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How to choose car security

Tips for buying security and remote systems

Code Alarm CA1055

Code Alarm CA1055 security and keyless entry system

Protecting yourself and your family, as well as your vehicle, belongings, and car stereo are all excellent reasons to invest in a car security system. Additionally, most insurance companies offer lowered rates for vehicles equipped with an alarm — it'll pay for itself.

A good security system not only makes your car more difficult to steal, it also makes it easier to live with. The small remote control that you carry with your keys lets you arm and disarm the alarm, lock and unlock your doors, and maybe even zap open your trunk. Some systems let you use your smartphone to control and monitor your car's security. How's that for convenience?

How a typical security system works

When you leave the car, push the button that arms your system. You hear your doors lock, and a siren chirp tells you your vehicle is protected. If you've accidentally left a door ajar, the system alerts you with a different sound.

When you walk away, you feel confident, assured. The first thing a thief sees when he approaches your car is a flashing LED that tells him your system is armed. Often, that's enough to make him look elsewhere.

iDatastart CMMIXA0

iDatastart CMMIXA0 remote start module

If the thief tries to tamper with your vehicle, he'll get a warning chirp or a full siren blast. The security system "brain" decides which sort of warning to give based on the severity of the tampering and the type of sensors the thief trips.

When you return to your car, use the remote to disarm the system and unlock your doors or pop open the trunk. You can even use the remote to sound the siren if you can't find your car or if someone is bothering you.

iDatastart TR2350AC

iDatastart 5-button, 2-way replacement remote

Some features to look for

  • Two-way remotes give you feedback on your car's condition and response to commands.
  • Starter kill prevents your car from being hot-wired.
  • Motion sensors let you leave the top down or the windows open. They are also good for protecting the cargo areas in vans and trucks. The sensors will sound the alarm if someone invades your space.
  • Glass-break sensors sound the alarm when they "hear" a window breaking. This protects you from the thief who believes he can bypass your alarm by not opening the door.
  • A tilt sensor monitors the tilting of your parked vehicle caused by an attempt to jack up or tow your vehicle.
  • Driver's side priority unlock lets you open your door without unlocking the others. You can get in your vehicle without letting your guard down.
  • Auxiliary outputs allow you to expand the alarm's capabilities by adding features like a remote starter or window controls. Most alarms come with at least one auxiliary output. Consider everything you want the security system to do (now and in the future) when choosing an alarm.
  • Remote starting is the epitome of convenience — you can have your vehicle waiting for you warmed up on a cold day, or cooled down in summer. Remote start features either come built into a security system or can be added later with a remote start module.
  • Smartphone — some remote systems let you use your smartphone for control, giving you unlimited range when you have phone service.
  • Consider adding GPS capability to your security system so you can keep track of your vehicle's location, and receive alerts when it leaves or enters a pre-programmed area, or is traveling too fast.
Fortin EVO-ALL

Fortin EVO-ALL universal remote start module

We help you install your own alarm and save

We recommend professional installation for your security or remote start system because wiring it into your vehicle can often be challenging. However, for you intrepid and thrifty DIYers, we offer T-harnesses and vehicle interfaces for your specific vehicle that will save you tremendous amounts of time and money during installation, and simplify the wiring by connecting directly to your vehicle's computer databus. That way, you can communicate directly with your vehicle to perform any security or convenience functions remotely.

Not all security systems will work in all vehicles, so we strongly recommend you call, email, or chat with us before you order yours to make sure it will work in your vehicle. A Crutchfield advisor confirm the right interface module and T-harness for your specific vehicle.

Our exclusive and comprehensive tech support is free when you shop with Crutchfield. Seven days a week, experienced, patient experts are ready to answer your questions (just have your invoice handy when you call). It's like having a pro look over your shoulder while you work.

Fortin EVO-FORT4

Fortin EVO-FORT4 remote start system (T-harness, module, and wiring) for select 2013-18 Ford vehicles

  • Michelle Catapang

    Posted on 6/20/2019

    Thank you for this content! I am now very well informed on how to choose a good car security alarm.

  • Ed from Chicago

    Posted on 7/1/2018

    I have a 2018 F 150 with remote factory start and want to add a security system. Is there anything that will be compatible with my factory key fob?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 7/3/2018

    Ed, I'm pretty sure there're a few options out there for you to add a security system to your vehicle. To find out what those options are, give us a call and you will be directed to an Advisor who specializes in remote start and security systems.
  • Robert Irizarry from NEWYORK

    Posted on 3/16/2018

    I just got a 2018 kia sorento suv with keylees start, it has a factory alarm but I want to upgrade the alarm .Any sugestions on a alarm kit with remote start ,and the prices

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/15/2017

    Michael, Most aftermarket car alarm systems will work in your Ford. I recommend you give us a call at 1-888-955-6000 and talk to an Advisor about which security system and sensors will be best for you and your vehicle.

  • Michael Williams

    Posted on 10/14/2017

    Which car alarms are compatible with Securilock? I'm interested in proximity and/or motion detection.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/3/2017

    Linda, I could recommend setting up a few dash cams, or action cams, or even wireless security cameras aimed to view multiple angles and record upon sensing motion. However, I strongly recommend you first consult with your local police department - especially with a domestic relations expert. Together, I think, you can come up with a course of action that can safely and legally protect you and your vehicle.

  • Linda from Bonney lake, WA

    Posted on 12/31/2016

    I went thru ugly divorce and somehow my vehicles keep being tampered with, inside sidewall sliced open; gas siphoned, nails in tires, two tires simultaneous punctured with screws, lastly jigsaw blade sliced the outside sidewall of one of my tires ( the blade broke off and was stuck in the sidewall). All this in last 12 months - getting expensive. Is there any alarm that will signal me if someone gets near tires or if someone tries to tamper with brake lines? I am worried.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/19/2016

    Bobby, I recommend you give us a call at 1-888-955-6000 and talk to an Advisor about which security or remote start system will be best for you and your vehicle.

  • bobby from corpus christi

    Posted on 12/17/2016

    I've been looking for my 2011 Chevy 4 door 1500. What do you recommend with so products out there. I want a starter kill switch also a self starter, not sure what else I Would need

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/12/2016

    Brett, Crutchfield carries a few security systems that may work for you, including Viper's SmartStart with security system. I've forwarded your question to Crutchfield's Sales Advisor Team, and a member will get in touch with you by email to offer suggestions and help you choose the right security system for you and your vehicle. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat - just click on the phone icon at the very top of this page.

  • Brett Weaver from Austin

    Posted on 5/10/2016

    I have been looking through the systems but haven't found exactly what I was looking for. I have a 2001 Wrangler TJ with a soft top. I am more worried about people getting into my jeep or stealing the locked bike off the back. Is there a system that offers a text message to your phone when something happens? Thanks.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/26/2015

    FS, All reputable moving van rental companies offer insurance to cover any loss of property you may incur on the road. If this is a one-time move and you're still worried that someone might break into or drive off with your rental van while you're at a restaurant or motel, then you might want to look into getting a hidden dash camera set up to record any unauthorized entry or use, for future prosecution. You may want to check with the state police departments where you'll be traveling for more suggestions on how to better protect your property along your route.

  • fs from St. Louis

    Posted on 10/23/2015

    We are driving a rental moving van cross country. Have heard they are a beacon for thieves. Any suggestions for more security other than parking in well lighted area, making sure doors and windows are locked and closed?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/9/2015

    Michael and Henry, I've forwarded your questions to Crutchfield's Sales Advisor Team, and a member will get in touch with you by email to offer suggestions and help you choose the right system for you and your vehicle. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Michael Szilvagyi from Vonore

    Posted on 8/26/2015

    I am building a 51 Chevy pickup. I am installing a 2013 5.3 vortex LMG engine with 6 speed auto trans. I want to be able to lock the two doors and hood and have a security system with a two way communication with the transmitter. Any recommendations? Using the Altman Easy latch bear claw door lock kit.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/19/2015

    Jake, Crutchfield also offers GPS security and tracking systems. Three more systems will come live on our site very soon.

  • Jake Ran

    Posted on 8/19/2015

    I find classic alarms pretty much useless these days. Nobody cares about the sound of the alarm anymore. It just makes your neighbour to be mad at you, nothing else. I got rid of normal alarm and secured my car with GPS locator and I cannot be more happy about it. After some searching I found this: [Link to outside site selling GPS security systems deleted]

  • Santiago from houston tx.

    Posted on 8/17/2015

    I have a 01 Toyota Corolla with no electric doors or windows. It's a manual too. What's a good alarm for my car. It's just a basics model no indash cd player or even cd player.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/23/2015

    Denise, Sorry you had problems with your security installation. Did you give the installer a chance to make things right before you disconnected the locks? One way to ensure that your system gets installed properly is to purchase an InstallCard along with your security system. This gets you a pre-paid, and warrantied, installation by a certified professional in your area.

  • denise handy

    Posted on 7/22/2015

    The Viper system installed on my previous Honda Civic caused the car's wiring to malfunction. I finally disconnected the door locks from the electric system, so that I could use them. How can I get an alarm system installed by a professional who will not destroy the car's existing electronic systems?

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