One of the most basic, yet overlooked items on an alarm is the bonnet switch. It’s job is to protect the engine bay which once breached often means the battery can be disconnected or the siren can be attacked and silenced. Needless to say that if it fails to work it then you may as well not have an alarm installed!
Some of the bonnet switches that come as standard with many alarms are of such poor quality that I refuse to use them. Below are a couple of photos showing ones that have rusted out becoming useless:
Here is another rusty one that I replaced recently. Often there is no visible sign that the base has corroded and no longer works until it is removed.
The location of the switch is also a big factor. It’s good practice to make them difficult to access so they can’t simply be held down with a metal rule or unplugged by popping out one of the hazard lamps!
Bonnet Latch Switches
Many cars have a factory bonnet switch already, often built into the latch. These are normally reliable and I’ll always use them when I can. Again it irks me when I see an additional switch (normally a poor quality one at that) has been fitted as the installer has failed to notice that the car already has one. This year alone I’ve seen this done to a Ford Transit and a Hyundai iLoad, both by local car audio shops who really should know better!
Stainless Switches do not rust!
Given that most vehicles get wet and exposed to the elements you would have though that stainless switches should come as standard with alarms.
Sadly Cobra seem to be the only supplier that I deal with would provide them as standard.
I’m assuming it boils down to price. You pay a little more for Cobra which is justified by the quality of the components.
Cutting corners a using cheap, poor quality parts is not the way to go if you want reliability.
Rust proofing drilled holes
If I’m going to drill a hole I use cavity wax to treat the metal so it does not rust. Again it’s something many installers don’t bother with but makes a big difference in the long term.
Factory mounting locations
Where possible I like to install a switch by picking up on a factory mounting location.
Many cars have empty bolt locations on the inner wing where a bracket mounted switch can be fitted.
Here is another waterproof switch which I used braided tubing around the cable for to keep the clean look of the engine bay
There are occasionally vehicles where finding a good mounting location is simply not possible.
When this is the case I often resort to a tilt switch on the bonnet lid that simply rolls a ball-bearing to connect the circuit when the angle changes. Again these as waterproof and reliable.
Finally if you have an alarm I highly recommend that you test to see if your switch still works, if it doesn’t or is showing signs of wear then I recommend getting it looked at asap.