Car thieves and vandals make us all angry. We can get upset, complain about it, organize mob justice, but the police can’t call in criminal investigation teams everytime a car gets stolen. Its up to you to secure your car.
When a car gets stolen, you’re put on a list and if the police find your car they’ll call you. The best way to keep your car where it is, in the condition you want it, is to take steps to protect it.
You’re obviously here because you want to know more about securing your vehicle. You’ve spent $400 on a no name 2-way paging alarm installed by some 16 year old kid you met on some Honda TRD Cavalier Type R forum and you think you’re safe. Then your car gets stolen and you wonder how the hell the thief drove off without you knowing.
Keep reading and this article will go over a basic guideline to help teach you what to look for in an alarm.
We forewarn you, it will be a LONG read.
Myth 1: 2 Way paging alarms are the best alarms on the market
Paging alarm systems are ALL essentially VERY similar. You get a paging remote, a starter kill, a shock sensor and a bunch of aux inputs to add more things. Paging systems essentially are not much different than your average $99 boxing day sale alarms from a security standpoint. The potential for a 2 way alarm is enormous, but due to costs, manufacturers skimp out on the security portion and make a cool new toy in efforts to keep the costs lower. So if you must jump on the 2 way band wagon you NEED TO ADD ADDITIONAL devices to secure the car better.
Paging alarm systems by themselves are pretty useless and easily defeated with a somewhat experienced thief(will explain in in depth if you read more). You need to remember, the more range your remote has, the further you need to RUN back to the car if the alarm is triggered. So by the time you’ve run a mile back to your car, the odds are that the cars already been broken into or worse….stolen.
Myth 2: With my 2 Way Paging Alarm, I will always know when something is happening to my car.
Paging alarm systems have a VERY limited range. Manufacturers always exaggerate the range to make it appeal to people. In the perfect world of no buildings, towers, concrete, power lines, interference, etc you MIGHT be able to get the range they claim.
Lower quality paging alarms run on an AM frequency which is infamous for having poor range (approx 1km or less). Better paging alarms tend to run on an FM frequency which is usually around double the AM range. All in all, I’d say 75% of the time you’re out of range, have too much radio interference, can’t hear the remote, or can’t get to the car in time. Another common problem with 2way alarms is without an antenna they can’t send a signal to your remote, there’s usually a 2-3 second delay on paging remotes, if someone were to disconnect it within a certain time, odds are you won’t get paged. There are MANY ways around a poorly installed alarm.
Myth 3: All alarms are the same. I might as well buy from the cheapest place
Most people want the cheapest alarm at the cheapest price from the cheapest shop. You must take into consideration WARRANTY and AFTER SALES SERVICE. What happens 6 months after you get the alarm installed? If you have a problem and the person/business that installed it has packed it in, what happens to you? Basically you’ll have to pay another shop/person to TRY and fix it and basically you have NO warranty if the worst should happen. Most reputable shops offer some sort of lifetime warranty on their installs, and most alarms come with 1 year or limited lifetime warranty. We all know installing alarms is time consuming, time consuming equals more money.
So do it right ONCE, and you should never need to buy another alarm. Many professionals encounter many customers that buy their alarm from some no name place and end up having to buy and install a WHOLE new alarm due to minor problems. You just wasted another $3-400. Another thing is, make sure to buy an alarm made by an ESTABLISHED manufacturer. Lot of of shops carry crappy no name brands due to the price point thinking people want things CHEAP. You will notice alarm companies come and go like no tomorrow. In business one year, then gone the next. What happens to you when your remote or alarm brain stops working? You have a limited lifetime warranty but now the company is out of business! Another common problem is that people break/lose their remotes but can’t get a replacement because the company is out of business and they’re forced to buy a new alarm because of it. The lesson here: paying a little more through a trusted shop for a reputable alarm can go a LONG way. That $50 you’re trying to save could end up costing you a new alarm. Don’t be a cheap ass. Do your research. What a “salesman” is telling you is one thing, the truth could be another.
Myth 4: “My alarm has an immobilizer, no one can steal it”
This is one of the BIGGEST misconceptions. Immobilizers in alarms essentially are run off some sort of relay switching system. You arm the car it engages the immobilizer, you disarm the car it disengages it. What people don’t know is there’s different kinds of immobilizers. The most common being the “normally closed circuit” which is widely used in 90+% of alarms. What that means is that once the alarm/immobilizer loses power it goes back to its “closed” state. In dummy talk it means if you lose power or pull out the fuse essentially you can start the car. How long does it take someone to find your alarm brain? Look up in the dash, rip out the big black box that says “Compustar” or whatever brand. Not very long. Most of your regular installers install the alarm brain AND valet switch in the same place in EVERY vehicle. It’s not very hard to find, especially for alarms that have HUGE alarm brains. With your typical “basic” alarm installation, a thief can easily open the hood through the fender and disconnect the battery, pull out the alarm fuse, connect the battery, jam a screwdriver into the ignition and basically drive off with your ride and your beautiful toy alarm didn’t even go off. Lesson: if you MUST have a “toy” alarm, relocate the alarm brain and valet switch. (Valet switch = Emergency override switch) Believe me, thieves knowing where your alarm brain and valet switch is NOT a good thing.
Myth 5: I use “The Club”. Thieves won’t be able to steal my car
Answer: Another sad misconception.
Although the MORE you have to deter a thief the better, but the reality of it is that they’re easily defeated. Thieves just cut the steering wheel to remove the club. Remember, a club might deter a thief from stealing the car, but doesn’t mean they won’t break into the vehicle and steal what’s INSIDE the car. Insurance does not cover your valuables left in the car. In BC we’re only insured up to a MAXIMUM of $1000 after taxes/installation for professionally installed stereo.
Myth 6: “I don’t need an alarm. My insurance company will cover everything”
Answer: Don’t we all wish.
Insurance companies are businesses. They’re in the business to make money which means they’ll charge the most they can charge and give you back as little as possible. Although having an alarm won’t guarantee no one will mess with your car, it definitely helps deter theives. Again, no one but yourself will actually do anything about your car. Most people aren’t aware of what their insurance will and won’t cover. So I’ll give you BC residents a little insight on what ICBC will cover. For interior mods and stereo equipment (ie. Steering wheels, shift knob, headunit, amps, speakers, subwoofers, video systems, cd changers, etc) you’re only covered for a MAXIMUM of $1000 after taxes and installation. Which basically leaves you peanuts to buy back what you’ve lost. For exterior/performance mods (ie.engine mods, suspension, wheels, tires, body kits, exhuast, etc) you’re covered for a MAXIMUM of $5000 after taxes/installation/repairs. Again, leaving you peanuts to buy back all that you’ve lost. Remember in order to be covered your stereo needs to be professionally installed and bolted to the chassis of the vehicle. You will also need receipts in your name. Taking pictures of your mods along with keeping the original packaging will help alot also.
Remember it’s up to YOU as the owner to protect and secure your vehicle. It’s up to YOU to prove to the insurance company what your vehicle is worth along with it’s belongings. If you have any questions of how to better secure your car, contact one of your local Revscene Sponsors