Best Car Alarms of 2018 [Reviews and Comparison]

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.

Car Alarm Comparison Chart

  • Literally everything is included except the SmartStart module which can be purchased separately
  • Excellent design
  • Latest security features and sensors
  • Customizable OLED display remote
Screen Type: 2-way Color OLED Remote (1-way backup 5 button remote)Range: Range of up to 1 mileVIEW ON AMAZON
Runner Up2. CLIFFORD 5906X
  • Literally everything is included except the SmartStart module which can be purchased separately
  • Excellent design
  • Latest security features and sensors
  • Customizable OLED display remote
Screen Type: Color OLED ScreenRange: Up to 1 Mile RangeVIEW ON AMAZON
Budget ChoiceEncore E93. Encore E9
  • Includes all the features of more expensive brands
  • Price
  • Excellent range capability
  • Smartphone controller option
  • Straight forward installation
Screen Type: 2-way paging LCD remote and 1 way 4 button backup remoteRange: 3000 Ft. RangeVIEW ON AMAZON
4. AVITAL 5305L
  • Good feature to price ratio
  • Excellent product quality
Screen Type: Includes one LCD remote and one 4-button remoteRange: 1500 Ft. rangeVIEW ON AMAZON
  • Excellent feature to price ratio
  • Price
  • Excellent range capability
  • Smart phone controller option
Screen Type: (1) 2-way LCD transmitter with 3000 feet of rangeRange: 2000 feet of rangeVIEW ON AMAZON

Top 5 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:

1. VIPER 5906V

VIPER 5906V review

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.


  • 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.




CLIFFORD 5906X review

Clifford is another name in car security that’s been around for quite some time.

As with Viper, Clifford is another brand that’s owned by Directed Electronics (DEI). In fact, the Viper alarm we reviewed is quite similar to the Clifford 5906X.

We wanted to include both brands in case one or the other is not available at a retailer near you.

Let’s take a look at some of the features included with this excellent car security system:

Super Code:

  • The patented SuperCode technology is what controls the functionality of the Responder HD system and is the program that drives its advanced features.

    This is a good example of advanced computer algorithms and simple AI making its way into basic consumer electronics.

    The SuperCode protocol encompasses a software-based signal encryption (replacing hardware-based code-hopping).

    The multi-car operation function is designed into the SuperCode protocol, so that the user will have all of the operations for two cars accessible by one remote.

    With 2-way confirmation and notification of the many different events and commands that have been designed into the SuperCode protocol, all of the SuperCode-enabled 2-way systems can tell the user more about their vehicle than any other system available on the market to date!


Responder HD:

  • The Clifford development team has strived to create the ultimate color keychain remote, operating Python's top of the line, one-mile range, 2-Way security and remote start system.

    The result is Python Responder HD, winner of the CES 2009 Innovations Award.

    The Responder HD technology features Clifford's most advanced color remote, a one-mile operating range, 2-Way security and remote start system, mini-USB charging port and an updated menu wheel.


  • If you own a compatible Clifford remote start system, the DSM300/DSM350 module will add SmartStart control capability to your vehicle.

    With this feature, you can remote start, lock or unlock your car simply by pressing a button on your smartphone using the new SmartStart app from Directed Electronics.

    The simple and intuitive GUI gives you control over the most important features of your installed remote start and security system, including the ability to lock/unlock, arm/disarm, remotely start/turn off your engine, trigger the trunk release, and enable the panic mode or car finder features.

    You can also control multiple vehicles and assign more than one user to control a vehicle. SmartStart makes vehicle security easier and more convenient than ever!


  • Up to 1 Mile Range
  • Remote StartStinger DoubleGuard Shock Sensor
  • Dome Light Supervision
  • SuperCode
  • SmartStart Compatible
  • Keyless Entry
  • Failsafe Starter Kill
  • Neo Revenger 6-Tone Siren
  • 1 Responder HD Color 2-Way and 1 5-Button 1-Way
  • Color OLED Screen
  • 4 Aux Channels
  • Trunk Pop
  • Guaranteed Protection Plan


This is another high end car security system and includes all the standard and premium features of the current generation of products. If you’re looking for the best possible theft deterrence on the market, this is it.

You can also visit Clifford’s website and view their other security products if you don’t need a super high end alarm system, although if you can afford it, I would highly advise spending the cash, especially if you’ve got a nice ride and system to protect.



3. Encore E9

Encore E9 review

Encore makes a range of products including Dash cams, DVR recorders, backup sensors and blind spot detection systems, as well as traditional car alarms.

While Encore’s products don’t offer any patented technologies such as Responder HD, SuperCode, or SmartStart, the Encore E9 still packs in plenty of features and at a more affordable price than the big name brands.

Features include ASK long range technology, Ultra bright white LED backlit remote, LCD screen that includes temperature, voltage and countdown/run timer.

It utilizes an ESA-1 mini size dual stage shock sensor, on-board 2-way serial and telematics port for i-Data Link data bus and bypass module integration. Other features include programmable outputs, two car operation and multiple audible confirmation tones and vibration mode for paging.

It even includes its own smart phone compatibility called Encore Ally which is available with an additional module (purchased separately).

Feature Highlights

  • 6-channel professional series alarm
  • 2-way paging LCD remote and 1 way 4 button backup remote
  • Remote start
  • Keyless entry
  • Panic mode and valet mode
  • Trunk release
  • Temperature, timer, stick and turbo timer start modes
  • 3000 Ft. Range


Encore E9

As you can see, the Encore E9 includes plenty of features and options and makes for a solid theft deterrence option.

While it lacks some of the patented technologies found in larger brands and doesn’t offer any insurance protection plans, it does offer an excellent amount of protection for the price. Installation is straightforward and is simpler than some systems using DEI technology.

I would highly recommend the Encore E9 for anyone who is looking for an alarm system with great features without the high price tag of the big name brands.

Here's a cool video from the guys of Sonicelectronix at CES 2015 where they talk about the new features of the Encore E9:



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.





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.



Buyer’s Guide

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?

Q: What do I do if my transmitter stops working?

Q: What can I do if my transmitter isn’t working and the alarm is triggered?

Anti-theft Tips

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.

Best Car Alarms of 2019 [Reviews and Comparison]
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