Parallel Import Cobra Alarms

One thing I have always loved about Cobra NZ is that they have always been selective who they sell their products to.

Unlike most other vehicle security brands it has always been about quality as opposed to volume.

Being a security product you probably want to know that you have a competent trustworthy installer, great product reliability and strong after-sales support.

This is part of the reason I believe they have such a great reputation in New Zealand.

I work with Cobra NZ on a regular basis. The technical support I get is second to none. I’ve even had some training in the production plant based in Varese, Italy.

Parallel Import Cobra Alarms? Good or Bad?

Parallel Import Cobra Alarms

It has recently come to my attention that a Company in Lower Hutt has been Parallel importing Cobra Alarms. Whilst there is nothing legally wrong with doing, I still have some moral objections to the practice.


I think that it should be made clear if you are selling Parallel Imports rather than simply not mentioning that you are not an approved dealer! It’s about being honest and transparent. Personally, I believe this is vital if you are dealing with security products!

Speaking of being honest the company in question has had some shocking Facebook reviews in the past. I recall one relating to a scratched dash trim where they failed to respond to the customer. I checked their page out before writing this and noted that reviews are no longer visible!

Am I to assume that any company who does not allow reviews to been seen on Facebook has had poor feedback? I’m guessing Facebook allows this because they still want the advertising money! Anyway getting back to the subject…

Why Use an official Cobra Dealer?

First off using an official Cobra dealer helps protects you against poor workmanship. It’s vital that the installer knows the product, has full technical support and access to firmware updates and installation documents.

I’m always ranting about how bad most alarm installations are along with how many dodgy installers are out there! I’ve spent years building a good reputation for both myself and Cobra NZ. I’m not happy when I see Cobra alarms poorly installed.

After Sales Support

As a Cobra dealer, I am required to register every alarm that gets installed. This way there is a record of it should there be a warranty claim, or if replacement parts are needed.

For example, let’s assume the vehicle has changed ownership and both remote controls are lost. It’s vital that there is a record of the alarms over-ride pin number. Without this, the alarm will need to be removed and will probably end up in the landfill!

I could continue but you’ve probably got the point by now. On the bright side, the alarms do appear to be genuine, which is more then what I can say about what is happening in Australia!

You can find the full list of Approved Cobra Alarm dealers here…

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Do you Recycle your Remote Batteries?

How many small batteries do you go through each year?

I know I get through a large number, especially the small coin batteries that most car alarm remote controls use.

What do you do with the dead ones?

Do you place them in the rubbish bin? Or do you go to the effort of recycling them?

Do you even know where you can take them to be recycled?

My battery collection which I recycled today

Today I dropped a box full of small batteries off at the Sustainability Trust in Wellington. They do charge a small fee to cover their cost, but it’s not much.

The box above cost me $2.50. Yes, it costs more than putting them into the rubbish, but its the right thing to do, well unless you are a thoughtless arsehole!

Sustainability Trust in Wellington.

I asked if they would still charge if I only dropped off a couple of batteries. The reply was no, simply because it’s not worth the admin time, and they would rather take them than know that they would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Recycling Challenge

Now I’m not perfect and know I can improve my recycling game. In doing so I encourage all of you to do your part too. Feel welcome to give me your used batteries if you see me out and about. I keep a box for them in the van. Or better still recycle them yourself.

Challenge the shops that sell batteries

Next time you go into Jaycar, Repco, Super Cheap Auto, or your local car dealership to get new remote batteries ask them what the do with the old ones.

Do they recycle them? If not why not?

Ask the same question to your local car alarm installer too. They may not even have considered recycling them, so your question could make the difference.

Let me know what the reply is. Feel welcome to publish it here too.

If you live outside of Wellington let me know where you take your batteries and I’ll update this post to make it easier for people. Everyone who makes an effort will make a little bit of difference so please encourage responsible recycling habits.

Thanks Julian

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Shock Sensors and False Alarms

Watch out for the Fat Man in a Balaclava!

Shock Sensors are beyond doubt the main culprit when it comes to false alarms.

How many times have you got annoyed at a car alarm going off for no obvious reason?

More to the point, have you ever gone out to check and see if your neighbour’s car is actually getting broken into? Let alone catching a man in a balaclava hitting your car like an imbecile?

Don’t cry wolf!

If you think that getting an alarm with a shock sensor is a good idea then watch this video:

How do Shock Sensors Work?

Magnetic Shock Sensor

The most common impact sensor is the magnetic shock sensor. It is simply a magnet held by an elastic band which is suspended next to a coil. When the Magnet vibrates it induces electricity in the coil. This, in turn, triggers your car alarm to go off.

Sensitivity Adjustment

These sensors have a sensitivity screw which can be dialled up and down. This is used to adjust how much vibration is required before your alarm sounds. Some have a dual zone setting.  The 1st zone being more sensitive will tell the alarm to chirp a couple of times as a warning should a small vibration be detected. The 2nd less sensitive zone will trigger a full alarm.

Other types of impact sensors

There are other other types of shock sensors out there which I’m not going to explain here (piezo sensors for example). These sensors need more understanding of electronics so are not going to make sense unless you are into it. You can do your own homework if you really are interested!

What you should know is that all shock sensors deliver similar results. They pick up vibrations to set your alarm off.

Why have a Shock Sensor?

The reason many people think they are a good idea is that they don’t want their car’s bodywork to get scratched or dented. The reality is that constant false alarms piss everyone off will probably be the motivation to actually take a key to your paintwork!

The irony is that the act of keying a cars paintwork is unlikely to be picked up by the shock sensor!

It’s also unlikely that the use of a screwdriver to remove your number plates or exterior accessories will be detected by the shock sensor.

Here is a quote from the Mongoose installation manual:

Avoid over sensitivity as people nearby may not respond due to too many false alarms. (This type of sensor may not prevent wheel theft, we therefore advise the fitment of locking wheel nuts)

So what will cause a shock sensor to trigger?

There are many things that can cause the sensor to vibrate. The environment the car is located is often a big factor. For example, a car parked in a multi-storey car park is very susceptible to the resonating frequency of motorcycle exhausts, or even loud car exhausts for that matter.

Cars parked on the roadside can pick up vibrations from trucks and buses passing. In Windy Wellington, the wind can also play havoc with them.

The location of the shock sensor in a vehicle is also a major factor. In theory, the best location for one is the centre of the vehicle so it is not biased to one side. Yet most of the ones I have removed are tied to the steering column!

So why do so many alarms come with Shock Sensors?

First off is that they are cheap to manufacture. Secondly is a false notion that they will protect your car from getting damaged. The reality is there is not much that can be done to protect the outside of your vehicle without false alarms. If you want to protect your wheels then a tilt sensor will be far more effective.

What about Intelligent Shock Sensors?

I have read all sorts of marketing bullshit about “Intelligent” shock sensors. Some alarms have them built into the brain which makes the ideal centre of the vehicle location impossible in most cases!

The reality is that a car thief is not going to bang on your windscreen to set it off. But I do know if a case where an installer has cracked a windscreen doing this test!

Intelligent hey!

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Car Door Switches

Car door switches are one of the most basic, yet often overlooked items on any car alarm system. They detected if the door is open or shut so are the first layer of protection for any security system.

Even if you don’t have an alarm its important that all of your door switches work, as without them you risk locking your keys inside your car!

Most vehicles have a timer that starts when you press the unlock button on your remote control. This timer is cancelled if the cars body control module has detected a door being opened. If a door is not opened (or seen to be opened due to a faulty switch) the doors will re-lock. Typically after 30 seconds. Note; the timing can vary between manufacturers.

Testing your car door switches

Most cars have a display in the instrument cluster indicating if a door is open, some will simply have one symbol for all doors, where as others will show which individual door is ajar.

Drivers door open display

You may need to turn your ignition on for this display to work. Open each door one at a time (leaving the other doors closed) and see if the dispay shows that the door is open.

If your car does not have a display then turn the ignition on and see if the courtesy light turns on and off with when each door opens and closes (you may need to wait a couple of seconds for it to fade out on some vehicles). Of course, you’ll need a working courtesy lamp to do this test. If you don’t have a working one the check the fuses and the bulb as its nice to have a working one when it gets dark!

Service or replacing your car door switches

If after testing your door switches you discover that one is not working then you’ll probably need to repair or replace it. I say probably because there is the possibility that it is a broken wire or connection.

If you have a switch like the one shown in the photo at the pop of the page then get a screw driver and remove it. Look for signs of corrosion and clean the contacts if necisarry.

Some switches are sealed so cleaning up the contacts is not possible. If this is the case then the switch will need replacing. You can normally order one from your local dealership.

Can’t find a switch?

If there is no visible switch below the door latch or below the door hinge then you may have a switch that is built into the door latch. These are common on boot switches or doors found on some late model vehicles. Again these can also fail, but replacing them is not a simple job.

Of course this is something I test for whenever I install an alarm and I’ll advise you if you need a replacement. If you know you have a faulty switch before I work on your vehicle then please let me know. I’m normally happy to replace it for you if you bring a new one along for me 😉

Posted in Alarm Accessories, Car Security, Sensors, Trouble Shooting!, You really should know... | Leave a comment

Toyota Landcruiser 70 Series Alarm

The Toyota Landcruiser 70 Series was released in 1984. Since then it has had a number of updates and body options added.

It is currently sold as a 2 door Ute, a 4 door Ute and a 5 door station wagon.

As far as security goes, all 70 Series Landcruisers manufactured after the 2007 Face-lift come with a factory transponder immobiliser.

In 2014 Keyless entry was added to the range. The remote control is not built into the key head like other Toyota’s. It has a separate bulky remote that fits on to the key chain as shown below.

Factory Toyota Remote. Basic but rugged!

The 70 Series does not come with an alarm so there are a number of upgrade options.

For those who wish to continue using the Toyota remote, the Cobra AK4615 can be fitted in PLIP mode, as can the Cobra AB3868.

If you want an alarm with its own remote or have a pre-2014 model then the Cobra AK4698 is a great option. The remote case can also be changed for one with a Toyota Logo which is a nice touch.

Cobra AK4698 with Toyota logo on the remote.

Here are some shots of the alarm after the installation:

Ultrasonic Sensors fitted in the 70 Series

Cobra LED Over-ride in the Landcruiser

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Toyota Mark X Alarm Options

The Toyota Mark X is the last vehicle I currently have listed that works with the excellent Cobra AK4218 Toyota upgrade alarm. I’ve worked on a couple recently so figured I should add it to the blog.

The Mark X (X120) was manufactured between 2004 and 2009. Whilst not sold in NZ it is a popular Japanese import.

Below are some photos of the AK4218 installed in the Mark X:

Toyota Mark X (X120) 2004-2009
Cobra LED in the Mark X

Other alarms are also possible:

The AK4218 is my recommendation if your Mark X still has the Toyota remote contols. If not then most other decent alarms will work. I suggest contacting me for a list of options.

Window Closure

The Mark X has built-in window closure. If the key is held in the lock, or unlock position in the driver’s door lock all the windows will go up or down. This makes remote window closure an easy add on to most alarm systems.

The video below shows an Autowatch 446RLi Premium with window closure and boot pop:
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Mazda MPV Alarm

The 2nd generation Mazda MPV comes with keyless entry and a factory immobiliser but lacks an alarm

For those wishing to add an alarm the Cobra AK4615 is highly recommended. It works with the factory smart key and is the only CAN-BUS alarm that I would recommend for this generation MPV.

Most other alarms I have tested on the MPV can be tricked into disarming without the remote and are simply not very effective.

Generation 2 Mazda MPV (LY) 2006-2016

Mazda MPV alarm

Mazda MPV

The MPV CAN-BUS system is similar to most Nissan models in that a manual lock/unlock with the hazard lights active produces the same signal as a remote lock/unlock. The AK4615 is not vulnerable to this trick.

The AK4615 works with the factory Mazda proximity remote

Here are some shots of how the Cobra AK4615 looks in the car:

The Cobra AK4615 also works with the original Gen 1 Mazda MPV (2000-2006) in PLIP mode.

Expect horn honk as standard.

Posted in Mazda, Upgrade Alarms | 1 Comment

Car Window Closure Options

It’s easy to forget to close your car windows. Having them automatically roll up when you lock your car is a great feature and I have a number of car window closure options that can make this happen.

Comfort Closure

The first is the Comfort Closure Module from Author.

It is a super small CAN-BUS system with just 4 wires. A list of the compatible vehicles can be found here…

Viper 535T Window Closure

The Viper 535T is a universal system that can be fitted to most cars. Here is an install which I wired up to work with a basic Autowatch alarm that only has a one-button remote.

Built-in Window Closure

Some European car, especially the German ones, will roll the windows up and down with the key held in the door lock. For these vehicles, I can often include window closure at no extra cost when the right alarm is fitted.

One of the great things with the Cobra AK4698 and AK4138 is how versatile they are. Both alarms can be programmed for instant window closure (as shown in the video below) or controlled closure.

With controlled closure you keep the lock button on the remote pressed to wind the windows up. If you only want to half close them then you simply let go of the lock button before they are fully closed.

Mirror Folding

Does your car has electric folding mirrors? I can make them fold in when the car is locked with the remote. If your alarm has an Auxiliary output then this can also be used to command the windows and the mirrors.

Adding an Auxiliary Output to your Factory Remote

I can add a Double Tap Module to add an Auxiliary output to your factory remote:

Remote Double Tap Module

If interested in these features then simply ask and I’ll do my best to make it happen.

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New Toyota Corolla Alarm

The new 2018 Corolla Hatchback comes in 3 models. The entry-level GX has remote locking with an ignition key. The SX and ZR both come with a smart key and push to start button. The ZR also has a very basic factory alarm system that honks the horn.

For those who want to add an alarm, or wish to improve on the ZR system, I highly recommend the Cobra AK4615 CAN-BUS Alarm. I tested the alarm on the car last week and can confirm it works 🙂

The firmware and fitting instructions are not on the Vodafone Automotive website yet, but I have all the information needed myself.

Testing the New Corolla

It’s always interesting ripping a new car apart for the first time and getting familiar with it.

New Toyota Corolla Alarm Installation

It’s a time-consuming exercise finding the best mounting locations and wiring points, but having good notes is a must if you want to do the job well.

Here are some shots of the alarm after the installation:

Black Ultrasonic sensors match the interior in the Corolla

Cobra LED Over-ride switch in the New Corolla

ADR Card option recommended for the SX and ZR push to start models

Having a smart key makes both the SX and XR vulnerable to keyless theft. Adding an ADR Card to the AK4615 would protect against this.

Window Closure

The Author Comfort Closure system works with the new Corolla and will roll the windows up when the remote lock button is pressed It will also vent the windows open if you press the unlock button 3 times.

I took the time to read the CAN-BUS data from the windows opening and closing. Hopefully Vodafone Automotive can use it in the official firmware for the alarm. It would be great if the alarm disables the ultrasonic sensors if a window is left open.

I’ll update this post when it happens.

The previous generation Corolla Hatchback alarm options are covered here…

Toyota Corolla/Auris Alarm Options

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Author COMFORT Closure

Author Alarm

The Author COMFORT Closure Module can close your cars Windows and Sunroof, plus fold your mirrors when you press the lock button on your factory remote. The Comfort module is wired to the Vehicle CAN-BUS system so is quick to install and has minimal wiring.

The IGLA Anti Theft Immobiliser has COMFORT included.

Functions vary depending on the vehicle.

COMFORT Window Closure:

All windows will close upon locking the doors with the remote. Sunroof will also close where fitted *depending on the vehicle.

COMFORT Window Venting:

Pressing the Unlock button on the factory remote 3 times will vent the windows as shown below:

Side Mirror Folding:

For vehicles that already have electric folding mirrors. If this function is not supported by the CAN-BUS then it may still be possible to fold the mirrors by adding additional relays *may cost extra for labour and parts.

For full details check out the website.

A full list of compatible vehicles can be found here…

Author COMFORT RRP: $400.00

  • Window Closure
  • Window Venting
  • Sunroof Closure
  • Mirror Fold

For vehicles not listed the Viper 535T could be a good option.

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