Best Vehicle Anti-Theft Systems For Your Car


Keeping car theft at bay in 2021.

Read in this article:

What is a Car Security System?

Of the nearly 900,000 cars stolen in the USA in 2020, not even half were recovered, which is disappointing when you consider that even a simple anti-theft device could deter common thieves. You should want to protect your vehicle, especially since many insurance providers offer discounts to people who have certain types of anti-theft devices fitted to their cars. But, which devices are actually useful, and how exactly do they work?

A visual anti-theft system can be an effective deterrent. An example is an anti-theft car-lock device clamped to the steering wheel or road wheel to lock them and prevent them from rotating. Some devices are hidden and disable the car's starter. Others don't prevent theft but serve as warnings only (a car-alarm system) or as an anti-theft tracking device (like a GPS tracker).

Car Anti Theft

The Best Car Security System Options

The best car-theft protection is often not just one, but rather a combination of the below:

  • Immobilizer: Similar to a kill switch for a car, it activates when you lock your car, disabling the starter. A transponder engine immobilizer is standard in most new cars from 2021 and 2022 model years. Just like a vehicle kill switch, the driver has to deactivate it in a special way, or the car won't start. Starting from under $30 for a cheap one, they can run into hundreds of dollars for parts and installation.
  • Steering-wheel lock: Made from tough steel, the device is attached to the steering wheel, preventing it from being turned far. It is a very obvious visual car-theft deterrent. Typical cost: between $30 and $150.
  • Wheel clamp/tire lock: Not solely for police use, car owners can also use wheel locks to prevent theft. It is an obvious visual car-disabling device because, like a brake, it locks the car's wheels. However, tire clamps are a bother to attach and easily get dirty. They have a low price - typically under $50.
  • Car alarm: Since all it does is make some noise, it is not a very effective car-security system. They are sometimes set off by the car being bumped or even minor earth tremors, so false alarms are common. Thus, many people ignore blaring alarms, further reducing their efficacy.
  • Anti-theft marking: Having key vehicle parts etched with special serial numbers makes them harder to sell, and it is easier to track down car thieves when they try to do so. This is not a great deterrent, however, unless the marking is especially visible to would-be thieves.
  • GPS tracker: A GPS tracker device for a car enables the owner to know their car's location, and the police can use it to locate and recover the vehicle. You don't even have to pay a monthly subscription fee if you take an anti-theft GPS tracker with a data SIM. They generally cost between $50 - $150. However, it doesn't actually prevent the car from being stolen, either.
Steering Wheel Lock Car Door Open Car GPS Kay
Steering Wheel Lock
Car Door Open
Car GPS Kay

How to Protect Your Car from Theft

Effective car-theft prevention starts with a few precautions:

  • Check a list of the most stolen cars in the US and try to avoid trucks and SUVs if you don't actually need one
  • Don't leave tempting items of value lying around in plain sight inside your car
  • Check that the doors are properly shut and locked before walking away
  • Always keep track of the keys for your car and locking devices
  • Choose brightly-colored locking devices that thieves can easily spot
  • Consider getting a car with a manual transmission, because some thieves cannot drive stick!


If the vehicle you drive is valuable or a popular theft target, you should have more than one anti-theft device installed. Remember that the top sellers are also the most stolen, like Ford, GM, and RAM trucks and Honda and Toyota sedans. Having effective anti-theft protection will never go out of fashion. Not only will it keep your car safe, but you might save money on your insurance.


Do the best vehicle anti-theft devices guarantee my car won’t get stolen?

No, there is no guarantee. A truly determined thief will steal a car. But these devices deter them and prevent a large percentage of thefts, so better to be safe, than sorry.

Is a car alarm the best security system for your car?

By itself, no. The best car-security system is not one, but rather a combination of devices.

Many people ignore them and they don't prevent theft. Combining an alarm with an immobilizer that prevents theft while attracting attention at the same time is better. On expensive cars, owners might want to consider subscription services that can immobilize your car remotely if stolen, and recovery systems that alert users via a smartphone if someone is stealing a car.

What happens if I lose my steering lock’s key?

A locksmith will have to remove it, if they can. Otherwise, it has to be forcefully removed, with resultant damage and effort.

Can I buy multiple locking devices and use the same key on all of them?

No, each device comes with its own key. Also, you don't want someone finding the key to be able to unlock all the devices. Electronic locks like immobilizers are usually disabled by touching a hidden button or via a remote, which is similar to how you disable a car alarm. Meanwhile, steering and wheel locks come with their own set of keys.

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