How to Keep Your Vehicle Safe From Theft

person peering into car

With over a million cars stolen each year in the US, vehicle theft has become a concern for vehicle owners. Fortunately, you can increase the chances of keeping your vehicle safe from theft by taking a few simple steps, including keeping some basic precautions in mind, using immobilization devices, and being mindful of where you park.

Method 1 of 3: Taking basic precautions

It doesn't really matter where you park your car if you take some basic precautions. By following a few quick and easy steps, you can make it much more difficult for thieves to sneak away with your car.

Step 1: Lock your doors. The first step toward preventing theft includes locking your vehicle's doors. This makes it much harder for a thief to gain access to your vehicle and could provide just enough time to discourage the theft of your vehicle in the first place.

purse laying on a car seat

Step 2: Hide your valuables. Keep valuables out of sight when leaving them in your car while you are away. Sometimes thieves look for parked cars with bags, phones, and expensive equipment in them. Instead of a thief leaving your vehicle alone, visible valuables could lead them to breaking into your car and taking your personal items.

  • Warning: In addition to your personal property, money, and other items, thieves can also gain access to items that could allow them to steal your identity, such as your driver's license, bills with your address, and other important documents. Never keep such items in your vehicle, regardless of how long you plan on being away from your car.

Step 3: Turn on your car alarm. Turn on the alarm system if your vehicle is equipped with one. Thieves might avoid a car they think is protected by a car alarm.

  • Tip: Make sure to let thieves know that your car is protected by a car alarm by displaying a sticker stating this fact on your vehicle windows.

Method 2 of 3: Use immobilization devices

yellow pedal locking device installed

Materials Needed

  • Immobilization device such as a steering wheel club or pedal lock

In addition to locking your vehicle's doors, there are some other steps you can take to make your vehicle harder to steal, including immobilization devices, such as a steering wheel club or a pedal lock.

Step 1: Lock your steering wheel. Devices such as The Club make your vehicle virtually undriveable by limiting the range of motion of the steering wheel. Once secured into place, short of cutting the rim of the steering wheel, thieves cannot turn the vehicle left or right when attempting to flee in the vehicle.

Step 2: Lock your pedal. You can also utilize other devices, such as a pedal lock, which either locks the brake pedal into place or secures the brake and gas pedals together. This makes it impossible to operate one without operating the other, so that when you push the gas the brake is also applied, and the vehicle won't move.

Method 3 of 3: Parking in the right spot

Where you park your vehicle is often just as important as the other precautions you take to prevent car theft. Whether you park on the street, in a parking garage, or a car lot, by keeping some simple steps in mind, you can ensure that any thief thinks twice before messing with your car.

Step 1: Park in a monitored lot. While this costs a small fee, it is one sure way to make sure that your vehicle is protected while you are away.

parking lot with people around

Step 2: Park away from parking garage and lot exits. Parking in a spot in heavily traveled areas can deter theft. By parking next to an exit, you give potential thieves a quick way to get away with your vehicle.

Step 3: Park in well-lit areas. Park in well-lit areas when you must leave your vehicle, especially at night or in darker areas. Thieves like obscurity, and areas where others can easily see their activities discourages them.

  • Tip: If you leave a spare key somewhere on your vehicle's exterior, put it somewhere inconspicuous. If placed in an area that most people leave a spare key, more than likely the thieves can find it easily as well. In general, it’s best not to do this at all.

By taking a few safety precautions, you can keep your vehicle safe from theft. When having an alarm system installed in your vehicle, consult with an experienced mechanic to ensure that you get the system you want and that the job is done properly the first time.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

More related articles

Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Idaho
The state of Idaho offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the...
P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance Related Trouble Codes: P2158: Vehicle Speed Sensor B P2160: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Circuit Low P2161:...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...

Related questions

Q: I turn my car off n my anti theft light keeps flashing ....it has not done this before....do I have a problem

You may be having a communication problem with your key and the theft module. Try a different key to see if the problem continues. If it fixes it with the second key, then replace the key. If it is still...

Q: Security light; car won't start

Often times when the ignition is replaced the security system will need to reprogrammed to recognize that a component has been legitimately replaced and that the vehicle is not being stolen. I would ask one of the mechanics at YourMechanic...

Q: My alarm is randomly going off

There are numerous reasons this may be happening. However, there is a technical service bulletin (TSB) #09-BE-026 pertaining to alarm system self activation due to a defective hood switch pad. The TSB states: The vehicle alarm system may intermittently...