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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 30 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

Sunday, April 14 2019

Buying a new replacement remote for your remote starter, alarm or keyless entry system that you have on your vehicle can seem like an easy task when all you have to do is Google the FCC ID on the back of your remote, there's plenty of "Joe's" out there ready to provide. But you have to be careful. We literally get call's everyday from people that purchased a replacement remote everywhere from Ebay to Amazon to even... Kmart? (with lot's of reputable and not so reputable website's in between) and they are looking for help with programming their remote or even need to know how it work's, because none of the places they bought the remote from supplied remote programming instructions or even a phone number where they can get some help!...and the ones that did supply a number, all they could do is provide or repeat the programming procedure you just read off the programming instructions! Most have no hands-on experience or knowledge of the system that's installed in your vehicle...

Shopping on Ebay, Amazon or any other online provider for general consumer products like books, movies, music, shoe's, appliances, TV's etc, etc. is great, but there are some things that just shouldn't be bought from anywhere they can be located. And some of those things are most products that require application procedures to work and could require technical support...

And replacement automotive remotes are a #1 prime example. The tips to keep in mind when shopping online for a new replacement remote are "who is offering the replacement?", "are they directly experienced with the product?", "are they directly associated with the factory (authorized dealer) or a 3rd party?" or do they sell everything under the sun?", "is there a tech support number provided I can call if I need help?", "can I call-in to place an order over the phone or ask some questions?".

Following and keeping the above 5 basic tips in mind will definitely point you in the right and confidant direction for shopping online for a replacement remote.

MotorCityRemotes has been providing technical support, replacement remotes, remote starter and vehicle security systems online for over 17 years and has been in the automotive aftermarket electronics industry for over 30 years. If you have any additional questions and/or need help locating the proper remote for your vehicle give us a call at 1-866-244-8004. Even if we don't provide the remote you need we will be more then happy to help you with finding the one you need.

Posted by: D. Weber AT 11:10 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Friday, April 12 2019

Programming a new remote to a Prestige brand remote starter and/or alarm system is basically a DIY situation. You normally don't have to take the vehicle in to have someone do it for you. As long as you know where the system's valet/programming/override button is, your good to go. Now, on Prestige systems with a remote start feature the programming button is commonly built into the system's antenna that's mounted on the windshield either behind the rear-view mirror or in the upper left corner. On systems without remote start, this button will be mounted under the driver's dash somewhere (it's the installer's preference where exactly he puts it);

Once you locate your system's programming button simply turn ON the vehicle's ignition (do not start the vehicle), and press & release the button 3X: Almost immediately the system will sound indicating that the system is now in remote programming mode: Now just press the lock button on the remote (or the one button on one button remotes) and the system will immediately sound again in response indicating that you successfully programmed the remote. Within 10 seconds, press the same button on any additional remotes. When finished simple turn off the ignition and remove keys and test your remote.

Posted by: MotorCityRemotes AT 12:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Thursday, April 11 2019

ANSWER: Not the only cause, but a common problem resulting after any service performed to the vehicle that required the battery to be disconnected. Your mechanic is not to blame! Any aftermarket remote starter system can lose its programming due to a low or complete power loss. Unless the system was placed in "Valet Mode" the system is flashing a troubleshooting code through the vehicle's parking lights to indicate the cause of the no-start problem. To pin-point where the problem is you'll need the system's installation/programming manual (or in most system owners/operators manuals it will at least indicate why it's flashing the number of times but not how to fix it). 

On Code Alarm, Prestige and Pursuit systems, if the parking lights are flashing 7X when you try to acivate the remote starter it means that the system lost it's tachometer programming signal and it needs to be reprogrammed (See Tech Tip #5). 4 flashes can mean it's in Valet Mode (no reprogramming required. See owners/operators manual) and 3 flashes can mean a safety input is activated or defective. Parking lights flash troubleshooting codes will vary from brand model to brand model, but you can either try to take care of the problem yourself if so inclined by obtaining the system's installation manual or loacting a service facility in your area. To locate a service facility in your area; for a Code Alarm system call: 1-800-421-3209 and for either a Pursuit or Prestige system call: 1-800-225-6074. For any system's purchased through, and call: 1-866-244-8004.

Posted by: MCR AT 11:10 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Tuesday, April 09 2019

Question: I either lost my keys with my with my remote on it or they were stolen, can I somehow erase the one I lost and still use the spare one I have?

Answer: Yes! All you need to do is find out how your specific system's remotes program. If the system you have is an aftermarket system (not installed at the factory) you will be able to do this yourself, but you'll need to know at least the brand name of the system that's installed in your vehicle to find out this information. For example, if you have a Code Alarm brand system just Google "Code Alarm replacement remotes" and call the company that provides replacement remotes (or call us) and ask what the procedure is for programming your specific remote. Then, after you have this information, program the one remote you have 4X in a row. This will erase all the remotes that were lost or stolen. If you have 2 remotes, program each remote 2X.

Now if you have factory remotes you may have to go to either a locksmith or Dealership to have this done. It depends. You'll have to find out if your specific year, make & model of vehicle's remotes can be programmed simply with performing a procedure like Aftermarket system's or if it requires programming through the vehicle's OBDII diagnostic connector. Again, for example, just Google "2014 Ford Explorer factory remote programming". There are many locksmiths that have websites that provide this information for free right on their site (or call us!).

Posted by: D. Weber AT 09:07 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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

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