Owning a car is a big investment. When you spend you hard-earned money on a vehicle, you want it to last. (And part of lasting includes keeping it in your possession!) For that reason, it is important to know the truth about your car’s security. Many people think that they have a base level of understanding when it comes to the protections their car affords them, but there are a lot of tall tales out there. I run into quite a few people that are all too ready to share a pearl of wisdom about cars security that they picked up off the streets. Most of it is bunk. In terms of effectively keeping yourself and your car safe, you need to know truth about some of these car security myths — let’s break it down.
1. New Car Locks Cannot Be Picked
Many people are shocked to find out that their new-fangled car locks can be picked. The keys may look cutting edge with a snake like pattern down the middle of the blade (slider lock), or have biting on both sides (wafer lock), but they can all be picked. In fact, there is no such thing as a truly unpickable lock. There are only locks that have not been picked yet. Car locks are just locks. Skilled professionals can use all manner of tools to pick a vehicle’s locks. However, picking car locks is almost exclusively done by auto locksmiths.
Though the locks on your car doors, trunks, etc. can be picked, it is not the chosen method of entry for thieves. Even locksmiths will not likely open a locked car door by picking the locks. For most cars, there are exceedingly faster and simpler ways of accessing the vehicle. The reason for this myth mainly comes from the fact that so few people take the time to pick car locks. But just because something is not common does not mean it is impossible.
2. A Slim Jim Can Open Any Car
There are several ways to use a slim jim, but it is certainly not a skeleton key for cars. At this point in automobile manufacturing, the slim jim has become almost obsolete. The reason that these tools do not work is that they require a very particular set of circumstances. Often they will only work with older vehicles that still use post locks (the upright style mechanisms that are depressed to lock and pulled up to open). Other than post locks, there are some older models that can be bypassed with the special positioning of this tool. As it stands, most modern cars do not use post locks, so this device will not open them.
Without extensive training, attempting to position a slim jim inside the door may be enough to damage the car’s electronics. This concern comes from the increased trend of concealing wires within the door. Because a slim jim works by being inserted between the weather strip and the window glass to slip inside the door, the user is confronted with all kinds of wires and latches. These wires and other devices can be destroyed or disconnected by rough usage of the tool.
3. Thieves Only Steal Nice Cars
Thieves are, by and large, opportunists. They are out to steal whatever is around. That is why the most stolen cars are average models and not luxury models. The cars that sell the best get stolen the most. Besides the availability of these common cars, there is also the benefit of owner indifference. The average car owner, who got the car that was cheap or reliable, is often not all that caring. Not caring about your car can put a target on the vehicle.
A dirty car that has a bunch of trash in it is far more likely to be stolen than one that is under a car cover. This is because of the message being given to the public through neglect. A car that is cleaned and resting under a cover shows that the owner cares about it. Thieves will assume that added precautions have been installed, such as aftermarket alarms and other security features. A car that is neglected will, in all likelihood, have no surprise security. Also, average cars are less likely to be found, and can easily be sold for parts due to their popularity.
4. Cars Don’t Explode
The dramatic pyrotechnics of movies and television have convinced people that cars cannot explode in real life events. But they occasionally do, and the results can be deadly. Most often there is a jet of fire that shoots out scorching the car and anyone nearby. It is not a concussive blast that sends the vehicle jetting into the air, but it is still extremely dangerous. These types of explosions can happen for several reasons, but they always need to be ignited.
The initial ignition is most often thought of as reaching the gas tank, but it may also blow your battery. Gas tank explosions are relatively straightforward. Fire reaches the fuel, which is highly combustible, and there is your fireball. A leaking fuel line will achieve this result if it drips on anything hot enough. The fire will be carried into the fuel reserve and explode. Also, if a match, cigarette, etc., is dropped into the fuel tank, this will shoot out an explosive plume of fire. When it comes to battery explosions, issues with charging will create an excess of hydrogen to build up. Hydrogen is extremely combustible (this was the gas that led to the Hindenburg explosion), and will blow it there is any spark.
5. Old Cars Are Easier To Break Into
Many car owners are under the impression that the newer a car is, the harder it is to break into. This is not at all true. Several older cars come with deadlocking features, which make them difficult for trained and licensed security professionals to open. Compare this to a run-of-the-mill Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen, etc. made this year, and the older model with deadlock is infinitely more secure.
The simplest method of nonviolent entry for a car is to wedge the door, slip a probe tool through the gap, and manipulate the interior locks. (We do not endorse breaking into any vehicle that is not yours!) A BMW made in the 1980s will be immune to this when the deadlock feature has been activated. Essentially, deadlocked cars prevent the door locks from manipulating the actual locking functions until the proper keys are placed in the ignition. If a thief were to break the window, then they would need to crawl in and out of the car through the broken glass. Most new cars can be opened as long as the interior locks can be touched. This proves that the evolution of cars has not gone hand in hand with the evolution of security.
6. Car Alarms Give Significant Insurance Discounts
Having an expensive alarm on your car might make you feel much more secure when you park it, but it’s not going to do much — if anything — for your auto insurance rate, says The Zebra insurance expert Neil Richardson. “Auto theft is a big deal, but in the insurance world, it is just one of many factors that insurance companies use to price their coverage.” Consider the fact that vehicle theft is covered under the same part of your policy as hail damage, fire, flooding, and many other risks. An alarm does a decent job of deterring theft, but it does nothing to lower those other risks. As such, the amount of discount associated with having a vehicle alarm is minimal at best.
Also consider that most modern vehicles come from the factory with some type of security system in place. When your insurance company has your VIN, they can normally tell that your vehicle has a factory alarm and will offer a very minor discount, so purchasing an upgraded vehicle security system will likely not result of any additional savings. Even if you had an older model vehicle that didn’t come stock with a security alarm, the cost of adding this system to your vehicle will be much greater than any additional discount your insurance company might offer. Having an alarm is a great idea for many reasons, just don’t expect a huge discount on your auto policy.
7. Car Doors Are Bulletproof
Let’s hope that you’re never in a situation for which this info will be relevant, but just in case… a car is not bullet proof! The idea that a car can be shot up while someone calmly sits on the other side is a myth perpetrated by Hollywood. If you are looking for your car to provide you security in a gunfight, you will need to do some custom work on your car. Most people understand that windows and tires will be decimated by a gunshot, but most vehicle doors won’t hold up much better. Most bullets will pierce the metal on a car door and even travel through to the other side of the vehicle. A gun with as small of a caliber as 22mm will penetrate a car door fully. There is no baseline of firearms protection that a standard model automobile provides. In the event of a shooting, be sure to get to cover behind concrete, steel, stone, or earth. Don’t sit inside of the vehicle or get behind it. The only potential security this offers you is concealment.
In terms of the stories people have been telling about cars, the security they have has been greatly exaggerated. Any lock that a car uses can be picked open, but they cannot always be opened with a slim jim. A car thief is more likely to a dirty and neglected average car than sport and luxury models. Cars can explode, and they are not bulletproof. Car alarms do not lower your insurance rates substantially, and your new car is not necessarily more secure than your old one. With all of this information, you can take the proper steps to increase your security, or at least operate in a way that takes into account the danger and vulnerabilities you and your car face.