The Different Types of Car Alarm Systems

The Mechanic Doctor – Resources for Amateur and Pro Auto Mechanics

For most people, their car counts as one of their most significant assets.

As such, it’s only right for car owners to take good care of their vehicles, like washing them regularly and bringing them in for periodic tune-ups. A car alarm installation is also necessary to protect your car from thieves.

Although motor vehicle theft in Canada is on a downward trend, the fact that there were still 231 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 people in 2019 means installing a reliable car alarm system should remain a priority for car owners to avoid becoming victims of this property crime.

Good for you if your vehicle came with a car alarm system when you acquired it. If not, then you must have one installed right away.

Here are the different types of car alarm systems available in the market today.

Active & Passive Alarm Systems

While there are several car alarm types based on the technology they use, there are two main types of activation methods for them: active and passive.

If you go for an active car alarm system, know that arming and disarming it will require you to press the transmitter button on your remote. Fail to do so, and you won’t be able to activate or deactivate the alarm.

On the other hand, passive car alarm systems activate automatically. Once you turn off the ignition and slam the last door shut, a passive alarm will be immediately armed and ready to alert you when triggered. Pressing unlock on your remote should disarm the system.


Cars with audible alarms installed typically have sensors positioned at various points.

Once those sensors are triggered by anyone touching the car or being too close for comfort, the system will sound a loud siren, the car’s horn will go off, and its lights will blink to attract the attention of other people and scare off any potential car thief.

The alarm system will continue doing all that repeatedly until the owner of the car comes and turns it off.

While a great way to deter car thieves, audible car alarm systems can end up annoying people if they go off accidentally, like when the drivers or passengers of cars parked next to it in the mall parking lot come too near.

Strong vibrations coming from a large truck passing by or the loud sound of a car door slamming shut can also set off an audible alarm.

Fortunately, you can adjust the sensitivity of an audible alarm system’s sensors to prevent annoying false alarms.


Unlike audible alarms, silent alarms don’t wake the neighborhood when tripped, accidentally or otherwise.

What a silent alarm does is go off when a thief is actually trying to break into a car, but only its owner can hear it via a signal the system sends to an electronic device he or she holds. It could be a gadget provided by the car alarm company or a smartphone with the right app installed.

With a silent alarm, you stand a better chance of catching a thief red-handed. However, that doesn’t mean that you will have to stop the theft in progress and apprehend the perpetrator yourself.

To stay on the safe side, it’s always best to call the police once the system alerts you to the ongoing criminal act.

If a silent car alarm system has downsides, it would have to be its inability to alert people—including cops—who may be somewhere near your vehicle that a car theft is in progress.


Suppose your car has an audible alarm system, but the car thief is too good and manages to breach your car after only a few seconds of wailing and deactivate the alarm from the inside. What will stop him from driving off with your car? A car immobilizer system should do the trick.

Your key fob has a transponder chip that sends a random security code to your car’s immobilizer system, if you have one, once you put the key into the ignition.

Since a car thief does not have the right key fob with the right transponder chip, the car won’t start no matter how hard he tries. The immobilizer will also lock the steering wheel and switch on all emergency lights to further discourage the car thief.

Two-Way Paging

Even when you’re up to a mile away, a two-way paging car alarm system can notify you when there’s something going on with your vehicle.

With the two-way communication it initiates between the alarm and the key fob, a two-way paging system will promptly apprise you of your vehicle’s status, whether it’s a case of locked or unlocked doors, an activated or deactivated alarm, or when someone is actually trying to break into your car.


It’s not unheard of for some highly-skilled car thieves to successfully beat car alarms and immobilizer systems.

Some car thieves may have hi-tech equipment to beat car alarms, while some might use a tow truck to move a car that was deactivated by an immobilizer system.

Should a car thief manage to drive off with your vehicle, a GPS car alarm should be able to help you and law enforcement to track and pinpoint its current location. With luck, police just might collar the suspect, too.

Last Words

The car alarm systems mentioned above come in a variety of brands and models. Some have a unique and dedicated functionality for either protection or recovery of your vehicle, while others may have features that combine both.

If you settle on a car alarm system and you have the skills and know-how necessary to install it yourself, then go ahead, by all means.

However, if you’re not familiar with your car’s wiring system or your skills aren’t up to par, your best bet would be to hire a professional to perform the installation. That way, you can be sure that your car alarm system will work properly and perform optimally once the need arises.


About the Author

Lauren Bricks is the Content Specialist for Streetfighter Motorsports LLC, a family-operated car audio and accessory installation, sales and customization facility located in Phoenix, Arizona. She loves cars and although she spends much of her week writing about them, she still finds the time to hop onto the second-hand Corvette convertible her dad gave her for her 25th birthday and drive to the countryside with the top down.

The post The Different Types of Car Alarm Systems appeared first on The Mechanic Doctor.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top