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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.
- Remote start keyless entry
- Multiple module shock sensor
- Additional installation parts required
- Difficult to install
Viper 1-Way 3105V
- Failsafe starter kill
- Anti-hijacking protection
- Remote start and GPS require upgrades
- It might not be compatible with some cars
- Dual-Zone Impact sensor
- Fault-proof starter interrupt
- No GPS option
- Limited remote features
Best Overall: Compustar CS7900-AS
Best Budget: Viper One Way 3105V
Honorable Mention: Avital 3305L
Best Against Vandalism: Viper Model 3606V
Best for Trucks: Viper 5906
Best with Remote Start: Python 5305P
Best 2-Way: Avital Two Way 5305L
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
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.
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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