Autowatch Immobiliser

Autowatch Product range

Autowatch Product range

Autowatch Immobilisers not only meet with AUS/NZ standards (OK that is hardly an achievement) but also meets with international standards such as VESA and Thatcham.

What I find remarkable is that despite Autowatch being one of the big world players on the Alarm/Immobiliser market, is that I still come across customers who are reluctant to use a brand that they have not heard of!

The madness of this viewpoint is that if you travel outside of Australia or NZ it is the other way around. Mongoose? Dynatron? AVS? Never heard of any of them! Did I mention that none of the well-known brands are actually approved elsewhere? More about that another time, this post is about the Autowatch Immobiliser!


The Immobiliser module is one of the smallest available, (The Cobra 8509 takes that title) it is certainly the smallest system that contains all of the alarm/Immobiliser circuitry and this makes it great from an installation point of view, it’s lack of bulk makes the module easier to hide. Of course, a good installer is going to be the key here but at least the installer has some options where to place it.  To make my point clear here, the Mongoose M80 is twice the size and even the thought of trying to hide it effectively causes me to break out in a cold sweat!

Attack proof Security Housing

This is one of the requirements for Thatcham approval which is lacking from NZSA standards. I placed one on my bench, got the stopwatch out and had a crack at how long it would take to defeat. 2 minutes and 38 seconds later I had the Module open.

It is worth pointing out here that all tests are carried out on my bench and not in a vehicle. The other point to consider is that I am well practised in getting past Immobilisers and already have knowledge about the best way to attack them.

The Autowatch is the only system which I have required a drill to get past, and even then it is still a challenge. This time is all the more impressive when compared to most of the other immobilisers I have tested so far…

The Immobiliser Attack time Chart

Cobra 8509: Undefeated

Autowatch (Above listed models): 2 Minutes and 38 Seconds

Dynatron (All Models): 39 Seconds

Mongoose M80: 17 Seconds

AVS (All Models): 10 Seconds

Meridian (All Models): 5 Seconds

The Module which I tested has the same security case as found on the following models:



446RLi Premium

555 CLAM


Obsessive Rating: Compact and Hard to Crack

The simple fact that the Autowatch meets with Thatcham standards should be a good indication of its effectiveness

This entry was posted in Autowatch, Immobilisers, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Autowatch Immobiliser

  1. Martin Smith says:

    Hi there

    You seem to know a bit about Autowatch alarms. My friend has an Autowatch canbus alarm in her 08 BMW 3 series, it seems to work ok except it is very easy to bypass. The problem is if you turn the key in the drivers door with the alarm armed it immediately disarms. I thought maybe it was the factory key, so we had a blank key cut (no remote or anything) and it still disarms. Surely if someone forces the lock with a screw driver or breaks a window and lifts the lock plunger the alarm will disarm also? Is this an installation fault? The installer said you can’t stuff up a can bus alarm install as it reads the cars data. What do you think?

    Going by your web site you say Thatcham is the best but this alarm is Thatcham and I can disarm it in seconds!



  2. Julian says:

    Hi Martin,

    Sorry for taking so long to get back to you.

    You are right to be concerned, the alarm should only disarm by pressing the remote. Is the alarm the Autowatch 695CAN? If so I’d be surprised unless there was a software problem. I have not done a CAN alarm into a 2008 3 series yet, so have not come accross this.

    If the alarm is the 555CLAM then it would be an installation issue.

    Could you let me know which model it is and if need be I shall forwards you question on to a contact I have at Autowatch (I know he has read the blog in the past so I imagine you’ll get a response).


  3. Martin Smith says:

    Thanks for the response Julian. I have done some further research on this issue and it does not seem to restricted to this type of car or model of alarm. From what I have been told the problem is the canbus signal on many cars is the same whether the car is unlocked from remote or from the key in the door, the alarm reads this signal and disarms as it can not tell the difference. Maybe something manufacturers need to look at?

  4. Julian says:

    Thanks Martin,

    I shall forwards this email to Autowatch and see what they have to say.


  5. Julian says:

    Hi Martin,

    Below is the response following my email to Autowatch:

    Hi Julian,

    We can confirm that specific model vehicles do broadcast the identical CANBus Disarm codes for a disarm from OE Remote as they do from a key in the door. This is not ideal. What we have managed to do in these cases is force an additional CANbus code sequence to be observed to verify the source & legitimacy of the ‘Disarm’ (ie an OE remote disarm may also generate a specific set of hazard CANBus codes whilst a key disarm will not). This double verification where provided in some form by the vehicle has proven to be successful. I assume the BMW in this case however does not offer any additional means of differentiating between the two disarming methods.

    Athol (in CC) works for our Australian subsidiary and heads up the CANBus reverse engineering and verification of vehicles for your side of the world. He manages the live database supporting your vehicles. Athol, do you mind adding some comments and confirming the above for Julian?

    One last comment is that as far as I am aware the first press on your BMW OE remote will deadlock the vehicle. This should significantly reduce the threat of a simple screwdriver or broken window / lifting the lock plunger scenario successfully triggering a ‘disarm’ CANCode on the vehicle.


    Nicholas Allen

    Electronic Design Engineer

    This first email was sent as a CC to various people at Autowacht (PFK Electronics) to keep everyone in the loop.
    Here is the second email:

    Good day Julian & Nick,

    Nick, I agree with your comments regarding the CANBus arm/disarm codes being the same when mechanically or remotely locking and unlocking certain vehicles. As you have stated in vehicles with this type of set-up it may be necessary to add a confirmation code (such as a hazard pulse etc.) to obtain the highest level of security possible. For this particular vehicle we did not find it necessary to obtain confirmation codes as the vehicle deadlocks itself when the OE transmitter is used, which disables the mechanical door locks and plunges making it impossible to disarm the alarm system.

    However, if need be we can revisit this vehicle and see what options (if any) are available to try and introduce arm/disarm confirmation. Bearing in mind that this option can in some cases introduce a slight delay on arm/disarm so the operation might not be as seamless and in my opinion will be unnecessary for this particular vehicle.

    Julian, I hope this has made some sense and been helpful to you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any further queries.

    Kind regards,

    Atholl Mackinlay

    Autowatch Pty Ltd

    Hope this answers your question.


    P.S. Thank you to Nick and Athol at Autowatch for such a swift and professional response, I’m sure that some other suppliers could learn a thing or two about being accountable and honest. It makes a refreshing change! Thumbs up guys

  6. Rick says:

    I now have user experience with the Autowatch 446RLi and for anyone considering buying one of these I can tell you it’s brilliant. Its remote is completely predictable with separate arm/disarm buttons and optional silent mode requires a sequential button sequence (mute followed by arm/disarm) instead of the ergonomic disaster that is simultaneous button presses that my last alarm used (that’s muppet design in my line of work).

    The arm/disarm chip is a pleasant mid-volume electronic arpegio and not a full-volume alarm chirp that tells the world “hey I’m getting in my car now!”. Subtle is cool.

    The built-in turbo timer is slightly disconcerting at first because there’s no user disable or run-time control. The time can be set to 1 or 3 minutes by the installer and run-on must be cancelled by the remote when rolling up to the petrol pump (for example). The timer does not run if the engine hasn’t been running very long which is handy for just moving the car etc without having to manually cancel it when you know the turbo isn’t even warm. It’s not quite perfect this scheme but it usually does the right thing.

    Another subtle but appreciated feature is that if you go to start the car and the auto-arm has re-engaged you can just press any remote button while the ignition is “on” and it silently disengages. After all it’s utterly pointless to announce to the world that you’re disarming your immobilzier when you’re already sitting in the car.

    It’s these kind of things that make this seem like such a well designed alarm from an owner’s perspective. Julian’s technical analysis of it is not too shabby either. Good job Autowatch.

  7. Julian says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Rick.

    After all it’s utterly pointless to announce to the world that you’re disarming your immobilzier when you’re already sitting in the car

    I couldn’t agree more, it would be good if AVS and Mongoose took the hint as this pointless “feature” is akin to “The boy who cried wolf!”

    Is it any wonder why most people pay little or no attention to car alarms with this sort of muppetry going on!

  8. Steven says:


    I just bought a used car that comes with auto watch 446. My problem is I dun have the user manual n only know how to use the basic function open n lock the car using the remote n hidden button to disarm. Just learnt from the shop I can disarm it when I leave it for car service. I am seeking online if there is a soft copy of the alarm. It is an old model fitted in 2005.

    Anyone has the soft copy manual?

    Tried asking the shop they dont have it

  9. Julian says:

    Hi Steven,

    Could you clarify which model you have? There is more than one 446. The Easy way to identify it is with the remote. Does your one have 1 button (446RiS/RiSG) or 4 Buttons (446RLi Premium)?

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