Sounding off: Car alarms and how to manage them

Car alarms. Need we say more?

You’re strolling along, minding your own business, and suddenly WEEP WANG WEEP WANG WEYOOOP, this deafening noise goes off. You carry on walking, wishing that the car’s owner would sort the darn thing out as there is an obvious lack of any actual crime taking place … and then you realise it’s your car making all the noise. Amongst other annoyances drivers cause each other, this one’s a big one, especially with neighbours in residential streets (it’s not just parking permits that get them peeved!).

So be a good neighbour – whether you’re looking for a deal on a new car, or whether you need to keep your car better serviced, don’t skimp on awareness of your car alarm. Know how to control it, and where to get advice if you need it.

How do you switch off your car alarm?

There is no one way to shut off the car alarm – in fact, there are several things you can try. First of all, you need to know what kind of alarm you have: aftermarket or a factory fitted. The former means that the car alarm was installed in a shop after the car was purchased, whereas the latter indicates that the alarm was installed at the time the car was manufactured.

Your best bet with a car alarm that’s gone off for no clear reason is first to read through its manual to find out what it recommends. If there’s a procedure outlined within the manual to help solve the problem, then great. If not, or you can’t find the manual, follow these steps to identify the problem and silence your alarm:

1) The remote

Check whether the remote key fob you use to control the car alarm is functioning properly and has a working battery.

If the remote does not work as it should despite changing the battery, make sure there is nothing blocking the transmission of radio waves between the remote and the car alarm, like something you may have subsequently fitted to the car. Some car alarm remote controls are very fussy and demand you aim right for the spot or a particular location such as the sensors planted on the car.

2) The door

Sometimes, the alarm will activate because you locked the vehicle with the key fob and the system armed itself. Unlocking the car door with the key (instead of the key fob) and turning on the ignition will silence your alarm, because your car will recognise the key. After unlocking the car, wait a good five to seven seconds before starting the engine.

If that driver’s door is already open and the alarm won’t stop, try this manoeuvre: close the door and turn the key in the door a couple of times: Lock, Unlock, Lock, Unlock.

3) The fuse

If locking and unlocking the car hasn’t helped, you’ll need to find the fuse that connects the alarm to your car battery and pull it to turn off the alarm. Most factory alarm fuses are positioned on the box in your steering column, or just behind a panel to the left of it, whereas most aftermarket alarms have their fuses in the engine compartment.

Once you locate the fuse box, use a pair of pliers to pull the fuse. You’ll know whether you have pulled the correct fuse, because the car alarm will shut off immediately.

If you pulled the wrong fuse and the alarm won’t stop, reconnect that fuse before pulling another one.

4) The battery

If this doesn’t silence the blaring alarm, well, here’s the last resort. Disconnecting the battery will more often than not reset the car alarm and resolve this annoying issue. Make sure you do it carefully because disconnecting the negative terminal from your battery will master-reset all of the electrical appliances in your car including the radio, and will prevent your car from starting.

Hook the battery back up to see if the alarm goes off and if it does, disconnect it and contact your car dealer or a professional car alarm installer.

5) Get a service

If your car alarm has a habit of activating when there is no obvious reason for it to do so, it’s a good idea to have it serviced, preferably by whoever installed it in the first place. They can fix the problem and tamper with the sensitivity of the alarm so it is less prone to be activated unnecessarily.

Ask the experts

If you are thinking about buying a new car, make sure you know how the car alarm functions. The experts at your local Perrys dealership will be happy to answer any car spec or technical queries, including any concerns you may have about over-sensitive car alarms.