by Clint Burgess

Drivers are continually spending more and more time in their cars. As the time spent behind the wheel increases, so does the probability of the vehicle becoming a mobile base station for business, recreation or sometimes both. This also increases the probability that something of value, if not the car itself, will be stored in the car. As unfortunate as it is, there are people out there who want your stuff. Here are a few vehicle security systems I checked out at Car Toys (two Spokane locations) that can deter loss of possessions and give vehicle owners some peace of mind.

The type of accessories that are being transported or stored in a vehicle will determine the level of security that your vehicle needs to be outfitted with. The APS-255CH, an entry-level system made by Audiovox, retails for $199 and offers enough features to keep a vehicle secure. It is equipped with a fully programmable remote transmitter that makes arming and disarming a breeze. Security systems can sometimes be confusing, but this unit is very straightforward. A few of the features include passive and active alarm settings, a starter disabler and the simple but effective parking light flash feature. Sometimes even the smallest of deterrents can assist in making a thief think twice.

Like any vehicle accessory, security systems increase in sophistication and efficiency as you spend more on them. Python offers a mid-priced option with their 460HP remote security system. One of the features I like here is the keyless entry, allowing for quick access to the vehicle in a possible close-call situation. There are also features of convenience included with this system, like fail-safe starter kill, a vehicle-recovery system and automatic engine disable. At $250, the 460HP can fit into a budget and help you get out of a jam -- the features included also offer great value for the price.

As vehicle prowlers have become more intelligent, so has the technology to keep them out of your car. The perfect illustration of this concept is the Intelliguard 850 by Clifford. With all the options found here, the $465 price tag is a bargain. A proximity sensor keeps unwanted company at a safe distance. The smart locking system with a panic button is also a good feature to have in a pinch. I don't know about you, but I'm not afraid to use a panic button if need be. A feature that is included in many security systems, starter disable, is a convenient way to say no way to a car thief. This option essentially makes it impossible to get a car started when the starter disable is armed. When anyone does try to mess with your car, a 125-decibel alarm will let them know it's time to move on. This alarm is like a symphony of security: Each of its features combines with one another to offer the complete package in vehicle security.

Security features that come standard from the manufacturer are quite common as well as effective. There is a lack of customizable settings with this option, but the safeguards are there and they serve the basic need. However, in this situation, there isn't such a thing as too much protection. Anything from airbags to handbags is a potential mark for thieves, and, unfortunately, it's not enough just to lock the door anymore. Taking a proactive stance toward a potential theft situation can save big on insurance premiums and replacement fees -- as well as offer some assurance that your goods are safe.

Publication date: 04/21/05

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