So, we’ll start with some not-so-fun facts. Fact one: According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, on average, one car is stolen every 45 seconds in the US – hmm, who else wonders how those car owners feel, being a part of this statistic? Okay, fact two: There was a 7.4% increase in the number of stolen vehicles between 2015 and 2016 – and yes, the info is from the same source. Since you’ve already seen that this review is titled “The Best Car Alarms” and you’ve clicked on it, it’s safe to assume that you’d rather not be a part of the groups mentioned above. So, let’s dive in to the heart of the matter.
Car alarms come with different features and, depending on the type of protection you seek for your car, you can find them at different price points. You can find them as OEM and Aftermarket systems, with the OEM options being the more basic car alarms, and the Aftermarket options boasting a lot of high-tech features. OEM systems are mostly designed to protect your car from theft and may not protect other things, like your beautiful car stereo and speaker set
Car alarms work in any of three ways: they can act as deterrents that discourage car thieves e.g., wheel lock and decals; they can be immobilizers that prevent the vehicle from starting when certain actions occur, such as forced entry, and they can be trackers that’ll keep tabs on the location of a stolen vehicle and report back to a data center. The best car alarms usually combine these features in one way or another. There are three basic parts of a car alarm: the brain or control unit, the remote/transmitter/fob and the siren. The control unit is a computer – it sends, receives and processes commands. It’s powered from your ignition harness and is the main part of an aftermarket system. The siren is the component that makes all the noise that car alarms are infamous for.
For convenience, a car remote
comes with most alarm systems, but you can get another one if you lose the one that came with the system. They’re used to send (and receive, in the case of a 2-way remote) commands to the vehicles and can do so at an impressive range.
Car alarms can detect a lot of changes to your car’s original state (the position and condition you parked it in), depending on the kind of sensor and trigger features it has. A tilt-shock sensor will alert you to attempts to tow or jack up
your vehicle, and trigger sensors can alert you to doors being opened.
At the end of the day, the best car alarm for your vehicle can be best defined by you; our only advice is that you don’t resort to penny pinching with these devices, as they’re worthy investments.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about car alarms is their price range; these modern-day essentials can be found from as low as $30 to as high as $500 – and even more. One of the most important reasons for the difference in price is the difference in the features of the car alarms. We’ll make it a bit more graphic and relatable: picture two car alarm systems, Car Alarm A and Car Alarm B, both of the same high quality and superior manufacturing. Car Alarm A has a one-way remote for doors and starting the vehicle, horn trigger and starter kill, while Car Alarm B comes with a two-way remote, trigger sensors and shock sensors, in addition to the more basic features of the first alarm. You’ll probably find Car Alarm B to be the pricier of the two, and find yourself nodding in understanding as you whip out your wallet to do the needful. That said, there are cheap car alarms but, seeing as we’re talking about securing your cars the best way possible, we didn’t include them here.
You have a greater chance of choosing the best car alarm if you walk into the process already armed with the features to look out for in one. Here is a list of those features:
- Alert Type
Construction and Design
When it comes to how these nifty devices work, they can, essentially, be categorized into three types: deterrents, trackers and immobilizers. Deterrents come with features that are successful at putting off potential ‘car-nappers,’ trackers make finding stolen vehicles easier and faster, and immobilizers make moving the car difficult or downright impossible.
Let’s take this a little further. Deterrents may be a high-tech solution or something less techy, but when it comes down to the basics, they have a similar function. Knowing that he’ll have to work at outsmarting the alarm will give the car thief a reason to have second thoughts and move on to an easier target. Some examples of deterrents include car decals, car alarms, tire deflators, etc.
Trackers increase the chances of recovering a vehicle after it’s been stolen. They combine Automatic Vehicle Locating with some software and use GPS technology to locate the vehicle. They’re of two types, the active and the passive. They both collect and store speed, heading, GPS location and trigger events like the ignition turning on or off or doors opening or closing. The difference between them is that, while the data from passive trackers can only be accessed when the vehicle arrives at a pre-determined point, data from active trackers are usually transmitted in almost-real-time through satellite or cellular networks to a computer for evaluation.
Car immobilizers are designed to prevent a car from starting if a specific event happens or if the remote, transponder or key isn’t physically present. With car alarms using this, even if a thief manages to break into the car, he’ll be unable to hotwire it. They achieve this by detecting the transponder or remote, fuse cut-offs, kill switches, spark or fuel disablers.
For a fuller protection for your car, it’s best to find yourself a car alarm that combines all three of these, that is, one or more features from each group, as a determined car thief who knows his onions may outsmart a car alarm relying on just one of them, thankfully, many car alarms combine all three and even some more.
There are a number of ways that a car alarm can alert you (the car owner) and other bystanders to a break-in attempt. Most, if not all, of us are quite familiar with the high-pitched sirens or beeps that car alarms make – and frankly, most of us find it annoying – but it’s become a necessary evil, one that city dwellers have learnt to tune out, as long as it isn’t their car making the racket. Another problem with the alarms is the fact that many of them sound exactly the same, so, how is a fellow to know if it’s his car alarm blaring its mechanical lungs away, sheesh. Trust our auto-scientists and engineers to figure out a way around this; there are a number of other ways to get alerted when your car’s safety has been compromised. A paging option is provided with some car alarms, and it alerts you to your car’s safety via SMS; another option allows you to choose the alarm sound for your car. These will make it easier to know when it’s your car that’s being harassed.
Performance and Ease of Use
The transmitters are also called remotes, transponders or key fobs. They’re used to send signals to your car – signals like lock, unlock, arm, disarm, trunk release, etc. They can be 1-way or 2-way remotes; here is the difference between the two: the 1-way remote, or transmitter, sends the command to your vehicle but is not designed to receive a feedback that confirms whether the command has been carried out, while a 2-way remote is designed to receive confirmation of those commands, and even alerts you to possible thefts being carried out.
Some transmitters allow the vehicle to be started with the remote, a neat feature for those winter days, which will allow you to warm your car from the warmth of your house. Some of them have LCD screens that’ll keep you informed of your car’s current situation. When getting remotes, ensure that there are auxiliary outputs, as you may decide to add more sensors in the future; remotes can be purchased independently of the alarms. If you decide to go this route, look for a remote that’s compatible with your smartphone, configure the whole getup together, and you’re ready to roll.
Still on the issue of the transmitter, if you’ll be parking your car right in front of your home, office or in your garage, then you would do fine with a remote range measured in feet, but if your car is going to be parked farther than a stone’s throw away, you should consider remotes with a range measured in miles. It seems we’ve gotten a bit ahead of ourselves; we didn’t say what range means here. Well, it’s kinda like your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth range, only in this case it’s the distance between your car and the remote that’s being considered.
One of the great features of car alarm systems these days is remote control access to the operation of your vehicle. Our top featured brands are very popular with customers, thanks to offering more than just a car alarm system. Additional benefits can include keyless entry, trunk release, and GPS navigation. We have brands that tick the box in one or all of these categories, so let’s get started picking out the right car alarm system for you…
Go on, make that order and rest easy each day, enjoying the benefits of vastly improved car security and convenient remote control.