We put thousands of dollars into our cars, both when we purchase them and over the years in the form of maintenance and upgrades, so it’s heartbreaking when a thief walks in and takes our hard-earned money right out from under us. No matter where you live or how careful you are with your car, there is always the potential for theft or vandalism.

Here are a few unique and creative ways to help protect your car – and your investment – from thieves.

Hard to Steer Without the Wheel

quick-releaseImagine you’re going to steal a car. You unlock the door and climb into the driver’s seat, only to find there is no steering wheel for you to drive your prize away. What are you going to do?

Most likely, you’ll get back out of the car, close the door and go find an easier target.

You can pick up an easy-to-install, quick-release hub for your steering wheel for a couple hundred dollars, and once it’s installed, it just takes a quick flip of the switch to disconnect your steering wheel. This makes your car nearly impossible to drive.

As an added bonus, you could always install an inward-facing dash cam to catch the look on the thieves’ faces when they climb into your car only to find there’s no steering wheel.

Embrace the Manual Transmission

manual_transmissionIt’s getting harder every year to find a car that comes equipped with a manual transmission. While that’s heartbreaking for car buffs, it also means this generation’s thieves have grown up without knowing how to drive a stick shift.

If your car has a manual transmission, chances are high that a casual thief isn’t going to have the slightest clue how to drive it. For most of us, embracing the manual transmission is an easy choice.

This isn’t a foolproof method to protect your car though, so while driving a stick shift is an awesome thing, you should still look into other methods to keep the thieves at bay.

Think Inside The Box

1004-website-ultra-grain-landingEveryone is always telling you that you need to think outside the box, but in this case, thinking inside the box might be a better option. At least, that is, if the box is your garage.

Thieves are more likely to pick a car that’s sitting on the street than one that’s parked in the garage. Even well-lit streets don’t have the added security that an alarm system on a garage can provide. It’s just not worth the effort to break in and then steal the car.

Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule. If you have a high-value car or something that might be particularly coveted by local thieves, then even parking in your garage might be risky. If you’ve got older garage doors, consider upgrading them to something a little more secure to protect your cars. It’s an investment that’s definitely worth it when you consider what you’re defending.

Candid Camera

bt53901f-2-6Thieves hate it when you’ve got them on camera. While Wi-Fi-enabled security cameras are the ideal option, they can take a big chunk out of your wallet.

Instead, click over to the baby section of your favorite shopping website and look for video baby monitors. These inexpensive devices are perfect for keeping an eye on your car, often costing less than $100, and some even give you the option to record video or take pictures.

A video camera, when paired with a security system – or a cheap flashing LED that makes the thieves think you have a security system – can be a most effective deterrent.

Pull the Plug

ssts-0810-04do-it-yourself-necessitiesremove-spark-plugsSometimes, in spite of your best efforts, thieves manage to get their hands on your car. If that happens, your best chance of preventing a theft is if your car doesn’t start.

On older cars – and newer ones that still use spark plug wires rather than coil plugs – just pop the hood and pull off one of the spark plug wires. This can prevent the car from starting, making it essentially useless for any potential thief.

If you’re worried about the thief taking a look under the hood to see the problem, just take the whole wire with you as you go about your day.

While pulling a battery cable is another effective way to prevent your car from starting, don’t do this if you’ve got a newer car. It can cause all sorts of problems with your powertrain control module that could result in costly part replacements or hours spent at the dealership reprogramming it.

Give Thieves The Boot!

denver_boot-1Most people thinking of additional car security might consider The Club, that As Seen on TV steering wheel locking mechanism. Unfortunately, in newer cars, the hardened steel of The Club doesn’t do much good when it takes a couple of seconds with a hacksaw to cut right through the plastic steering wheel.

Instead, give thieves something to think about by booting your own car. Sure, you’ll have the neighbors thinking you haven’t paid your parking tickets in a long time, but it’s much more secure than a steering wheel lock. No one is going to take the time to cut through a boot or risk damaging the car by cutting the rims to get the boot off, especially when there are plenty of other drivers who haven’t booted their wheels.

As long as human beings are in close proximity to one another, there will always be thieves and those who covet what others have. While there’s no 100 percent foolproof way to protect your car from them all the time, these tricks and tips can help keep your car safe and discourage those with sticky fingers from looking your way twice.

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Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington and is an automotive journalist who has written for dozens of auto sites, including Yahoo Autos, Hooniverse, GT Spirit, The Mustang Source, and more. Scott's website, www.OffTheThrottle.com, and YouTube channel are popular automotive destinations.

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