You don’t need another bloody immobiliser!

How Transponder immobilisers work

Most modern cars already have an immobiliser with a transponder chip fitted into the head of the factory key. These are unobtrusive and super reliable, so adding an after market one on top of the factory system is both pointless and a waste of money.

It’s also idiotic! Why would you want to have to press the remote again after the second immobiliser has kicked in? It’s old technology designed for old cars!

Car Audio Shops giving poor advice

Sadly this knowledge seems to be lost on most of the pillocks that work for the local car audio outfits in Wellington. I’ve lost count of how many customers of mine have told me that they have been quoted for an AVS S5 which has triple immobilisation cuts that they don’t need!

Roll on two years and the shitty aftermarket remote fails and they are left stranded unable to start the car!

It’s something I find super frustrating. They are misleading their potential customers either by utter incompetence or greed. It’s probably a bit of both to be fair as there is often pressure to make a sale along with a lack of knowledge due to high staff turn over!

Insurance Companies also Incompetent!

I’ve had numerous customers inform me that NAC insurance have told them they need to get an AVS alarm with an immobiliser, even though the car already has a perfectly good factory immobiliser!

The NAC website does not even acknowledge that factory immobilisers exist. It’s crap advice pushing crappy products. The industry needs to sharpen up and move with the times. I’m also baffled why they recommended what I consider to be one of the worst immobilisers going when there are far better systems out there!

Being Upfront

Personally I’d rather give up 10 minutes of my time for free to take a look at the car and confirm if it has an immobiliser or not. It’s about being honest rather then looking for a sale. It feels good to treat people with respect and its the way I like to be treated myself. Whilst I may not get an instant financial return I often get recommendations because of it.

If the car already has an immobiliser I’ll make sure the owner has a spare key and send them to a local locksmith to get a spare if they don’t.

There is also the option of either a OEM upgrade alarm or a Remote upgrade alarm if they want some added security.

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Away until 26th October

Returning to the UK

I’m returning to the UK for a week to catch up with family and to celebrate the life of my father who past away earlier this month.

It’s been a rather hectic couple of weeks since my last visit to say my goodbyes to him last month but I’m grateful that I got the chance to do this whilst I could.

From a work point of view it’s not been ideal, but then these things never are!

It’s been a struggle keeping up with all the emails and phone calls so if I’ve not got back to any of you please accept my apologies and understand that I’ve simply been rushed of my feet.

Anyway I’ll be back in NZ on Thursday 26th October.

I’ve made the decision to keep the phone off during this time.

Please use the Contact form if you wish to book a job in for when I return.

Again thank you all for your support.

Cheers Julian

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Cobra AK4698C Hiace Courier Alarm

New Zealand Product Range

New Zealand Product Range

The AK4698 has now been developed to work as a Courier alarm for the Toyota Hiace. I’m simply referring to it as the AK4698C (C for Courier) as it is programmed and wired up differently from the conventional alarm.

The alarm will arm and lock the doors with the engine still running and will disable the ultrasonic sensors to prevent any false alarms due to the windows being left open.

When the engine is not running the ultrasonic sensors are turned back on.

Most of the courier drivers I’ve spoken to in the past have not read the user manual or had the alarm demonstrated or explained to them by the dealership! The goal is make the alarm far more simple to use.

AK4698 Courier Alarm

The alarm is programmed as standard for silent arming/disarming when the engine is turned off. This way early mornings will not start with a loud unsociable beep to wake up the neighbours!

The Siren is fitted behind the dash to make it uncomfortable for any intruders, the vans horn also sounds if the alarm is triggered. If the engine is stopped whilst the alarm is armed it is not possible to start it again until the alarm is disarmed.


Arming with engine running:

The siren will chirp three times if armed whilst the engine is running, the chirps are set to full volume so it can still be heard when the windows are shut. Disarming the alarm with the engine running is silent as it is assumed that the driver will be approaching the van and can see the indicators flash at this stage, plus the doors will unlock.

If the owner has any specific requirements then the alarm can be programmed to to suit.


Service Plugs

I install the service plugs behind the glove box which makes it easy for the Toyota dealership, or Cobra installer to access programming mode to adjust the alarms settings, or to code new remote controls in the future.

Alarm Service Plugs found behind the Glove box

There are two plugs, one with a Blue wire and the other with a Green/Red wire. Swapping the plugs over allows for normal programming of the alarm and prevents the alarm from arming with the engine running. This future proofs it to make it more suitable for use if the courier features are no longer required. The standard courier mode requires the Green/Red wire to match at either side of the plug, the same goes for the blue wired plugs.

Unplugging the Blue wire plug stops the Ultrasonic sensors from automatically being disabled when the engine is running. It also stops the siren from chirping three times upon arming with the engine running.

Note: It is still possible to isolate the ultrasonic sensors by pressing the lock button on the remote a second time when arming if this wire is unplugged.

Do not leave the Green/Red wire unplugged as the van will not start!


I recommend reading the AK4698 blog post and downloading the user manual to fully understand how it works.

The Courier alarm blog post is also recommended reading as it explains the pros and cons of most other systems and what you should consider if getting one installed.

Note: Whilst developed for the Toyota Hiace the AK4698C will work with other makes and models of vehicle.

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Away From Friday 8th to the 25th of Septemeber

    obsessive breakObsessive Break

I’ve just booked a last minute flight to the UK as my Dad is ill in Hospital and it’ll probably be my last chance to see him.

Don’t know when I’ll be back at this stage, but I’ll update this space as and when I know.


Update: plan is to be back in Wellington for the 25th assuming that the fueling issue in Auckland does not throw a big spanner in the works!


Until then I’ll not be responding to the phone and will be slow with the emails.

Please feel welcome to use the contact form if you’d like to book a job in for when I return. Thank you for your understanding.

Julian

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Fiat Ducato Upgrade Alarm

Fiat Blog Posts

The current Fiat Ducato is now in its 3rd generation and was released in 2006. It’s also re-branded and sold as a Peugeot Boxer and a Citroen Jumper.

All models come with keyless entry and a transponder immobiliser as standard but lack an alarm.

The Ducato received a face lift in 2014 which was mainly cosmetic. I highly recommend the Cobra AK4615 CAN-BUS alarm for both the pre and post face-lift models as it works flawlessly.

I have also added a Cobra remote to one in the past which is a good option if you only have one remote key.

2014 Facelift Fiat Ducato

Bonnet Switch

It’s one of those vehicles where there is no obvious spot to fit a bonnet switch. When this happens I like to get the old bluetack out to see where the bonnet compresses down.

For the Ducato I ended up using a custom bracket which mounts on a factory bolt and used a waterproof switch. The result is tidy and will not rust like the shitty ones most alarms come with. As always I take notes and photos so the next one is easier.

Custom Bracket for bonnet switch locates on factory bolt

All you’ll see after the install are the Ultrasonic sensors and LED over-ride switch.

Here are some more photos of what you’ll see after the install:

Cobra Ultrasonic Sensors in the Fiat Ducato look the part and protect the internal cabin.

Cobra LED fits well on black dash plug next to the hazard switch

Fiat Ducato Camper Van

The camper van version of the Ducato can have reed switches fitted to protect the external hatch doors and a PIR sensor for the back when required.

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Courier Alarms

Courier alarms allow you to arm the alarm when the vehicle is still running with the key left in the ignition.

Here I offer some advice to save any mishaps, plus I look at some of the more popular courier alarms and the pros and cons of each one:

Recommendations for all courier drivers:

Emergency back up key

Courier alarms tend to get much more use than your average alarm and the remote controls tend to take a hammering.

This can lead to the remote failing for a number of reasons such as a flat battery, or a collapsed or disconnected tact switch or even water damage.

I recommend changing the remote batteries on a regular basis and testing your spare remote (you should have one). If the remote is damaged or showing signs of wear then get it repaired (new case) or replaced I carry spares for most decent brands.

I also recommend visiting your local auto locksmith to get a plain metal key cut to carry with you, this way you will have a way back into the van if the remote fails.

It only needs to be a plain metal key without a transponder chip, it will save your day should the worst happen. It’s wise to keep a record of the alarms over-ride pin number so that it can be disarmed without the remote too. Knowing how your alarm works will make your life much easier!

I’ve had a number of phone calls over the years where the driver has parked up in a busy spot, armed the alarm then came back to find that the alarm is no longer responding the the remote. There is never a good time for it to happen!

With that said here are some of the popular options:


Cyclops P375C (also known as a Dynatron D3600)

The Cyclops/Dynatron has been a popular courier alarm for many years now.

The only difference between the Courier version of the P375  and the regular alarm is that it is fitted with a courier chip which allows the alarm to arm whilst the ignition is on.

It’s worth noting that the glass break sensor on the P375 is not active whilst the engine is running so there is no internal protection during this time (this is not mentioned in the user manual). Note that a glass break sensor is not very effective in a large vehicle, especially one with window tints.

How the P375C immobiliser works:

Like the standard alarm the immobiliser kicks in 40 seconds after the ignition is turned off, this can be annoying and seems pointless and outdated these days given that most new vans already have a factory transponder immobiliser.

Whilst the engine is running:

If any of the doors are opened then the alarm will sound and the engine will stop. Whilst this is seen as a must have feature for some courier drivers it is not without risk which I’ll cover at the end of the post.

RRP: $500.00


Viper PKE/3606V Combo

This system allows hands free operation, simply walk away from the van and it locks and arms, then disarms when you return. There is no need to press the remote.

This set up uses the Viper 3606V alarm system in combination with their passive keyless entry system which kicks in when the engine is turned on.

It’s one of more expensive options but well worth it for the convenience.

Expect to pay about $900.00 for the combination.

Here’s a post about one which I installed in a Ford Transit a couple of years ago…

Ford Transit courier alarm

This system can work with most vehicles.

RRP: 900.00 (may vary depending on vehicle)


The Toyota Hiace has dominated the courier van market for years in New Zealand. With Cobra being the approved alarm brand for Toyota New Zealand they have had a number of Courier alarms which were dealership fitted.

I’ll write another post covering the historic options soon as there is too much to go into here.

Cobra AK4698C

The AK4698 is the latest offering from Cobra and it’s got some great features that make it an excellent option as a courier alarm.

First off the Ultrasonic Sensors can be programmed so that they are automatically disabled whilst the alarm is armed with the engine running. This means that the windows can be left open, or the air-conditioning/heater fan can be left on with the alarm armed without any issues. The Ultrasonic sensors can also be turned off by pressing the remote button a second time when arming the alarm.

Cobra Warning!

Starter Immobiliser

Cobra NZ only recommend that the starter motor is immobilised for safety reasons, this means that once the engine it stopped it can’t be started again without disarming the alarm.

Internal Siren

Cobra NZ are happy for the siren to be installed inside the cabin which should be enough to scare most people off should they break in.

The alarm also has horn honk so it is still audible from outside when needed.

The other great thing with any Cobra system is how easy the PIN code over-ride is to use.

This post explains in detail how the AK4698C works as a courier alarm…

RRP: $650.00


Other Courier Alarms

AVS and Mongoose also offer courier alarms, neither of which I’m going to cover here as that would be like recommending gonorrhoea for your wheels!


Courier alarms of the future

The end of internal combustion engine is coming.

Electric cars/vans don’t need to have the engine left running pumping fumes into the air, plus most come with proximity locking as standard which is a big win.

I’ve already spotted a couple of Nissan e-NV200 courier vans in Wellington and the Cobra AK4615 is the perfect choice for those that need an alarm. It’s the same as what I’m running in the Obsessive Van.


Engine kill risks!

The engine kill feature is not offered by many alarm manufactures as there is the potential for things to go wrong. Most of the risks are covered in my “Immobilising a Moving Vehicle” post.

Note: The only system covered here that offers to kill the engine if the alarm sounds is the Cyclops P375C

As an owner/operator of this system it is important to understand the potential risks. Having well maintained door switches and remote controls are vital.

Immobilising a Moving Vehicle. Not Cool!

The risk is arming the alarm whilst driving is not to be overlooked. It could easily happen if the remote got nudged or had a faulty switch due to wear and tear, this combined with a faulty door switch has the potential to cause the car/van to immobilise the engine whilst in motion.

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Isuzu D-Max Upgrade Alarm

The Isuzu D-Max is another popular Ute which I’ve worked on recently.

It comes with factory keyless entry and immobiliser as standard but lacks an alarm which is a must have if you are are a tradesman and keep tools in it.

Both the Cobra AB3868 and the Cobra AK4615 are excellent options for the D-Max and work flawlessly with the factory remote. Ultrasonic movement sensors come as standard with either system to cover the front cabin.

A PIR sensor is recommended if you have a canopy with contents that need protecting.

D-Max

 

Here are some shots of how the Cobra looks in the D-Max

Cobra Ultrasonic Sensors look good in the D-Max

Cobra LED Over-ride switch in the D-Max

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Immobilising a Moving Vehicle. Not Cool!

I often get asked if it is possible to wire a GPS Tracker up to immobilise a vehicle whilst it is running.

The answer is always a very firm No. The only safe thing to immobilise is the starter motor.

Let me explain why having the option to stop a moving vehicle is a bad idea as well as what the legal implications of doing so would be.

Here’s the scenario in your head:

A scumbag has taken your car, but you have a tracker which can kill the engine with. You send a text and the car comes to a halt and you can recover it quickly.

I totally understand the desire to do this and the deep down I love the idea of catching a thieving tosser and dishing out some justice.

The Reality:

The reality is that the driver no longer has control of the car and there is a risk of the vehicle becoming involved an accident.

It’s not just the thief who could be hurt, there is also the risk that an innocent third party may get caught up and seriously hurt or even killed.

Then comes all the legal stuff about who is liable should a crash result from your actions. You could argue that you the owner or sender of the text message are responsible, maybe it’s karma if the thief gets hurt!

The hard truth of it is that it falls on the product manufacturer, re-seller and installer. Most trackers come with a disclaimer stating that the immobiliser function is only designed to be wired up to the starer motor for this very reason.

Doing things within the law

When I was installing RAC Trackstar in the UK back in 2004 it was possible to wire up the fuel pump to bring the vehicle to a halt. This worked by slowly pulsing the fuel off gradually stopping the vehicle, but it would only ever be done when the police had a visual on the vehicle, and were in communication with the RAC Trackstar control centre so it could be done under controlled conditions.

Here in New Zealand we do not yet have such as system available.

Until such a time that we catch up it is simply not an option. Besides which if you have a effective immobiliser which is well installed then you’ll dramatically reduce the risk of your car being driven off in the first place!

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TX-90 & TX-90T remote controls

DYNATRON PRODUCT RANGE

Dynatron Product Range

Cyclops Product Range

Cyclops Product Range

The original TX-90T remote was easy to identify due to it’s LED colour which was blue.

It worked well but for some reason Australian alarm manufactures Dynamco (Cyclops) have decided to dabble and change the LED to green.

To make things even more interesting the remote now comes as both a transponder remote (TX-90T) and a none transponder version (TX-90), both with a green LED.

The intention of this post is to help clarify which remote is which!

The TX-90T is the transponder remote (Note the T at the end).

Dynamco/Cyclops/Dynatron remote range

The new Green LED version of the TX-90T flickers when the button is held down whereas the Green LED on the TX-90 will come on solid.

The TX-90 is the none transponder version of the remote which replaces the TX-111 and the TX-11 Green LED remote


How does the Dynatron (TX90T) Transponder Remote work?

The 7 Series has a coil which is installed around the ignition barrel behind the plastic steering wheel cowl trim.

Old TX-11 remote with Blue LED (replacement cases are still available)

When the door of the vehicle is opened the transponder coil will energise for 30 seconds. If a coded transponder remote is placed in proximity of the coil then the immobiliser will disarm.

If more than 30 seconds has passed since the door was opened then the coil will turn off to preserve the vehicles battery. The coil will also energize whenever the ignition is turned on.

TX-90T replaces the TX-11 Blue remote found on older models of the 7 series which would often end up with a broken case or the rubber buttons would perish. Note: replacement cases are still available for the TX-11.

Trouble Shooting

Having two TX-9oT  remotes (or TX-11 blue remotes for that matter) side by side will cause the transponder to stop working, it will also cause the remote batteries to drain quickly. In other words it is not a good idea to have 2 sets of transponder remotes on the same key ring.


Changing Batteries

Both the TX-90 and TX-90T remote controls use two CR2016 batteries that typically last for 3 years, but this will vary on usage.

TX-90T remote takes 2 CR2016 batteries.
Note: Transponder coil in the remote which is missing in the TX90

Take care not to remove the half crescent plastic that prevents the batteries shorting out and make sure that the + tab holds the batteries down firmly.


TX-90 Remote and TX-90T (Transponder Remote)

TX-90T and TX90 Remote

TX-90T (Transponder Remote) Compatible Alarms:

TX-90T RRP: $95.00

Historic 7 Series Remote Controls

  • TX-11 Blue LED 1997-2007
  • TX-90T Blue LED 2007-2016
  • TX90T Green LED 2017 >

TX-90 Compatible Alarms:

TX-90 RRP: $85.00

Historic 3 Series Remote Controls

  • TX-11 Green LED 1997-2007
  • TX-111 2007-2016
  • TX-90 2017-

Replacement Case (fits all TX-90 and TX90T remote controls)

Replacement Case fits all

RRP: $25.00

TX-11 case also available


What to do if your Dynaton/Cyclops remote stops working?

All of the alarms that these systems work with will immobilise the engine 40 seconds after turning the ignition off. If your remote fails and you don’t have a spare one and have already replaced the remote batteries then you’ll need the alarms over-ride pin number.

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Mitsubishi Triton Upgrade Alarm

The Mitsubishi Triton as it is known here in New Zealand is also know as the L200 in other lands.

The current version which was released in 2015 comes with factory keyless entry and immobiliser but lacks an alarm.

Last week I installed a Cobra AK4615 CAN-BUS upgrade alarm to one so I’ve put this post up to show how it looks when installed in the vehicle.

The siren is hidden and it nice and loud when combined with the horn.

Mitsubishi Triton 2015-

Photos of the Triton alarm installed:

Tidy Cobra Ultrasonic Sensors fitted in the Mitsubishi Triton

Cobra Alarm LED Located in centre console of the Triton

L200 alarm system

Triton remote key operates the alarm

2006-2015 Mitsubishi Triton

Previous Generation Mitsubishi Triton 2006-2015

The old version also came with a factory transponder immobiliser and remote keyless entry so the AK4615 will work on PLIP mode.

Any OEM upgrade alarm should work if installed well, a remote upgrade alarm is also an option.

Options:

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