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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
All of the following information is based on my personal experience and research. If you find that something here is inconsistent with your knowledge, feel free to chip in.

I'm going to quickly cover some basic alarm/remote starter information to hopefully help answer some regularly repeated questions.

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Which aftermarket alarm system is the best? / Which alarm should I buy?

The most frequently supported and recommend alarm systems come from two companies: CompuStar and DEI. Both names are virtually universally proven and trusted by most everyone.

CompuStar has their own line of alarm systems all under the CompuStar brand. The individual CompuStar models vary with the amount of features included in the system, as would be expected.

DEI (Directed Electronics, Inc.) has an extensive list of brands that they themselves manufacture. The most notable of these brands being Viper, Clifford, and Python.

Making the choice between which individual brand would best suit your needs is only going to be answered by some research on your part. Each individual brand seems to have its own strong suits so its important to understand the differences.​

Click here for a full list of brands manufactured by DEI.

What are Modules?

Modules are peripheral devices that can be installed in conjunction with your alarm system to provide specific support to specific needs. Both DEI and CompuStar manufacture a large quantity of modules for their alarms.​

An almost complete list of DEI modules can be found here.

Examples of a few modules from DEI:
  • Immobilizer Bypass Module (DEI 556xx): This module is made to bypass the factory immobilizer alarm system on our honda civics (as well as a large variety of other vehicles). If you drive a civic, this module is REQUIRED in order to install an aftermarket alarm on your car.
    Note: There are a variety of model 556 modules to fill this need. The 556u is universal, and as such, works with our vehicles, but requires the use of your valet key. The model 556hw is specific to honda and does not require the use of your key.
  • Neutral Safety Module (689m): This module is required to utilize the remote start feature for manual transmission vehicles. This requires you to apply your e-brake as well as have your transmission in neutral for your remote starter to function. Most technicians will refuse to install a RS on your manual car if you do not have this module, hence why I say that it is "Required".
  • Vehicle Tilt Sensors (507m): This module will trigger the alarm if your car is tilted vertically. (i.e. when someone is attempting to jack up your car and steal your brand new $1800 Mugen GPs. :p)
  • Programmable Voice Module (516p): This module makes the alarm talk in addition to chirp. You can program up to 5 of your own messages for warning chirp, arm, disarm, second warning chirp, and alarm engage. It also comes with factory programmed messages.
  • Proximity Sensor Module (508d): This sensor will detect thermal signatures within a certain proximity of your vehicle and trigger a warning (or eventually, an alarm). When installed properly this is probably the most beneficial module for security.

This list could go on and on, as there are TONS of individual modules. To find which ones suit your tastes, refer to the above link.​

What can I expect to spend on an alarm?

This all depends on which alarm you buy, which modules you purchase, where you buy your parts, and who does your install. Realistically speaking you can bet on spending around $300-500 in parts for a good alarm and another $250-300 on an install.​

So what is a quick list of everything I should consider when purchasing an alarm?
  • Which alarm system to buy, based on your personal desire and taste.
  • Which modules to purchase that are required or desired for your alarm.
  • Where to purchase your alarm hardware.
  • Finding a trusted shop to perform the install. Expect to pony up some benjamins for the install cost.
  • Does the retailer for your parts warranty them? Does your install shop warranty their labor?

If you plan to buy your alarm hardware at a local shop, as opposed to online, expect to spend roughly 20-30% more on buying the parts you'll need. The benefit of doing this is usually your installer will warranty both your parts as well as their labor. Buying online through a wholesaler or through eBay is a good way to save money, just make sure you chose a proven and trusted distributor or eBay seller. Buying refurbished or off-brand alarm parts is never recommended. Stick to the name branded new in box items.

What is two way paging?

An alarm with two way paging means that the key fob included with your alarm can send data as well as receive it. This means you can input commands to your car (unlock, lock, arm, disarm, remote start, etc) as well as get alerts from your car when alarms or warnings trigger. Most alarm systems from DEI and CompuStar have at least 2,500-3,000 feet of range. The best alarms claim ranges up to a mile. Always keep in mind that your realistic range will be hindered by obstructions, so don't expect to remote
start your car in the middle of a city from 3000 feet.



What are alarm auxiliary ports?

Auxiliary ports on alarm systems are used for communicating with any potential optional modules installed. For example, the Viper 791vx has something like 4 or 5 auxiliary ports. This means I can install and control 4 or 5 modules such as power window roll up/down with the pager.​

Can I safely have a remote starter on my manual transmission vehicle?

Yes, yes, yes. You will be required to provide or purchase a module to safely allow the operation of this feature. Read above for details.​

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More information to come. If you have anything to add please don't hesitate to speak up, I will edit.
 

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Hey man, nice write up.

Question for you: Is an alarm really worth the $$? Is it the peace of mind knowing that you've taken that extra step to secure your ride?

I currently do not have one, nor have i ever owned one. I don't have any crazy mods or banging stereo to steal ... so i'm just wondering if it's worth the cash for a system like compustar. Is the major draw of an alarm the fact that it may deter someone from doing a smash and grab?
 

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For newer Viper alarms you can get the XK01 module that interfaces with the door locks and factory alarm. It just connects to your alarm via d2d cable and you don't have to hunt down door, hood and trunk cables.
 

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i just want a remote start and not the alarm. is there a set up where i can just get that and avoid the extra costs of having an alarm too?
yes you can do just the remote start if that's what you want

since most of our cars are pretty new if not still new to us, another benefit to having a full alarm system is to be able to know if your car has been hit or damaged. Say you go into the store and come back out and somebody opened their door and hit you setting off the alarm, your alarm system will tell you. I have already benefited from this feature. Neighbors kid dropped a baseball on the hood of the car and they didn't tell us until we confronted them. Without the alarm, we probably couldn't have approached them & they could've just denied it. But not when the pager is telling us it just recently got hit.
 
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