Owning a car has a great many advantages, but it ain’t cheap. Obviously you want to protect your investment from theft yourself. There are a ton of car security systems on the market, and sorting through them can be stressful and disorienting. So what should you be looking for?
Similar to any type of shopping, it helps to go in with a plan. If you’re looking to install a system beyond what comes standard on your vehicle (and it’s really not a bad idea), there are a few things to consider.
Purpose of Car Security Systems
Are you more worried about protecting the car itself from disappearing or the things inside (a nice sound system, for instance)? Car security systems are built around sensors, and there are different types to monitor different concerns. For instance, a door sensor is about the most basic security measure. It can tell if someone tampers with your handle or opens the door and then sounds an alarm. But if the thief is just after your stereo, they might break a window to avoid detection. For this, you’d be better off with a pressure sensor that notices changes in the interior, whether it’s from a door opening or a window shattering. There are also audio sensors that can “hear” glass shattering and sound the alarm.
Unfortunately, cars can also be stolen without needing to get inside. A tilt sensor can combat this and goes off if it senses the vehicle being lifted and/or towed. As security weaknesses vary by vehicle, the type of car security system you choose will depend on what it is you need to guard against.
Ease of Installation
To all DIYers out there: be warned that car security systems can be a more complicated project than you might expect. A lot of aftermarket systems don’t come with great instructions, so unless you’ve got experience with these kinds of jobs, either make sure you’ve gone thorough the manual or reached out for professional help. Many security systems tap into the starting circuit and will disconnect your starter as a feature — so if you botch the installation, you might not be going anywhere for a while. There are companies out there offering great support, so do a bit of research to make sure you’re picking up a system that’s manageable to install in addition to being compatible with your vehicle (and possibly mobile device).
Expansions and Extras
Lastly, it’s possible that your security needs will change in the future. For this reason, it’s good to invest in a system that allows for expansion. There are a lot of bells and whistles available, and one day, you might decide they’re worth it.
One related feature often lumped in with security systems is a remote starter. This allows you to start the car from a distance and to let it run without having to leave a key inside. It’s a pretty brilliant perk in the winter to get the vehicle warmed up before you even step in. Since many of the same electrical systems are used in remote start and security configurations, getting them both installed at once could save you time and money.
Check out all the vision and safety parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on car security systems, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Blair Lampe
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.