As a car owner, one of the things you need to worry about is protecting your investment. The last thing you want to happen to your vehicle is an intrusion or theft, and a car alarm is one of the best ways to prevent that.
Though car alarms can be beneficial, they also have their downsides. It can be almost too easy to set off some alarms, and you may not hear it when you’re deep inside a building. Some include remote start, but as you add features, you start to add to the price.
That said, there are a lot of options on the market, so we took it upon ourselves to find the best ones. With all of the effort put into research, we’ve put together the most comprehensive guide you’ll find online. Hopefully, it will make the buying process easier for you.
- 1 2017's Best Auto Security Systems Comparison Table:
- 2 1. Viper 5706V - Best Car Alarm With Remote Start
- 3 2. Avital 5305L - Best Budget Friendly Auto Alarm with Remote Starter
- 4 3. Avital 3100LX - Best Cheap Auto Alarm
- 5 4. DEI 508D - Best Affordable Motion Sensor Alarm
- 6 5. Python 5706P - Best Remote Start Alarm For Long Range
- 7 6. Crimestopper SP-101 - Inexpensive Basic Alarm for Any Vehicle
- 8 7. EP400 SmartKey - Best Auto Alarm for Keyless Entry
- 9 How to choose the best Car Alarm
- 10 Alarm Features to Consider
- 10.0.1 Keyless Entry
- 10.0.2 Starter Kill
- 10.0.3 Sensors
- 10.0.4 Motion Sensors
- 10.0.5 Glass-break sensors
- 10.0.6 Tilt sensor
- 10.0.7 Shock sensor
- 10.0.8 Remote Start
- 10.0.9 Smartphone Integration
- 10.0.10 2 way starter
- 10.0.11 Driver's Side Priority Unlock
- 10.0.12 Immobilizer
- 10.0.13 Auxiliary Outputs
- 10.0.14 Led Light
- 10.0.15 GPS Capability
- 10.0.16 Ignition Controlled Door Locks
- 10.0.17 Dome Light Supervision
- 10.0.18 Car Finder Mode
- 10.0.19 Hood Pin Triggers
- 10.1 Ease of Use
- 10.2 Ease of Installation
- 10.3 Price
- 11 Frequently asked questions about buying Aftermarket Security Systems?
2017's Best Auto Security Systems Comparison Table:
Car Alarm Name
1. Viper 5706V - Best Car Alarm With Remote Start
Our favorite remote start alarm is the Viper 5706V. The 5706V is in its third generation and has SST one-mile range and a larger LCD display than previous generations. With this unit, you’ll get an LCD display 2-way remote and a companion 1-way remote. The 2-way remote utilizes a lithium-ion rechargeable battery with a micro-USB connector. See the difference between the 5706V and 5906v here.
The 2-way remote allows you to receive information from the car, such as the internal temperature or when doors are opened or closed. You can easily start the car from within your home or office, which makes starting your car in inclement weather a breeze. If you’ve found that it’s still too cold to go out, you can always reset the timer; the remote will alert you three minutes before the timer runs out.
With the Priority User interface, you can use five buttons to control 24 functions on each of two cars, making this the most versatile car alarm we’ve found.
Your system works to protect your car even when you’re away. If anything has triggered the system in the time you were gone, you’ll be notified on the display. Your car will respond to several interferences, including when there are external shocks to the car, such as a potential break-in.
- Way Security + Remote Start System with 5-Button LCD Transmitter
- 5-button sidekick remote control transmitter
- 1 mile range
- 4-Channel vehicle security system
- Door and trunk triggers
Our Top Pick
What we liked the most
- It has a 1 mile range
- It shows the temperature inside the vehicle
- The remote interface is easy to use
What we didn't like
- The LCD Remote is not water resistant
- Bypass module has to be purchased separately
For an all-around high-quality performer, the Viper 5706V is the right choice. It doesn’t have an outrageous price tag, and you still get all of the perks you’d want with a car alarm. A 2-way remote start system keeps you informed of your car’s status, and you can rest easy knowing your vehicle is better protected. Viper is a great brand.
2. Avital 5305L - Best Budget Friendly Auto Alarm with Remote Starter
Avital is known for putting out quality aftermarket alarm systems, and the 5303L is no exception. This unit is a great budget-friendly option that still gets you the great add-on of a remote starter. If you live in areas with a lot of cold weather, you and your car will appreciate the warm-up.
Included in the package is one 2-way LCD remote and one 4-button 1-way remote. The unit has an option for an easy Valet mode, and the 2-way remote makes sure you know what your car is doing at all times; there are 18 icons on the LCD screen that the brain uses to communicate with you.
Standard features include nuisance prevention in the form of anti-false alarm technology and protection against hotwiring.
As you might expect, built into the remote start system is keyless entry, and there are also 4 auxiliary outputs, which can control things like the trunk release.
- Virtual tach eliminates the need for tach wire in most installations
- D11 bitwriter programmable for easy configuration
- 2-Way LCD 4-button remote is backlit, has tone & vibe modes & zone id
- Command confirmations & event notifications via LCD remote
What we liked the most
- You can program the rear defrosters to turn on when the temperature is below 55 degrees.
- The unit features a shock sensor, which alerts when something makes contact with the vehicle; it emits a warning signal when it interprets a minor disturbance and a full siren when it detects a major disturbance. These shock sensors are adjustable to change the sensitivity
What we didn't like
- The key FOB uses triple AAA batteries, it's not a rechargable unit
- The stated range is 1,500 feet, but if you live in an area with a lot of obstructions, our range could be significantly shorter
- The remote start isn’t compatible with cars with push button start systems
If you need an alarm system, you may as well get one that allows you remote start and keyless entry for a complete, convenient package. Avital’s 5303L is a great value so you really can have it all.
3. Avital 3100LX - Best Cheap Auto Alarm
Avital’s 3100LX is the best cheap car alarm we could find. It’s low cost but still high quality, with a built-in keyless entry on the 3-channel remote. The unit features a 2-sensor that detects blows to the vehicle and responds with either a warning chirp or a full siren. For additional protection while you’re away, the unit has measures in place to protect against potential thieves hot-wiring your vehicle.
This serves perfectly as a dual alarm and remote start system. The 1-way remote is sturdy, and two are included in your set. There is a valet setting, and you can even take the keys out of the ignition and let the engine run in case you need to step away from your vehicle.
In addition, the 3100LX has a LED light status indicator and a push button Valet switch, making this both an affordable and a convenient choice.
- 3-channel security/keyless entry system
- Bright Red LED Status Indicator
- Parking Light Flash
- Includes (2) 3-button Transmitters
- Dome Light Supervision – Separate relay required
What we liked the most
- It has a unique anti-false alarm technology, which is a great feature if you live in a neighborhood
- The remote includes an accessory button that can be used for things like a trunk release, and it’s the same button you use to switch to a valet setting
What we didn't like
- Depending on your car’s make and model, you may need to purchase a separate bypass system
- The installation process is not easy for the inexperienced, and the installation instructions are lacking
For the price you’re paying for this system, you really can’t beat this system. You get both an alarm and a remote start unit, which adds to your convenience and security.
4. DEI 508D - Best Affordable Motion Sensor Alarm
The Directed Install Essentials dual zone motion sensor 508D alarm is available for a low price and can set off a warning sound or a full alarm when someone comes too close. While this is useful for all vehicles, convertible and truck owners may find the greatest benefit.
The way it works is that the system projects two invisible detection fields around your vehicle using Invisibeam Field Disturbance Sensors. It’s not too sensitive, though. The system is designed to detect moving high-density objects using radio frequency (RF)-field technology. You can set two different warnings. For example, you can set a warning signal for when the outer zone is triggered and a full alarm for when the inner zone is triggered. The warning can either be a siren chirp or a message from an optional voice module. It's perfect for Jeeps.
This can work as a stand-alone unit or as part of another alarm system.
What we liked the most
- The price is just right. Compared to other alarm models that have all of the bells and whistles you may not need, the DEI 508D gives you exactly what you need without all the fuss.
- This vehicle alarm system is particularly useful when you’re driving an open top vehicle, and you need to run a quick errand or leave your car for just a moment. You can even leave the window down while you’re away from your car and the alarm will still work.
What we didn't like
- The alarm, while useful, is rather one-note (pardon the pun). If you are looking for a unit that can allow for keyless entry or remote start, you’ll have to look somewhere else. But those may not give you the same security as a motion sensor alarm.
- The motion sensor is also a little sensitive. It may take several tries to adjust the sensor range.
If you don’t need anything fancy, and you’re not interested in added features like keyless entry or remote start, the DEI 508D is a great place to look. The unit features two types of warnings and has two invisible fields that monitor close movement, making this a great choice for convertibles and trucks.
5. Python 5706P - Best Remote Start Alarm For Long Range
The Python 5706P is a versatile unit that serves as an effective car alarm with a remote start system. Included are two remotes; one is a 2-way remote with an LCD display, the other is a 1-way, five-button remote control. Also included is a shock sensor, meaning that if something or someone jostles the car, the 6-tone siren will alarm. The remotes have a one-mile range in line-of-sight conditions, making this automobile alarm system among the best for long-range security.
• Stinger® DoubleGuard® Shock Sensor
• Neo Revenger Soft-Chirp 6-Tone Siren
• Guaranteed Protection Plan (GPP)
• One Responder LCD SuperCode 2-Way and One 5-Button 1-Way Remotes
• One Mile Range with SST*
What we liked the most
- The remote can tell you the internal temperature of the car and even activate the defroster.
- The optional SmartStart technology (SST) allows you to communicate with the system via smartphone.
- It has a range of up to a mile.
What we didn't like
- Depending on your location, the range might not extend to one mile. If there is interference, hilly terrain, or other impediments, you might not experience the full range.
- If you’re not experienced with electronics, this installation may not be for you. The installation process is involved and requires some foreknowledge.
Directed Electronics’ Python 5706P is a great system with an incredible range, and you get a great variety of options and two rugged remotes for a reasonable price. It’s a great value for what you get with the package.
6. Crimestopper SP-101 - Inexpensive Basic Alarm for Any Vehicle
The Crimestopper Security Plus Sp-101 is a great little entry-level vehicle alarm system that can work for any vehicle, including motorcycles and bicycles. The system works as both a security system and keyless entry. When you purchase the unit, you also get two 1-way remotes that are ultra-slim and feature four buttons for unlocking, locking, trunk entry, and a panic alarm. The remotes have a 500ft. operating range and the alarm itself is a 20W single-toned siren. There is also a LED light and a single-stage, single-adjustment shock sensor. If you have a European vehicle, there is a separate left and right side parking light output.
- (2) 4 button transmitters with 500 feet of range
- Arm/lock – disarm/unlock
- Double pulse unlock
- Trunk release
- Disarm with trunk release
- Positive and negative door inputs
- Starter kill option
- Auxiliary negative input (hood or trunk)
- Horn and siren outputs
- Parking lights output
- Dual stage shock sensor with adjustments
What we liked the most
- It's a very affordable option
- The system is easy to install and easy to use. Because you’re getting such a basic unit, the instructions are easy to understand, and installation is a breeze.
- There are several output options including an ignition kill switch and a horn honk output.
What we didn't like
- The range is only 500 feet
- The system can also be a little sensitive. Depending on how the sensor is set up, the alarm can go off even when cars or rumbling motorcycles drive past.
- There is only one auxiliary output option, so your functions are limited.
You can’t go wrong with this compact, inexpensive unit. If you need something basic that will work with a car or motorcycle without making a major investment, the Crimestopper SP-101 is the right unit for you.
7. EP400 SmartKey - Best Auto Alarm for Keyless Entry
The hallmark of the EP400 is the Smartkey function. How it works is that the main unit connects wirelessly to the remote fob. The remote has a transponder that emits a signal to the main unit when you get within the Smart Key detection range. As you approach the vehicle, the main unit will confirm the transponders unique security code and unlock the car, which makes entry that much more convenient. The system works both ways. When you walk away from the vehicle, it unlocks.
The EP400 has other great features such as a push-button start feature, where you can warm up the car before getting in. If you want, you can only turn on the accessory options instead of fully starting the car. The one-way remote system works well, and the price is reasonable for what you get
- Universal Push Button Start
- Smart Key Car Alarm System 1 way communication
- Keyless Entry System – Automatically unlocks on approach
- 2 Remote Controls Included (with Multi Car Functions)
What we liked the most
- The factory setting is one-way, but you can actually upgrade to a 2-way remote (for an extra fee). The smart keyless entry system is like nothing else on the market and makes vehicle access a breeze.
- The push button start and stop system is a major convenience, and two remotes are included, allowing you multi-car functions.
What we didn't like
- DIY installation may be a hassle. The installation instructions can be confusing.
- You may need to actually buy a separate bypass module for the unit to work with a preexisting system.
Easycar’s EP400 is a unique car security system that offers the best in keyless entry. Although it’s not easy to install, once you have in place, going to and leaving your car is easy and leave you and your car secure. It’s a simple and easy as walking in close proximity to your vehicle. If you find yourself needing your hands-free, for example, if you have children or find yourself carrying a lot of equipment, the smart key entry system will prove invaluable.
How to choose the best Car Alarm
Car alarms are not created equal, so it takes time to decide what you need for your car. Here are some factors you should consider before making an investment of time and money.
Alarm Features to Consider
The car alarm market is huge, so it can be difficult to tell the difference between all of your options. Here are the features you should consider before buying.
Many car alarms include a multi-button remote that offers a variety of functions. One of those functions is to arm or disarm your car; it can also unlock the doors and open the trunk. Even if your car has a keyless entry as a default manufacturer’s key, you can still transfer that ability to the alarm system, eliminating the need to carry around extra keys.
Depending on the type of car alarm you have, you can sometimes even receive information from the car in case there is an alert of some sort. This is usually in the form of an icon or text display on an LCD screen. Depending on how sophisticated your system is, you might even be able to connect to your smartphone and communicate with your car through yet another channel.
When your alarm sounds, you’ll likely receive an alert on your remote transmitter. Some alarms have a starter kill switch that allows you to disable the engine from running at the touch of a button. Thieves won’t be able to get any further with your car, and you have time to go and disable the alarm.
The starter kill feature also makes it difficult for potential thieves to hot wire your car.
Motion sensors, also known as radar sensors, are a great feature if you have an open car or truck. Like shock sensors, there is two types of motion sensors: dual and single zone. Dual-zone works if someone gets too close to the vehicle, then a warning sound will go off. Any further invasion into the space will trigger a loud siren that may shake off some criminals. A single zone sensor only detects when motion passes into the inside space of the car. If you have an exposed cargo area in a van or truck, or you have a motorcycle, motion sensor alarms can be particularly useful. All motion sensors are adjustable to your personal preferences.
Another sensor that quickly proves invaluable is the glass-break sensor. If a thief who thinks himself clever tries to skirt around the alarm system by kindly shattering glass instead, he will quickly be surprised because the glass-break sensor sounds an alarm when it hears glass breaking. There is a small microphone attached to the unit that listens for the high pitch of glass breaking. It then sends a signal to the unit to trigger the siren.
Tilt sensors work by triggering when the car begins to tilt off a flat surface in case it’s being jacked or towed. When the alarm is armed, it remembers the position and angle of the car at that point. If anything moves it off of that plane, an alarm will sound.
There are two types of shock sensors: dual stage and single stage. Dual stage shock sensors can differentiate between a light impact and a heavier one. It emits a warning signal upon a light impact and emits a full alarm when a heavier impact is detected. Single stage shock sensors will trigger upon a heavy impact only. Both of these sensors are adjustable so you can set the sensitivity level, and both are effective at scaring off intruders.
The remote start feature is useful in extreme climates, as you can start the car from a good distance away, presumably inside your home or office, and wait for the car to warm up while your heater or air conditioner goes to work. This is a particularly useful feature in cold climates, as you don’t have to waste extra time in the morning waiting for your car to warm up—it can happen while you get ready for the day! The ultimate in convenience.
Remote start is available as an add-on to a security system, or you can find one built-in.
The car engine runs until one of two things happens. Either a key enters the ignition, or there is a timer to run the vehicle for a predetermined amount of time. Typically you’ll see most remote starts run for approximately five minutes before automatically turning off.
But what if someone tries to break in while it's running? Don’t worry, if there is not a key in the ignition and someone tries to put the car in gear, the ignition will turn off immediately.
For more about top rated auto starters, see the buying guide. I review some of the best brands and products, like the Viper SmartStart System
Some systems allow you to synchronize your smartphone to the brain of the security system, which gives you range wherever you have phone service.
Picture source: Dronemobile.com
2 way starter
A 2-way starter is like a two-way remote control. You can receive information from the car, and you can tell the car what to do. With a standard one-way remote, you can only tell the car what to do, such as unlock a door or release the trunk. The two-way remote allows you to receive information from the car, such as the internal temperature or whether a door is open. You can also receive information such as when an alarm or warning was triggered, so you always know what happens to your car while you’re away.
Driver's Side Priority Unlock
If you are alone and want to feel an extra level of security when going to your car, you can look for the driver’s side priority unlock feature. When using the remote, it will only unlock the driver’s side door first, then unlock the rest of the doors upon a second push of the button.
An immobilizer is a type of device that prevents a vehicle from being started unless the key or remote matches the device. Usually, the key also has a chip installed so it can communicate with the immobilizer to start.
This allows you to expand the capabilities of the alarm system by adding features such as the remote start or a trunk release. It’s typical for alarms to have at least one auxiliary output but consider your current and future needs for a security and automated system.
One output you may consider is a power window control module. This would allow you to control your windows with the remote control. You can roll the windows down to let out the heat in the summer, or you can put your windows back up in case of an afternoon thunderstorm.
The trunk release is a popular auxiliary output because it’s really convenient. If you have to access your trunk often or you don’t always have your hands free, the trunk release option will prove to be the ultimate necessary luxury.
An LED light serves as a visual warning for thieves to back off. It’s a signal that you have an active security system, which is guaranteed to draw the attention of others, something no thief wants.
You can add GPS capability to a system, so you know where your vehicle is at all times. It can even tell you when your vehicle is traveling too fast or when it leaves or enters a preprogrammed area.
Ignition Controlled Door Locks
Some alarms have settings for ignition controlled door locks, where when the key is in the ignition, the doors lock and when the car is turned off, the doors are unlocked.
Dome Light Supervision
This feature is built into most car alarm systems. When the unlock button is pressed, the dome light will come on for a period of time. If the alarm is triggered, the dome light will flash in tandem with the parking lights.
Car Finder Mode
If you are parked in a crowded parking lot or parking deck, and you can’t find your car, some security systems come with a car finder mode that emits continuous chirping while flashing the parking lights.
Hood Pin Triggers
Hood pin triggers are spring loaded and tell the brain of the unit when the hood has been opened. If the hood is opened, the siren will go off, which will prevent the thief from tampering with the battery to turn off the alarm.
Ease of Use
How easy is it to use? Think about your personal comfort level with gadgets and even your possible penchant for misplacing your keys. Some remote start units come with a lot of auxiliary features that you have to program into the remotes. If you aren’t gadget-friendly or if you simply don’t want something that fiddly, you may want to consider a more basic car alarm option.
Ease of Installation
Depending on your car, transmission type, and level of personal electronics experience, the installation process can either be an easy day of work or a nightmare. Be aware of your own comfort level with electronics and know that some installations can take a long time. If you drive a manual transmission vehicle, it can be even trickier, so it might be worth the extra expense to have a professional install it.
If you want a lot of the extra features that can accompany car alarms, such as remote start functions and smartphone compatibility, you will start to see an increase in price. You’ll have to balance your budget with getting the features that are most important to you.
Don’t sell yourself and your automotive investment short. An aftermarket car alarm is a great way to add an extra layer of defense against would-be thieves, especially if you have something worth going after, such as a new sound system. As always, it’s best to use common sense and not open yourself up to criminal activity, but a new system might be just what you need.
After taking a look at all of the choices of the market, we found the best remote start alarm in the Viper 5706V, with its long range, great price point, and all the auxiliary features you could ask for. Its rugged design is clean and clear and has all the features we could want in an all-around security system.
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