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3 Different Types of Car Alarms (With Video)

Car Alarm

Today, most cars are equipped with some sort of car alarm. However, the factory car alarm is typically very basic. Therefore, it isn’t uncommon for owners to purchase aftermarket security systems for their cars.

Whether you’re upgrading your car’s current system or in the market for a completely new vehicle, understanding the different systems out there is essential. It’ll help you determine if that fancy-sounding system is really worth the extra money.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common car alarms out there. We’ll also have a look at how well they work, which should help you determine which car alarms are worth it and which ones are not.

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The 3 Different Types of Car Alarms

1. Audible Systems

When you think of an alarm system, you’re probably thinking of an audible alarm. These alarms are usually installed on most new and used cars. They have been an included feature on cars for a very long time, which is likely why they are the most well-known type of alarm.

As you might guess, these alarms sound audibly when they detect someone messing with the car. In theory, this should encourage others to come to the car and potentially stop the thief. However, this isn’t typically how it works in reality. Because these alarms have become so common, most people just ignore them today. There are even reports of thieves using car alarms to mask the sound of breaking windows!

In fact, it is a pretty solid fact that these alarm systems just don’t work like they’re intended.

  • Well-known signals
  • Often ignored

2. Silent Alarm System

You may be wondering why anyone will want to use a silent alarm. However, these systems are becoming increasingly popular. Instead of emitting a loud sound, these car alarms only signal the owner of the vehicle. How they do this differs, though.

Many people are deciding to use these alarms to prevent thieves from using audible alarms to their advantage. A thief can’t use an alarm to mask the sound of glass breaking if the alarm doesn’t make a sound, to begin with.

Plus, these alarms are much less annoying when they go off accidentally!

  • Signals the owner
  • Can’t be used to help the thief
  • Won’t signal to passersby

3. Immobilizing Alarm System

Unlike most alarms that require human intervention to actually stop the thief, an immobilizing alarm system detects that there is a potential thief and prevents the car from being stolen. These systems do not allow the car to move if it has detected troubling activity. The key has to be near or in the car for it to start, which effectively prevents the thief from hotwiring it.

With that said, most thieves today steal things out of cars – they don’t steal the car itself. Therefore, these systems can’t stop that. Furthermore, some thieves have figured out how to get around this mechanism by copying the electronic signal of keys, which allows them to trick the car into thinking that they have the key (when it is really safe in your pocket). While this system was once very effective, thieves have figured out how to outsmart it over the years.

  • Immobilizes the car
  • Doesn’t always work

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Passive vs. Active Alarm

All of the alarms above can also either fall into the passive or active category.

Passive alarms activate whenever the car is turned off and locked. You don’t have to actually set the alarm, in other words—it just automatically comes on. To deactivate the alarm, the driver will need to unlock the doors. Otherwise, it stays on.

However, with an active alarm, you will have to manually set it. While this prevents the alarm from going off when it doesn’t need to, it does increase the chance of you completely forgetting to set your alarm, and if you don’t set the alarm, it doesn’t work.

Today, most car alarms are passive, largely because many people find it difficult to remember to set active alarms.

divider 5 Conclusion

Over the years, car manufacturers have gotten more and more creative with car alarms. Some have even made sensors that allow the alarm to sense broken glass, which can prevent thieves from breaking your car’s windows.

With that said, most car alarms sadly don’t work that well. We know that audible car alarms don’t work all that well anymore, though they may have at some point in the past. Despite the efforts of many inventors, none of the alarms that have come along in the past few years are much better, either.

Therefore, the alarm you currently have in your car doesn’t seem to be terribly important since it likely won’t do much to deter a determined thief anyway.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay


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