What to do when your car alarm malfunctions

September 11, 2015 02:59 PM

For city-dwellers especially, there are few things more maddening than blaring - and nearly always false - audible car alarms. AAA cites research that 99 out of 100 times a car alarm goes off, it's from some cause other than a thief trying to make off with your ride. False alarms can be caused by a passing garbage truck, a thunderclap or a neighborhood cat jumping on the hood.

A thorough search didn't uncover municipalities that levied fines for false car alarms, though New York City requires them to be shut off within three minutes. For recurrent car alarm disruptions, anti-noise ordinances may offer some relief.

Consider benefits of silent security systems
If your car is the one waking up you and everyone else in earshot, your local auto repair shop may be able to help. For instance, technicians could replace your audible alarm with kinds that have proven not only more effective, but less rage-inducing to neighbors trying to sleep. Immobility systems make a car driveable only to someone with the key or keyless fob.

"A botched wiring job can make the alarm system useless."

Another approach is to track the vehicle, with systems that use FM radio frequencies or GPS to help police zero in on your stolen wheels. Newer vehicles are tending toward immobility and tracking approaches.

Common-sense anti-theft tips
Even if you've decided against any kind of alarm system, there are simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of being the victim of a smash-and-grab or outright vehicle theft:

  • Do not leave valuables in plain sight.
  • Store device charging cords, too, since they alerts thieves expensive electronics may be in the glove box.
  • Always take your key with you.
  • Leave windows rolled up.
  • Think strategically about where you park; better-lit, less isolated areas may cut your car's chance of being targeted.

Competent installation matters
Whatever type of alarm you choose, whether from the dealer or the less-expensive systems sold in the aftermarket, auto shops can service, repair or replace them. On some systems, the sensitivity of motion detectors can be dialed down physically or via software changes to lessen false alarms. Consumer review site Angie's List recommends choosing carefully when you pick someone to install the alarm. One mechanic told Angie's List that while the quality difference between just-okay and high-end alarm systems may be less than you think, a botched wiring job can make the alarm system useless or even damage critical electronic systems.

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