Protecting your vehicle from auto thieves can save you the hassle of trying to recover a stolen car or from having to buy another to replace it. You can choose from many options to protect your vehicle, including using an alarm system, installing devices to immobilize the steering wheel, and using a GPS tracking systems to determine your vehicle's location once stolen. Regardless of the system or device you ultimately decide to use, make sure to find one that you are happy with and that fits your budget.
Method 1 of 3: Install an alarm system
- Car alarm
- Car alarm sticker
- Proper tools (if you decide to install the car alarm yourself)
One of the primary ways to protect your vehicle from theft is to have an alarm system installed. Not only does the system produce an audible alarm when your car is broken into, the blinking light that shows it is armed might even deter thieves from messing with your vehicle in the first place.
- Tip: An alarm sticker showing that your vehicle is protected might provide enough of a deterrent to make thieves think twice about stealing your vehicle. Just make sure that the sticker is visible and legible enough to let potential thieves know your vehicle is protected.
Step 1: Choose your alarm. Shop for the car alarm, comparing various models to find the one that you are satisfied with and that fits within your budget. Some of the options available include:
Passive car alarms that are active whenever the car is locked or that keep the car from turning on unless the proper key is used. The drawback to a passive alarm is that it is usually all or nothing, meaning when you turn it on, all of the features are activated.
Active car alarms that you have to activate. Active car alarms have the benefit of allowing you to use some features while leaving others off, letting you tailor the alarm settings to your liking.
Tip: You should also decide whether you want a silent or audible car alarm. Silent alarms are limited in only notifying the owner of a break-in, while audible alarms let everyone in the vicinity know that something is going on with your car.
Step 2: Install the alarm. Once selected, take your vehicle and car alarm to a mechanic or electronic store to have the system installed properly. Another option is to install the car alarm yourself, though you should make sure you have the proper tools and know-how before doing so.
Method 2 of 3: Use LoJack, OnStar, or another GPS tracking service
- LoJack device (or other third-party GPS tracking device)
Another option available when it comes to protecting your vehicle from theft includes using a GPS tracking service, such as LoJack. Such a service communicates with local authorities when your vehicle is reported as stolen. They can then use the GPS device installed on the vehicle to find out where it is located and retrieve it. While such services cost money, it is one of the easiest ways to recover your vehicle if it is stolen.
Step 1: Compare GPS tracking services. First, compare the different third-party GPS tracking services available in your area to find one that fits your needs. Look for services that offer features that best fit your budget and what you are looking for in a tracking service, such as allowing you to use an app on your phone to keep tabs on your vehicle while you are away from it.
- Tip: Some GPS tracking services use the GPS trackers you already own, saving you from having to buy their brand of tracker for your vehicle.
Step 2: Set up your tracking system. Once you have found the service you want to use, talk to a representative to find out what steps you need to take to start using their services. This usually involves having a tracker installed in an inconspicuous place on your vehicle and registering the device's and vehicle's VIN in the National Crime Information Center database, which is used by federal, state, and local law enforcements agencies across the U.S.
Method 3 of 3: Use devices to lock the steering wheel in place
- The Club (or similar device)
Another way to protect your vehicle from theft includes using an immobilization device, such as The Club, which works by locking the steering wheel into place, making it impossible to turn the vehicle. While not a foolproof method to prevent your car from being stolen, it might provide enough of a deterrent to make a potential thief skip your car and go on to the next one.
- Warning: While effective for the most part, devices such as The Club probably won't dissuade a determined car thief. The club, in combination with some of the other available methods might provide the best solution in the long run.
Step 1: Place device on steering wheel. After purchasing The Club, place the device at the center of and between both sides of the rim of the steering wheel. The device is made of two pieces that have a protruding hook on each piece that open toward the outer rim of the steering wheel.
Step 2: Secure device onto steering wheel. Next, slide the device out until the hook on each section is fitted securely around opposite sides of the steering wheel. Make sure they are snug against the rim of the steering wheel.
Step 3: Lock the device in place. Lock the two pieces into place. The long handle that protrudes from the device should keep the steering wheel from turning.
- Tip: Better yet, have a steering wheel installed that you can take with you when you are away from your car. A thief cannot steal a vehicle that they cannot drive.
You should take the necessary steps to protect your car from theft, especially if you have a newer-model car. When installing devices such as a car alarm or GPS tracking system, consult with an experienced mechanic to advise you and potentially install it to make sure the job is done right.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Prevent Having Your Car Stolen and was authored by Cheryl Knight.