2021’s Best Aftermarket Car Alarms
Car Dashboard

The bottom line: DroneMobile X1 LTE is a one-stop auto security device 

DroneMoble X1 LTE uses your phone to keep thieves at bay. Rather than sporting a built-in siren, it alerts your phone when your car alarm goes off. So you can check to see what caused it and cut down on false alarms (your neighbors will thank you). 

Along with the car alarm alerts, the DroneMobile doubles as a GPS vehicle tracker, maintenance reminder, anti-theft sensor, and all-around hub for monitoring your ride. 

1. DroneMobile X1 LTE: Best overall

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The DroneMoble X1 LTE is one heck of a multitasker. On top of notifying you when your car alarm sounds, it can track your vehicle’s location, overall health, and driver safety. It’s a great addition for a new driver’s safety arsenal or keeping older drivers safe on the road. 
 

It sends notifications to your phone when your car alarm goes off. And like other car alarms, you can lock and unlock your car with it through your smartphone.

The DroneMobile works using cellular signals, giving you an unlimited leash to your car as long as you have reception. Its features may vary depending on your vehicle; check DroneMobile’s list of compatible makes.
 

And while you can purchase it online through Amazon, you’ll need to get it professionally installed. The device does require a subscription to keep that digital juice flowing. Prices range from $3.99 per month to $39.99 depending on the features you want and what’s compatible with your vehicle. 

Pros

  • Sends alerts when your alarm triggers 

  • Impact sensors 

  • Maintenance monitoring and reminders 

  • Doubles as GPS tracker

Cons

  • Professional installation required 

  • Not compatible with some vehicles 

  • Subscription required

2. Avital 5305L: Best value
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The Avital 5305L is the budget-savvy sister system of high-end car alarm brands Viper and Python, offering similar features from the same manufacturer.

Avital’s 5305L car alarm system has all the recommended security like shock sensors and panic mode, as well as flashing lights, a blaring 120-decibel siren, and a kill switch that protects against carjacking. 

Unlike lower-end Avital models, this car alarm features a two-way, LCD pager loaded with conveniences like keyless entry, remote start, trunk release, and Valet Mode. The four auxiliary ports let you beef up the system with additional sensors, all for a price that’s a steal.

Beware that any bargain comes with some loss of benefits. In addition to a mediocre range of 1,500 feet, Avital’s lack of smartphone integration means you won’t have the convenience of GPS tracking built into your car alarm system. And unfortunately, it doesn’t work for vehicles with manual transmissions.

Pros

  • Carjack protection 

  • 2-way LCD key fob remote 

  • Remote start 

  • Four auxiliary ports for easy expansion

Cons

  • Poor range 

  • No smartphone integration 

  • Not compatible with manual transmissions

3. Compustar CS4900-S: Best bundle
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Compustar CS4900-S combines affordability and features to produce a great middle-of-the-road choice for auto enthusiasts. It fits a huge range of automatic transmission vehicles, including those with diesel engines. 

This Compustar car alarm bundle comes with two keyfobs to lock and unlock your vehicle from up to 3,000 feet away. You can also pop open your trunk and start your car remotely from the same fobs.

And with a little automotive know-how, you can install the Compustar CS4900-S car alarm at home—no professionals required. 

Many car alarms, especially those with remote starting features can be tricky on your own, but we saw review after review praising the instructions and easy installation. But it helps to have experience with wiring before you get started.

Pros

  • Professional installation not required 

  • 3,000 ft. range 

  • Two key fobs included 

  • Remote start

Cons

  • Not compatible with manual transmissions 

  • Installation requires some experience

4. Viper 1-way: Best simple keyless entry
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If you’re looking for a simple car alarm to replace your existing one, the Viper 1-way is a great place to start. The only bells and whistles included are the ones that keep thieves away. 

With the fob, you can lock and unlock your car from 1,500 feet away. It’s a short range compared to some of our other choices, but it will give you a long enough reach to unlock your car in the parking lot or from inside your home.

It comes with a Failsafe starter kill, a feature that kills the engine while the alarm blares. So no one will be able to take your vehicle while the alarm is on. 

Pros

  • Failsafe starter kill 

  • Simple fobs included 

  • Professional installation not required

Cons

  • Shorter remote range 

  • No smartphone compatibility

Things to consider before you buy a car alarm

Most modern vehicles come equipped with a basic alarm system, but these bare-bones measures aren’t robust enough to deter professional car thieves. Experts recommend a range of bells and whistles to avoid car theft and give your ride the protection it deserves.
 

Plus, when you opt for an aftermarket car alarm system, you usually get a few more convenient features bundled in. Here are some of the basics to look for when choosing a car alarm system.
 

Alarms and sensors

At the minimum, your car alarm system should make some noise when the sensors are tripped. Opt for advanced shock sensors that will respond when glass is broken and when the vehicle is hit by a significant impact. 

These sensors will trigger your alarm remote or smartphone. Look for sirens that edge above 100 decibels and do more than honk the horn and flash the lights to grab attention.
 

Range

Some car alarm systems boast a phenomenal range of up to a mile. Look for a car alarm system that reaches your vehicle from at least 1,000 feet so it can arm itself from a distance. That way, you’ll be confident your alarm is set every time you walk away.
 

Carjack protection

Carjack protection is a group of features that actively thwart car theft. These options include kill switches, high-pitched sirens, and chirp alarms that may hassle the thief into abandoning your vehicle. 

While these kinds of security measures may seem redundant, they’ve been shown to effectively deter car thieves or interrupt vehicle theft in action.
 

Two-way remotes and displays

Modern car alarm systems generally have two-way communication, meaning you can arm your car at a distance and also receive notifications from the alarm system on your remote. 

In some cases, these key fobs even use an LCD display to detail conditions of your car like the internal temperature or open doors.
 

Encrypted transmission

Not all car thieves use a crowbar or Slim Jim to get into your car. Tech-savvy thieves know how to hack the signal from your key fob and unlock your car remotely. That’s why smart car alarm companies are adding encryption to their wireless car alarms. 
 

If you like the convenience of remote entry, you might want to look for a vehicle security system that incorporates encryption to keep hackers out of your car.

Smartphone integration

It’s no surprise that some keyless cars come with car security you can control from your smartphone. Leading vehicle security companies like Viper use cloud technology to put remote control and monitoring in the palm of your hand. 

Mobile apps let you check in on your vehicle and receive email and text alerts without having to carry around an extra remote or key fob. Often, these apps also provide GPS tracking that can be enormously helpful in the case of theft.

Ease of installation

Installing a car alarm system involves a lot of wires and fiddling around with your car’s electrical system. Because it can be complicated, we recommend professional installation. 
 

However, this can raise the overall price of a car alarm by several hundred dollars. If you want to attempt DIY installation, you’re not alone. Many handy car owners have successfully installed their alarm system. But beware that DIY installation might impact any warranty on the equipment.
 

Convenience features

Many car alarms will also let you remotely start your vehicle, which can be a big benefit on cold mornings when you need to defrost your windows and heat up those seats before your commute. 
 

Car alarm systems often provide extras like keyless entry, valet mode, and trunk release that can make your life just a little easier when you have your hands full.