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STOP THIEF! Is That Fancy Car Alarm Worth It?

Published on August 16, 2012 under Humble Mechanic

Do you remember that Viper commercial from years ago? The one were the viper scares the would be thief away? Well, I just so happened to find a video of it.

I have a love for cheesy commercials.

But it does bring up a good point. Will that fancy alarm protect your car? It all depends on what you mean by “protect”. I have had a couple of my cars broken into over the years. My Jeep was broken into twice. They took just about everything both times. My Integra was broken into 3 times. Out of those 3 times, only my radar detector was taken.

The different was an alarm. I had a Viper alarm installed in my Integra. It was crazy sensitive. The jerk that lived in the next apartment building liked to set it off when he drove his truck past it. As annoying as that was, it helped me keep my stuff.

Let’s face the truth for a minute. If someone wants to steal your stuff, or your car, they will find a way. Modern cars have an immobilizer system. That system will prevent your car from being started with out an authorized key. That is a great feature. It will stop the average thief, but a seasoned vet has a way. Breaking a window, opening the hood, and disconnecting the battery can take less than a minute. Now the car is silent, and can be towed away. Before you know your car is gone, it has been stripped and crushed. Not much you can do about that.

But that doesn’t mean a car alarm is a bad idea. In fact if I didn’t have factory alarms on both of my cars, I would have to use the key to open the door. NO THANKS! 😉 I need my keyless entry. There is also a feature on most factory remotes we forget about. That is the “Panic” button. That button that forces the alarm to sound. Another great deterrent.

So what is really the point? If someone is going to steal your car, or steal your stuff why bother? Auto makers and aftermarket companies will always be a step behind the thief. Overall I think that car alarms and anti theft devices are worth the money and the trouble. Of course I am much more in favor of the factory installed stuff. The alarm my wife had on her Civic would lock the doors no matter what. I got locked out of that car more than once.

Car technology will advance. Many cars have a towing alarm. That will go off if the car is being towed. They also have a “battery backup” for the alarm. That will keep the alarm going even if the battery is cut. None of those advances will ever prevent the smash and grab style break in, but might keep your car from being stolen.

What would this post be with some tips on keeping your car safe? Lame that is what!

  • Lock your car! It should go with out saying. An unlocked car is a really easy target
  • Keep your stuff hidden. Don’t leave your ipod, GPS, and laptop laying on the seat. You are begging for a smash and grab.
  • If you are going to add all the cool high dollar accessories, try and keep them subtle. I spent  months trying to find a stereo for my wife’s truck. I wanted a few features, but most of the radios were awful. they had “steal me” lights on them.
  • “Don’t go to stupid places, with stupid people, and do stupid things”That is some of the best advice you can ask for!

What do you guys think? Are car alarms worth the trouble? Post your thoughts in the comments below. Or, if you have some advice on keeping your car safe, post that too.

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12 Comments

  1. Jeremy

    My friend have the viper alarm on his Nissan 300zx. At school his pocket is constantly beeping because people are putting their hands on his car. His remote actually shows what part of the car is being touched. It is a pretty cool feature

  2. Jeremy (in pgh)

    wow Jeremy, that’s pretty cool. I think it’d get annoying though too. maybe it gets other people’s attention as a status thing, but I know my facebook alerts on my iPhone are enough to drive me crazy some days. I can’t imagine trying to concentrate in school with that happening. knowing where they’re touching is really cool, though. you could watch from afar, know who touched it and where, and then check for related damage later (if you knew who they were). of course, you’d have to record it in order to prove it to anyone, but still. it’s pretty cool.

  3. Jeremy (in pgh)

    also, before her outback, my wife had a late 80s celebrity. she bought it from a mechanic / lot owner who installed his on system. nothing fancy, just a hidden kill switch under the dash on a radioshack toggle switch. if you didn’t know it was there, there was NOTHING happening with that car. it was great, unless you didn’t know it was there. he forgot to tell her when she bought it from him to go to college with it… one night she bumped it with her foot or something and he car was dead for a week. finally a mechanic spotted the switch after looking everything over for several days. flipped the switch, away it went. she called him once she found out about it and he apologized as he had forgotten about it. when she traded it in for her outback, she made sure to tell the guy who looked it over for the trade-in, but apparently he didn’t pass the info along. we’d drive past the dealer every month or so, and for 6 months it sat in the same spot. finally, when out there for an oil change, she asked about it. apparently one of their mechanics wanted it as a commuter (as there nothing wrong with it, we just wanted a safer car—with a latch system—having a baby on the way). he couldn’t get it running, nobody else could, and couldn’t figure out why. she told them about it again in the service dept since the other guy didn’t and it was gone the next day. from what we know, he kept the switch installed. as long as you know about it, you’re fine. it was great to take it to a bad neighborhood or an airport lot for a few days, whatever, and know that towing it was the only way it was gonna move.

    it wasn’t an audible alarm, but it would have made the car nearly impossible to steal. break into? sure. tow away? yup. but nobody was driving off with it. I wouldn’t do such a thing on a new car because that one had the only push-button style radio presets (yes, those kind) that weren’t stored in memory and other systems wouldn’t die like they might on a new car without battery juice to them.

    1. rick

      had a Viper in my truck that was stolen 7/24/2013 the remote in my pocket shows that it is still locked and no motion detected. There mut be a bypass that allows theifs to steal your car and not notify your Viper remote?

  4. wireless home security system

    Wireless sensors that actually detect intruders before they enter the home is one more
    outstanding feature of their systems. When the alarm is
    activated, a signal is sent to the security monitoring service and they then contact the homeowner.
    Today’s technology allows for monitoring regardless of whether you have a standard phone line.

  5. dan

    this is so stupid, when has a car security system ever helped me….never. has it ever caused problems….oh ya. Give me an old car that i can turn the &^%$ key and start the car. those systems go bad, then hundreds of dollars to fix, if at all. Then the car becomes a throw away car. I thought we were trying to eliminate waste. When are you people going to understand that you need to be in control of your own life. eliminate the ones taking your stuff, then you wouldn’t need all these silly additions to vehicles. what a lazy bunch of people we have become.

  6. Joy Butler

    It is a great point that car alarms can just add noise to the process of having your car stolen instead of being a preventative feature. But having a car alarm can be a great way to create an obvious signal to surrounding witnesses that a crime has occurred. It would be interesting to evaluate the difference in the amount of witnesses of an obvious car robbery when the sound of a car alarm can be heard.

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