When you depend on your car to make a living, getting it stolen or damaged is probably your worst nightmare. Having the best car alarm system in place can help you deter costly thefts, while helping you save on insurance.
Even if you avoid living or driving in high-crime areas, it’s always a good idea to keep your car as secure as possible. After all, you wouldn’t leave your most prized possession lying out in the open with no protection. Investing in an effective car security system will ensure you have peace of mind, no matter where you leave your car behind.
In this article, we’ll explain what a car alarm system can do for you, what features to seek, and which models we recommend.
- Why Do I Need a Car Alarm System?
- Four Best Car Alarm Systems
- Other Ways to Prevent Car Theft
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do I Need a Car Alarm System?
It’s impossible to predict when something may happen to your car. In 2017, the FBI reported that there were nearly 800,000 car thefts in the United States, leading to a total loss of $6 billion. This number didn’t even include break-ins with the intent to steal valuables.
Being prepared for the worst with a trustworthy car alarm system will give you peace of mind, while making your life easier when an unfortunate incident occurs. Much like dash cams, car alarms are effective crime deterrents that scare away burglars when spotted, or when security features like loud sirens make themselves known.
If a burglar continues with the theft after triggering the car alarm system, many products nowadays provide the additional benefit of GPS tracking. No matter where your vehicle ends up, you can avoid the stress of hoping for police to find its location.
Having your car alarm system won’t just save your vehicle — it’ll save your wallet, too. Most car insurance policies will offer up to a 10% discount on your monthly rate if you have an active car alarm system installed. This means your investment will literally pay off, in addition to providing you security year-round.
4 Best Car Alarm Systems
When shopping for a car alarm system, you want to seek an intelligent system that will alert you if any suspicious activity is occurring around your car. A system equipped with shock sensors will typically activate the second anything happens. When paired with an audible warning, a feature that prevents your vehicle from starting, or an alert sent to your smartphone, you can catch the thief red-handed or scare them away.
Of course, you’ll also want a backup in case the thief does successfully drive away with your vehicle. GPS tracking is always useful if available.
Our final tip is to never make the cheapest systems your priority. While it’s tempting to save $20 or more, the quality of the product you invest your money in is important for your security and will pay off.
Here are the best car alarm systems we found on the market:
1. Viper 3400V 3-Channel 1-Way Car Alarm Vehicle Security Keyless Entry System
This affordable product is a favorite among many drivers who are seeking an upgrade to their vehicle security. It’s a basic, but highly effective car alarm system equipped with a shock sensor that activates a chirp siren (you can choose from six different tones) whenever your car is bumped. If it detects any further disturbances, it will also activate a parking light alarm response to get attention on the thief and warn them away.
Equipped with a bright LED light, this Viper sensor should scare off thieves even before they think about breaking into or trying to steal your car. If needed, you also have the option to activate a panic mode that triggers the alarm from your remote.
The two four-button remotes that you’ll receive will also allow you to lock and unlock your vehicle from afar, making this a simple one-way system that gets you all the basics for the best value.
You can purchase the Viper 3400V 3-Channel 1-Way Car Alarm Vehicle Security Keyless Entry System on Amazon for $52.99.
2. Viper 5906V Color Remote Start & Security
Viper is one of the most trusted brands for car alarm systems, so naturally, they have two impressive systems that made it on this list. This higher priced system provides advanced features to protect your car even further.
The first major upgrade that this Viper security system offers is the fact that it is a two-way system. To better translate, this system doesn’t just allow you to speak to your car with your remote — your car can send information back to the remote, as well. To make things better, your two-way remote is equipped with an organic LED screen.
In addition to the features the first Viper product already provides, this car alarm system also supports multiple impact sensor locations, so attempted entry into any area of your car is protected. Your remote also provides one of the best ranges, allowing you to lock or unlock from one mile away and receive information about your car interior temperature.
For your convenience, this system also offers a remote starter option, so you can warm up or cool down your car before you get inside. This product is also compatible with the Viper SmartStart app, which includes a GPS tracking feature.
You can purchase the Viper 5906V Color Remote Start & Security system on Amazon for $399.95.
3. Python 5706P Responder LC3 SST 2-Way Security with Remote Start System
This Python product may be the priciest on our list — though it’s currently on sale for half the price — but its features may be completely worth it for you.
One of our favorite features of the Python remote start system is its inclusion of a starter kill switch, which allows you to prevent your engine from starting from up to one mile away. This means that the moment you get an alert from this two-way system about a potential attempt at theft, you can hit the button to disable your car.
Every major function can be used with your remote control, which will vibrate to confirm your commands have been received by the vehicle. The remote includes an LCD screen that can communicate to you about any car door or window movement, and its battery can last for several months. However, you don’t have to use the remote control for everything. If you get Python’s Smart Start add-on, you can receive real-time alerts and control the system through your smartphone instead.
You can purchase the Python 5706P Responder LC3 SST 2-Way Security with Remote Start System on Amazon for $223.99 (normally $499.99).
4. Avital 3100LX 3-Channel Keyless Entry Car Alarm
This budget-friendly car alarm system is a great purchase for anyone who just want the basics without any high-end add-ons. It’s a system that comes with effective shock sensors that can trigger your parking lights and your car horn, instead of the typical siren or chirp.
The two key fobs you receive will include a car finder feature, door lock and unlock buttons, and a trunk release button. If you share your vehicle with anyone else, you can purchase up to two more key fobs to add to the set from Avital.
For the cost, this car alarm system does have fairly long range, according to reviewers. Though you won’t be able to use your engine start or starter kill feature from a full mile away, you’ll still be arming yourself with a system that deters thieves — starting with a bright red LED light that warns them that your car is equipped.
You can purchase the Avital 3100LX 3-Channel Keyless Entry Car Alarm on Amazon for $28.91.
Other Ways to Prevent Car Theft
Even with the best car alarm system in place, you won’t be completely safe from car thefts and break-ins, especially if your chosen product isn’t visible or audible. Plus, some thieves may not even realize you have an alarm system system until after glass breaks or goods are stolen. Here are three tips for deterring criminals from touching your vehicle in the first place:
- Keep expensive items hidden. Smartphones, laptops, and cash will quickly catch a thieving eye. Criminals who commit petty theft often have their eyes on the prize without looking out for signs of car security.
- Park in well-lit areas. Most thieves avoid areas where their suspicious activities or identities can easily be seen. Parking next to lampposts, open businesses, and crowded areas at night will make it less likely for you to become a victim of a crime.
- Lock your doors. While dropping off a food delivery or waiting for a rider, it may be tempting to leave your doors unlocked for the sake of convenience. However, especially at night in high-crime areas, this can be an invitation for theft while you’re away from your car or forcible robbery while you’re inside.
Frequently Asked Questions
With car shielded from crime, you’ll be able to park anywhere with ease. Here are a few frequently asked questions to help you make the best car alarm system purchase possible:
1. Are there any car alarm systems compatible with all vehicles?
Car alarm systems are typically compatible with most newer vehicles, which you likely use when driving for an on-demand service. However, it’s not uncommon for alarm systems to only function properly for automatic cars or common types of cars. Reading the full product descriptions before you make a purchase can help you avoid the hassle of a return.
2. Do I need to hire someone to perform a professional installation on my vehicle?
In most cases, you should be able to successfully install the car alarm system yourself just by using the manual that arrives with your product as long as you’re somewhat familiar with your vehicle. We made sure to select products with simpler installation processes for our best car alarm systems list.
However, more complex and high tech systems like the EASYGUARD EC002v — another popular and highly effective system — may be more difficult to set up alone. Make sure to read through your manual first to determine if you have the skills needed to complete your installation without damage.
3. Are there any situations where a silent car alarm system would be more effective?
Silent car alarm systems are primarily good for catching the criminal red-handed. However, they’re not recommended because the odds of you catching the thief on your own are still very low and trying to do so can put you in danger. It’s better to stop the act than to let the thief continue.
Keep the Criminals Locked Out
No matter where you live, car theft can happen when you least expect it. Purchasing the best car alarm system will help you deter criminals or, in the worst case scenario, locate your vehicle quickly. We hope this buying guide has provided options that perfectly suit your needs.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.