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 loss of liberty, and a PITA. 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.
The Best Car Alarms
There are lots of different products on the market to make things a bit more difficult for would-be thieves. From car covers 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 whole 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. However, 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’ to something that needs professional installation. With a product that needs properly fitting, the percentages are higher than 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, it’s also 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. 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. A 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. They all differ as part of the security process. But, there are some thoughts that could help you decide 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. This is true especially if your battery is on the limit.
The 3100LX from Avital is the cheapest system here. When you consider that you’re getting a full system for less than a week’s worth of takeout coffee, you can’t really complain that it’s cheap.
The idea behind this system is more about having an inexpensive way to add keyless entry to your old beater – if it has the door lock motors needed. (They can also be brought separately).
Forget about the ultimate in protection, this is just a simple system. You download the fitting instructions from the relevant site and you can have it fitted in under an hour. And it works. Perhaps the only minor objection is the remote key fobs have a relatively short range.
It comes with two 3-button transmitters but has the capacity to accept up to four for the one vehicle.
- Rating: 4.1 / 5
- Brand: CarLock
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 security. If your engine is started or your vehicle is moved, it detects unusual vibration. Also, 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, etc. It’s got everything you need to keep a watchful eye on your vehicle.
The onboard systems can also detect harsh braking, acceleration, and cornering. 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. It’s great for fleet managers.
- Rating: 4.1 / 5
- Brand: Python
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. It has a two-way paging remote. It 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. It allows you to remote start your vehicle from another country if the need takes you.
Some functions are available with the use of extra modules. Total closure, for example (where the windows close on alarm setting.) It also has the ability to lower the windows at any given time.
You do get two remote controllers. Only one of them has two-way functionality and is fitted with an LCD screen. The second remote can operate the system just as well, but you won’t get notifications (such as 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.
Another recognized car security name – Viper makes some great products, and this simple alarm system is no exception.
The Viper 3106V offers all the usual features. It’s got keyless entry, anti-jacking (locking all doors when the vehicle is traveling.) On some vehicles, you can use the total closure or comfort closure feature (same thing) – raising the windows when the alarm is set.
It also has two extra auxiliary ports for adding in some accessories. The remotes have four buttons. With a little time and energy (and know-how), you can rig the alarm for a number of functions.
Clifford has been one of the leading automotive security systems for so long and the price does reflect that. This is the most expensive system on the list. You should also be aware that even though 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 techs.
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 an 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. It’s probably best to do 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. Just chopping into 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 offers you great protection.