We rely on our cars to get us where we need to be and they’re one of the biggest financial investments we’ll ever make.
If you don’t want to deal with the consequences of your vehicle being stolen or damaged, investing in a car alarm can add an extra layer of protection against the worst-case scenario.
Are car alarms worth it, though? Many modern cars are equipped with some sort of alarm system, but it’s always helpful to do more.
Today’s car alarm is sensitive and effective and offers a modern way to deter thieves and ensure your car is kept where you left it, saving you money and time trying to get it back.
Choosing a car alarm can be a challenge though, with so many choices on the market and uncertainty about what’s really necessary.
With this guide, you’ll find out the best type of car alarm to suit your vehicle, the benefits they offer, and why today’s car theft stats and other factors make it a smart investment.
The History of Car Alarms
As long as cars have been on roads, thieves have been attempting to steal them.
Although the history of car alarms is hard to define, some believe that the first instance of one was invented in 1913 when a US prisoner invented a special alarm that would go off when someone attempted to hand crank the car’s engine.
In 1916, it was reported in the monthly publication Popular Science that an invention was being created that would cause a buzzer to go off if the car’s ignition had been touched, alerting the owner that something was wrong.
However, it wasn’t until 1954 that the first mainstream car alarm would become available to the public and was introduced as standard in many vehicles.
Other types of car alarms and anti-theft devices were invented, including an immobilizer that prevented them from going anywhere, and tracking devices that allow you to see exactly where your car is using GPS.
Many of these are still going through updates and advancements so they can offer first-class security for car owners who want to make sure their pride and joy is safe.
Although the earlier models of car alarms had some issues, they served their purpose for the most part.
However, the modern car alarm of today is more discerning and less likely to go off for no apparent reason, and if you’re looking for the ultimate way to protect your car against theft, there’s nothing better.
Types of Car Alarms
The car alarm has come a long way since its first iteration, and today, there are many types to choose from.
The best type of car alarm for you will suit your security and lifestyle needs, as well as whatever specifics your vehicle requires. These are the most common types on the market today:
- Immobilizing alarm: An immobilizing alarm makes use of two modern security features: the alarm and the immobilizer. This setup means that you won’t be able to start the car at all unless the keys are near it, and it’s the ideal scenario to stop thieves that are capable of hot wiring or starting the car without the key. However, more advanced criminals may have access to cloned keys that can bypass this alarm so it’s not always that effective on its own.
- Silent alarm: A silent alarm is just as the name suggests: silent. While the thief won’t hear a thing while they’re working away, trying to break into your car, you will. This isn’t always ideal because some people prefer the thieves to be deterred by the loud sound of an alarm, but it’s a good option for others. Whether you use this or not, you should always let the police know if the alarm goes off and never try to confront the thieves yourself.
- Audible alarm: On the opposite end of the spectrum is the audible alarm and this is the most common type you’ll find on the market. These alarms range in volume and sound, with the hope that the noise alone will be enough to scare away a potential thief from stealing your car.
- Passive alarm: A passive alarm system will automatically turn itself on whenever the car doors and locked and the ignition is off. This usually leads to more issues of setting it off yourself, but to deactivate it, all you have to do is unlock the doors with your key.
- Active alarm: An active alarm must be activated manually, either by using a fob or pressing a button to turn it on. It can be a hindrance if you forget to set it and leaves your car open to being stolen but saves it going off accidentally and causing a bother.
The Benefits of Having a Car Alarm
Although car alarms aren’t as popular as they once were, thanks to many cars being fitted with a system of their own, there are benefits to equipping your vehicle with one.
Consider these benefits if you’re thinking about investing in a car alarm and want to weigh up their worth.
- Deterring thieves: There’s nothing more offputting to a thief than the thought that they’ll be caught, and having an alarm installed will do exactly that. If a potential thief spots a car alarm system, they may think twice about stealing your car, and if it goes off while they’re in the middle of the job, the sound could make them run with fear.
- Saves insurance premiums: Depending on your car insurance policy, you might be able to save money on premiums if you can prove that you have an aftermarket car alarm installed. Although there’s an initial outlay of cash to buy the alarm system, you may end up getting this money back in insurance savings.
- Peace of mind: You can sleep easy at night knowing you’ve done all you can to keep your car safe. The alarm acts as a safeguard so you don’t have to second guess where it is or if it’s still where you parked it, giving you absolute peace of mind.
- Tracks your vehicle: If your car is fitted with a modern alarm that has a GPS tracker, you’ll be able to inform the authorities where they can find your vehicle and help them with their search.
Car Theft Stats in the UK
One reason why car alarm sales might have come down in recent years is because of a steady decline in the rates of car thefts in the UK.
The good news is, even though there were a reported 113,000 thefts in the 2019/20 period, this was a decrease of around 1,300 from the previous year.
When looking at the last ten years in the UK, the stats are even better, and it appears that the car alarm and other inbuilt systems that modern cars have been doing their job.
Other surveillance measures like home security and monitoring becoming more prevalent could also play a role in this sharp decrease in crime, which is good news for motorists and homeowners across the country.
Features to Consider When Choosing a Car Alarm
The range of car alarms on the market today has grown exponentially and there are more features than ever to consider.
Before you jump in with a new alarm system for your vehicle, consider what features matter most to you and what will keep your car safe:
- Alarm type: The type of alarm will determine how it’s triggered and how it alerts you to theft, including options like active or passive, and silent or audible alarms.
- Installation: The installation process could be a simple DIY job or may require professional assistance. Think about how much you want to spend and the complexity of the alarm to point you in the right direction.
- Sensor type: These systems might have one or multiple sensors at work, and they can include door, voltage, hood, and shock sensors. Depending on which sensors your car alarm uses, you might be alerted to various types of movement in different locations.
- Sound level: A car alarm is designed to be loud and they vary in decibels with the loudest on record reaching levels above 125dB. While something this loud probably isn’t necessary for everyone, you want to make sure you’ll hear it going off from inside your house if someone attempts to break in.
- Extra features: As well as providing an alarm system for your car, you might also want one with features like keyless entry, horn trigger, starter/injector kill switch, and remote door locking. The more advanced features you choose, the higher the cost, so you might not find all of them necessary.
Costs and Contemplations
One of the biggest features you’ll have to contemplate when choosing a car alarm system is the cost, and this will likely dictate how few or many features it has.
These alarms range dramatically in price depending on their sensitivity, effectiveness, and additional features, but it seems there’s something out there for every budget.
On the most basic end of the scale, you can expect to pay around £15 for an alarm without any special features.
However, for one with all of the bells and whistles that utilises the most modern technologies, you’ll pay a few hundred pounds, and possibly even spend into the thousands if you want something advanced.
Other things you’ll need to consider before fitting an alarm are whether your car already has a security system in place and what’s required to get the level of protection that you’re after.
Many modern cars are built with at least one type of alarm to prevent theft so adding another might not be necessary.
When the alarm is installed, you’ll then need to think about its impact on the car’s battery and be mindful not to let the alarm drain it.
Incorrect wiring or a poor quality alarm system may affect the car’s battery, so it’s important to have it installed correctly by a professional when you purchase it.
The Best Protection Against Theft
We rely on our cars for so much of our everyday life and spend a lot of time and money on them, so it makes sense to protect them with everything we can.
A simple addition of a car alarm system will ensure it stays exactly where you left it and in good shape, and an extra level of protection to keep it protected against would-be thieves.
A car alarm is a handy way to boost security and alert you to any suspicious activity happening around your car, but it might not be the right fit for everyone.
To find out more about keeping your car safe and deterring thieves, we’ve got the answers to some FAQs that will do just that.
Do You Need a Key for Push to Start Cars?
A push to start ignition in a car doesn’t require a key to turn it but it does need a fob, and it will be hard for someone to steal a car without it.
These fobs will trigger a sensor in the car when in close range and pressing it at the same time that the fob is near will allow you to turn the engine on.
What Is A Car Anti-Theft Device?
An anti-theft device is installed on the car to lock down parts like the wheels and brakes so that it can’t be driven.
These devices keep your car securely in place and might be helpful if you’ve experienced theft in the past, but you should be prepared to spend some time removing the device before you drive.