So you finally got that system you’ve been wanting installed and you’re happily bumping your music and showing off for the honeys.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if some crackhead decided it would look better in a pawn shop?
You probably spent a decent chunk of hard earned change on building your car audio system, so why not spend a little on making it secure?
The point is, why spend all that money on a nice car audio system and leave it unprotected?
A locked door is not a big deterrent to a thief. The sad fact of the matter is that no amount of protection is going to keep your stuff safe from someone who’s ABSOLUTELY determined to steal your gear.
The goal here is theft deterrence and as a general rule, the easier the target, the more likely the theft. So with that being said, let’s take a look at the best car alarms in the market to help you buy the perfect one for your needs and budget.
Top 6 Car Alarm Systems Reviewed
The following five units I’ll review here are the very best you can find on the market at the time of writing this.
If you still feel you haven’t found something that checks all your boxes after reading this section, please leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to give you a recommendation that suits your personal needs.
Let’s jump into the reviews:
EASYGUARD EC002-NS PKE Passive Keyless Entry Car Alarm System Remote Start Starter Push Start Stop Button Touch Password Entry Shock Sensor Alarm
Crimestopper SP-502 2-Way LCD Paging Combo Alarm, Keyless Entry and Remote Start System with Rechargeable Remote
1. VIPER 5906V
Viper has been a well-known name in car security for a long time.
They are at the top of the pile when it comes to aftermarket car security, and the Viper 5906V Responder HD is the Cadillac of alarms systems.
This unit features a 2 way OLED display remote as well as a 1 way backup remote. The main OLED remote features an upgraded user interface, USB-mini charging port and menu wheel.
With a range of up to 1 mile and compatibility with SmartStart technology which lets you control your alarm system from your smartphone, you will never be too far away to keep tabs on your vehicle.
Also included is the handy remote start system and keyless entry.
Other deluxe features include a built in information center which includes info on the status of the system such as a remote start timer countdown which tells you how long the vehicle’s engine will remain running, and an interior temperature sensor so you know if the vehicle has warmed up or cooled down enough.
It also displays a countdown and parking meter timers when running, which will emit warnings at 15 minutes, 5 minutes and at meter expiration so you can avoid that pesky Meter Maid slapping one of those pink slips on your windshield.
You can also start, stop or clear the timers at any time using the menu wheel.
Two car operation:
- If the Viper 5906V is paired to a 2nd vehicle, you can switch vehicles on the fly using the same remote. When you change vehicles, the Responder HD system will automatically check the vehicle’s availability, and if the desired car is not available it will let you know. If it is available, the remote will automatically update the information displayed on the screen so you know if the alarm is on or if the engine is running.
Real time security sensor status:
- When you arm a vehicle with the security zone feature enabled, the remote will receive a report that will display by name, what zone(s) are activated and display an icon on the status screen. The report will identify all zones that are activated, by name, during the report output.
Sensor bypass option:
- Users can choose to bypass one or multiple sensors by selecting the level and sensors they wish to bypass. The system will display the bypassed sensors on the remote so the user will know the exact level of security they have chosen. After the sensor bypass is enabled, the sensor status icon will be updated so the user knows which sensors are bypassed each time the status screen is displayed.
Remote start faults and N/A display:
- if the user attempts to enable a security or remote start feature that is not in range of the vehicle, the Responder HD technology will identify the fault so it can be resolved.
Specs and Features:
- 2-way Color OLED Remote (1-way backup 5 button remote)
- Range of up to 1 mile
- Remote Start
- Keyless entry
- Trunk Pop
- SmartStart compatible
- SuperCode encryption
- Domelight supervision
- Stinger DoubleGuard shock sensor
- Neo Revenger 6 tone siren
- Failsafe starter kill
- Guaranteed Protection Plan
As you can see, the Viper 5906V has tons of features and has a great design and full color, customizable screen.
I would highly recommend this alarm system for anyone looking for “The total package”.
It’s got just about everything you could need in a security system. It does come at a price though, and for people who just need a basic theft deterrence system, you might not need all the bells and whistles included with this unit.
- Literally everything is included except the SmartStart module which can be purchased separately
- Excellent design
- Latest security features and sensors
- Customizable OLED display remote
- This alarm system is not cheap and might be more than most people are willing to spend
2. EASYGUARD EC002-NS PKE
The EASYGUARD EC002-NS PKE Passive Keyless Entry Car Alarm System offers an incredible range of security features for your comfort and convenience. Included in the many capabilities this alarm comes with are a manual way to arm and disarm the alarm, a button to push to start or stop option, a valet mode, an emergency override, and a keypad for password entry to lock or unlock the vehicle even without your key.
There’s also an automatic option, so your vehicle locks or unlocks depending on your proximity to it. At the time this review was written, this car alarm system was selling for between 120 and 150 dollars. For the number of features offered, that’s a great deal.
Specs and Features:
- Item weight: 2.64 lbs
- Range: The range for the remote start feature of this car alarm system is estimated to be between 30 and 50 meters, or between 100 and 160 feet.
- Button LCD Confirming Transmitter: No. There is no LCD screen on the key fob, although there is an LED light to indicate the state the alarm is in.
- Icons: There are three buttons on the key fob. One operates to arm the system or turn on panic mode, another is the remote start button or trunk release, and the final button disarms the alarm.
- Options: Both manual and automatic options are available, depending on your preference. You can also have the alarm set to be either mute or audible.
- Panic mode: Yes, this system has a panic mode.
- Remote start feature: Yes, this system offers a remote start feature.
- Dual-zone shock sensor: It’s unclear as to whether the shock sensor is dual-zone, but the EC002-NS has a shock alarm warning. Not all of the EC002 systems do, so check carefully before purchasing.
Some users have reported issues with the way the instructions were worded in the installation manual, but they had good things to say about the customer service representatives who helped them with their problems. Installation may be difficult and, depending on the make and model of your vehicle, may require you to remove your steering wheel. It’s recommended that a professional car alarm installer do the job, but many users have managed just fine on their own.
This may not be the car alarm system for you if you drive a diesel vehicle because some users are reported that it either doesn’t work or requires a timer delay switch. That being said, it does its job. For the price, the EASYGUARD EC002-NS PKE Passive Keyless Entry Car Alarm System gives you access to many features that you would normally only find in a more expensive system.
- Keyless Entry
- Allows password entry ( incase smart key gets lost)
- Easy to use
- Hard to install ( needs a professional installer)
3. Prestige APS997Z
When it comes to protecting your personal property, your car is one that should not be overlooked. Your car is vulnerable whether you leave it in your garage or frequently park on the streets.
If someone is truly motivated, they can break into your car pretty easily. Really one of the only deterrents you have at your disposal is a car alarm. This will scare off those who may be trying to break in.
There are many choices out there when it comes to car alarms. How do you know that you’ve picked one of value? We’ll help you decide. Consider the Prestige APS997Z.
The Prestige APS997Z is an effective car alarm that has some great features.
Specs and Features:
- Item weight – The Prestige system weighs 2.15 pounds.
- Range – The Prestige APS997Z has a range of 2,500 feet. Some alarms offer more, but this isn’t really necessary because most people don’t park their car more than a half mile away.
- Two-Way 5 button LCD Confirming Transmitter – This two-way remote will send you alerts, information and the cabin’s temperature.
- Icons – There are many icons and they are easy to read.
- Options – There are 10 control options on this model
- Dual-stage shock sensor – This car alarm features a dual-stage shock sensor. What this means is that it can tell the difference between break-ins and just minor bumps. Your car alarm won’t be going off over minor things and will only go off if a break-in is being attempted.
This car alarm has a remote-start, which is a great feature. This has the potential to improve your life and is a very helpful feature. When it’s cold out, hot out or there are extreme weather conditions, you are able to start your car while you’re still inside. This makes your trip more pleasant and you don’t have to venture out to start your car. The remote will even notify you when the internal temperature is where you want it to be.
It will also automatically shut off if it is left idling too long. If something comes up and you aren’t able to leave as soon as you thought, your car will shut off to save you on the waste of gasoline and power. This will also reduce the amount of pollution that you’re putting into the air. While not all cities have issues with smog, some do, so it’s important that you don’t run your car for more than is necessary.
– Additional programming options
A great thing about this car alarm that other higher priced ones don’t have is the ability to set multiple timers at varying amounts at the same time. The Prestige APS997Z is able to run five separate alarms simultaneously. This is a great benefit.
-Additional convenience features
These features add a great benefit to this alarm. It offers a number of controls with lighting. This includes dome light, headlight and hazards. You are also able to make the system either active or passive depending on what your needs are.
– Four auxiliary ports
The four auxiliary ports will help you expand the security sensors if you so choose. You can add tilt or glass break sensors as well as other features like a trunk release.
– Compatible with CarLink
This car alarm is compatible, which is a car tracking device. This will provide direct alerts to your phone no matter where you are located. If something were to happen to your car, this is a great tool to help you find it. They also provide performance monitoring services to help keep your car in top shape. It can notify you of problems sooner, so you can get them fixed. CarLink does require either a yearly or monthly subscription to use.
– Easy to use
The Prestige APS997Z is easy to use and install. This product will save you time. Many other car alarms are more complicated, but this one makes protecting your car and personal property easy.
– Lacks a silent alarm
Many car alarms that have two-way pagers include a silent option. This way the alarm’s siren doesn’t go off, but the driver is alerted through the remote. A silent mode is helpful because you will still get the alert, but it won’t bother your neighbors.
This is a great choice for an affordable car alarm. It doesn’t disappoint. The only thing that would make it better is a silent alarm function. Apart from that, it has great features and the remote start option is a main selling point. The two-way pager, dual-stage alarm and compatibility with CarLink all add to the value of this alarm.
4. AVITAL 5305L
Avital is another brand owned by Directed Electronics.
Avital makes solid security gear and has been around for nearly 20 years. I have personally used Avital alarms in my vehicles and can attest to the quality of their products.
The Avital 5305L is an excellent mid-tier security system with plenty of features that will keep your vehicle secure without breaking the piggy bank.
Specs and Features:
- Remote Start Security System with Keyless Entry
- Includes one LCD remote and one 4-button remote
- Virtual Tach™ eliminated the need for a tach wire
- New D2D serial data port for Xpresskits
- Fault proof starter prevents hot wiring
- Active and passive arming
- Multi-level security arming allows you to select which of the inputs or sensors will be active and which will be bypassed
- Silent mode to temporarily turn off the arm or disarm chips
- Panic mode will sound alarm and flash your parking lights
- Valet mode will not arm the security system with the remote transmitter
- Remote start feature allows you to remotely start and run your vehicle for a period of time
- Valet take-over allows the vehicle to remain running after the key has been removed from the ignition
- Short-run/turbo keeps the engine running for 1, 3, 5, or 10 minutes
- Starter anti-grind circuitryXR Plus provides improved sensitivity, range and reliability
- Dual zone shock sensor
- 1500 Ft. range
- Trunk release
This Avital unit is a great choice for someone looking for reliable vehicle security that doesn’t need every feature under the sun.
- Good feature to price ratio
- Excellent product quality
- No smartphone integration
- No insurance protection plan
5. CRIMESTOPPER SP-502
lthough Crimestopper might be considered in the value or budget brand category, their SP-502 alarm has just about every feature that the larger name brands include at a fraction of the price.
While I can’t personally attest to the quality or reliability of their products, they seem to have decent market penetration.
Let’s take a look at some of the features included with this unit.
The SP-502 unit features a 2-way LCD remote, and a 1-way 5 button back up remote with a range of up to 3000 Ft. Both remotes offer the ability to arm/disarm, lock/unlock, a trunk release, engine start/stop and multi-vehicle operation.
The security features of the system offer all the options you need including a dual stage shock sensor, 120 dB siren, starter kill ignition relay and multiple auxiliary outputs.
The 3000 Ft. range and remote start features will allow you to warm or cool your vehicle before entering in even the most extreme temperatures. The remote start feature can also be configured to start your vehicle every couple of hours to help reduce the risk of fluids freezing in extreme cold or sub-zero temperatures.
If you have a turbo installed on your engine, the turbo timer feature will enable the engine to continue running for a short time period after reaching your destination to allow time for it to properly cool off.
This remote start/security system offers over 30 programmable options and is compatible with both manual and automatic transmissions.
It can be installed using any vehicle, although some vehicles may require extra parts.
Specs and Features:
- (1) 2-way LCD transmitter with 3000 feet of range
- 5 button companion transmitter with 2000 feet of range
- Remote start built-in
- Arm/lock – disarm/unlock
- Keyless entry
- Priority unlock feature
- Double pulse unlock
- Trunk release
- Disarm with trunk release
- Dual 2-way data port for integration module connection
- Auxiliary outputs
- Parking lights output
- Positive and negative door inputs
- Auxiliary negative input (hood or trunk)
- Starter kill option
- Horn and siren outputs
- Dual stage shock sensor with adjustments
- Code hopping receiver
- Multi-vehicle functionality
- Gas, diesel and hybrid compatibility
- Programmable engine sense, Tach, Tachless, Hybrid modes
As you can see, the SP-502 offers tons of features and options. Crimestopper even offers their own smartphone connectivity option called Tele-connect. If you’re on a tight budget but still want all the features of the more expensive systems, this is the way to go.
- Excellent feature to price ratio
- Excellent range capability
- Smart phone controller option
- No insurance protection plan
6. Python 5706P
Car alarms are one of those purchases that can be very difficult. With so many choices, it’s hard to know the right one for you.
If you’re going to invest in one, you want it to be one that works well and has the features that are most important to you. This could vary depending on your individual needs.
It can be hard to navigate through all of the different options that are out there to choose from.
Some car alarms can be a big investment, so it’s important to make sure to get what you want to avoid having to try out additional products. Python is a well known and well established car alarm brand.
This history is a good reason to consider the Python 5706P when shopping for a car alarm.
Specs and Features:
- Alarm weight – This car alarm weighs 3.48 pounds.
- Rechargeable battery – The Python 5706P has a rechargeable battery, which is very helpful. You won’t need to worry about new batteries and won’t need to leave your car unprotected for long.
- Compatible with many vehicles – This car alarm is not only compatible with automated transmissions, it is also compatible with vehicles that have manual transmissions.
- Range – The Python 5706P has a range of one mile. This is great if you need to leave your car at a distance away and walk to your location, such as if you’re attending a concert or sporting event. In most cases, this amount of space will be more than enough for what you would need. This has the longest advertised remote range of any on the market.
- Options – This car alarm is able to notify in a variety of different ways. This can be done through vibration, text, tones or icon display. This is really convenient no matter what situation you are in. Whether you’re working, at home or at a social engagement, you can choose which notification method works best for you.
This car alarm features a remote-start option, which can be a great benefit. Whether it’s hot, cold or storming, you are able to start your car without going outside. This is great especially for those with kids. You can start your vehicle from inside your home, so you don’t need to leave your kids unattended at all. It can also be warming up or cooling down while you get them ready, so you may even be able to leave on time.
Your two-way pager has a current temperature reading, so you know when your car is ready. It’s important to pay attention to this and not let your car idle too long. This could hurt the air quality for your city and have health implications for others.
– Many available add-ons
There are many different add-ons that you can use with this car alarm system. This gives you the flexibility to add additional security features.
– Able to connect to your phone
The unit is easily controlled because you are able to connect it to your phone. You can even put it in override mode in case you’re going through the car wash.
– Compatible with Viper SmartStart
This will allow you to track your car with an app on your Smartphone. It will not just track your vehicle’s location, but it will also monitor performance and provide control over the entire system regardless of your location. By monitoring performance, it can help catch issues sooner and help you make sure your vehicle is performing as well as it can. It does require a monthly subscription.
– Four auxiliary ports
The additional auxiliary ports makes it easy to add tilt sensors and glass break to the system. It is important to note that these things will also increase the price significantly.
– Issues with the installer
There have been issues with some of the hardware. One of the wires has been known to malfunction and need to be replaced.
– Range problems
While the product boasts of a long range, there can be issues with obstacles being in the way. You may not be able to control it as well as you want.
The product’s durability could be improved. This would take some additional testing in various locations, climates and regions.
For the Python 5706P, the rating is 3.75/5. While it’s a good product, it is a bit more expensive than some others. It also has issues with durability and advertised range. The remote-start function and amount of add-ons are good points in its favor, but ultimately, there are some products that may fit your needs better than this one.
So. Many. Choices.
There’s a lot of systems on the market today. With so many options out there, it can be confusing to figure out what the best choice is. So how do you know which system is right for you? The first thing to consider is what kind of vehicle you own and what features you need.
For instance, many newer vehicles already come with keyless entry systems and even remote start capabilities.
If this is the case, there’s no point in spending extra money on a system that includes these features (or carrying around multiple remotes in your pocket or purse).
Many companies today make components that can integrate with your factory security system.
Secondly, take into consideration the amount of security you need. More is usually better, but if you live in a remote area or somewhere that is not considered a high crime environment, you might only need a basic alarm system.
This brings us to our third topic of consideration: Proximity.
If you are generally in close range of your vehicle, you might not need a remote system with a range of a mile or more. (This does not apply for smartphone connectivity as it uses cell technology and will typically work anywhere that your cell phone has service) however I would suggest choosing an alarm with a range of at least 1500 ft.
FAQ’s and Security System basics
Q: How does a car alarm work?
A: In its most basic form, a car alarm is nothing more than a sensor, connected to a siren and a power source to make it work. In an example of a very basic car alarm install you would have a switch sensor on the driver’s door connected to a siren so when the door is opened, the sensor is triggered and the siren goes off. Modern car alarm systems are much more complicated than this and typically include an array of switch sensors, pressure sensors and motion detectors connected to a CPU control unit. These units also include a radio receiver (to allow your key fob remote to communicate with it) and an auxiliary power source to enable operation if the battery dies or is purposely disconnected.
Q: What do I do if my transmitter stops working?
A: First, check the battery and make sure it is not dead, or almost dead (typically if a battery is almost out of power the remote will only work part of the time or at a very close range). If the battery is ok, try reprogramming the transmitter by consulting the owner’s manual or website. If this does not resolve the issue and if the security system is still functioning in the vehicle, you may need to replace the remote.
Q: What can I do if my transmitter isn’t working and the alarm is triggered?
A: Commonly, you can perform an emergency override of the alarm by pressing the valet switch. Most security systems include a valet switch which is installed in a hidden location inside the vehicle. Since frequently, security systems also include an ignition kill switch not only will your alarm be going off, your ignition system will also be dead. The most common way to bypass this is to enter the vehicle, turn the ignition to the run position and hold the valet switch until the alarm stops. Some systems feature a secret coded override so consult your owner’s manual for details.
Q: What are the common types of car alarms?
An audible car alarm features sensors deployed at strategic spots.
If any of the sensors made close contact with someone or something, the car would emit a piercing sound while the lights were constantly blinking.
This will get the attention of anyone nearby. If the one who triggered the alarm has malicious intentions, they’ll flee as soon as possible.
The alarm won’t turn off unless the driver deactivates it.
This car alarm makes use of a two-way system because of the remote control connectivity with the car and vice-versa. Some expensive models even feature LCD on the remote.
Standard alarms will trigger the vehicle’s lights a couple of times to verify if the alarm is active or not. Two-way paging alarms are slightly more advanced because they can show the status even over long distances.
You won’t have to see the car to verify if the doors are locked because the remote will indicate its status. If someone attempts to break in, you’ll get notifications immediately.
As the name implies, this car alarm doesn’t make use of noise to notify the owner of a possible car thief. Instead, the alert comes in the form of a smartphone app or key fob notification.
Catching the intruder in the act is more likely with this alarm because they won’t realize that they trigger the alarm. However, since there’s no audible alert, people within the area wouldn’t notice the possible break-in.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, an extremely determined and knowledgeable thief is a hard one to discourage.
They are going to make your life miserable and even if they don’t succeed in taking your gear, you will most likely be dealing with a considerable amount of damage. I once had a thief break into my truck and steal my head unit, amp and subs, but they were enough at least considerable enough (read: lazy or scared) to leave my dashboard and parts in the bed of my truck and my speakers intact.
Meth is a hell of a drug.
What can you do to discourage break in’s? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid high crime areas. This can be difficult when you have to go to the hood every day to score a bag of dope, but if that is your lifestyle than you probably have bigger issues to deal with anyway.
- Park in well-lit areas. Tweakers are by nature, sketchy people and tend to scatter like roaches when the lights are turned on. (I’m not saying the only people who break into cars are addicted to methamphetamines, but let’s face it: There probably are not a lot of highly organized, million-dollar-crime syndicates peddling car stereo gear in your area).
- Avoid leaving your car unattended for long periods of time. This can be difficult if you’re out of town or gone for multiple days at a time. If this is the case, try to arrange for someone to come by periodically and check on things.
- Don’t leave your vehicle unlocked or your windows down. This one is pretty straightforward. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
We’ve covered quite a bit of information about car security brands and systems in this article.
While everyone will have a different needs and preferences and price ranges, I would recommend going with a security system from a well-known and reputable manufacturer. If I could pick just one from this list, it’d definitely be the Viper 5906V as it is the most complete one in terms of features.
The only downside to this is that more and more these days, large companies are making their products less user serviceable and in some cases won’t even offer customer service other than to look up a local dealer in your area and refer you to them.
The benefit is that the technology is generally well tested and stable and you have less chance of running into weird problems and hard to diagnose issues.
Either way, make sure to choose a system that will fit your needs well and keep your vehicle as safe as possible.