Car Alarms

For the last three nights, Crystal and I have been woken up at odd hours in the morning, including once at four o'clock, by a 125 decibel montage of horns honking, sirens wailing and whistles blowing.

However, instead of being treated to an impromptu concert from a bad techno band, we're being startled awake by the car alarm on an late model Honda parked across the street.

This has lead to an inevitable conclusion. If you have and use an audible car alarm on your car or truck, you fit into one of three categories: Idiot, jackass or both.

Whether you think the car alarm is an effective theft deterrent or simply don't care that they are more annoying than a screaming baby in a quiet restaurant, you're out of touch with reality.

The Problem with Car Alarms

The biggest problem with car alarms is that they do nothing to reduce theft. A 1997 study by the insurance industry looked at the claims of over 73 million cars and found that the net effect of audible car alarms was zero.

The reason is two fold. First, no one connects a car alarm with a theft in progress. We're so used to alarms going off for no reason at tall that almost no one takes action when they hear an alarm. Generally, the only times the police are called are when the car alarm has been going on so long that residents wish it would be stolen, in the form of a police impound, or at least the owner be ticketed.

Second, professional thieves, who steal the bulk of cars, can disable an audible alarm in almost no time at all. Though it might be an obstacle to joyriders, the professionals simply do not care.

But this ineffective security comes at a very high price. Car alarms are the number one noise complaint in most cities, including New York, and can result in fines, impounding and other actions. In San Francisco, police are authorized to cut battery cables on a vehicle with a car alarm, New York has impounded some 7000 vehicles for excessive noise and the list of potential repercussions goes on.

The Human Side

Of course, these problems only account for issues faced by car owners. The pubic at large has even more issues to deal with.

Car alarms, and other loud noises, have been related to high blood pressure, stress, sleeplessness, breakdown in civility and countless other physiological and sociological ills.

Some studies have shown that prolonged loud noises can hinder concentration, learning and even reading ability in children. It can also make them less attentive in class and, in some cases, more prone to be disruptive.

To date, no study has found positive benefits to exposure to loud noises. The mind, body and community all suffers when subjected to ongoing high volumes of noise.


This is not to say that you can't take security precautions to protect your vehicle, just that you shouldn't use ineffective, noisy and annoying audible alarms. There are plenty of more effective and less annoying methods to protect your property.

  • Immobilizers: Immobilzers are products which prevent cars from being started without the proper key. They work by planting a microchip into the key and, without said chip in the ignition, the car will fail to start. This is dubbed the most effective anti-theft tool and is standard on all Ford and most GM vehicles.
  • Steering Wheel/Brake Locks: Though steering wheel locks, such as "The Club", can be somewhat easily beaten by professional thieves, others are more difficult and brake locks, which prevent a thief from depressing the brake and getting the vehicle out of park are considered very effective.
  • Silent Pages: Unlike audible alarms, which are easily disabled, do not attract attention and may not alert the owner effectively, silent pagers alert the owner without sounding an audible alarm, are less likely to be disabled and can actually help the owner respond in an effective way.


In the end, there is no reason to use an audible car alarm, let alone buy one. If you're looking into effective ways to protect your investment, save your money for something that does more than just annoy your neighbors.

It's time for the car alarm to be put to bed, so the rest of us can do the same.

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2 Responses to Car Alarms

  1. RiverofLethe says:

    I hate car alarms too.
    They're the most annoying thing on my street. Every night there is someone who bumps into a car setting off it's alarm, which in turn sets off somebody else's.
    I wish I could tear out all of them, but I'm mechanicaly retarded:(.
    Stupid society!

  2. The Somber One says:

    This reminds me of the past summer. Our nextdoor neighbour's car alarm kept going off in the middle of the night and in the middle of the afternoon.

    Loud noises have been related to all of those problems you say? Damn, because the world is full of loud noises. Can you really blame a child for being so afraid of them? If there's one thing worse than car alarms is school fire alarms. OUCH!

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