June 19, 2014 at 1:00 am

Aftermarket products offer options to beef up auto security

Security features are standard on most newer cars, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add components.

And, if your vehicle didn’t come with a security system, there are aftermarket products that offer remote starters, two-way pagers and other features.

Newer cars are usually equipped with immobilizer systems that keep cars from being driven without the correct key. Some new cars have GPS devices that can pinpoint a stolen vehicle’s location.

Pros with top-rated car alarm companies tell our team that security systems remain popular, even as improved security technology has helped reduce overall theft rates in the last decade. Still, thefts are a concern: According to the FBI, 721,053 vehicles were stolen in 2012, or about 230 cars for every 100,000 people.

There are two basic types of alarm systems: passive and active. Passive systems automatically activate when the driver turns the car off and locks the doors. A driver has to press a button or take another action to engage an active system.

Alarms may be either audible or silent. An audible alarm blasts the horn and flashes lights when triggered. A silent alarm contacts the owner’s mobile phone.

If you want to add security features to your vehicle, there are a variety of options, including immobilizing technology, GPS features and remote starters that allow you to start the engine from a distance, while keeping the doors locked.

Alarm product prices range from $150 to $900 or more. Contact your insurer to see if you can recoup some of the cost through discounted insurance rates.

Alarm systems can be purchased and installed through car dealers or independent companies. With car alarm products, it’s as important to be sure you’re hiring a reputable installer as it is to buy quality equipment.

Check a company’s online reputation with other consumers. Ask lots of questions, including details about guarantees on the work and warranties on the products.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home improvement to automotive repair.