Car alarms and security tech can mean the difference between peace of mind and a stolen or damaged car. Unfortunately, finding the best security system for your needs can seem a little daunting since you can’t exactly test out the features before it’s installed. What you can do instead though, is familiarise yourself with the basic components and what they do in order to give you a better idea of what you’re likely to need to keep your vehicle and the things inside it safe.
Do I need a car alarm?
If you live or work in a high crime area, or one where crimes of opportunity are likely to occur, then having a car alarm can help to protect your vehicle and anything inside it. A basic security system can be pretty affordable, particularly when compared to the replacement cost of things like your head unit and speakers, or anything that a would-be thief may damage when trying to jack your car. Alarms can’t physically stop someone from breaking a window and stealing your stuff, so it is always better to hide, or avoid storing valuables in your vehicle altogether. Furthermore, an alarm with a visible indicator light will usually act as a pretty good deterrent, preventing many potential thefts due to the hassle they’d cause and the attention they’d bring.
What should I look for in a car alarm?
There are a few key factors that need to be considered when looking for the right security system for your car. Ask yourself these questions, and consider the importance of each factor when it comes to your own personal requirements:
Sensors - how does the system detect an intrusion?
There are a wide variety of different sensors that can be installed in a car. The most common ones are door sensors, that will trigger the alarm if one of your doors is opened. You can also install additional sensors that can detect impacts, motion, and even internal pressure - in order to detect broken windows or cut convertible roofs. Have a think about the types of sensors you’ll need, and consider investing in a system that can be further upgraded with additional means to detect intrusion later on.
Immobilisers and trackers - what happens if someone tries to steal your entire car?
Although it might result in a wacky adventure involving aliens and back tattoos, it’s more likely that the answer to the question “Dude, where’s my car?” won’t be quite as fun. You can prevent yourself from ever needing to ask the question by installing an immobiliser or a tracking device as part of your car’s security system. An immobiliser will prevent your car from being hot wired, and many trackers can send up to date GPS information to your phone. Both devices allow you to rest assured that your car isn’t stolen, and that you won’t have to deal with any 90’s comedy adventures any time soon.
Sirens and alerts - How will you know if someone is messing with your ride?
Once you’ve figured out how your alarm will figure out that something’s wrong, you’ll need to consider how you want that info conveyed to you. Obviously an alarm is the most common feature, but some are more effective than others. Some alarms are designed to emit enough noise to be incredibly unpleasant to a potential thief, and therefore prevent people from wanting to stick around in your car long enough to steal your head unit - or the car itself. As mentioned above, more up-specced security systems will offer the means to track the location of your car and many will send you text or in-app messages to let you know if someone is messing with your car.
Price and ease of installation - What does it cost to install an alarm? How easy is it to install a security system?
The price of a decent security system can vary greatly depending upon the level of protection you settle on. If you’d prefer to opt for fewer features to begin with, then be sure that the system you choose can be upgraded and expanded upon later. A decent security system will often save you money on your insurance costs so that over time, it’ll pretty much pay for itself. Most security tech comes with installation and wiring instructions but if you aren’t super familiar with automotive wiring, then it might be best to leave the installation up to a professional. Be sure to factor any installation costs into your budget, and remember that no matter how much you end up spending on a security system, you should always try not to leave valuables visible to opportunist thieves, nor park in dodgy areas - common sense parking is free!
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