By Albert Cowan – SonicElectronix Install Technician
Vehicle owners with manual locks always ask me how much it would cost for them to add a remote entry system to their vehicle. For many used car owners, the most practical way to add automatic locks is to install a pair of universal actuators along with an entry level car alarm. This past Friday my customer had a 2000 Ford Ranger with a nice aftermarket system, so he was looking for a high end alarm to protect his car audio equipment. Besides vehicle security, he also wanted a remote entry system so that he could lock and unlock his doors with the press of a button. As an added bonus, once you lock the doors, the car alarm is armed and it will sound once your sensors are triggered by a disturbance. I recommended the Viper 5901 (p/n 5702V) alarm because it was one of the best alarms considering the Viper reputation. It also has remote start, which my customer wasn’t planning on getting until I explained to him that remote start car alarms allow you to set the temperature in your vehicle from your keychain. Besides, it is good to for your vehicle’s engine to warm up while you are still getting ready to leave. Plus, the Viper 5901 comes with two remotes, and in my experience, you never appreciate how valuable a spare remote is until you lose or break the first one.
In order to access the steering column, I removed four torque screws so that I could pull out the dash cover. Then I removed four more screws to pull out the steering column’s metallic frame. I had to access the brain of the old car alarm that had been installed previously. I found a bird’s nest of wire, which made me realize the install was going to be a bit more complicated than I anticipated. Anytime you have to clean up someone’s mess, you are in for a bit of an adventure. While I was inside the brain, I wanted to test the old actuators that had been installed in the door panels. As the vehicle in question was a 2000 Ford Ranger, I was able to scrape the door trigger wires against the metal chassis to test the door locks. The actuators were not functioning so I had to remove and replace the door lock actuators in order to add automatic locks to this vehicle.
I used my window crank removal tool to remove the window crank handles, and then I removed all of the screws holding in the door panels. I carefully snapped off the plastic door handle piece from each door. Then I peeled away the door skins to access the actuators. One screw held the wiring at the top of the door, so I removed this screw and then unplugged the two wire terminals that had connected the actuator to the vehicle’s electrical system. I mounted the new actuators in the same place and connected the wiring. Keeping the door panels off, I tested the door trigger wiring against the metal chassis to see if the actuators responded properly. Bingo. The locks were all ready to go. Now it was time to install the Viper 5901 alarm to enable the remote lock/unlock feature.
When it comes to installs, my motto is that you always have to treat each car like it’s your own. That’s what I strive to do and is probably why I have been fortunate enough to develop many repeat customers as a professional installer. So even when I saw an absolute bird’s nest of wires inside this Ford Ranger, I took the time to clean up someone else’s mess. After I removed the tape and untangled the wires, I disconnected the old alarm and pulled it out of the kick panel. Now I was trying to decide where I should mount the brain of the Viper 5901 alarm. I tried various areas before deciding to mount it in the cubby hole behind the AC vents on the right side of the kick panel. I used a drill and some screws to ensure a secure mounting position, although taping the alarm to the chassis would be an acceptable alternative.
Now that I had the Viper 5901 mounted, I used some of my catalogs to help me figure out which wire responded to each command in the 2000 Ford Ranger. When installing alarms, it is also helpful to know what each wire color corresponds to on car alarms. Types of car alarm wires include the ignition wire (yellow), siren wire (brown wire), parking lights wire (usually white), door sensor wires, the “negative when armed” wire (usually an orange wire, this wire sends a negative impedance to trigger additional sensors such as window modules), and the door trigger wiring. After matching the wires from the car alarm to the vehicle, I used a solder gun to seal the connections. Finally, to install the remote start, I disconnected the vehicle battery and connected the remote start wires to the vehicle electrical system. I re-connected the vehicle battery and prepared to test the alarm’s functionality.
With everything in place, I left all of the panels off while testing the remote functions. With the doors closed, the locks responded to the button on the keychain remote. Perfect. Now it was time to test the sensitivity sensors. With the doors locked and the alarm armed, I gave the door a wack near the door handle, and sure enough the alarm sounded. I disarmed the alarm using the unlock button, moved on to the remote start button, and the engine started humming! With everything functioning properly, I replaced the panels, and let the customer know his vehicle was good to go!