How To Choose Car Security

Tips for buying security and remote systems

By Crutchfield Writing Team

Why buy a car security system?

Viper 3105V car security system

Protecting yourself and your family, as well as your vehicle, belongings, and car stereo are all excellent reasons to invest in a car security system. Additionally, most insurance companies offer lowered rates for vehicles equipped with an alarm — it’ll pay for itself.

A good security system not only makes your car more difficult to steal, it also makes it easier to live with. The small remote control that you carry with your keys lets you arm and disarm the alarm, lock and unlock your doors, and maybe even zap open your trunk. Some systems let you use your smartphone to control and monitor your car’s security. How’s that for convenience?

How a typical security system works

Viper 5704V siren and remotes

When you leave the car, push the button that arms your system. You hear your doors lock, and a siren chirp tells you your vehicle is protected. If you’ve accidentally left a door ajar, the system alerts you with a different sound.

When you walk away, you feel confident, assured. The first thing a thief sees when he approaches your car is a flashing LED that tells him your system is armed. Often, that’s enough to make him look elsewhere.

If the thief tries to tamper with your vehicle, he’ll get a warning chirp or a full siren blast. The security system “brain” decides which sort of warning to give based on the severity of the tampering and the type of sensors the thief trips.

When you return to your car, use the remote to disarm the system and unlock your doors or pop open the trunk. You can even use the remote to sound the siren if you can’t find your car or if someone is bothering you.

Code Alarm CA1153 remotes

Some features to look for:

Two-way remotes give you feedback on your car’s condition and response to commands.

Starter kill prevents your car from being hot-wired.

Motion sensors let you leave the top down or the windows open. They are also good for protecting the cargo areas in vans and trucks. The sensors will sound the alarm if someone invades your space.

Glass-break sensors sound the alarm when they “hear” a window breaking. This protects you from the thief who believes he can bypass your alarm by not opening the door.

A tilt sensor monitors the tilting of your parked vehicle caused by an attempt to jack up or tow your vehicle.

Driver’s side priority unlock lets you open your door without unlocking the others. You can get in your vehicle without letting your guard down.

Auxiliary outputs allow you to expand the alarm’s capabilities by adding features like a remote starter or window controls. Most alarms come with at least one auxiliary output. Consider everything you want the security system to do (now and in the future) when choosing an alarm.

Viper DSM200 SmartStart for your smartphone

Remote starting is the epitome of convenience — you can have your vehicle waiting for you warmed up on a cold day, or cooled down in summer. Remote start features either come built into a security system or can be added later with a remote start module.

Smartphone — some remote systems let you use your smartphone for control, giving you unlimited range when you have phone service.

Consider adding GPS capability to your security system so you can keep track of your vehicle’s location, and receive alerts when it leaves or enters a pre-programmed area, or is traveling too fast.

We help you install your own alarm and save

We recommend professional installation for your security or remote start system because wiring it into your vehicle can often be challenging. However, for you intrepid and thrifty DIYers, we offer T-harnesses and vehicle interfaces for your specific vehicle that will save you tremendous amounts of time and money during installation, and simplify the wiring by connecting directly to your vehicle’s computer databus. That way, you can communicate directly with your vehicle to perform any security or convenience functions remotely.

Not all security systems will work in all vehicles, so we strongly recommend you call, email, or chat with us before you order yours to make sure it will work in your vehicle. A Crutchfield advisor confirm the right interface module and T-harness for your specific vehicle.

Our exclusive and comprehensive tech support is free when you shop with Crutchfield. Seven days a week, experienced, patient experts are ready to answer your questions (just have your invoice handy when you call). It’s like having a pro look over your shoulder while you work.