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Car security FAQ

Answers to some common car security questions

Code Alarm CA1155e Elite car security system

Code Alarm CA1155e Elite security system

Q: How difficult is it to install one of your car security systems?

A: If you are not comfortable working with a car's wiring, or don't know how to use a multimeter or soldering iron, you should definitely consider getting professional installation for your system. If you have experience with electronic circuitry, then it's more a matter of how much time it'll take you, and the complexity of the security system you choose. It's always wise to set aside a weekend for any alarm installation — you may well need less time than that, but this way you can work carefully and you won't feel rushed.

Some remote start ready vehicles — those that already can be started with a remote key fob or dash button — often only require a single vehicle-specific interface module and harness to incorporate an aftermarket security or remote start system into its computer system. Other vehicles will need specialized hardware in order for an aftermarket security system to work in it. Call us, and an Advisor will look up and cross reference your vehicle to see what you'll need for a successful security installation.

FlashLogic FLCAN interface module

FlashLogic FLCAN interface module

In older vehicles you may be required to wire each security function separately, from the security module to the various sensors and actuators throughout the vehicle. You'll use your multimeter to verify the function of each sensor you wire to the module — opening and closing a door, for instance, to find out what happens at the door switch: 12 volts, for a positive trigger; zero volts, for a negative trigger.

If you purchased your security or remote start system from Crutchfield, we can help you with your installation. If you have questions, call us toll-free, and our Technical Support staff will be able to help you over the phone (have your invoice with you when you call). These trained, expert techs are available to our customers toll-free, seven days a week.

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Q: Which harnesses are available for my vehicle?

A: We currently have harnesses for hundreds of vehicles and chances are that yours is one of them. Simply call us toll-free at 1-888-955-6000 and one of our expert Advisors will furnish the info you need.

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Q: My car came with an anti-theft system, why should I get an aftermarket security system?

A: Most factory security systems essentially just disable the starter when no key chip is detected by the ignition system. A professional car thief will know how to get around that. And when was the last time you heard a car's beeping horn and tried to pay it no mind? An aftermarket siren's loud wailing is much harder to ignore, and will usually chase a would-be thief away. Also, most factory security systems don't have shock or sound sensors, and rely on door switches only, so someone could get into your car by breaking a window without any alarm going off.

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Viper Model 3606V

Viper Model 3606V 1-way security and keyless entry system

Q: Which system is best for me?

A: That really depends on your own specific needs. For example, if you have a deluxe sedan, you might want to add an alarm with automatic door lock activation for security reasons, and a remote trunk release for convenience. If you have a large van, you may want to consider adding an alarm with a glass-break or motion sensor to protect the entire van interior. You may want to only add a security system to your vehicle, but you might consider getting one that includes a remote start function as well.

You'll find that even our basic systems provide a dependable level of protection and convenience. As you work your way up a manufacturer's line, you'll gain features like more auxiliary channels for adding more functions, extended range, and increased remote control capability. 2-way remote systems send you alerts and status details when activated. There's also the consideration of smartphone compatibility — would you like a system controllable from your phone? For a detailed look at how the alarms differ, check out the features listed on our security systems.

If you'd like some advice before you make your choice, just give us a call toll-free at 1-888-955-6000 — our patient Product Advisors will be glad to help you determine which system best meets your own needs.

Excalibur RS-375 remote start and keyless entry system

Excalibur RS-375 remote start and keyless entry system

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Q: What's a relay and how do I know if I need one?

A: A relay is a high-current switch triggered, or controlled by a low-current switching signal. If you wanted to remotely turn on a light, for example, the security module will activate a relay that'll send power to the light from a more robust source of power, and not directly from the module itself. Many security systems have one or more relays already built in.

The instructions that come with your security system or security accessory should explain if and when you'll need a relay, and how to wire it.

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Q: Will adding a security system void my vehicle's warranty?

A: No. By law, any appropriate and properly installed and functioning aftermarket system, including a security or remote start system, will not void a vehicle's warranty. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act, enacted in 1975, protects consumers from the car dealerships that had been demanding that only their authorized parts and labor would get covered under warranty, and anything else would void the warranty. (For example, if you replaced the wiper blades with non-authorized blades, they would void the warranty on the engine and exhaust.) Of course, if you tear up your vehicle's wiring or drilled holes where you shouldn't, you will have plenty of warranty issues with your dealership. This is another reason to purchase professional installation when you want to put in a security system.

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  • Tracy

    Posted on 9/7/2023

    My car alarm stop working when my engine stopped working. Car broken into. Shouldn't car alarm still work if engine doesn't work?

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    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/11/2023

    Tracy, Some car alarms, especially many vehicles' factory alarm systems, don't feature a backup power connection, and so fail when power is cut. A good aftermarket security system will have a backup battery in case of a power failure, like when a thief cuts your battery cable while getting into the car.
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    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/25/2015

    David, Almost any vehicle can have a security system installed - it just may be complicated to integrate a modern digital security system into an older car. A quick search on Crutchfield's site shows over five different security systems that'll work in a 1977 Fiat 124.

  • David from Sacramento

    Posted on 8/25/2015

    Are vehicles from the 70s (such as a fiat 124 spider) able to add the alarm system

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    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/1/2015

    Deborah, I'm no lawyer, but there could be some cause for concern. Given the complexity of installing a security system, the normal consumer protections might not apply. My advice to you is to check with an attorney of your own, or your Toyota dealership.

  • Deborah from New York

    Posted on 7/31/2015

    Hi I just brought a pre owned certified 2014 Toyota on 07/11/15 it didn't have remote start or alarm I put one in from an authorized dealer on 07/18/15 I just found out that I may have voided my warranty because I didn't have the service done with Toyota what can I do before my car needs service. I am afraid they are going to turn me away

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