Originally Posted by kfrere
Protag: There appear to be 5 different Viper systems (that the Geek squad will install) available on the Best Buy site. I'm not interested in remote turn on (well, not for my van anyway), but do want to make sure I'm getting enough protection. I don't know enough about these systems to appreciate the differences between a $199 system and a $739, although I never like to overspend if I don't have to. Can you recommend?
I recommend that you not get a Viper system at Best Buy. One reason— hidden costs of hundreds of dollars for vehicle-specific components on every one of their packages. Another reason— their prepackaged systems may include components you don't need or want and shouldn't have to pay for. But hopefully the information that follows can help if you still decide to get a system at Best Buy.
Go to a "preferred" authorized Viper installer, and custom-design your own package that contains exactly the components you want and none that you don't. A search on the Viper website for the Lenoir City, TN area lists two Preferred installers, Radio Clinic in Chattanooga, and Electronic Connection in Morristown.
Where to Buy Viper Products
Now, addressing the issue of components…
First, there are three basic systems to choose from. Basic security, keyless entry, and remote start.
Go with basic security. This includes a shock sensor
, which is pretty sensitive. You'll sometimes get a false alarm by a close thunderclap, but rolling boom boxes being driven nearby seldom set it off unless they have the bass turned up to 13. Also includes starter kill
, which prevents the vehicle from being started after the alarm is triggered until the alarm is reset. Has a six-tone siren
, self-explanatory. Side note, if you install two sirens, one outside the vehicle and one inside
under the dashboard, you'll at least deafen anybody who manages to get in. It puts out a whopping 135dB.
Side note, all basic Viper systems have a "valet" feature that you will need if you ever put your Interstate in the shop. There is a switch on the antenna that disables the whole system, including battery backups, so that a repair technician can't accidentally activate an alarm inside the shop. I forgot to use the valet feature once, and the Mercedes repair technician performed emergency "surgery" on my alarm siren to shut it up because the remote key fob wasn't recharged and wouldn't work. Cost me a pretty penny to repair, too, but since it was my fault for not deactivating the system, I didn't try to have Mercedes pay for the repairs. Side note, the "valet" feature will not deactivate the system while the alarm is active, only when it has already been switched off, so thieves can't use it to silence the alarm.
You want the best two-way remote you can get. Go for the Full-color LCD Remote
. It provides you with more information than the monochrone LCD.
includes a "track and locate" feature that is nice to have, especially if there are multiple drivers in the family and you want to know where the van is at any given time. Also will send you text messages if an alarm goes off. But if price is critical, you can get by without this interface or add it later.
Forget Remote Start
. Unless you're subject to terrorist threats and have a strong desire to start the car without being in the car to be blown up, you don't need it. Warming the van before you get into the vehicle in the winter or cooling it before you get into it in the summer is nice, but not essential, and would require you to park it and shut off the engine with the heater or A/C still running so that it's already on when you start the engine again. Also, in cold weather, I don't know if it allows adequate time for the glow plugs and DEF heater (if your Interstate has the Bluetec system) to do their thing before starting the engine, so be sure to ask your installer about it if you decide to buy this feature.
Forget Keyless Entry
. If you don't have remote start, you don't need keyless entry, either, because you won't be driving it without a key, and the key will give you more unlocking options than will the Viper remote. However, keyless entry will
come in handy if you're the type to lock your keys in your vehicle more than once— but if you're that type, you'd also be the type to lock your Viper remote and/or smartphone in the vehicle as well. That's what spare keys are for.
As for accessories, those are add-ons to the basic security system.
Glass Break Sensor
is a must. Smash-and-grab thieves will invariably break a window to get in. The sensor is sensitive enough to detect someone tapping the glass with a piece of metal even if it doesn't crack or break the glass— my installer demonstrated it by tapping a window with my ignition key.
Tilt Motion Sensor
is good. Will set off the alarm if someone jacks up the vehicle to steal a tire, or hooks it up to a tow truck. Even stepping up onto a bumper or side step will rock the van enough to set it off. Can also detect a flat tire (if it's a flat on the front that causes one corner to settle while it's parked, but of course a flat on one just dual tire won't cause a rear corner to settle).
is good. Especially since Sprinter vans have that chassis battery disconnect down by the accelerator pedal so that thieves could easily kill power to an alarm that doesn't have a backup battery. However, be warned. Once you install this system, disconnecting the battery using the plug down by the accelerator WILL set off the alarm, so you can never disconnect the chassis battery without using the valet feature to disable the whole system first.
Battery Backup Siren
is also good. Siren has its own built-in battery and should be mounted somewhere underneath
the vehicle where it's harder to get to than the main siren under the hood. If someone snips the wires to the main siren, the backup siren still does its thing.
is good. Not only does it flash to indicate the alarm is activated, but it has the Viper logo, which is more of a deterrent than just a flashing light. But you'll still have the flashing light on the alarm system antenna, too.
Invisibeam Field Disturbance Sensor
is a waste of money. Don't get it. Not only is it subject to many
false alarms by people walking close to the vehicle with no intention of breaking in, but a Sprinter van is actually too big for the sensor to cover the whole van adequately.
is unnecessary in a van.
Programmable Voice Module
is unnecessary. Having the alarm system talk
to you to tell you it's armed is bling for bling's sake and there's no need to show off unless your intention is to use your Interstate to pick up young impressionable coeds
— but hopefully we're all past the midlife crisis stage where we would even consider something so crass.