According to the most recent FBI statistics, over 750,000 vehicles are stolen every year in the United States — that’s more than one every minute. While fitting a car alarm won’t always stop a professional criminal, it can be very effective at preventing the kind of casual or opportunistic theft that happens most of the time.
Most car alarms work on very similar principles. While you might pay a little extra for some of the top brand names, mostly it’s a question of the number of features you want. More features might equal a higher price. However, there are plenty of choices, and many of them are surprisingly inexpensive. We’ve been assessing the merits of many different systems so we can help you decide which is right for your vehicle.
Our recommended products cover a range of budgets and different levels of performance. If you’d like to know more about the features available, continue reading our buying guide.
Across the US, a vehicle is stolen every 41 seconds. If you don’t have a car alarm, it’s easier for the thieves to take yours next.
Alarm activation can be passive (the system comes on automatically when you shut the car door, for example), or active (you have to press a button to activate the system). Many budget alarms don’t offer a choice and are usually active only.
The alarm is triggered usually by a shock or vibration sensor. A big criticism of older car alarms was that they would go off at the slightest touch. Good modern versions — even basic models — have a two-stage sensor. The response to initial contact is a warning chirp. The alarm goes off only if there’s subsequent contact. Better alarm systems also have a sensitivity adjustment, so you can reduce the occurrence of false alarms.
Sirens are usually 120 decibels or more — not the kind of noise that’s easily ignored! Many systems also flash the vehicle’s lights.
One-way vs. two-way systems
One-way: Low cost and mid-range car alarms are usually one-way systems. In other words, the handheld transmitter (the remote) sends a signal to the car to perform a particular function.
Two-way: More expensive models are two-way systems. The car can return information to the remote, which has a screen to display information (usually only one of the two provided remotes can do this). It might inform you if someone is tampering with your vehicle or if the engine has been started. The range varies, but on some it’s up to a mile.
Though it generally requires adding another unit to they system, some car alarms can be linked to a smartphone to provide two-way communication over virtually any distance. You might be too far away to do anything about the tampering yourself, but it would enable you to inform law enforcement if there’s an attempt to steal your vehicle.
Locks and windows
Doors: Most remotes can unlock and lock doors if your vehicle has the appropriate door actuators. Older vehicles may not have these, but they can be retrofitted.
Trunk: The ability to open the trunk may also be provided. More advanced models can close the windows for you.
Ignition: The system might also have ignition locking: the doors are locked when you start the vehicle (helping to prevent carjacking) and unlocked when you turn the ignition off.(Video) Best Dash Cam 2023: Buying Guide
Some alarms can start the car for you, too. They may also have an engine kill switch, so if you suspect there’s a problem, you have another immobilizer even if the thief has bypassed a factory-fitted version.
Car alarm system features
Basic car alarm systems may have few features, but if they have auxiliary ports it’s possible to add more functionality at a later date.
Panic alarm: A panic alarm is a one-touch method of activating the alarm when you’re inside the vehicle so you can lock the doors and signal for help. The volume of the alarm may well be enough to deter an attacker.
Emergency override: This is included on some systems, allowing you to disable the alarm if you lose or damage the transmitter.
Valet mode: This is another option. It disables the system when you’re handing the car over to someone else. This is useful not only for valet parking but also when you’re at the dealership, mechanic, and so on.
Random codes: There is a potential danger of someone cloning your remote, and some systems have random rolling codes to prevent this. It’s a useful extra, but a thief with the technical skills and equipment to clone your remote could probably find a quicker and easier way to bypass your vehicle security anyway, so it isn’t seen as a major feature.
Is a car alarm worth it?
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that any alarm system will keep your car from being stolen. Even with the most effective immobilizers and alarms, if a thief is determined to take your vehicle, they will find a way to do it — even if it means loading it onto a flatbed truck!
What a car alarm system does provide is a cost-effective way to deter the casual criminal, the one who goes around streets and parking lots checking door handles or has a length of steel up their sleeve to jimmy your door locks.
Having a car alarm system might lower your insurance premium (talk to your broker), and it will almost certainly add to the resale value of your vehicle. Given the relatively low cost, it could make economic sense.
Car alarm system prices
Inexpensive: The cheapest car alarm systems cost between $25 and $35. They aren’t very sophisticated, but it’s very little money for the additional protection it offers your vehicle.
Mid-range: There are lots of very good one-way car alarms in the $40 to $70 range. In our opinion, this is the sweet spot. Pretty much everything you could want, from the industry’s top names, falls into this bracket.
Expensive: What pushes prices beyond the mid-range are things like two-way communication, with remotes that have LCD screens to provide additional information. Depending on the range provided, these can run anywhere from $130 to $250. If you want smartphone connectivity, it could add another $150 or more to the cost.
A car alarm is a primary deterrent, but there are other things you can do to make your vehicle less attractive to thieves.
Never leave your car unlocked.
Close the windows and sunroof when the car is unattended.
Park in a well-lit area at night.
Don’t leave items visible inside the car. Bag, pocketbook, wallet, laptop, phone — take them with you or put everything in the trunk and out of sight.
- Don’t leave your car idling unattended. On a cold morning it might be tempting to start your car in the drive to warm it up and then pop back inside for a few minutes. Thieves wander neighborhoods looking for opportunities just like that.
Car alarm systems draw very little current, so if your vehicle’s battery is in good condition, it can power your alarm 24/7 for several weeks.
Q. Are car alarms difficult to install?
A. It depends on the alarm, but the ones we’ve featured are relatively easy. Instructions aren’t always great on cheaper car alarms, but there are lots of online videos that can help you. If you’re at all unsure, your local auto electrician will be able to do it, and it shouldn’t take them long.
Q. My car already has an immobilizer. Do I need an alarm, too?
A. Most professional car thieves know how to get around a standard factory immobilizer, and recent headlines tell us they can do it in as little as ten seconds! Your factory system probably doesn’t have movement sensors or the mega-loud, attention-grabbing siren. While a determined criminal could eventually disable your alarm, too, it’s an extra layer of protection and relatively inexpensive, so it’s certainly worth considering.
Q. I’ve heard that installing an aftermarket car alarm system can void my warranty. Is that true?
A. No. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act of 1975 protects you from unscrupulous dealers who say only authorized parts can be added to your vehicle. However, if you damage the existing wiring or circuitry in any way, then you could be in trouble. If you’re not confident, get your car alarm professionally installed.
What are the different types of car alarm systems? ›
- Audible Alarm Systems. ...
- Silent Alarm Systems. ...
- Immobilizing Alarm Systems. ...
- Passive and Active Alarm Systems. ...
- GPS Car Tracking Systems. ...
- Consider Getting More than One Option.
#1 – Airbags.
Driver and passenger airbags typically will deploy if you get into an accident that involves the front of your vehicle.
Some car alarm systems come with additional vehicle control functionality. These alarms range in price from $500 to $1,000 and often require the additional expense of professional installation.What are the 3 main types of alarms? ›
Before jumping into our overview, here is a more in-depth analysis of the 3 main types of alarms you may be looking for: fire alarm, burglary alarm, and intrusion detection.Can someone steal a car with an alarm? ›
A loud alarm may deter an amateur, but it's no problem for most skilled thieves, who can easily clip a few wires and mute an alarm. In fact, according to a 1997 study, cars with alarms “show no overall reduction in theft losses.”Can thieves turn off car alarms? ›
Many thieves have also found easy ways to disconnect the alarm or to stop it once it starts to go off. It is becoming easier and easier for thieves to disconnect the alarms. In addition, if the alarm does go off, thieves tend not to sweat it.What is the easiest alarm system to install? ›
If you're looking to save a bundle on home security components, installation, and monitoring, put the SimpliSafe Home Security System at the top of your list. It's incredibly easy to install and configure. You can also switch between self-monitoring and a 24/7 professional option without worrying about a contract.What is a Grade 3 alarm system? ›
Grade 3. Grade 3 systems are designed to combat burglars and attackers with advanced knowledge, tools and equipment (including portal electronic devices). The system is comprehensive and protects all potential entry points of a building. High risk homes and lots of commercial properties fall into this category.Which personal alarms do the police recommend? ›
- Chaperone® Baysik Personal Rape Alarm with Test Button. ...
- Chaperone® Patriot High Frequency Personal Attack Alarm with bright torch. ...
- Chaperone® 140 Decibel Mini Key Ring Personal Attack Alarm. ...
- Chaperone® Chieftain Personal Alarm with Strobe Light/Torch.
Types of Fire Alarms
An alarm is also transmitted to the Fire Department. Stage II - Building evacuation alarm sounds at the rate of 120 strokes per minute.
Does Best Buy install car alarms? ›
A: AnswerYes, Geek Squad will install a car alarm system if you did not purchase the device from us. Installation varies from $29.99 and $149.99 (Hardware not included). To find out how much it will cost, I would suggest contacting to your local Geek Squad that offers a car installation service.What are the top 5 cars for safety? ›
- 2022 Subaru BRZ. ...
- 2022 Subaru Legacy. ...
- Tesla Model 3. ...
- 2022 Toyota Camry. ...
- 2022 Toyota Corolla. ...
- 2022 Volvo S60/S60 Recharge. ...
- 2022 Volvo S90/S90 Recharge. Best Safety Value: $53,750 (Momentum + Advanced Pkg) ...
- 2022 Volvo V60 Cross Country/V60 Recharge. Best Safety Value: $47,600 (Cross Country + Advanced Pkg)
- Honda Accord.
- Honda Civic.
- Honda Insight.
- Acura TLX.
- Lexus ES.
- Lexus IS.
- Toyota Camry.
- Toyota Corolla.
vehicular safety devices, seat belts, harnesses, inflatable cushions, and other devices designed to protect occupants of vehicles from injury in case of accident.Does having an alarm make insurance cheaper? ›
How Much Can Homeowners Save on Home Insurance? You could save up to 20% if your home has a robust home security system that monitors the house — that is, if someone trips your alarm, a home security monitoring service is alerted.Will a car alarm lower my insurance? ›
On average, you can save up to 2-10% from your premiums (10-15 dollars a year) for having a car alarm. However, the discount percentage varies between insurers, with some providers offering steep discounts and others providing no discounts.How much does a car alarm drain the battery? ›
When the vehicle is idle, it will only consume about 2mA, which is a minuscule amount. Even if the vehicle happens to be idle for several weeks, you will find that this should not be enough to cause any issues with your battery.What type of alarm is best? ›
- Vivint. : Best overall.
- SimpliSafe. : Budget pick.
- ADT. : Trusted brand name.
- Cove. : Best customer experience.
- Blue by ADT. : Best optional monitoring system.
- Abode. : Best for Apple Customers.
- Frontpoint. : Quality DIY pick.
- Ring Alarm. : Best outdoor cameras.
1. Electric Current Alarm System. Electric current systems are your most basic monitoring tool, in that they only monitor entry points like doors and windows, and are often installed when a home is being built. With these systems, a low-voltage electrical circuit flows between two points.What is a Type 1 alarm system? ›
SCEC-approved Type 1A and Type 1 security alarm systems protect SECRET, TOP SECRET and certain codeword information where the compromise, loss of integrity or unavailability of the aggregate of information would cause extreme or catastrophic damage to Australia's national security.
What cars are hijacked the least? ›
The brands that are the least likely to be stolen are Subaru, Volvo and Chrysler.How can someone break into your car without the alarm going off? ›
You have to open the vehicle [to set off the alarm],” Borges said. He explains most car windows are not connected to the car's security system, which is why no alarm is triggered when glass is shattered. “If I didn't want to set off the alarm, I would just [break the glass], jump over the window, grab and run.What is Ghost alarms for cars? ›
Ghost immobilisers add an extra, discrete security measure for vehicle owners on top of the traditional coded key fob. Engines will only start if an additional, unique pin number or code sequence is entered so even if thieves have stolen your keys, they will not be able to drive your vehicle away.Can cars with chip keys be stolen? ›
The Trouble With Transponder Keys
If the keys lack a signal-blocker shield (called an RFID blocker), thieves can use a transponder device, which you can pick up online on the cheap. That electronic device can capture the keyless entry code as it's sent from the fob to the car.
In fact, you can find very powerful and sophisticated alarm systems for only a few hundred dollars. Labor on car alarm installation will run you between $50 to $200, depending on the complexity of the alarm system and the type of vehicle you have.How do I keep thieves off my car at night? ›
- Lock your vehicle. ...
- Keep the keys safe. ...
- Be aware of carjackers. ...
- Park responsibly. ...
- Watch for illegal tow trucks. ...
- Fit good in-car security locks. ...
- Double-check electronic locking. ...
- Before owning, check for cloning.
SimpliSafe tops our rating for Best No Monthly Fee Home Security Systems of 2023. The other three companies in our rating include Ring Alarm, Abode, and Blue by ADT. All companies offer DIY and professional installation. They also all offer one-year warranties.Which is better wireless or wired alarm system? ›
There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but here's the gist: Wired security systems have more reliable signals, whereas wireless systems provide a more streamlined installation and can be used in places where wired systems can't.What security is better than ADT? ›
Vivint is the clear winner when it comes to automation and smart home integration. Their devices easily connect to Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant and, unlike ADT, don't require an upgrade to your monthly payments.What is the difference between Grade 2 and Grade 3 alarm? ›
Grade 2 Intruder Alarms – Premises of a higher risk of an intruder or theft due to valuables kept theft on site. Grade 3 Intruder Alarms – Premises at substantial risk from intruders due to high-value contents. Grade 4 Intruder Alarms – Premises has a very high risk of being targeted by organised criminals.
What are the two types of alarm systems? ›
- a perimeter (or external) intrusion detection system (PIDS) or alarm.
- an internal security alarm system (SAS).
In fire alarm systems, the real difference between Class B and Class A is that if the pathway is interrupted, Class B only sends a "Failure Signal" to the panel, and Class A provides an extra path to get around the interruption.Do alarms automatically call police? ›
The security system reporting process
Many monitored home security systems include a police response feature. Your home security system won't directly contact the police any time a sensor triggers.
Generally, Class 5 systems require the use of active end of line (ELM) modules, higher level authentication to disarm, more frequent polling to monitoring stations, stringent battery backup and recharge requirements, as well a more secure cabinet.What are the four types of auto alarm initiating devices? ›
- Heat detectors.
- Smoke detectors.
- Duct detectors.
- Beam detectors.
- Tamper switches.
- Fire sprinkler water flow switches.
- Infrared (IR) Security Sensors.
- Photoelectric Beams.
- Microwave Sensors.
- Tomographic Motion Detection Sensor.
Before jumping into our overview, here is a more in-depth analysis of the 3 main types of alarms you may be looking for: fire alarm, burglary alarm, and intrusion detection.What does pass stand for? ›
It's easy to remember how to use a fire extinguisher if you can remember the acronym PASS, which stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep. Pull the pin. This will allow you to discharge the extinguisher. Aim at the base of the fire.What does the P in the pass acronym stand for? ›
To use a fire extinguisher, remember PASS: P - PULL THE PIN at the top of the extinguisher. The pin releases a locking mechanism and will allow you to discharge the extinguisher. A - AIM at the base of the fire and not at the flames. You must extinguish the fuel to the fire.How much does Best Buy charge for security installation? ›
|Smart Security Services||Regular Price|
|Video Doorbell Installation||$149.99|
|Smart Door Lock Installation||$149.99|
|DVR or PoE Camera Installation (1 to 8 cameras)||$349.99–$1,299.99|
|Smart Floodlight Replacement/Installation (call 1-800-433-5778 to order)||$169.99|
Do car alarms actually deter theft? ›
A loud alarm may deter an amateur, but it's no problem for most skilled thieves, who can easily clip a few wires and mute an alarm. In fact, according to a 1997 study, cars with alarms “show no overall reduction in theft losses.” Worse, when car alarms go off, they may have an impact on the health of your neighbors.Can thieves bypass car alarms? ›
Aftermarket car alarm systems, which tend to cost a lot, can provide you with added security. Still, they may not have the level of protection that you want and need today. There are plenty of systems that seem like they have a lot of features to help keep you safe, but thieves can still bypass them.Do alarm systems deter thieves? ›
Most Burglars Admit Alarm Systems Deter Them
Both experts and actual burglars say alarm systems deter break-ins, mainly because most burglars are amateurs. In a University of North Carolina at Charlotte study that surveyed 422 convicted burglars, 83% of burglars admitted they check homes for alarms before breaking in.
Lock your vehicle
Locking your vehicle, even when filling up or parked on your drive, greatly reduces the possibility of it being targeted by an opportunist thief. Even if you have locked your vehicle, check you haven't left any windows or the sunroof open.
- Home Security Cameras. ...
- Outdoor Lighting. ...
- Smart Video Doorbell Cameras. ...
- Dogs. ...
- Security Gates. ...
- Keeping Open Spaces Around Your Home. ...
- An Alarm System. ...
- Get Friendly With Your Neighbors.
10 Best Personal Safety Alarms For Women
- Best Loud:Kosin Safe Sound Personal Alarm. ...
- Best Lightweight:Slforce Personal Alarm Siren. ...
- Best Ergonomic:Taiker Personal Alarm. ...
- Best Rechargeable:Kimfly Safesound Personal Alarm. ...
- Best Easy-To-Activate:Wohome Safe Personal Alarm.
Grade 2 Intruder Alarms – Premises of a higher risk of an intruder or theft due to valuables kept theft on site. Grade 3 Intruder Alarms – Premises at substantial risk from intruders due to high-value contents. Grade 4 Intruder Alarms – Premises has a very high risk of being targeted by organised criminals.What is a ghost alarm on a car? ›
The Ghost protects your car from key-cloning, hacking, and even key theft. The Ghost has no key-fobs or LED indications to give away its location.Will disconnecting a car battery disable the car alarm? ›
Disconnect the battery
Your car alarm runs off power from your car's main battery or a backup battery. Disconnecting the battery can stop your alarm, but we again only recommend this step if nothing else works AND if you understand how to safely remove a car battery.
Your attic is not likely to be visited by a burglar because they are usually hard to find and access. So, it is always a good idea to store valuables in attic storage containers. As an extra safety precaution make sure to mark them with labels like “winter clothes” or “old shoes” to throw a burglar off of your scent.
Does leaving a light on at night deter burglars? ›
No, leaving lights on can make intruders think that you're not home. Use a motion sensor light that turns on when you, or anyone else, comes near so you have light only when you need it.Does leaving outside lights on deter burglars? ›
So do outdoor lights deter crime? They can, but only for a small portion of potential burglaries. Using this information, there are a few ways you can use lighting as part of your crime prevention strategy.