is the remote key fobs have a relatively short range …
It comes with two 3-button transmitters, but has the capacity to accept upto four for the one vehicle.
2. CarLock Advanced Real Time Car Tracker & Alert System
This isn’t a traditional car alarm in the sense of sirens & noise, but then why do we need traditional (aka, old) technology? The CarLock fits in your OBD (On Board Diagnostics) port (which has been fitted to all cars made since 1996), and can handle a number of tasks – it’s pretty clever.
Before we get to the functionality, I must point out that you need a monthly subscription for it to work, which is currently around 10 bucks.
So just what will it do? Let’s start with the security. If your engine is started, your vehicle is moved, it detects unusual vibration or if the CarLock is removed from the OBD port, it will send you a real-time notification to your smartphone (either iOS or Android).
Further functionality includes the ability to log journeys – where the vehicle has been, the distance, the exact route … everything you need to keep a watchful eye on your vehicle. The onboard systems can also detect harsh braking, acceleration and cornering – which you can set it up to tell you about in real time … have you let your son or daughter use the car? Want to ensure that they’re behaving … this is ideal.
The app itself is capable of working with numerous vehicles. You just need the OBD pod plugged in, set it up through the app and you can have this functionality across as many vehicles as you want – great for fleet managers.
3. Python 5706P 2-Way Security with Remote Start System
The Python range has been used by professional installers forever – it’s a quality product that gives great service and reliability. With that said, you seriously need to know your way around a vehicle if you’re planning on fitting this yourself, this really is on another level.
There are a number of features with the Python, least of all that it has a two-way paging remote, which it’s said can operate the various functions of the system from a mile away. As a minor update to the system, you can also get the smart start phone app – you could remote start your vehicle from another country if the need took you.
Some functions are available with the use of extra modules – total closure for example (where the windows close on alarm setting), or the ability to lower the windows at any given time …
You do get two remote controllers, and only one of those has the two-way functionality, is fitted with an LCD screen. The second remote can operate the system just as well, but you won’t get notifications (such last trigger or even internal temperatures).
Overall, this is one of the best car alarms on the market, even in its base form. If you add a few carefully selected extras, you’ll be hard pushed to beat it.
4. Viper 3106V 1-Way Car Alarm Keyless Entry
Another recognized car security name – Viper make some great products, and this simple alarm system is no exception.
The Viper 3106V offers all the usual features – keyless entry, anti-jacking (locking all doors when the vehicle is traveling) and on some vehicles – total closure or comfort closure (same thing) – raising the windows when the alarm is set.
It also has two extra auxiliary ports for adding in some accessories, and the remotes have four buttons – with a little time and energy (and know-how), you can rig the alarm for a number of functions.
5. Clifford 5906X 2-Way Car Security System
Clifford have been one of the leading automotive security systems for so long, and the price does reflect that – this is the most expensive system in the list. You should also be aware that although you get a myriad of components and wires, you may need some extra modules or sensors for your car – this is aimed at the latest vehicles which use a heck of a lot of tech.
What you’re getting here is pretty much a slightly upgraded version of the Python – 1-mile range, remote start, 2-way security … it does it all, but just with a few more tricks.
The remote keyfob (the primary) has a HD OLED display (which can have custom animations), it feels tactile and well-built. However, the whole kit is more suited to a professional installer rather than a home mechanic – unless you know electrical systems and cars extremely well. Personally, I’d rather take the option for a pro install, because they can advise you with all the extras, modules and features that you may otherwise miss.
Buying a System
Different cars have different systems, and just chopping in to them could cause you big troubles if you’re not careful – why risk frying your ECU if you’re not 100% certain about what you’re doing?
My advice would always be to take professional advice unless you are dead set in the knowledge you need. If you don’t want to spring for a pro install, you could always choose something like the CarLock system that is as easy as plugging something in, and still offer you great protection.