Last updated on November 23rd, 2020 at 10:38 pm
The screaming of a car alarm has become so common over the last few decades that most people only look to see what’s going on when the alarm doesn’t silence quickly enough. Worse, many low-cost systems trigger the alarm when cars drive by, the wind blows, or a bird marks it’s spot. People have become so numb to the sound of car alarms, thieves don’t even get concerned about honking horns anymore. Worse, many budget alarms are actually quite simple to fool with electronic devices that can copy and repeat the disarm codes, giving thieves an opportunity to ransack your car without your knowledge.
In 2020, what drivers need is an alarm that does more than just make noise. A two-way alarm not only allows the driver to set the alarm, but also tells the owner why the car is alarming. In the event of an actual break-in, a two-way car alarm provides the ultimate opportunity to ensure your car is secure at all times. If a door is opened or a window is broken, the alarm goes off. But, unbeknownst to the wanna-be thief, the key fob in your pocket lets you know, giving you a chance to contact law enforcement before the criminal escapes.
Why You Need a Car Alarm Today
Vehicle thefts and break-ins are among the least solved of all crimes in the U.S. Catching a thief and having enough evidence to prosecute is very difficult, and light sentencing in many states means even repeat car thieves are not likely to serve hard time. They will be right back out on the street, ready to steal from someone else. A comprehensive security system starts with deterrence, and many of the systems today can go a long way toward helping catch a thief in the act.
The two-way alarms we are sharing with you today are among the very best on the market. We looked at reliability, ease of use, and the usefulness of security features to identify the very best alarms you can buy. Any of the systems we include in this list today will do the job providing you with peace of mind and a sense of security knowing your car will be right where you parked it last.
How We Chose
In order to find the ideal Car Alarm, we've combined many reviews across the industry with first-hand tests. There are multiple criteria that we take into consideration when rating and reviewing each car alarm, including:
- Style (Looks, Design)
- Display Type (LCD, Dotted, LCD Text, etc.)
- Features (Range, Auxiliary Outputs, Trunk Release, 2-way Paging, etc)
- Quality (Materials used, manufacturer, etc)
- Online Reviews (From multiple vendors such as Sonic Electronix, Crutchfield, Amazon and more)
The result from our combination of sources and testing is a list of the top rated and reviewed Car Alarm Units. And in addition to our compilation of products, CarAudioNow also provides multiple comparisons of prices from vendors to try to get you the best price for all of your products.
Best Car Alarm List
Compustar CS7900-AS Quick Review
Most of the alarm systems on the market today require additional components or wiring to get the most out of the system. The CS7900 from Compustar is no different, but what sets this alarm apart from others is the incredibly high level of build quality. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to expand an existing system to get features you want, only to find the system you purchased isn’t up to the task of handling everything.
The 7900 system includes a 2-way remote along with a sidekick one-way remote. The remote is really a wonderfully designed component in this system. The display is easy to see and understand, letting drivers quickly identify whether the cause of the alarm is real. With a straight-line range up to 3,000 ft., the Compustar system is among the best in the industry.
The kit includes the brains of the system, key fobs, shock sensors, and the siren. Users can add functionality for remote start, keyless entry, and numerous other features. In almost all applications, these features require extra equipment, but some installers have been able to use factory wiring to make the needed connections depending on the vehicle.
- Excellent range
- Easy to use key fob
- Easily expandable
- Requires additional equipment for all functions
- Customer support is limited to professional installers
- Two-way remote with one-way backup
- ¼ mile range advertised
- Six-tone siren
- Code-hopping and 66-bit encryption to prevent theft
- Panic/ Carjacking function
Viper 5305V Quick Review
Viper is one of the most trusted brands in the car alarm industry, and for good reason. The products they sell work. The 5305V is a top-of-the-line alarm system with an entry-level price. The system features a two-way remote key fob and a one-way remote. The two-way remote provides confirmation of commands, status updates, and alerts the owner when the alarm is triggered. The 5305V takes advantage of code-hopping technology to prevent thieves from duplicating the key fob signal and overriding the system.
Like most alarm systems, the Viper 5305V requires additional components to get functionality for remote start and some other operations. Some users had to purchase additional wiring harnesses or relays to get keyless entry functionality.
- Reliable system with excellent functionality
- Super secure encryption
- Range is often less than advertised
- Bulky key fob that easily gets scratched
EASYGUARD EC204 Quick Review
EasyGuard may not be a household name in the U.S., but the products they build should get them recognized. The EC204 provides many of the features of a higher-priced option at a low price, like shock sensors, passive keyless entry, and central door locking for convenience. The two-way key fob is easy to use and provides the driver with up-to-the-minute status reports.
The system includes functionality for the alarm, shock sensors, and wiring for door locks, however most installers required an adapter to get the features working. The alarm does not support remote start, a feature higher priced units do provide.
- Affordable and high quality design
- Easy to understand fob
- Doesn’t support remote start
- Requires extra components to use all features
Avital 5303L Quick Review
The two-way system from Avital is one of the best you can buy. For the price, you would think this alarm isn’t going to offer much, but you would be wrong. The two-way key fobs are sleek and easy to use, if a little basic. When it’s time to get remote start and other features working, the Avital is already set up to provide additional options. In fact, the remote start feature is one of the best on the market today.
All the range in the world is great but doesn’t do much good if it isn’t reliable. Avital advertises this system with a range of 1,500 ft., and many users found that it had excellent reception to at least 900 ft. This system has been on the market for a few years now, and for good reason. It’s a top-quality product that works well and is reliable.
Priced in the low $100s, the Avital 5305L is a great deal if you don’t mind without a smartphone app and unlimited range, but you can add the Python DSM200 to enable smartphone compatibility if you’d like to spend the additional money.
- Ultra-reliable alarm system
- Easily and affordably expanded to include other features
- Antenna must be positioned correctly to get good range
- No customer support for consumers
Viper 5906V Quick Review
So far, all of the alarms we have talked about today are strictly alarms, even if other functions can be added. When Viper went about designing the 5906V, they decided to throw in the kitchen sink. Remote start? Yes, it’s got that. Full color OLED key fob? Check. One-mile range? It’s got that too. The 5906 from Viper is one of the most sophisticated alarms on the market, and it’s quickly become one of the most popular, too.
The Viper 5906 includes a two-way remote that has a customizable, full-color screen providing unparalleled access to vehicle status. The system even lets you check the interior temperature of your car remotely. How cool is that? It’ll even work on two different cars equipped with the same system, so you don’t have to search for the correct fob when switching cars.
- The most advanced alarm from Viper
- Beautiful OLED screen and customizable animations
- Requires extensive installation knowledge
Crimestopper SP-502 Quick Review
The Crimestopper SP-502 gets you more bang for your buck than any alarm on this list. It includes remote start and dual-stage shock sensors. Users can download alarm data easily, and the well-designed two-way remote is even rechargeable. Most of the features on this alarm can only be had by paying three times as much.
The SP-502 provides an extra point of access many higher-priced units don’t: access from your smartphone. You can start or stop the car, roll windows up or down, set climate controls, and even track the vehicle on GPS all from your phone. Additional options are required for window and rear hatch operation, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a remote start alarm with two-way key fobs for a better price.
- Best price for the features
- Downloadable data
- Key fob feels inexpensive
- Installation is somewhat more complex than other systems
Python 5305P Quick Review
Python produces really high-quality alarms, and the 5305P is a great option when you are searching for reliability and tons of features. This alarm is a complete system of security and convenience. It includes remote start and shock sensors, along with most wiring and connectors needed to get it installed easily.
The Python system uses a two-way remote fob with an LCD display to give users the live status of their vehicle. The system includes the ability to monitor, operate, and even track your vehicle through an app on your smartphone or tablet.
- All-in-one system eliminates guesswork
- Smartphone control is easy to use
- Key fobs are a little bulky
- Range is limited
Installing a Car Alarm System
Once you choose a car alarm system that fits your needs, you'll need to install it or have it installed by a professional. Take a look through our Guide to Installing a Car Alarm System to get an idea of the effort and skills it takes to install one, and whether or not you'd prefer to have a professional to install it for you.
Car theft is one of the most common types of crime today. Whether it’s an iPod, cash, or the whole car – most people have had their cars broken into or know someone who has. It’s a terrible feeling to walk out to your car to find that your car has been broken into or stolen, especially when most peoples’ cars are a valued possession and a necessity for every day life. A car alarm could be the difference between a break in and a walk by. They are incredibly effective at deterring auto theft and break ins.
When you’re looking for the best car alarm for your vehicle, there are various features and systems to compare. Even though it’ll help to have any car alarm, knowing the difference between them and choosing the one that best fits your needs will maximize its effectiveness and keep your car secure at all times.
Common Terms & Features
There are many different types of car alarms, some with more standard features than the other. Knowing what type of feature is what will help you make an informed decision.
Keyless Entry – Keyless entry systems allow you to unlock your car doors by pushing a button on a remote. The remote connects with the alarm system to unlock/lock the car’s doors without the use of a key.
Remote Start – Remote start is a feature that enables you to start your car’s engine without actually being inside the car. You can use a remote or other device (depending on the unit) to remotely start your vehicle from hundreds of yards away.
Trunk Release – Trunk release is a form of keyless entry that is specific to remotely opening the trunk of your car. It enables you to open the trunk without unlocking the door from a remote. Sometimes you may want to just open up the trunk without necessarily opening up all of the doors, trunk release allows this.
Car Location – Car location is a form of panic button that gives you the ability to track down your car when you may not know exactly where it is. For example, you go to a concert, or a baseball game and don’t remember the exact row you parked in. The car location feature will turn the alarm noisemaker on so that you can follow the sound to find your car.
Two-Way Pager– Two-way pager alarms are those that not only send information from your remote to your car (like unlocking the door), they also receive information from your car. These types of alarms allow you to see in real time when an attempt to break in is happening, and alarm you from your remote when it happens. Some two-way pagers can work up to a mile away, giving you the confidence that your car is safe no matter where you might be.
Alarm Noisemaker – The alarm’s noisemaker is the most basic feature on a car alarm. It’s what makes noise when your car is being broken into in order to discourage the thief and draw attention to the car. Basically a loud speaker, the noisemaker is measured in decibels and the higher the decibels, the louder the sound.
Immobilizer – An immobilizer is a device that allows a vehicle from being started unless you have a key/remote that matches to the device. The key typically has a chip installed that communicates with the immobilizer in order to allow the car to start. This prevents thieves from being able start your car, even if they break into it.
Automatic Window Roll-Up – Automatic window rollup is a feature that will roll up the windows of the car after you have turned it off. Even though most of the time, you might be conscientious of your windows when you leave your car, the automatic window roll-up will automatically roll them up in the case that you forget.
Most of the aftermarket car alarms are compatible with any car, as long as it has a 12-volt system. However, there are some car alarms that don’t work with specific vehicles and it’s always best to check the alarm manufacturer’s website to check for compatibility.