Car alarms are "idiotic, selfish forms of noise pollution that do nothing to deter crime"

Originally published at: Car alarms are "idiotic, selfish forms of noise pollution that do nothing to deter crime" | Boing Boing


To be fair I think many people only have those alarms because they come standard in most modern cars, not because they chose to have them installed.


There’s a Tesla in my work’s parking structure that always flashes its headlights at me whenever I walk past the front of it, I guess as a passive-aggressive “back off!” kinda message. (A feature of Tesla’s “sentry mode.”) I’ve been getting more and more tempted to kick it out of annoyance, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.


Many years ago I encountered a car that had an alarm system that allowed for custom sounds. The owner had apparently recorded several short rap songs advising people to stay away from his car. It was genuinely entertaining.

Of course it also backfired somewhat, no pun intended, since it made me go right up to the car just to keep activating the alarm.


The Compact Car that Cried “Thief”.


I have certainly never asked for an alarm to be installed. It comes with the car and sets itself automatically. I wouldn’t pay extra for one and I wouldn’t pay extra to uninstall mine. my alarm has gone off only rarely, so it doesn’t bother anyone either.


This is right up there with all the other forms of noise pollution we somehow all agreed was “okay” without ever getting a vote.
But with the added smugness of being in the service of performative property protection. Yay!

It took months, and several notes politely asking them to cut it out, to get me to the point, but I once let all the air out of someone’s tires after they let their alarm go off for almost an hour every other night while it was parked right below our window on a quiet little street in the city.
It worked!


I wish that car remotes came with a locking cover to access the alarm button, or would require me to tap a special pattern to trigger it. The only time my car alarms have ever gone off are when the keys on my ring get jumbled up in my pocket and push the damn alarm button inadvertently.

I realize that some people need the safety of the button just to walk to their cars. That’s fine and I don’t want to take that away from anyone, but I want a way to make it a more “confirmed” action.


My mother-in-law only has an issue with her alarm when she sits on her key fob and triggers the “panic” button. We should probably just disable that button on the remote, which would be way easier than trying to mess with the car itself.


“Protected by Viper – stand back.”

Back in the day, I wondered if a machine could trigger the voice.


I always remove the button on new fobs. you have to really want to hit the button to reach past the bezel to the physical buttons below.


Former FIL didn’t understand or believe me when I told him I had no car alarm. He insisted I must have one.

“But, if someone breaks into your car, what sound will it make?”

“The sound of broken glass?”


This takes me back to “Peak Car Alarm” of the late 80’s. I lived in LA at the time, and car culture being what it was… As soon as talking alarms with perimeter sensors hit the market they became the must-have autobro accessory.

Only one problem, they were crap. A bush rustles next to the car? STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE!! A cat walks past the car? STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE!! There’s a street sign 3’ from the bumper? STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE!! And if that street sign didn’t move, we’ll then you get 2 minutes of Robocop signing the song of his people. Then ‘reset’, rinse, repeat.

It got so bad after a few months that most parking garages in downtown put up signs warning drivers that if their talking alarm went off their car would be towed. Fun times. Thank you attending my Ted Talk.

PS: Don’t get me started on the “high score” alarms from that same era. BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ WHOOOP WHOOOP WHOOOP BEEBOOH BEEBOOH BEEBOOHH, etc.


I was studying in grad school when one was going off. I had access to the roof, and considered dropping a cinderblock onto it, but wasn’t sure if that would silence it or just prolong the noise. Seems counterproductive to have your car makes sounds that make people want to attack it.


on my list of hate also sits the painfully loud, i have locked the car noises. i swear some people trigger them just to prove how much of a jerk they can be


With Sentry mode on, the onboard cameras are also recording video when motion is detected. So, kicking that car will likely earn you some internet infamy.


In my NYC neighborhood, the mocking birds learned that five-tone car alarm, you know the one; “woop woop, deedle-deedle, ack ack ack, woop woop” and would sing it note-perfect over and over and over.


Is this really still a problem? Custom installed alarms haven’t really been a thing for at least 15 years now and the current crop of OEM integrated immobilizers don’t malfunction often.

I live on a busy street in LA and I very rarely hear car alarms blaring these days. Not like 20 years ago at least when they would blare every few hours and all night long.


Of course SNL came up with the solution a long time ago.


Me too. But mine is more of a spider-in-your-car alarm. That’s usually why it goes off - some arachnid has made a home near a sensor.