Your vehicle is a crucial part of your everyday life. It is required for protecting your vehicle from damage and burglary using a car alarm.
A car alarm is an excellent investment for your vehicle’s security. It can:
- Prevent vandalism or car burglaries
- Prevent your car from being stolen
- Protect your belongings
- Help protect you in an emergency
- Secure your peace of mind
Most car alarms are made to be installed universally and can be installed in virtually any model of vehicle. Some car alarm systems have other functions such as a remote start feature, or monitoring services like GPS location and tracking.
A car alarm is a deterrent for thieves and vandals, and draws attention to all those who proceed to violate your property despite the warnings.
A car alarm has:
- A control module, often referred to as “the brain”
- A siren that blares when it is triggered
- An antenna to receive remote signals
- Remotes to control the alarm system’s functions
- Optional sensors for features such as impacts or collisions
- Wiring to connect it all together
The alarm system is joined to the vehicle’s door locks. When the doors are locked with the alarm remote, the alarm gets activated. If the vehicle is breached, a siren will start to sound. Whenever the door locks are unlocked with the alarm remote, the alarm system is disarmed.
If the alarm is triggered, it can be silenced through pressing the unlock button once, and then a second press will disarm the system.
You can choose a car alarm or security system for your vehicle with the help of a few easy decisions.
Part 1 of 3: Decide on a one-way or a two-way alarm system
The difference between a one-way and a two-way alarm system is just that a one-way system only sends commands from the remote to the vehicle, while a two-way system transmits information from the vehicle back to the remote too. It can intimate when the alarm is sounding, if the doors are locked or unlocked, and let you know if your remote command was successfully received by the alarm system.
Two-way systems come in different configurations. The most used is a remote with an LCD screen that displays your car’s status, while a lower version only has a flashing LED light and sounds a tone for certain functions. A higher end version, which is more expensive helps you to receive notifications from your car alarm on your smartphone.
Step 1: Determine your purpose for buying a car alarm. If you are just trying to add another level of security for extra peace of mind but don’t strongly believe there is a threat targeting your vehicle, you can consider getting just a one-way alarm system.
If you live in an area that experiences a high number of auto thefts and break-ins, a two-way system will aid you to be aware of your vehicle’s status.
Step 2: Check the operating range of the two-way function. Alarm systems function on radio frequency which can experience inconsistent communication in certain areas such as apartment buildings, areas of high electronic or radio frequency use, and over long distances.
If you work or live in a high-rise building, or are usually outside of a quarter-mile distance from your vehicle, you may not be able to maintain communication with your car alarm. Check that the two-way alarm system is able to function where you might need it to.
- Tip: Some higher-end car alarms consist of ranges up to three miles to the remote, though their range is still reduced by interference.
Step 3: Determine if special items of your car require extra protection. If you are regularly leaving valuables in your vehicle, or if you have an expensive car stereo, you’re at a higher risk of a vehicle break-in and burglary.
A car alarm with the added assistance of two-way monitoring will help you in keeping your vehicle more secure.
Step 4: Determine if you need a car alarm notifications on your smartphone. If you have a smartphone, some alarm systems have two-way monitoring on your device as long as you have a cell signal which is at the location of your vehicle.
If you are out of town and want to monitor your vehicle’s status, or if you require remotely disarming or arm your vehicle for some reason, you can do it using your smartphone, even if you are across the country or not in the country.
Two-way alarm systems with monitoring on your cell phone include a monthly fees and are more expensive to install initially.
Part 2 of 3: Decide on the alarm system options you want
After deciding if you want a one-way or two-way alarm system, you have to decide the options that you want installed as part of your alarm. Keep in mind that any kind of extra option will cost you more for the installation, and may cost more for your initial purchase as well.
Step 1: Decide whether to get a remote starter with your alarm system or not. If you want an alarm installed with remote start functions, the initial equipment you require will be different and will be more expensive.
- Tip: The cost of installing an alarm and remote start together will help you save money as opposed to installing each separately.
Step 2: Decide whether to integrate the power door locks. While the alarm system usually operates alongside the power door locks on the alarm remote, it can be installed without actually operating the door locks.
If your vehicle does not have power door locks, installing an alarm system will not help you to lock and unlock the door locks by remote as the component is available in your vehicle for power door locks.
Step 3: Choose if you want to integrate the trunk open feature with the alarm or not. Just like you unlock your doors, you can actuate the trunk release with the alarm remote if your vehicle is equipped with a power trunk and if the trunk opening option is included with the alarm installation.
Step 4: Decide if you want a proximity sensor on your vehicle or not. A proximity sensor works by warning people who come too close to your vehicle through a chirp from the alarm siren. This sensor will help you to identify any obstacles to the front and rear or any objects on and above the road to help avoid danger.
A proximity sensor will also detect when you are nearby with your two-way alarm remote, automatically disarming the alarm and will unlock the door for you.
Step 5: Determine if you want an impact sensor. An impact sensor tells if your vehicle is bumped or hit by someone while the alarm is active and triggers a warning chirp or alarm sound to scare away potential intruders.
- Tip: Impact sensors can be overly sensitive, especially with windy conditions or even loud noises like low bass frequencies from car stereos. It is advisable to conduct some research about impact sensors before you are purchasing and getting them installed in your car.
Step 6: Choose a car alarm with an immobilizing feature. Car alarms integrated with the immobilizing feature helps to prevent the engine from starting when the alarm is activated.
Part 3 of 3: Choose a brand of alarm system
Step 1: Choose a car alarm system from a good brand. Popular brands like Viper, Compustar, and Python are usually known across the country. Choosing a reputed and recognizable car alarm system makes sure that you can get good quality, trustworthy alarm systems and ensures the availability of certified replacement parts.
Step 2: Choose a car alarm that can be serviced locally. While car alarms seldom break down, you might need to have your system updated for a software glitch, get the remote replaced, have a feature changed or have to integrate a new feature.
After narrowing down your desired brand, visit their website and find a dealer in your area.
- Tip: If there isn’t a dealer in within a reasonable distance, say 25 miles, just choose a different brand of car alarm to install.
How to Install a Car Alarm
Whether you have just bought a used vehicle without an alarm or just decided to opt for the extra security, installing an alarm system into your car will never be a bad idea. There are a number of practical benefits, and in some areas, the addition of an alarm system can help to lower the cost of car insurance.
A car alarm is a fantastic defence against auto theft and there are a number of alarms available that can be simply install in their own car. Though the process is not as simple as an oil change, the installation is surprisingly quite straightforward, if close attention is paid to the following directions, double-checking along the way.
Part 1 of 4: Picking out an aftermarket alarm
There are varying degrees of complexity which are available with car alarm systems. Basic systems can help to tell when a door is ajar or when an automatic lock is forced open. Complex systems have remotes that can warn you whenever your car is being tampered with and can detect when the car is bumped. Try to find an alarm that is made for your vehicle to help the installation process.
Step 1: Searching for a factory alarm. Check to find if there is a factory alarm system available for your specific model of car. Most manufacturers offer an alarm as an option, and in some cases, the installation of a factory unit can also be incredibly straightforward. Some computer reprogramming might be needed by the dealer on some units to enable it.
- Tip: You can mostly get a key fob with a “panic” button on it from the manufacturer that matches the car’s regular key.
Step 2: Decide what you require from an alarm system. It is crucial that you have an idea of what you want from your alarm system and to search based on those preferences. If you just want a simple system, you can get set up with a little cost. If you need a remote control that will alert you when your alarm is going off and the ability to start or stop your engine remotely, then you can spend much more on an advanced system.
- Note: Your price range will be the biggest deciding factor here, so weigh out the pros and cons of installing an alarm system before deciding on the level of security you need. Very complex alarm systems might require professional installation.
Step 3: Read the Manual. Once you have an alarm system picked out, you have to read the manual for the alarm system and any relevant sections of the vehicle’s manual.
It is crucial to plan out the entire installation before diving into the project. An alarm that does not function correctly is not quite useful and is potentially extremely annoying. Disconnect the battery before you start the installation. Be aware of any airbag wiring mostly encased in yellow covers and connectors. Don’t just wire into any airbag circuit.
Part 2 of 4: Install the siren
- Electric tape
- Handheld Drill
- Mechanic gloves
- Soldering Iron or Crimping Tool
- Wire strippers/cutters
- Zip ties
- Note: While purchasing the alarm system, just check the manual to see what additional tools may be required for installation.
Step 1: Where to Mount. Find a metal surface onto which you can easily mount the siren that goes to the alarm system. The siren is the part that is actually emitting a high pitch sound, so it has to be in the engine bay and it needs to be unobstructed. Try to keep the siren 18” away from hot engine components like the exhaust manifold or a turbocharger and face the siren downward to prevent any water from entering the part.
Step 2: Find a Hole for Wires. The wire has to go through the firewall that separates the engine from the car’s interior. This means either looking for a pre-existing hole that wires are passing through already and using this space or drilling a hole into a plastic or rubber section of the firewall. This hole will also allow a power line to pass from the battery towards the ‘brain’ of the alarm system, giving it power. It is a good idea to wire a fuse in this line.
- Warning: Do not drill through the metal of the firewall until and unless it is absolutely necessary. You might run the risk of damaging important components and causing premature corrosion.
Part 3 of 4: Wiring the alarm into the car
Step 1: Look where the alarm computer connects. Using the manual that comes with the alarm, just establish where the ‘brain’ of the system is going to reside.
Most require to be wired into the car’s ECU to read the signals pertaining to the sensors in the doors and windows. Some alarms have their own standalone computer units that are mounted in the engine bay near to the siren, but most are wired into the car’s computer and hidden inside of the dashboard.
- Note: Common locations have under the driver side of the dashboard and behind the glove compartment.
Step 2: Installing additional sensors. If the alarm system came with any kind of additional sensor, such as a shock sensor, then those can be installed now wherever the manufacturer suggests.
Step 3: Planning a place for LED lights. Most alarm systems have some sort of indicator to tell the driver when the system is active. Mostly, this indicator is in the form of a small LED light that is mounted in the dash somewhere, so plan out where the LED will fit best.
Step 4: Install LED lights. Once you have determined a fitting place, just drill a small hole, and secure the light in place, wiring it to the rest of the system.
Part 4 of 4: Connecting the battery and testing of the alarm
Step 1: Checking the power. Connect the power line to the battery and allow the alarm system to get powered up. The system should power up whenever the car is on.
- Warning: Some systems might need additional calibration at this point, so be sure to check the manual that comes with the system before continuing.
Step 2: Check the system. Arm your system and then test it to check if it functions properly. If your system comes with a ‘panic button’ remote, test it with that, but your system does not have a remote, try jostling the door while the alarm is armed.
Step 3: Bundling loose wires. If the system is working properly, then you can use electrical tape, zip ties, and/or heat shrink wrap for bundling the loose wires together and protect the connections.
Step 4: Securing the wires. Since the wires are now bundled together, just secure the brain and the wires somewhere inside the dashboard. This will help to prevent issues with the unit from getting jostled around, which might set off the alarm unnecessarily, causing unwelcome distress and concern.
The following video shows the Alarm Siren Replacement-