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Best Car Alarm Systems: Give Your Ride a Security Blanket

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BYAndra DelMonico/ LAST UPDATED ON June 18, 2022

Purchasing the best car alarm system was my top priority after taking delivery of a Dodge Durango Hellcat. At that time, we owned a 2019 Durango that my husband had spent serious money getting it as fast as possible. He claimed there was no vehicle on earth that he would give up his baby for: Enter the Hellcat. He immediately fell in love and thus began months of impatient waiting, like a kid waiting to go to Disney. When the day finally came for us to take our new baby home, talk turned to how we would protect our prized investment. After hours of research and experience with different alarms, the top choices are clear.

Best Overall

Compustar CS7900-AS

Summary
This reliable car alarm has plenty of features and boasts a long range and remote start.
Pros
  • Remote start keyless entry
  • Multiple module shock sensor
Cons
  • Additional installation parts required
  • Difficult to install
Best Value

Viper 1-Way 3105V

Summary
This affordable alarm is simple to operate and has the features you need to protect your vehicle.
Pros
  • Failsafe starter kill
  • Anti-hijacking protection
Cons
  • Remote start and GPS require upgrades
  • It might not be compatible with some cars
Honorable Mention

Avital 3305L

Summary
This complete security car alarm system comes with everything you need for installation.
Pros
  • Dual-Zone Impact sensor
  • Fault-proof starter interrupt
Cons
  • No GPS option 
  • Limited remote features
Best Car Alarm Systems: Give Your Ride a Security Blanket

Summary List 

Best Overall: Compustar CS7900-AS 

Honorable Mention: Avital 3305L

Best Against Vandalism: Viper Model 3606V

Best for Trucks: Viper 5906

Best with Remote Start: Python 5305P

Our Methodology

When I set out to find the best security system for our Hellcat, I wasn't looking to save money. I was looking to find the most reliable with a plethora of features. I wanted to sleep soundly, knowing that our vehicle was protected. I kept these feelings in mind when creating this list because I don't want to stay to The Drive's mission of only recommending high-quality gear and parts. If I wouldn't put an obscure knock-off brand security system on my vehicle, why would I recommend it to you, the reader? So, when creating this list, I focused on well-known security system brands with a proven track record of reliability. I then compared different models to determine which ones had the best combination of features. 

Best Car Alarm System Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Communication: Two way
  • Alarm: 105dB+ alarm siren
  • Tracking: GPS tracking with subscription
  • Range: 3,000 feet

Pros

  • Remote start keyless entry
  • Multiple module shock sensor
  • LCD remote
  • Remote start, keyless entry, and remote trunk release

Cons

  • Additional installation parts required
  • Difficult to install

This alarm system is a top pick because of its impressive range and mix of desirable features. The extra loud siren will stop any thief in their tracks, while the two-way remote has an LCD screen to inform you of alarm alerts. Unlike the other remotes included with the systems on this list, the screen on this remote is enormous, giving you maximum visibility. You can also use the remote for keyless entry and remote start. The dual-stage shock and impact sensor gives you an early warning to someone getting too close to your precious ride. What makes this alarm stand out is its broad compatibility; it's diesel engine safe. The biggest drawback of this alarm system is that it will be difficult to install, so it's best to have a professional do it. In addition, the alarm kit isn't complete, so you will probably need to buy additional parts like wiring harnesses.

Specs

  • Communication: One way
  • Alarm: Revenger Six tone siren
  • Tracking: Immobilizing and GPS
  • Range: 1,500 feet

Pros

  • Failsafe starter kill
  • Anti-hijacking protection
  • Clonesafe and Code-Hopping technology
  • Full kit including all the wiring and components

Cons

  • Remote start and GPS require upgrades
  • It might not be compatible with some cars

If you are not looking for anything fancy but do not want to sacrifice quality, this car alarm system is for you. The remote doesn't have a screen but four simple buttons. Sometimes that's all you need when your vehicle's manufacturer key fob controls the locks, windows, and remote start. Your car will be protected by the Close-Safe Code-Hopping technology that prevents thieves from creating a clone of your key fob. If a thief does manage to steal your vehicle, the Failsafe Start Kill will ensure they don't get very far. The two auxiliary outputs for customization are a nice feature on this system that you don't typically see at this price point. The drawback of this system is that it's one-way, limiting the active monitoring of your vehicle's status. The system isn't universally compatible, so you'll want to confirm that it will work on your vehicle before purchasing.

Specs

  • Communication: Two way
  • Alarm: Revenger 120 dB siren
  • Tracking: Immobilizing
  • Range: 1,500 feet

Pros

  • Dual-Zone Impact sensor
  • Fault-proof starter interrupt
  • Directed SmartStart Compatible
  • Remote start

Cons

  • No GPS option
  • Limited remote features

If you are looking for reliability and a basic mix of features, you won't be disappointed with this car alarm system. You will get two remotes, one two-way remote with a large LCD screen and a second one-way remote. The basic features include a loud siren, warn-away, nuisance prevention, fault-proof starter interrupt, and dual-zone impact sensor. A nice feature on the remote is Zone ID, which tells you exactly where the action is happening on your vehicle. Standard on Avital alarm system, this system comes with virtual tach to eliminate the need for a tachometer wire and bit writer for easy programming. In addition, this system is Directed SmartStart compatible for smartphone integration and operation. It would have been nice if the remote had more functionality. There is also no GPS option, but at least you have start-interrupt to prevent someone from starting the vehicle.

Specs

  • Communication: One way
  • Alarm: Revenger six-tone siren
  • Tracking: Imobilizing
  • Range: Half mile

Pros

  • Stinger DoubleGuard® shock sensor
  • Failsafe Starter Kill
  • Clone-Safe Code-Hopping®
  • SmartStart Compatible

Cons

  • Upgrade for GPS
  • Upgrade for two-way remote

This unit is a step up from the Viper 3105V. Similar to the 3105, this system is one-way and comes with a remote with only buttons. However, the range is much better at a half-mile it's about double the distance of the 3105. You can also upgrade the one-way remote to a two-way model. It comes with all of the features that are on the lower model, with a few extras. Added to this model are onboard door lock relays, two more auxiliary channels for a total of four, and a horn honk. This alarm effectively protects against vandalism with the extra loud siren, DoubleGuard Shock Sensor, and anti-carjacking protection. What's frustrating about this system is that you have to upgrade for some of the best features, like having a two-way remote and GPS.

Specs

  • Communication: Two way
  • Alarm: 120 Db at one meter
  • Tracking: Immobilizing and GPS
  • Range: One mile

Pros

  • OLED display remote
  • SmartStart technology
  • SmartStart GPS module
  • DoubleGuard

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Lots of features on a tiny remote

This unit is an upgrade from the 3606V. Don't be scared off by the high price tag on this alarm system. It's Viper's most advanced system and comes with more features than all other models. The range is increased to a mile; the remote is two-way with a full-color display and modern OLED screen. Use this remote once, and you'll see how it stands out from other remotes with a screen. The user-friendly interface makes the learning curve lower, making for a more enjoyable experience. Pair this alarm system with a GPS module and track your vehicle's location through a smartphone app. The drawback of this system is that it's expensive. However, it's well worth the money if you're looking for advanced features and security. The remote is relatively small, which can make operating the remote difficult when you're fingers are large.
Best with Remote Start
Python 5305P
Check Latest Price

Specs

  • Communication: Two way
  • Alarm: Neo Revenger six tone 120-dB siren
  • Tracking: Imobilzing and GPS
  • Range: 1,500 and 2,500 feet

Pros

  • Stinger Doubleguard Shock Sensor
  • Smartphone Control
  • Four auxiliary outputs
  • Viper SmartStart compatibility

Cons

  • Must pay for GPS tracking
  • Claims a longer range than functional

Do more with your car's alarm system with this comprehensive system. It is impressive quart-mile range allows you to control your vehicle's functions. Integrate it into the SmartStart system, and you can lock, unlock, trunk release, and remote start your vehicle. What makes this system stand out, though, is that you can control multiple vehicles, which is great for families or those of us that own multiple vehicles. It's also nice that you get four auxiliary channels, which gives you plenty of freedom to customize the controls of your system. What I do not like about this system is that you have to pay for GPS tracking if you want to use this feature. In addition, while it comes with two remotes, only one of them is two-way. The other is one-way. This means that a second driver is not getting the same level of control and security as the first.

Specs

  • Communication: Two way
  • Alarm: 120-dB siren
  • Tracking: Immobilizing
  • Range: 1,500 feet

Pros

  • Virtual Tach
  • Bitwriter programmable
  • Tone and vibration modes
  • All the security features you expect

Cons

  • No GPS
  • No smartphone integration

While there are other two-way alarm systems on this list, this one stands out as the best because of the number of features that come with this system. Let's start with the LCD four-button backlist remote. A large screen gives you a visual of what's going on with your vehicle using Zone ID. You'll never miss a notification with tone and vibration modes. The system has all of the security features you'd expect an Avital system to have, including a Dual-Zone Impact sensor, fault-proof starter interrupt, nuisance prevention, Directed® SmartStart compatibility, warn-away, and a revenger siren. What's nice about this system is the Virtual Tach that samples your vehicle's voltage hundreds of times per second, so you don't need a tachometer connection wire in most installations. It's also Bitwriter programmable, so configuring your system is easy. If you have other interface devices on your vehicle, you can connect them to your alarm system with the D2D serial data port. The only drawback of this system is that there is no option for GPS, and you can't operate it with your smartphone.

Our Verdict

My top pick for the best car alarm system is the Compustar CS7900-AS because it has multiple shock sensors, LCD remote, vehicle control functionality, and optional GPS tracking. The two-way monitoring ensures you know the status of your vehicle. 

For a more affordable option, the Viper 1-Way 3105V will prevent your vehicle from starting and guard against cloning or code hopping. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Car Alarm System

Active or Passive 

Do you want your car alarm system to automatically engage to protect your vehicle, or would you prefer to activate it yourself? Passive car alarm systems do not require any action by you. Once the car is turned off and the doors close, the car alarm automatically engages to protect the vehicle. An active car alarm requires you to turn it on for it to protect your vehicle. Typically, passive car alarms are considered better because they do not require any intervention to engage. This means it's not hindered by human error. If you forget to turn on your active alarm, you might as well not have it, but it's doing nothing. 

Audible or Silent 

An audible car alarm makes a loud noise when it detects someone attempting to break into or steal the vehicle. An audible alarm will not make a loud siren noise. Audible alarms are nice because they scare the thief away as they draw attention to the vehicle. Silent alarms increase the chance of the thief getting caught red-handed. As long as there's a fast response to the alarm's system alert, the thief wouldn't have any warning that they have drawn attention. The drawback of audible alarms is that most people tend to ignore them because we've all been conditioned to ignore the false alarm that the vehicle owner typically triggers. The problem with a silent alarm is that if you don't act quickly, the thief could be gone before anyone realizes what's happening. 

Immobilizing or GPS 

An immobilizing car alarm system will prevent the vehicle's engine from starting or will turn the engine off if the vehicle's key fob isn't within a set range. These are nice because they prevent the thief from driving the vehicle away. However, some sophisticated thieves have learned how to get around this by cloning the key fob and tricking the alarm system into thinking that the key is present. GPS car alarms are an alternative solution that lets you track your vehicle's physical location. This lets you locate and recover your vehicle quickly. The drawback of GPS is that it needs to be accurate to be useful. Additionally, many car alarm systems require you to pay a monthly subscription fee to access this feature. 

Car Alarm System Pricing 

While you can find car alarm systems for less than $100, they will seriously lack features and performance quality. Instead, plan to spend more, in the $100 to $200 range, for a decent quality alarm that comes with plenty of features and reliable performance. If you are looking for the most features and furthest range, expect to spend at least $350 and up. Some car alarm systems come with additional vehicle control functionality. These alarms range in price from $500 to $1,000 and often require the additional expense of professional installation. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Do I need to have a professional install my alarm?

A: If you have experience with car alarm systems and working on your car, you can install the car alarm system yourself. However, be prepared for it to take several hours. You also risk the alarm system not working as expected if you don't get the installation correct.

Q: What is the difference between one-way and two-way alarms?

A: One-way alarms monitor the status of your vehicle by sending a signal from your key fob to the vehicle. A two-way alarm has this same signal system but also a signal that is sent in return from the vehicle to the key fob. Therefore, a two-way alarm system allows for more information exchanged to give you more comprehensive monitoring and control.

Q: Will my car alarm drain my vehicle's battery?

A: A car alarm installed by the vehicle manufacturer won't drain the battery. Aftermarket car alarm systems have the potential to drain your battery. If installed correctly, your alarm system should only require a small amount of power from the battery. This should prevent it from draining your battery. If your car alarm system gets installed incorrectly, then it is very likely that it will drain your battery.

Q: Will I void my vehicle's warranty if I have an aftermarket alarm system installed?

A: No, if your car alarm system is correctly and appropriately installed, it will not void your vehicle's warranty. However, an incorrectly installed car alarm could void your vehicle's warranty if it is the root cause of a discovered issue.

Q: Will a car alarm lower my insurance premium?

A: You can receive a lower car insurance premium when you install a car alarm system in your vehicle. Some insurance companies require the alarm system to be professionally installed. Other car insurance companies will offer varying discounts based on the features included in your car alarm system.

Q: What's so good about alarms with remote start?

A: Remote start and the features that come with it are nice because they make your life easier and more convenient. Remotely starting your vehicle allows the engine to warm up before you start driving in cold weather. It also lets your vehicle cool off in hot weather. Some remote start features let you adjust the temperature in the vehicle when starting it.

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