Car Alarms – What To Look For And Our Top Picks

In this article, we’ll give you a few features to look out for when choosing your car alarm, as well as our own top recommendations.

Car alarms are nothing new; in fact, they’ve been around since before the invention of starter motors, back in the time when people had to manually crank their cars to get them started. 

As we all know, technology has come some way over the past 100 years, and car alarms are no exception. But while we have a variety of sophisticated anti-theft systems to now choose from, it can be hard to know which ones are the best. 

In this article we’ll give you a few features to look out for when choosing your car alarm, as well as our own top recommendations.

Some Points To Consider

If you want to make sure that your car has the very best alarm out there, here are some features you should be aware of:

Active vs Passive: a passive alarm will automatically arm itself once you turn off your car’s ignition. An active alarm, on the other hand, will need you to set it using a button or remote. This is a question of convenience and whether or not you think you’ll remember to set the alarm manually.

One-Way vs Two-Way - a one-way system means that your remote will only communicate with the alarm, either to arm it or turn it off. In a two-way system, the alarm system and the car communicate with each other, meaning that the system can also see information about the car, like whether the doors are unlocked, if the car is moving, etc. 

As two-way systems are more complex and sophisticated, they’re usually more expensive. While two-way systems are excellent if you have a premium car or if you feel your vehicle is particularly at risk (for instance, depending on the areas you park in or if you regularly keep valuables in your car), a cheaper one-way system is usually more than adequate.

Audible vs Silent: audible alarms are more common and are used to scare off potential thieves before they can actually steal your car. Silent alarms are used more for catching thieves in the act. While your neighbours will thank you for installing a silent alarm, it means that you will need to check your car yourself any time it goes off and call the police if you see anyone tampering with your vehicle.

Immobilizers vs Starter Kills - immobilizers will stop your car from being started unless the key is in the ignition. These systems are useful but not perfect; technologically-savvy thieves may have access to cloned keys that can trick them. Starter Kill systems do a similar job by disabling the starter motor and stopping thieves from hot-wiring the car.

Remote Starting - want to save yourself from getting into a car that’s too hot or cold? If your system has remote starting, you can turn on your heating or AC before you get in.

Motion Sensors - these sensors let you know if someone is moving around inside your vehicle. This is particularly useful for convertibles that may be parked with the top down.

Driver's Side Priority - this option allows you to unlock the driver’s side door only, leaving the other doors locked. This function is essential for cars parked in high-crime areas or anywhere that carjackings might occur.

Tilt Sensor - this sensor trips if anyone tries to jack up your vehicle (to steal the tyres) or tow it away.

Glass-Break Sensors - some thieves may try to bypass door alarms by simply breaking the windows. These sensors will trip if they pick up the sound of breaking glass in the vicinity of the vehicle.

Proximity Sensors - these sensors can warn people who move too close to your car, without going so far as to fully set off the alarm. Thanks to a two-way system, they can also sense your key-fob or remote as you approach, meaning that your alarm can automatically disable itself and unlock your doors.

Range - if you choose a two-way system, consider the range at which your remote will work. Remember that these systems usually work on radio signals which can be disrupted by electronics or other radio signals. This is something to consider if you live or work in a city or high-density area.

Smartphone Compatibility - one way of getting around the issue of radio signal range is to install a system that links to a smartphone app. Not only does this mean your two-way communication will work anywhere you can get a cellphone signal, but it removes the necessity of carrying another device just to control your car alarm.

GPS Tracking - this feature is useful beyond simply tracking down your car if it does get stolen. It can also help out if you find that you often forget where you’ve parked, or if you share your car (for example, with a younger family member), you can track where they take it.

Auxiliary Outputs - if any of these features are not already present in your chosen alarm, auxiliary outputs will allow you to expand the system with extra options, giving you greater options at the time of purchase and also if your needs change in the future.

Top Tip For Alarm Installation

Although it’s possible to install a basic alarm yourself, this is a job that’s usually worth having done professionally, if only for your own peace of mind. When choosing the brand of alarm that you want to install, it’s worth checking where their nearest installation / service center is. Although alarm systems generally don’t need regular maintenance, it’s good to know that you won't have to travel too far if there is an issue.



The Best Alarm Systems On The Market Today


Clifford (Viper)

Clifford alarms might be better known by their US company name, Viper. Clifford offers a range of alarms, from simple one-way systems to more sophisticated two-way options. One of their two-way systems is Viper SmartStart, a security system that communicates directly with your smartphone. SmartStart can give you vehicle status updates, lock and unlock your doors or trunk, give you vehicle diagnostics and even help you plan when you should start your car so it will be warm / cool enough for your next journey.

The SmartStart app runs on iOS, Android or BlackBerry devices and the service operates on a flat-rate annual subscription with no additional fees.

EASYGUARD

EASYGUARD systems are generally more economical, meaning that they may not have all the extra options of more expensive alarms. This system includes a passive keyless entry (PKE) function, which senses the presence of the alarm fob even from the user’s pocket. This can be set to automatically unlock the doors as the owner approaches and then lock them as they move away.

This alarm system includes a remote, push-button start module that can be fitted to older cars. Although the system adds functionality to these cars, it’s incompatible with newer cars that already have push-button starters factory-installed. The system has an emergency button and valet model, as well as remote trunk release and a loud siren to scare away any potential thieves. This system is a great option, especially for slightly older car models.

CarBest

This CarBest system includes ‘code hopping’ or ‘rolling code’ technology. With some wireless systems, thieves can use technology to ‘scan and grab’, listening to and recording the transmissions made between the sender and receiver. They can then play back the same signal, giving them access to the system. However, ‘code hopping’ systems change their code with every use, meaning that these previously-used transmissions become useless.

This two-way alarm system comes with a fob that can tell the owner if the car’s doors are locked, if the engine is on, if the alarm is armed and more. The alarm has a loud, 120db siren, about the same volume as a chainsaw or jackhammer. The system also comes with two fobs as standard, great for families or anyone who shares their car with another driver.

This article was brought to you by Quick Car Finance, a leading UK car finance company for new and used cars.

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