Upgrade Alarms

Upgrade Alarms - Commanded By Factory Car Key

Upgrade Alarms – Commanded By Factory Car Key

An upgrade alarm (also known as a PLIP alarm or OEM upgrade) is a car alarm that will operate from the vehicles factory remote control.

For an upgrade alarm to comply with Insurance standards it is assumed the vehicle already has a factory immobiliser.

If your car does not have a factory installed immobiliser, and you still like the idea of your alarm working from the original key remote then the best solution would be to have a transponder immobiliser installed with the upgrade alarm.

Upgrade Alarm Options

There are plenty of upgrade alarm options to choose from including the new generation of CAN-BUS alarms. Over the coming weeks, the blog shall go into detail about what each product has to offer.

How Upgrade alarms work

Most Upgrade alarms monitor the vehicles central locking wires. For example when the alarm senses the doors locking it will arm, and then disarm when it senses the doors unlock. The trick is to teach the alarm to arm and disarm only when the remote is used. After all, it would not be very effective if you could disarm the alarm by simply flicking the cars unlock button on the door, or forcing a screwdriver into the door barrel and turning the lock!

Inhibit Method

Teaching the alarm to operate from a genuine remote command is generally achieved by two methods. The first is known as the inhibit method, the alarm monitors the switches from the doors (or dash) lock/unlock buttons, if it senses the switch move before sensing the door motors unlock it will ignore the command, this way only a command from the remote which causes the door motor to move first will allow the alarm to arm/disarm.

Hazard Flash Method

Hazard light flash - Enable Mode

Hazard light flash – Enable Mode

The second method used is known as enable mode. With this method, the alarm monitors the hazard lights which flash when the remote locks/unlocks the car. In other words, the alarm needs to see the doors lock/unlock with the hazard lights. This is not possible on all vehicles as not all have this feature.

The biggest weakness with this method is that it may be possible to trick the alarm by turning the hazard lights on and then unlocking the vehicle. There are ways that a good installer can get around this trick and some alarms are far better than others in detecting this.

Some of the better alarms actually learn the timing of the vehicle’s hazard and locking signals, rather than simply monitoring them. Anyway, hopefully, this has not been too technical to follow. I’m sure if you can follow this then the reviews found on this page will make sense to you.


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22 Responses to Upgrade Alarms

  1. Peter Jones says:

    Hi, can you do an upgrade to the existing immobiliser on a JDM 2003 Honda Accord wagon?

    Digital, battery backed-up, inaccessible siren would be nice.

    thanks and regards

  2. Julian says:

    Hi Peter,

    Yes I can. Your options for Digital Battery back-up upgrade alarms are the Autowatch 555CLAM and the Cobra AB3868

    I’ve sent you an email with pricing details.


  3. Dinesh says:

    Hi Julian,

    In an after market alarm, immobiliser deactivation is required
    after unlocking the door and entering the vehicle which is not started within a certain time frame.

    On an upgrade alarm, (Cyclops P485), I have found that immobiliser deactivation is not required and the vehicle starts even after it has been unlocked and not started for any length of time. Is this acceptable or should the immobiliser kick in if the vehicle has not been started within a time frame after entering ?

    Thanks and regards.


  4. Julian says:

    Hi Dinesh,

    What car is this installed in?

    Upgrade alarms are designed for vehicles that have an existing factory transponder immobiliser. The Cyclops P485 (Dynatron 4 Series) does have dual immobiliser but that only kicks in when the alarm is armed. Therefore it is technically not suitable unless you have an addition immobiliser (rules state that it the immobiliser should auto arm within 40 seconds).

    It is often assumed that if a vehicle has keyless entry that there will also be an immobiliser. This however is often a mistaken assumption.

    The star rating system for upgrade alarms is misleading and often misunderstood by installers. I’ve been trying to bring the matter up with the NZSA but they fail to respond to such questions!

  5. Dinesh says:

    Hi Julian,

    Thanks for the information. The alarm is installed in a Subaru Legacy 2.0I non-turbo sedan.

    Best regards,

  6. Julian says:

    Hi Dinesh,

    What year is your Legacy? If it is a made before 2003 then it is very unlikely that you have an immobiliser. If it is the newer shape version then this post covers the details:



  7. Dinesh says:

    Hi Julian,

    It’s a 2004 model Legacy and has a key as seen in the link.

    From your post “Therefore it is technically not suitable unless you have an addition immobiliser ” .. does the additional immobilizer need to be bought separately (in addition to the two existing) to ensure immobiliser deactivation after unlocking the door and entering the vehicle which is not started within a certain time frame ?

    Thanks and regards,

  8. Julian says:

    Hi Dinesh,

    Personally I’d be considering a transponder immobiliser such as the Autowatch 573PPi or the Dynatron D2200. It is possible to do away with the transponder fob (tag which dangles from your keyring) and code up a transponder chip that can fit inside the Subaru key.

    This solution is certainly the easiest to live with as no conscious action is required to disarm it.

  9. Dinesh says:

    Thanks for all the information, Julian.

    Best regards

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  12. Steve says:

    Hi Julian,
    I have a 2003 BA Falcon. Just wondering what the best upgrade alarm for it would be? Thanks for your help and great site.

  13. Julian says:

    Hi Steve,

    That really depends on your budget and what local installers you have who have knowledge of the alarm.

    Personally I’m a big fan of the Cobra AK4615, but the Autowatch 555CLAM works well too.
    Your cheaper option would be a Dynatron D4600 (Cyclops in Aus).

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  17. Chris says:

    Hi, I’ve had a MAP80G upgrade alarm installed into my Toyota Auris 2007 model. I know, I wanted a canbus based on what I read on your website but the installers I approached here in Auckland all say it’s only for european cars so I was forced to go MAP80. Anyway, the problem I have now is that the alarm is triggered when the transponder key gets near the car. This is before I press any buttons or touch the car. Its a keyless entry system which also can sense when you place your hand on the door handle and unlocks that way. what do you think is happening here? Do they need to use enable mode or something?

  18. Julian says:

    Hi Chris,

    The Auris (Corolla E150) is listed on the both the Cobra, and Autowatch CAN-BUS pages of my website. Mongoose also have it listed as on their website for their MAP70 alarm (Not that I’d suggest getting one!)

    Out of interest why did you allow them to install the MAP80G when it gets such a bad review?

    Personally I go back to the installer and provide them with this info and question why they did not go with a CAN-BUS system seeing that you had asked for one.

    Give them a fair chance to put things right and if they can’t do that then ask for a refund.

  19. Rob says:

    Hi Julian,

    I enjoy reading your posts as well the the common mistakes by so called pros.
    While you’ve dumbed down the technicals in your post about upgrade alarms and how they work, one thing I couldnt figure out is if you push lock on the factory key remote, the doors will lock and alarm will arm. what if i cant remember if i locked the car or not and push lock again. as the car normally would try lock again and flash indicators, would this then mean the alarm would switch off? or vice versa, if i unlock the car, but hit the button twice, would this then mean the alarm will disarm with the first push of the button, the arm the second time? maybe im not thinking it through..

  20. Julian says:

    Hi Rob,

    It all depends on the vehicle and the alarm system.

    In an ideal work the factory remote will have separate lock and unlock buttons which will simply arm and disarm the alarm. Assuming this is the case then pressing the lock button again after arming the alarm will simply confirm that the car is locked and leave the alarm in an armed state.

    However some CAN-BUS alarm will allow you to turn off the ultrasonics (or other sensors) buy pressing the lock button a second time within a set time. Again this all depends on the software and vehicle.

    The Cobra AK4218 Toyota alarm will disable the ultrasonics on the 2nd press and a 3rd press disarms the optional tilt or PIR sensor. Once fully armed the lock button works as a car finder.

    If the remote only had a single button to lock/unlock and you unlocked/disarmed the alarm, then assuming a door is not opened, most O/E keyless systems will re-lock the car after about 30 seconds and in turn re-arm the alarm.

    Most cars flash the hazard lights once or twice to confirm lock or unlock which is a good guide and if siren arm chirps are active then this too helps to clarify.

    Then there are vehicles with deadlocks. Most Holdens will deadlock with a second press of the remote lock button where as Peugeots tend to deadlock on the first press and a second press leaves the doors locked but turns the dead locks off.

    It simply depends on the vehicle. I normally make it clear how it will work when I book the car in.

    Hope this helps.


  21. darren says:

    hi I want a upgrade on a commodore im stuck which one great my car because map80g looks great many installers havnt done them for years many dont like them but many like viper what u recommend for me thx its a 2007 model

  22. Julian says:

    Hi Darren,

    This post explains why I can make any recommendations if you live outside of Wellington…
    That said I certainly do not rate the Mongoose MAP80G. Have a look at my review to see what’s wrong with it!

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