I think there are just as many misconceptions regarding auto security as there are about car audio itself. let's look into a few different aspects of auto security.

I have taken the Security 122 course at Mobile Dynamics in Toronto. I have been in the car audio industry for about 15 years, and I have always avoided car alarm work. Not that I didn't understand it, or than I couldn't do it. I just didn't like it. That being said, the Mobile Dynamics course was absolutely excellent. They instruction was top notch, and you could tell that they had put some serious thought into the method in which they presented the information. It was logical, and easy to understand. A basic understanding of auto security does help, but the course made the whole topic gel perfectly. The emphasis on relays was great, anyone into car audio has used lots of relays before, and they (Mobile Dynamics) provide an very in depth understanding how they work, and how you can use them. I would suggest this course be a top priority for any who deals with car alarms on a regular basis.

Auto security has three basic functions. To warn away, to alert and to provide convenience. The warn away is an attempt to prevent someone from attempting to vandalise or steal your vehicle. This is typically accomplished through multi-stage shock sensors, the flashing LED, voice modules, microwave sensors and similar devices. The second stage is to alert the owner of an attempt to violate his vehicle. If someone tries to steal the wheels, break into the car, or vandalise it, the alarm will respond. Sirens, flashing lights, strobe lights, screamers, pain generators, smoke and voice response are all means of alerting. Also, a pager or cellular interface can be used if desired, to alert you if you are a long distance from the car. The last function of an alarm is to provide convenience to the owner. Automatic doors locks, power windows, remote start and trunk release are examples. These are features that make usage of the vehicle itself more convenient for the owner.

These days car alarms have tons of new and innovative features to make them more convenient, and more difficult to circumvent. Code hopping, multi function remotes, multiple auxiliary outputs, anti-car-jacking and features such as dome light surveillance, multiple remote acknowledgement, cellular interfaces, multi function sensors and even computer programmability all enhance system convenience.

What makes or breaks the effectiveness of a security system is the installation itself. Not just anyone can, or should install and alarm. Certain vehicles pose some very difficult problems that need to be addressed carefully. Factory security systems, GM VATS systems (resistor in the key), computer controlled door locks, multiplexed wiring and controlling (GM, Jaguar, with more everyday) and air bags. Not knowing about their operation, or how to test them properly can prove to be very dangerous, and extremely expensive. The use of a high quality digital meter is the only way to assure no damage will be done. Computer modules are extremely sensitive to abnormal current draws, and will self-destruct quickly and without warning. An installer needs to know how to deal with the problems posed by each and every vehicle, and how to interface with that vehicle safely, and more important, reliably.

The most critical aspect of the installation is the placement of the components and the location chosen for electrical connections. A good shop will have a variety of different coloured wire available so they can match the stock wiring, and that of the alarm itself. Security components need to be mounted out of the way, and in different locations in each vehicle. This makes sure a thief will not learn a pattern from a certain installer. Shock sensors need to be positioned for maximum effectiveness. The instructions must be read, as each shock sensor works on a different method, and may nee to be mounted differently. Alpine sensors usually need to be mounted to a steel fire wall, or similar. While the Viper or Ungo sensors work when mounted to an air vent, or wiring harness. Neither method is better, simply a different means of achieving the same result.

The electrical connections need to be made in a fashion the best simulates that of the manufacturer, If the car uses lots of split loom, then the alarm should. If lots of electrical tape is used, then this method should be duplicated. The more the wiring looks like it's stock, the safer the system will be, as the thief will have to spend more time looking for wires. Thieves hate this, as it consumes more of their limited time. Time is always the critical factor when stealing a car or it's contents. Anything you, or the installer can do to cause the thief to take more time to steal something will better the chances of your car and it's contents staying with you. A thief can break a windows, get in, and pop out the steering column lock cylinder in under 30 seconds. Think of this when you 'run into the store' next time with the keys still in the ignition.

Once the alarm is installed the owner needs to be shown how it operates, the location of the valet switch and the location of the different components. Some installers wire up custom starter kill circuits. The location of these hidden reset switches is also critical.

Lately, security systems have begun to implement two-way communication. Not only will the security system advise the owner when the car is armed, but also let them know once a remote-start has been activated, or what zone was triggered during a theft or vandalism attempt. There are a lot of options for these systems, but sadly some of them don't comply with FCC (Federal Communications Commission) guidelines for radio frequency transmission. You may want to check into this before you buy one of these systems.