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MotorCityRemotes Remote Starter Car Alarm Troubleshooting BLOG


Read about common and not so common problems found with car alarms, remote starters and keyless entry systems.

Having a problem with a remote starter installation? Purchased a vehicle with an existing system and having some problems with it? Need a little direction or advice? Report your situation to us and we will be happy to try to help! With over 25 years of installing car alarms and remote starter systems, there's a good chance we have seen the same problem and can provide some recommendations and/or the fix you're looking for.

Troubleshooting Remote Starter

Monday, April 08 2019

Reported Problem: Car will not Start. Is it my Car Alarm causing the problem?

Tech Tip: Another very common call we get in is when someone's vehicle won't start either because their remote is defective and they can't disarm/unlock their vehicle remotely or they bought a used car (and don't have a remote) and after having to replace the vehicle's vehicle's battery (or any service that required disconnecting the vehicle's battery) all the sudden they discover the vehicle is equipped with an aftermarket alarm and now it's triggering and/or preventing the vehicle from being started normally with the key after the vehicle's battery is re-connected.

But first, as a side note, many times even when someone has a system that triggers an alarm when the vehicle's battery is connected and the vehicle won't start, as long as the vehicle's starter motor is cranking over or at least "clicking" at the starter motor, it's more than likely not the alarm system causing the problem. Why? Because aftermarket alarm systems with an anti-theft (a. k. a. Kill-Switch) feature completely stops the power from reaching the starter motor. So, it's only possible that it's the system causing the no start issue is when as soon as you turn the ignition on, everything on the dash would light up as normal (including all accessories, chimes etc.) but when you go to crank the vehicle, no power at all would reach the starter motor. If it cranks, it's not the system.

Now, let's say it's the system causing the no crank issue; all aftermarket systems have a way to emergency-override the system. The procedure commonly involves a push-button or with some systems a small ON/OFF toggle switch. Most manufacturers describe these switches as either an e-override button, valet or programming switch/button. Depending on the brand and model of system these switches are commonly installed by the installer in several different places in the vehicle:

They can be found mounted under the driver's dash either through an existing hole on a factory dash bracket, on a right-angle bracket the installer provided or they drilled a small 1/4" hole in the driver's side left kick panel (this is the panel that curves up to the left from the driver's side door sill-plate to the left of your left ankle when your sitting in the driver's seat. On most vehicles, the panel to the left of the emergency brake lever). I have even found a lot mounted on the bottom of the steering column. And finally, most systems with a remote starter feature, this button is found built into the system's antenna found mounted in the top center of the windshield behind the rear-view mirror or in the upper left corner.

OK! Now that you found what you think is the override button, what now? Well, that too depends on the brand and model of system, but here are the most common procedure possibilities that could emergency override your system:

Enter the vehicle (while the alarm is going off) and turn the ignition ON with the key. Either press and release the button (or flip the toggle switch in the opposite direction) OR press & release the button 3X. If it works, the alarm will shut off almost immediately. Now, quickly try to start the vehicle. If it starts your done, if not, turn the ignition back off, go back to the push-button and press & hold it in and while still holding it in, try to start the vehicle. If it still won't work (maybe the system is defective), the next thing I would do is permanently bypass the system's anti-theft circuit, but that procedure is for another post!

Hope this helped! If it did, please leave a comment, if it didn't, send us your questions!

Posted by: D. Weber AT 01:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 05 2019

Reported Problem: Do I Have to Reprogram my Remote FOB after Replacing the Battery in it?

Answer: We get this call almost every day. A properly working remote will not lose it's programming from just changing the battery in it. The number one indication that your remote just needed a fresh battery is when you had to get closer and closer to the vehicle to unlock the doors or activate any other features controlled by the remote. 

But if your remote suddenly stopped working or worked intermittently from any distance and then stopped working, odds are you have a worn-out or damaged remote and need a new replacement. With the exception of some "cloning" type remotes, no factory installed or aftermarket remotes lose their programming.

They are designed with what is sometimes called a non-volatile memory which retains the remote's operating frequency and does not require it's memory data to be periodically refreshed or reprogrammed due to low or complete power loss.

Posted by: NCR AT 09:12 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 02 2019

Answer: Several calls to our tech support line are questions regarding the location of their remote starter system's remote programming button. Most systems with a remote starter feature have an antenna mounted on the inside of the windshield. This antenna is commonly mounted in the top dead center of the windshield behind the rear-view mirror or in the upper left corner. And the remote programming button is built into this antenna.

When this is the case, you will see a small round button on the top surface of the antenna. On many older systems, this button is found mounted under the driver's dash area or on some system's the button is built into the dash-mounted LED. On many system's with separate buttons (not built-in) the button has also been found mounted on the bottom of the steering column or in the left kick-panel.

Posted by: MCR AT 02:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, March 31 2019

Reported Problem: Remote Starter Cranks Car but won't Remote Start when Cold

This problem is regularly reported on a weekly basis soon as the mid-west and east coast receives it's first frost towards the beginning of the winter. 

Most Common Cause: The remote starter system may have been installed using a "tachless" mode; This setting can range from voltage level detection or a pre-set crank/start output setting. This is where the system is programmed to either monitor the standing voltage of the vehicle and then compares that voltage reading to the voltage level after it cranks/starts and the alternator kicks in or the system is pre-set to crank/start at a predetermined time, respectively. So, when the vehicle is cold (usually at or below 32°F or 0°C) the system either doesn't detect a significant raise in voltage levels (usually >0.5V) or the pre-set output isn't long enough to get the vehicle to start. While these two settings work fine in warmer environments that rarely see frost (or none at all), it's possible these settings won't provide a dependable start in or during a colder climate.

Possible Fix: Connect and program the system's tachometer input. All remote starters have what is called a tachometer detection input wire. This is a hard-wired connection made directly to either the vehicle's tachometer wire, odd-colored fuel injector wire or a specific coil wire commonly found at the vehicle coil-pack on the engine. This is by far the best way to install any remote starter system regardless of the climate.

When the system is installed utilizing the system's tachometer input, the system directly monitors and detects the small amount of AC voltage that this wire in the vehicle shows while the vehicle is running. Then after this AC voltage level is programmed into the system, when the remote starter is activated and if this level isn't detected right away, the system will automatically crank the vehicle a little longer until this level is detected or it will shut down and automatically try to re-start the vehicle again (on some systems up to 3 times). This connection is strongly recommended on all Diesel engines and will provide a dependable remote start on any vehicle.

Posted by: MCR AT 10:10 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 29 2019

Reported Problem: No Horn Honk when Keyelss Entry is used or when Remote Starter is activated

System Status: New Install on some older models of 2001-2003 Dodge RAM's and Caravans

Possible Fix: On some older model's of RAM & Chrysler/Dodge Mini Vans (not limited to these models) the default horn pulse output time setting (that's commonly between 16ms-18ms) on most brands of remote car starters, keyless entry and alarm systems, does not provide a negative pulse long enough to beep the vehicle's horn properly. The results can cause confusion during system programming changes and during normal operation.

When this is the situation, the system must be programmed for a longer horn output duration between 30ms-40ms. Most current systems have this option setting available in their installation manual and as long as you have this information the change is a step-by-step procedure commonly requiring a working remote to the system, an ignition key to the vehicle, and knowing the location of the system's programming button.

If your installing any of the Prestige E, Z and APSRS or APSSECRS series systems, this is how you would turn up the output (and just a example for other brand systems):

TECH NOTE: Each step needs to be performed within 10 seconds of each step:

1: Turn ignition ON (DO NOT start the vehicle: Press button on antenna 3X: System will sound 1X (or dash lights will flash 1X): Cycle ignition from OFF to ON again: System will sound 2X (or dash lights 2X): Leaving ignition ON:

2: Press and release the button on the system’s antenna slowly 3X: the system will respond by flashing the LED on the antenna in a 3 flash/pause/3 flash pattern. Slowly keep press & releasing the button on the antenna until the LED flashes in a 8 flash/pause/8 flash pattern:

3: While the 8 flash/pause/8 flash pattern is seen: keep press and releasing the lock button on the system’s remote (or just the button on the 1 button remotes) until the system beeps the number of times corresponding to the desired horn pulse output time setting (the second setting is usually adequate): 

Response: 1 Beep = 16ms. (Default setting)   2X = 30ms.   3X = 40ms.   4X = 50ms    5X = 10ms.

3:  After the desired setting change has been made turn the ignition OFF and remove keys: Response: wait, the system will sound: The system has now been set to the desired horn pulse output time setting.

Posted by: MCR AT 07:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 28 2019

Reported Problem: Aftermarket Car Alarm Keeps Going Off!

Probably thee #1 reported problem in the history of car alarms is the complaint of the car alarm going off at all hours of the day and night. This would clearly be the most annoying problem you could have with a car alarm and for your neighbours!

Technically, the problem can be from a small list of causes, but fortunately most of the time, it's only due to a sensor being set to sensitive during installation or it just needs a slight adjustment after being in the vehicle after several years. And commonly the #1 culprit is known as a "shock-sensor" or "impact-sensor". These types of sensors as you can guess, detect specific levels of vibrations caused through the vehicle.

When these sensors are set to sensitive (like when an alarm installer tries to use a shock sensor as a glass break detector, which it's not meant to be used for, there are specific sensors for that) the alarm can false trigger with just the wind blowing against the vehicle, when a loud vehicle or motorcycle drives by it or even if a cat walks across the hood!

Shock/impact sensors are only meant to detect larger vibrations or impacts made to the vehicle. Examples would be vibrations caused by another vehicle backing into the vehicle, jacking-up or towing, or if someone literally took a baseball bat or a brick against the glass. Detection for any lighter vibrations made to the vehicle would require a different type of sensor.

The fix: A system's shock sensor is commonly found mounted under the driver's dash area (a.k.a. foot-well area). Usually they are mounted snugly against some factory wiring using a nylon zip-tie. The sensors can range in size from a 2" by 2" small plastic box to almost the size of a pack of cigarettes. They will also have a small 3 or 4 wire plug plugged into it. And, most of these sensors have color LED's built into them that will light up when you tap your finger on them.

When you think you found the sensor, look on the sides of the sensor and you will find either a small adjustment screw in a small hole or on some older systems a protruding adjustment knob sticking out the side of it (a.k.a. thumb pot adjuster that you can turn just using your fingers. The type found through a hole in the sensor is a small eye-glass phillips screw). No matter which type of adjustment you have they all adjust exactly like a volume knob. Turning it clockwise makes the sensor more sensitive (volume up) and counter-clockwise makes it less sensitive (volumn down).

The best way to begin the adjustment of a shock sensor is to turn the sensor all the way down (counter-clockwise) and then slightly turn it up 1/4 of the way. Now, to test the sensor's sensitivity; roll the driver's side window down, close all the doors and arm the system. Wait a minute, then reach in through the open window and bounce the side of your fist off the steering wheel (not excessively hard). Some sensors that are known as a "2-stage" sensor will just pulse the vehicle's horn or the system's siren. This is known as the "warn-away" response. If the sensor either sounds the warn-away signal or does not sound at all (sensors with single-stage sensing) this will probably be a good setting to leave it at and no further adjustment will be neccassary. Now if the system still false triggers, you'll want to try a lower setting or isolate the sensor from the system completely which is done simply by unplugging the plug from the sensor. 

If the system still triggers after you unplug the sensor you know its not the shock sensor causing the false triggering. But if it only falses with the sensor plugged in and after several attempts of making adjustments, you have a bad sensor that needs replacing.

Posted by: MCR AT 11:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 27 2019

Reported Problem: Aftermarket Kill-Switch. No Power Reaches Starter Motor when trying to Crank/Start (all other functions on the vehicle work fine):

We get this call periodically, especially when after someone has purchased a used vehicle with no knowledge of an alarm system even being on it and no remotes came with the vehicle:

Commonly known to happen on aftermarket alarm systems when a remote transmitter (a.k.a. FOB) is lost or broken. Normally before the vehicle is entered the unlock or disarm button on the remote is pressed which unlocks the vehicle's doors while at the same time disengages the system's internal or external anti-theft starter-kill circuit (a.k.a. kill-switch).

This can cause a problem after the remotes are lost or broken if the system was last locked/armed with the remote before the remote was lost or broken and you are now entering the vehicle using a key. Or the vehicle was serviced and the service required disconnecting the vehicle's battery and upon reconnecting the vehicle's battery, the alarm triggered (main reason why to always have a spare remote).

Without a working remote the only way to fix the problem will be to get to the wiring from the system that's stopping power from reaching the vehicle's starter motor. This almost always requires dropping down the vehicle's knee-bolster panel (the panel that's directly across from your knees when your sitting in the driver's seat) and locating the aftermarket system's main control module. 

After the system's main control module is found you will want to look on the module for the brand and model numbers on it. Most system module's will have this information on it, but not all. Knowing the brand and model of system will make it easier to find out what type of anti-theft circuit the system has. If your module doesn't't have any descriptions as to what the brand and/or model it is, not all is lost. There's commonly only 2 types of aftermarket anti-theft circuit designs, internal and external.

If you have a system with an internal (or built-in) starter-defeat circuit (usually found on older systems) you will find 2 wires of the same gauge (size or thickness) and color (one of the two wires may have a color trace or stripe on it). Commonly these wires will be found running into a separate plug on the module or at least side-by-side when found mixed in with other wiring running into the module. But again, they are going to be the same color and gauge no matter how they are found. When you think you found these wires, one way to test to see if you found the correct wires is using an appropriate 12V test probe connected to chassis ground, only one of the two wires will show momentary +12V power only when you try to start the vehicle, the other will show no changes.

After confirmation simple apply a jumper across these two wires so the power from the one wire will reach the other wire during starting of the vehicle. Finally, if the alarm also keeps sounding, just look for some inline fuses on some of the system's wiring and pull them out. Now you can leave the system like this until you get a new remote without having any further starting problems or the alarm triggering.

Now on system's with external starter defeat circuits you will commonly find an external automotive relay with just one wire running from the system to the relay harness. This one wire from the system is the output that is triggering the starter-defeat relay when the alarm is triggered and preventing the vehicle from starting. Commonly found on most systems as a thin gauge Solid ORANGE wire, all that is required is to cut this wire in half then, as with the internal relay types, locate any fuses to the system and pull them out to prevent the system from sounding/triggering.

Posted by: D. Weber AT 11:33 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 26 2019

Reported Problem: My Remote Car Starter Won't Start!

We get this report almost daily but the main problem is when reported we to be supplied with just a little bit more details. Lets explain; First there's dozens of different situations that can cause a remote starter system to stop functioning properly so the more details you can supply the better so we can pin-point what may be causing the problem and what's not causing the problem.

Details like, what other features does your system have? Does it have keyless entry also? If so, does that feature on the remote work? What about having a 2nd remote, does your 2nd remote get the same response? Did you notice if you get any response from the vehicle when you try to activate the remote starter, like just the parking lights flashing? Or does it turn the ignition on but doesn't crank? Or does crank but doesn't start or starts and then stalls? Or lastly but not final, are you just not getting any response at all from the vehicle when you try to use your remote?...

As you can see this list can go on quite a bit. And sometimes the fix can be as simple as somehow the system was put in valet mode or a worn out button on the remote, or even just the battery in the remote needs replacing. Then sometime's (commonly after after the vehicle was serviced) the system lost it's programming and may need to be taken into a service facility for reprogramming. But regardless of the problem, your probably not going to get to many answers typing in the general term "remote car starter won't start" into Google (unless we pop up!). There's not only 100 different brands and models of remote starters out there, there's even more websites that sell them, and only a handful of those website's can actually supply tech support.

When you do find someone to assist you, have a remote in hand, any information you have on the system that's installed in your vehicle (e.g. brand and model of system) and all the details as to what the system and vehicle is doing or not doing.

Posted by: MCR AT 11:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, March 24 2019

In any situation where the Flashlogic module does not program properly due to a mistake made during the programming procedure or from a faulty or wrong connection or servicing of the vehicle, it is required to reset and reprogram the Flashlogic module to the vehicle using the procedure below:

Step 1: Unplug all harnesses away from the Flashlogic module making sure you unplug the black 4-pin plug last:

Step 2: First, Press & hold in the small black push button on the Flashlogic module, while still holding in the button, plug in just the black 4-pin plug: Response: The LED on the Flashlogic module will begin flashing RED, when this is seen release the button:  Response: The LED will turn ON Solid RED for a few seconds then turn OFF, after this is seen, plug in the remaining harnesses to the Flashlogic module:

Step 3: The LED on the Flashlogic module will be steadily flashing GREEN. While the LED is steadily Flashing GREEN, press & hold in the small black push button on the Flashlogic module until the LED lights up Solid GREEN for 1 second and turns OFF, then release the button. The module is now reset and ready for vehicle specific programming to the vehicle: Repeat vehicle specific FLASHLOGIC PROGRAMMING to the vehicle step in your manual.

Posted by: MCR AT 09:26 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, March 23 2019

Yes, but to insure safe remote starting of a vehicle with a manual transmission it requires a remote starter system specifically designed to be installed into vehicle's with a manual transmission. These systems install identically to a system for automatic transmissions with the addition of a couple extra outputs & connections (1 connection to the vehicle's parking brake and 1 connection to the vehicle's clutch activation wire) with a manual transmission compatibility setting. Known as a "Remote Start Ready Mode", this feature requires the driver to enable the vehicle to be remote started after the vehicle is parked; you can't just randomly remote start the vehicle anytime you want like you can with a remote starter on a automatic trans vehicle, you have to prepare the vehicle to be remote started...

While the vehicle is still running with the keys, the driver places the vehicle in neutral, set's the parking brake and then press and holds in the button on the remote until the dash lights flash (activation procedures will vary). Then the driver turns off the ignition, removes the keys, and exits the vehicle. When the remote start ready mode is set correctly, the vehicle will remain running while exiting the vehicle. Once the driver's door is closed the driver presses the button on the remote 1X which will lock the vehicle's doors (if equipped with factory power door locks, otherwise it will just shut down the vehicle) and it will automatically shut down the engine. The vehicle is now ready to be safely remote started.

In the event that the driver re-enters the vehicle without activating the remote starter, opening the driver's door will cancel out the remote start ready mode and the driver would have to perform the remote start ready mode procedure again.

Posted by: MCR AT 04:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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