My Toyota is 9 years old. It is not a luxury car, but it takes me where I want to go and gives me no trouble. Unfortunately, I just discovered that it has been deceiving me all these years, as well. You see, all this time, my car has created a false sense of security by flashing a bright red light whenever I turn off the car and lock the door. I assumed this flashing security light indicated the presence of a car security system. It does not. I was sure that if someone tried to break into my car, horns would blare, headlights would flash, and intruders would flee. They will not. Am I the only person who has thought this?
That blinking red light on the dashboard is simply there to tell you that the car’s immobilizer is activated. The immobilizer is linked to the transponder chip in my remote head key. When the key is present, the immobilizer allows the car to start. If someone tries to start the car without the key present, the immobilizer prevents that. However, if someone tries to break in and steal something from the car, absolutely nothing will happen. No noise, no lights, no shock and awe. So, while the immobilizer system is a kind of security device, it is not an alarm and will not keep people out of your car.
You can easily tell if your car has a factory-installed security system (or test a system you know is there). Roll down the driver’s side window. Get out of the car and lock it, pressing the lock button twice. Put the key out of range, and wait 45 seconds. Then, reach inside the window and unlock and open the door from the inside. If nothing happens, then you don’t have an alarm system, and you might want to consider installing one. Even if your car has a factory alarm system, it may have limited features, so you may want to add additional protection on top of it.
There are some great automotive alarms available these days. They all come with noisemakers that will either sound your horn or create other loud sounds if someone tries to break into your car. If you have a factory alarm, it may only sound if a door is opened. Some aftermarket alarms put sensors all around the car, so it will sound if anyone hits the car or tries to break a window. And, if your factory car alarm only sounds the horn, a second alarm may add sirens and flashing lights, too, creating more of a disturbance. Here are some of my favorite car security system features:
Automatic Window Closing. When you lock your car door and set the alarm, any windows accidentally left open will shut automatically.
Two-Way Paging. Information usually travels one way – from your remote control to the car. You press a button on the remote to arm the system, for example, and the car carries out the command. Once you leave the car, though, you are in the dark. if the alarm is triggered, the noise may scare away a thief, but you won’t hear it. Most thieves know that car alarms will only make noise for a short time, and they can disable it in seconds, so there is not much you can do if you don’t know what’s happening. Two-way paging sends information back to your remote control or smartphone when something happens. This lets you to immediately alert the police. Some systems will even kill the car’s starter to prevent someone from driving away with it.
Remote Start. This is not for security, but, if you live in a cold, snowy climate it is certainly a great feature. You can start the car from where you are and have it warming up and defrosting the windows while you are finishing up your morning coffee. No more freezing car? No more scraping ice? Sign me up!
GPS Tracking. If someone does steal your car, you will know where they take it, and can tell the police. Systems like LoJack have been around since the 1980s. LoJack says they work directly with police and recover 90% of the cars. Parents can also use this to see where your children have driven, and how long they stayed.
So, if you are convinced that you need higher security where your car is concerned, start looking at your options. There are many systems available, with different combinations of features and price ranges, so you will have to do some homework to find the system in your sweet spot of price and function. You can start by contacting a locksmith for cars or by checking out Best Product’s Top 11 Aftermarket Car Alarm and Security Systems. If that doesn’t confuse you enough (er…give you enough information), check out Car Audio Now’s 5 Best Car Alarm Systems to buy in 2018. Happy hunting!