General Question

ben's avatar

How can we solve the modern problem of car alarms?

Asked by ben (8715points) December 11th, 2008

I’ve come to think of this as a downside to urban living. They’re always going off, waking me up, and yet I’ve never once heard them actually prevent anything. In a hundred years, I’m pretty confident these will be gone. So how can we speed that up and get rid of them today?

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26 Answers

ben's avatar

Just had an idea:

Let’s write in removing car alarms from every car as a provision to the bailout bill! Thoughts?

cwilbur's avatar

Find out what the laws are where you are. In some areas, a car alarm going off unattended means that the car can be towed, but that requires police involvement.

You might be able to make a case that you had to smash the car window to try to turn off the car alarm that was going off too frequently and disturbing the peace. I suspect if that started happening more frequently, people would leave their car alarms off.

jrpowell's avatar

I was thinking a timer, battery, magnets, and a solenoid.. Stuck it under the the car and have the alarm go off every thirty minutes. Eventfully people would just give up and turn the damn things off.

augustlan's avatar

They really are a nuisance, aren’t they? My recent used car purchase has one, and it arms automatically when I lock the doors. I have hit the ‘panic’ button on my key fob by accident more than once, too! I wish I knew how to turn it off : (

ben's avatar

@cwilbur: That’s a little rough for my taste. And I blame the manufacturer, not the owner.

We need a large-scale solution… I don’t think it’s a problem of a few offenders. I think they should all be gone, especially in cities.

Maybe the real problem is having cars in cities…

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Ben: I think the problem is more to do with cars in cities.

When I was in high school, one night we were in the dorm room and this string of car alarms went off. We thought it was some jerk in the parking lot being drunk and banging on cars. The next day, my roommate’s car (probably the only one without an alarm) was gone.

cwilbur's avatar

@ben: I think it’s both. Car alarms don’t need to be included when a car is built, but they also don’t need to be left on.

And if a single car’s alarm goes off repeatedly, I think it’s reasonable to blame the owner.

Snoopy's avatar

When car alarms first starting coming on cars, they were an actual deterrant.

After living in a big city, a number of years later, I don’t believe that they actually serve a purpose any longer. People (inlcuding myself) don’t even bother looking out the window to see if there is a problem unless they go off for an extended period or repeatedly.

I think that they give people a (false) sense of security. However, I would suspect that there is still strong consumer demand for them, so I doubt they are going anywhere anytime soon….

skfinkel's avatar

Maybe you could leave a rather pointed message for the owner on a particularly offensive car—if there is one that is always going off. If it’s a random thing happening to all kinds of cars, then this wouldn’t help, though.

Are people trying to steal these cars, or are they just going off for no reason?

Snoopy's avatar

@skfinkel Heavy winds can cause car alarms to go off….

robmandu's avatar

Do you really think it’s the OEM equipment car alarms that are the problem? Seems to me they’re the basic kind, just checking if doors are jacked or whatnot. In my experience, those only go off accidentally if the owner hits the wrong button on the key fob.

It’s the after-market alarms, the kind people hafta go and buy on purpose, that add proximity sensors, vibration sensors, timers, etc. Those things go off if you look at them the wrong way.

breedmitch's avatar

@syz: Any chance you’re related to Pinky Tuscadero?

Knotmyday's avatar

If your car alarm could call your cell phone, I do believe all this ruckus could be avoided.

“Hello? This is your car. Sorry to bother you, but I do believe I’m being stolen right now. Could you come out and check on me, just to be safe? Thanks, bye.”

If someone invents this, let me know, and I’ll send you an address for the royalty checks. Just kidding.
Just invent it.

mea05key's avatar

get urself a junk car and get a premium grade insurance. Forget about the alarm and pray that ur car will get stolen.

robmandu's avatar

@Knotmyday, you’d think that Onstar could do this. They have all the necessary parts including comms, diagnostics, GPS location, etc.

Knotmyday's avatar

You’d think it would be on that list. Also too bad the service only comes factory-installed (on GM vehicles) and I drive a ‘99 Toyota. Looks like it would be well worth $18.95 a month, though.

robmandu's avatar

I think that Acura licenses the technology and brands it as AcuraLink.

At the very least, I know Acura used to offer OnStar™ directly. So it could be that AcuraLink™ is their home-grown replacement.

augustlan's avatar

@Knot: That cell phone idea is a great one! And I love how polite (almost British) you make the ‘voice’ sound : )

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

You should see a gradual decrease in the number of aftermarket alarm systems installed, as most new cars have integral immobilizers and alarm systems connected to their keyless entry systems. They tend not to go off erratically because they are designed properly. 99.9999999% of all the problems we have with car alarms in urban settings are due to aftermarket alarms systems and the cretins who install (and buy) them. Conversely, 99.999999% of all aftermarket car alarms cause problems.

In Miami and other areas where lots of people have home alarm systems, the police will write increasingly expensive tickets for false alarms. I think this is a good idea for car alarms as well. Anybody with a car alarm that goes off for no good reason should be ticketed. Second offense doubles the fine. Third offense is a trip to the impound lot. Fourth offense is a trip to the car crusher.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Ich: that sounds like a great idea to me!

Perchik's avatar

@ich the problem with that is that sometimes it’s an accident. My girlfriend’s car alarm will go off if the car is locked and you try to open the trunk with the keys. This is a feature according to the car manual. I find it completely idiotic. That feature assumes that you only open the trunk when the car is unlocked, or press the button inside. I’m used to manually opening the trunk (with a key) and I often set off the alarm. I kill it as soon as I can find hte button on the key fob. To me, that shouldn’t be ticketed.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@Perchik, like I said, the people who build these things for the auto factories do it right. Besides, that would not be the kind of thing you’d be ticketed for, I mean, when you’re right there. It’s the boneheads whose alarms go off when no one is around, and they just blare away until they reset themselves.

tehrani625's avatar

What about something like Lojack? That is a good service from what I here. I would also say that BMW’s have some of the coolest sensors in them that are very accurate. Such as interior motion sensors and a tilt sensor. So if glass breaks and some one gets in the car will not start and the alarm goes off, but if someone walks by and does not break the glass then the motion sensors do not see them and the peace continues. Now if someone comes along to tow your car or steel the rims the tilt sensor will go off and your car is safe from all parties. I would also add that BMW has their own brand of on star called BMW assist. Just thought that I would put that in because both of those sensors will not be set off by external sources that will affect the car.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I don’t know about other after-market car alarms, but the sensitivity of the Viper 5901 I recently purchased is adjustable. When I first brought the car home after installation, it seemed like every other passing car would activate the warn away alert or initiate the full alarm.

Guess what?

I took it back to the store and had the installer adjust the sensitivity.

How hard is that? I hear nary a peep out of it now except when someone lingers around the car, which initiates soft rapid chirping sounds to “warn away” loiterers or potential thieves…exactly what I want it to do. (If they don’t move in a timely manner, the full alert is triggered.)

Just for the record, some newer after-market alarms have built in timers that restrict how long it stays on. Mine defaults at 30 seconds, with the option to change it to 60 seconds, so it’ll never continually stay on.

And to @Knotmyday, I don’t know if auto alarms have the ability to call someone’s cell phone, but some models do send a signal to the car owner’s key fob/remote control that mimics the car’s alarm. In other words, if my alarm goes off now, my remote control will vibrate and produce an audio alert. This allows me to immediately respond to the situation (visually inspect, cancel alarm, call police, etc.), so there’s no valid reason for anyone to say my alarm is a nuisance.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Correction to previous post: The Viper 5901 has an optional smart phone feature, so auto alarms can call cell phones.

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