- How do immobilisers work?
- Does an immobiliser or alarm affect my car insurance?
- What is a factory-fitted immobiliser?
- Do I have a factory-fitted immobiliser?
- What is a Thatcham-approved immobiliser?
- What’s the difference between Thatcham Category 1 and Category 2?
- Does my car have a Thatcham-approved Category 2 alarm?
- How do immobilisers work?
- Frequently asked questions
What is a car immobiliser and how does it impact car insurance?
Curious about car immobilisers? In this guide, we’ll explore what a car immobiliser is, how it works, and the potential impact it can have on your car insurance premiums. Discover the benefits of having this smart security feature installed and how it could help you save money on your car insurance.
How do immobilisers work?
An immobiliser is an essential component of your car’s security system that prevents unauthorised access and theft.
There are two main types of immobilisers:
- Mechanical immobilisers, such as steering wheel locks and gear clamps, and;
- Built-in electrical immobilisers
Electrical immobilisers, which we’ll focus on in this answer, are designed to prevent your car from starting if someone attempts to hotwire it or use an incorrect key or key fob. The exact functioning of electrical immobilisers is typically kept confidential to make it more challenging for thieves to bypass them.
When you attempt to start your car, the immobiliser checks if the code from the key or key fob matches the code programmed in the car’s electronic control unit (ECU). If the codes don’t match, the immobiliser disables crucial components like the fuel system, start motor and ignition, and it may even activate the car’s alarm system.
Most modern immobilisers operate passively, meaning they are automatically activated when you lock your car or remove the key. This eliminates the risk of forgetting to manually activate the immobiliser.
However, it can make it difficult to determine if your car has an immobiliser installed, which may be relevant when diagnosing any starting issues.
Having an immobiliser installed in your car can have a positive impact on your car insurance premiums. Insurance providers consider immobilisers as an effective anti-theft measure, reducing the risk of your vehicle being stolen.
As a result, they may offer discounted insurance rates or incentives for cars equipped with immobilisers. When comparing car insurance policies, it’s worth checking if an immobiliser can contribute to lower premiums or additional benefits.
Overall, immobilisers play a vital role in deterring car theft and can provide peace of mind for car owners. Make sure to check if your car already has an immobiliser installed or consider having one professionally fitted to enhance the security of your vehicle and potentially reduce your car insurance costs.
Does an immobiliser or alarm affect my car insurance?
Yes, having an immobiliser and car alarm installed in your vehicle can potentially have a positive impact on your car insurance premiums.
Insurance providers often view these security features as effective measures in reducing the risk of car theft. As a result, they may offer discounted insurance rates or incentives for cars equipped with immobilisers and alarms.
It’s important to note that the specific impact on your car insurance will depend on your insurance provider and the terms of your policy. Some insurers may explicitly state that having an immobiliser or alarm can lead to lower premiums, while others may take it into consideration when assessing the overall risk profile of your vehicle.
If your car doesn’t already have an immobiliser or alarm, you have the option to have one fitted. This can be done by a professional installer who can integrate the security system seamlessly into your vehicle. However, it’s worth considering the cost of installation and any potential modifications required.
When shopping for car insurance, be sure to inquire about any discounts or benefits that may be available for vehicles with immobilisers and alarms.
Comparing car insurance quotes from different providers can help you find the best coverage at the most competitive rates.
Ultimately, having an immobiliser and alarm in your car not only provides added security but can also contribute to potential savings on your car insurance premiums. Consult with your insurance provider to understand the specific impact these security features may have on your policy.
What is a factory-fitted immobiliser?
Factory-fitted immobilisers are security systems that are installed in vehicles during the manufacturing process. These immobilisers are specifically designed for the car make and model, and they are integrated into the vehicle’s electrical system during production.
Factory-fitted immobilisers are considered to be highly effective in preventing unauthorised access and theft of the vehicle. Since they are installed by the car manufacturer, they are designed to work seamlessly with the car’s other security features. This integration ensures that the immobiliser is properly integrated into the vehicle’s electronic control unit (ECU) and functions as intended.
Insurance providers often view factory-fitted immobilisers favourably when assessing the security level of a vehicle. The presence of a factory-fitted immobiliser may result in lower insurance premiums, as it reduces the risk of theft and increases the overall security of the vehicle.
It’s important to note that factory-fitted immobilisers cannot be easily removed or bypassed by potential thieves, as they are integrated into the car’s systems and designed to withstand tampering attempts. This adds an additional layer of protection and makes it more difficult for thieves to start the vehicle without the correct key or key fob.
If your car is equipped with a factory-fitted immobiliser, it’s a good idea to inform your insurance provider, as this can potentially lead to discounted premiums or other benefits. It’s always recommended to check with your insurance provider regarding their specific policies and any requirements related to factory-fitted immobilisers.
Do I have a factory-fitted immobiliser?
Determining if your car has a factory-fitted immobiliser is important, as it can impact your insurance premiums. In England and Wales, factory-fitted immobilisers have been mandatory for new vehicles since 1998.
If your car was manufactured after that date, it is likely to have a factory-fitted immobiliser, unless it has been imported or if a previous owner removed it.
To confirm if your car has a factory-fitted immobiliser, there are a few simple steps you can take. First, you can check your car’s manual, as it should provide information about the security features included in your vehicle.
If you don’t have access to the manual, you can contact the manufacturer directly. Most car manufacturers have websites where you can find their contact details and reach out to inquire about the immobiliser in your specific model.
If you are still unable to determine if your car has a factory-fitted immobiliser, you can consult with a mechanic. They will have the expertise to assess your vehicle and confirm the presence of an immobiliser.
Knowing whether your car has a factory-fitted immobiliser is crucial when dealing with your insurance provider, as it can affect your premiums.
By providing accurate information about your vehicle’s security features, you can ensure that your insurance coverage is appropriate and reflective of the added protection provided by an immobiliser.
What is a Thatcham-approved immobiliser?
A Thatcham-approved immobiliser refers to a security system that has been certified by Thatcham Research. Thatcham Research is an organisation that specialises in vehicle safety and security.
They evaluate and rate the effectiveness of various security systems, including alarms and immobilisers, and their certifications have become an industry standard.
When you’re searching for car insurance, you may come across references to Thatcham-approved security systems. Insurance providers often consider these approved systems as a reliable measure of security, which can potentially lead to lower insurance premiums.
To find out if a security device is Thatcham-approved, you can visit the Thatcham Research website. They provide a searchable database of approved devices, including both immobilisers and other security systems such as alarms and tracking devices.
By choosing a Thatcham-approved immobiliser, you can have confidence in its quality and effectiveness in deterring theft, providing added peace of mind for your vehicle’s security.
What’s the difference between Thatcham Category 1 and Category 2?
Thatcham certifications are categorized into different levels of security, with Category 1 and Category 2 being the most commonly referenced by insurance providers. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between these categories:
Thatcham Category 1
This is the highest level of security certification. It includes both an electronic alarm and an immobiliser system. Category 1 systems provide comprehensive protection for your vehicle against theft attempts. They feature advanced features such as perimeter detection, ultrasonic sensors, and engine immobilisation, ensuring maximum security.
Thatcham Category 2
This category refers to electronic immobilisers without an alarm system. While it doesn’t include an audible alarm, a Category 2 immobiliser can still provide effective protection by preventing unauthorised access to your vehicle. It immobilises key components of the vehicle, such as the fuel system or ignition, making it difficult for thieves to start the engine and drive away.
Thatcham Category 2-1
This is a combination of Category 2 and Category 1. It involves adding a Thatcham-approved Category 2-1 alarm system to a vehicle already equipped with a Category 2 immobiliser. This upgrade provides an enhanced level of security by incorporating an alarm alongside the immobiliser, giving the vehicle Category 1 status.
By understanding the differences between Thatcham Category 1 and Category 2 certifications, you can make an informed decision when choosing security systems for your vehicle. These certifications provide reassurance to insurance providers, which may result in potential premium discounts.
Does my car have a Thatcham-approved Category 2 alarm?
Determining if your car has a Thatcham-approved Category 2 alarm can be done through a few methods. Here’s what you can do to find out:
Check your car manual: Start by referring to your car’s manual. It should provide information about the security features installed in your vehicle, including whether it has a Thatcham-approved Category 2 alarm.
Contact the manufacturer: Reach out to the manufacturer of your car directly. They can confirm whether your vehicle is equipped with a Thatcham-approved Category 2 alarm or provide you with information on optional security upgrades.
Contact the retailer: If you purchased your car from a specific retailer or dealership, you can contact them for details about the security features included in your vehicle.
If your car doesn’t have a Thatcham-approved Category 2 alarm or you want to enhance your vehicle’s security, it is advisable to choose a Thatcham-approved alarm model.
These alarms have undergone rigorous testing and meet industry standards for effectiveness and reliability.
Additionally, having a Thatcham-approved alarm can potentially lead to savings on your car insurance policy, as it demonstrates a higher level of security for your vehicle.
Are immobilisers effective?
Immobilisers are generally effective in deterring car theft, but it’s important to understand their limitations. While they provide a strong level of security, no electrical device can offer 100% foolproof protection.
Criminals continually adapt to new technologies, and there are instances of keyless car theft through relay attacks, where thieves extend the key’s signal using electronic devices to trick the car’s technology into thinking the key is nearby.
It’s worth noting that occasional electrical faults can occur with immobilisers, leading to issues with locking/unlocking, engine starting, or non-functional keys.
Simple troubleshooting steps like replacing the key fob battery may resolve the problem, but if issues persist, contacting the garage or dealership that sold you the car is recommended.
To enhance your vehicle’s security beyond an immobiliser, consider implementing additional precautions:
- Park your car in a garage or a secure, well-lit area, preferably with surveillance cameras or CCTV.
- Avoid leaving valuables or cash in plain sight inside the car, reducing the temptation for thieves.
- Ensure your car is properly locked whenever you leave it, double-check all doors and windows.
- Store your car keys away from windows and front doors, where they could be easily spotted by potential thieves.
- Keep your key fob in a Faraday pouch at home to prevent thieves from intercepting its signal.
- Consider deactivating your key fob at night, if supported by your car model. Consult your car manual for instructions.
- Test your car alarm regularly to ensure it is functioning correctly.
- Invest in a steering lock, as it adds an additional physical barrier by immobilising the steering wheel.
- Install a GPS tracking device, which allows you to locate your vehicle in case of theft.
By combining an immobiliser with these sensible precautions, you can significantly enhance the security of your vehicle and reduce the risk of theft.
Frequently asked questions
An immobiliser, whether factory-fitted or after-market, may or may not be considered a modification depending on your insurance provider’s definition. Modifications refer to any changes made to your car that deviate from the manufacturer’s original specifications.
While factory-fitted immobilisers are part of the original specifications, adding an immobiliser or purchasing a car with an after-market immobiliser might be considered a modification by some insurers. If this is the case, you may need to consider modified car insurance.
The good news is that having an immobiliser, whether factory-fitted or after-market, can often lead to savings on your premiums. By enhancing the security of your car, you are reducing the risk of theft, which insurance providers typically reward with lower insurance premiums.
To determine whether an immobiliser counts as a modification and how it may affect your insurance, it’s advisable to check with your insurance provider directly. They will have specific guidelines and can provide you with accurate information regarding modifications and their impact on your policy.
Yes, you can install an immobiliser in an older car that doesn’t have one.
However, to maximise the potential impact on your car insurance premiums, it’s important to choose a Thatcham-approved immobiliser and ensure it is installed correctly.
A Thatcham-approved immobiliser is one that has been certified by Thatcham Research, an organisation that assesses and rates the effectiveness of security systems. Insurance providers often consider Thatcham-approved immobilisers as reliable and effective in preventing vehicle theft.
By having a Thatcham-approved immobiliser installed, you may be able to demonstrate to your insurance provider that you have taken proactive steps to enhance the security of your car, which could result in lower insurance premiums.
It’s crucial to ensure the immobiliser is fitted correctly. Improper installation can compromise its effectiveness and potentially lead to issues with your car’s electrical system.
Therefore, it is recommended to have the immobiliser installed by a professional installer who is experienced in fitting security devices. They will ensure the immobiliser is properly integrated into your car’s wiring and functioning optimally.
Before proceeding with the installation, it’s advisable to check with your insurance provider regarding their requirements and any potential impact on your policy. They can provide specific information on the type of immobiliser they accept and any potential premium reductions associated with its installation.
To check if your immobiliser is working, follow these steps:
- Ensure you have the correct key for your car.
- Insert the key into the ignition and turn it to the “on” position without starting the engine.
- Observe the dashboard warning lights. Typically, when you turn the key, the immobiliser symbol should illuminate and then turn off after a few seconds. This indicates that the immobiliser has recognised the correct key and disarmed itself.
- Attempt to start the engine. If the immobiliser is working properly, the engine should start without any issues. However, if the immobiliser is active or detects an incorrect key, the engine will not start, and you may hear a warning sound or see a flashing immobiliser symbol on the dashboard.
- If your car is equipped with an alarm system, test it by triggering the alarm manually or using the key fob.
If you experience any issues during this test, such as the engine not starting or the immobiliser symbol remaining illuminated, it could indicate a problem with the immobiliser system.
In such cases, it’s recommended to consult a qualified mechanic or contact the manufacturer or a professional auto locksmith to diagnose and rectify the issue.
Remember, it’s important to check the functionality of your immobiliser regularly to ensure the security of your vehicle.
In addition to an immobiliser, there are other security devices that can work alongside it to enhance the protection of your vehicle:
Car Alarm: Many cars come with a standard audible car alarm system. While it may not be foolproof, it can act as a deterrent and draw attention to any unauthorised attempts to access or tamper with your vehicle. However, false alarms can be a common issue with these systems, leading to some being ignored by passers-by.
Silent Alarm Systems: Silent alarms are designed to provide discreet alerts without sounding a loud alarm. If someone tries to break into your car, you will receive a notification or alert, allowing you to take appropriate action. It’s important to remember not to intervene yourself but to contact the police and ensure your safety.
GPS Tracking: GPS tracking devices can be installed in your vehicle to track its location in real-time. In the event of theft, this can be invaluable for recovery efforts as it provides accurate information about the whereabouts of your vehicle. It is important to note that GPS tracking does not prevent theft but assists in locating and recovering the vehicle.
By combining an immobiliser with these additional security measures, you can create a layered approach to safeguard your vehicle against theft and unauthorised access.
However, it’s important to choose reputable and reliable devices and consider the specific needs and requirements of your vehicle and location.