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Car Security Devices: More Than Just Alarms

Car alarm FOB

Aside from your home, your vehicle is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. Regardless of your car’s make, model or condition, security should always be a top priority. In many places, simply locking the doors may be enough to deter thieves, but sometimes it isn’t, and some added car security devices are needed. With a variety of new and classic security products on the market, keeping your vehicle safe is easier than ever. Here are a few options you may want to consider:

Ring the Alarm

Car alarm via key fobCar alarms are the old standby, and while you might immediately think of your neighbor whose alarm went off so much that everyone ignored it, companies like Cobra, Viper and Commando have improved their systems to make them more effective and less touchy. While your vehicle will still sound when broken into, modern alarm systems also can notify you via your key FOB that the alarm has been triggered. Plus, many systems give you the ability to disable the car within a range of more than one-fourth of a mile.

GPS Tracking

In the event your vehicle is stolen, there are tracking devices that can be installed to help you recover it. LoJack is no newcomer to this arena, but now companies such as OnStar, CarShield and even your vehicle’s manufacturer may offer integrated technology that can disable your vehicle and track its movements with GPS. With the rise of car connectivity many newer vehicles can be located using the manufacturer’s own network, but a subscription may be required for the service.


When you purchased your vehicle, the dealer may have offered a glass etch for an additional cost — some sellers even include it with their cars for no additional fee. Either way, having your vehicle’s VIN number etched on the windows is a smart move. When your car is stolen, it is most likely going to be brought to a chop shop, where they will dismantle the car, remove parts that have VIN numbers and sell everything else. When the VIN number is etched into your windows, it makes it harder for thieves to hide the identity of your vehicle. The Anti Car Theft Act of 1992 required manufacturers to mark the VIN on several major vehicle components to help curb thieves, but etching the windows adds one more level of tracking ability.

Caught on Camera

Digital camera technology has exploded in the last few years, to the point where you can now install in-car camera systems that monitor and record your car’s interior and surroundings. These fancy cameras give you a wireless look into your car at all times. Whether you select a dash- or mirror-mounted camera, this security measure not only deters thieves but also records them during a break-in to aid law enforcement. Some auto manufacturers like Tesla even have built-in perimeter camera systems that can catch any nefarious activity nearby.

Get Physical

Sometimes physical deterrence is a good option. A steering wheel lock makes it almost impossible to drive a vehicle even if the thief can get it started. Installation just takes a few seconds and the steering wheel lock can be stored behind the seat for easy access. There are also physical locks that interfere with the operation of the foot pedals making it impossible to drive the vehicle. For vehicles prone to theft by breaking into the steering column there are special reinforced metal collars that prevent access to the internal mechanisms without interfering with the ignition key or turn signal stalk. With the rise of catalytic converter theft a catalytic converter guard can help deter would-be thieves from making off with your valuable emissions equipment. A catalytic converter cage uses cables to make removing the catalytic converter extremely difficult, while a catalytic converter guard prevents thieves from accessing the catalytic converter itself with a thick metal plate. If you have nice wheels consider a set of security lug nuts to stop unwanted pit stops.  Lastly an old-fashioned locking gas cap can keep midnight fuel thieves at bay.

A Non-Starter

Kill switches aren’t just for hot rodders with fancy custom cars, they can be useful for any vehicle with an electric fuel pump or electric ignition. Interrupting power to the electric fuel pump will prevent the engine from ever starting. The ignition system can also be thwarted by grounding the ignition coil. Installing a kill switch does take some DIY ability and a working knowledge of your vehicle’s systems. A good kill switch should be invisible to the would-be thief yet still accessible to the owner to allow starting the vehicle. If you don’t feel comfortable modifying your vehicle there are still options. The easiest method is to simply take the fuel pump fuse or relay with you after parking the vehicle. Another old trick for vehicles with a distributor is to take the rotor button with you after parking for the day.

No matter where you live, protecting your vehicle should be a top concern. There are more security options available now than ever before, with everything from alarms and GPS tracking to VIN number etching and cameras that you can view remotely. Make sure you don’t leave any tantalizing items that may tempt a smash-and-grab thief. Make use of glove boxes and center consoles to hide anything that might catch an eye. And double check your door locks after parking.

Check out all the ignition parts available on NAPAOnline or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on car security devices, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.

Image courtesy of Flickr

Erich Reichert View All

Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.

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