Automotive & GPS
Your options for vehicle anti-theft systems
Auto theft is an unfortunate fact of life on the road. As a car owner, you need to be proactive about protecting your vehicle. While even basic insurance policies provide protection for you in the event that your car is stolen, it is still a major hassle and you may lose difficult-to-replace personal items that will add to your stress. Anti-theft systems provide an effective line of defense against car theft, and there is a wide range of options available. Best of all, you may qualify for reduced insurance premiums if you install one. This is because your insurance company will consider your vehicle at lower risk of being stolen, which in turn decreases the likelihood that you will have to file a claim.
Types of Vehicle Anti-Theft Systems
There are four major types of anti-theft systems for vehicles:
- Car alarms. These are the simplest and most common type of anti-theft system, and a wide range of options are available. Some car alarms are triggered if a person simply comes too close to your vehicle while the alarm is engaged, while others will not sound unless someone actually comes in contact with your car. Many car alarms also contain a visual component, such as a flashing interior light, which warns thieves that the vehicle is protected. If you're looking for an easy and inexpensive option, a car alarm is a great choice.
- Kill switches. A kill switch is an anti-theft device which will deactivate your vehicle's electrical or fuel system if an unauthorized person tries to drive away in your car. The most effective kill switches are automatically activated when you lock your car, and they can only be deactivated if you complete a series of specific, sequential tasks which a thief would not know about. For example, you may have to turn the steering wheel to the right twice, press down on the gas pedal twice, followed by the brake once, then honk your horn to deactivate the kill switch.
- Immobilizers. There are two types of vehicle immobilizers: mechanical immobilizers and electronic immobilizers. A mechanical immobilizer is a cost-effective option, but most professional car thieves are able to disarm them. Electronic immobilizers are much more effective. When someone who is not permitted to drive your vehicle attempts to get away in it, an electronic immobilizer shuts down the car's electrical system and cuts off its fuel supply, leaving the would-be car thief stranded. While electronic immobilizers are among the costliest anti-theft devices on the market, they are also among the most effective. Look for great bargains on Black Friday!
- Component locks. Finally, you can choose from a wide range of vehicle component locks, including tire locks, hood locks and steering wheel locks. As their name implies, these devices are physical deterrents which create access barriers. Tire locks are affixed to your hub caps and make it all but impossible for thieves to drive away. Steering wheel locks are sturdy, reliable bar-like devices which attach to your steering wheel, disallowing access to your car's steering column and making it far more difficult for a thief to escape with your vehicle.
Vehicle theft prevention experts recommend using more than one of these options to enjoy the best possible protection. For example, you can pair a car alarm with a mechanical immobilizer as part of an inexpensive yet effective vehicle theft prevention strategy.
Black Friday is a great time to hunt for bargains on these thief-deterring automotive accessories. Look for deals at major department stores and specialized automotive retailers alike, and remember to see what's available through local, independently-owned small businesses as well.