Comparing Factory-Installed vs. Aftermarket Security Systems

The question we’ll strive to answer here is ‘Should I stick with my factory-installed alarm or upgrade to an aftermarket system?’. Let’s talk about the factory-installed system first. They get the basic job done and most activate when you lock the door, so you don’t have to think about any extra steps. They also don’t tend to give false alarms so you can rely on them. The main problem is that the alarm system isn’t the main focus of car manufacturers. They’re rightly concerned with design, emissions, and safety. This means they don’t regularly upgrade their security alarms, and that unfortunately gives thieves a chance to learn, so they stop criminals hoping to get lucky but not the experienced kind. As they’re created on an assembly line, each model will have the alarm wired in the same way and there’s not much difference between each brand. This means that once criminals figure out how to disable one, they can do any of that model. Often to disable a factory-installed alarm it’s only a case of removing a fuse or cutting a wire or two. As factory alarms haven’t changed significantly in years, there’s a lot of information online about them and how to get around them. This means they can be in your vehicle in a few seconds, so it’s not a large deterrent.

Aftermarket systems on the other hand are more secure and bring novelty into the equation. There are a lot of brands to choose from and you can’t quickly tell from outside the vehicle what make and model the alarm is so a criminal will not instantly know how to disable it. You can choose to install a system yourself, but most people choose a security company as DIY with electrics can be dangerous. As no two companies install in the same way, this also makes a thief’s job more difficult as they don’t know where to start looking for the wires. Changing the time to break into your vehicle from a few seconds to a few minutes brings far more risk of triggering the alarm or being seen so they’re likely to move on. Most aftermarket alarms show a flashing LED somewhere on the dashboard when they’re active which can be a visual deterrent to a thief, so they won’t even try. An aftermarket alarm is also customisable, and if you use your vehicle for work you can include extra protections for your stored tools or materials which a factory-installed system will not allow.

The Best Features to Choose

Factory-installed alarms have basic features. Usually, when tripped they’ll trigger the horn and door locks and kill the ignition. As technology upgrades and becomes cheaper, keyless entry is becoming more common and a few include remote start. If buying your vehicle direct from the dealer, you may be able to upgrade the included system so it has more features, but this will come at a high cost. It will usually cost thousands more as it’s a vehicle upgrade.

If you’re selecting an aftermarket system, you can choose from a wide range of features. These can make your vehicle harder to steal or break into and make your life easier. For example, with your upgraded system you’ll receive a remote control or a smartphone app. This will show all your features in one place and depending on the system you choose can add extra protection against theft as the system will only disengage when it detects your smartphone. Any security alerts will be sent to the remote control or app so you can remotely activate the alarm system and create noise to scare them off even if you’re not next to the car. This also means you can set the alarm off quickly to find your car in a crowded carpark with ease. If you’re in the car and feeling threatened by someone outside you can lock the doors and set the alarm off to scare them away. An alert will also be sent to the control or app if a part of the system is broken so you can get it straight in for repairs.

Remote start is a popular option with these systems, and we’d like to break down some misconceptions about it. Some people believe it drains the vehicle’s battery. This is not the case as it has a built-in shutoff, usually 10 or 15 minutes, so if you do ever turn it on and forget about it or take a long time getting ready to go out to the car the engine will turn back off so no battery drain. Secondly, people believe that this system makes it easier to break into the car but that’s not true. The engine is on but it can’t be driven without the key fob or smartphone app present so an opportunist wouldn’t be able to hop in and drive. In fact, putting the car in gear without the key there would result in the engine shutting off and the doors locking. With remote start, you can also turn off the engine remotely so if you do see anyone out the window coming towards your car you can lock them out straight away. So you can enjoy heating or cooling your car to your ideal temperature from afar without worry.

Sadly, thieves won’t always just try the doors. Therefore, other features you can look for are tilt sensors, which alarm when they notice the angle of your car changing as this would indicate someone is attempting to tow the car or use a jack and glass break sensors in case someone tries to get in through a window. There are many other possible features, so we recommend noting down what’s most important to you and researching the brands that tick them off.

We think we’ve shown here that factory alarms provide basic security, but when you want complete protection and some useful futuristic features an aftermarket system is the way to go.

Choose Us for Installation and Peace of Mind

Your vehicle’s security is our number one priority so once you’re ready to move on from your outdated factory alarm, read more about our alarms and installation here.