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I also had a Car Alarm that shouldn't exist

Caroline w/a 1995 Saturn SL said on a recent show she got out of the grocery store and her car alarm went off. The surprsing thing is that she never had a car alarm installed.

Believe it or not, I had a similar thing happen to me.

Back in the 1990’s, I purchased a Toyota Corolla new from the dealership. After 5 years of near perfect reliability, one morning the car wouldn’t start. No rrrr rrrrr. No click. No sound of any kind. Nothing.

After some poking around, I discovered the problem was the signal from the ignition switch (START) to the starter relay wasn’t getting through. When I traced the wire out under the dashboard, I discovered someone had spliced in a small connector. The START signal – which is supposed to go directly to the starter relay on the drivers side relay& fuse panel – was instead routed through this weird connector. It caused no problem for 5 years as the connector was wired so that as long as the connector was not connected to anything, it sent the START signal right through. The reason it wouldn’t start that one day is that I had apparently accidentally broken the connector by hitting it with my knees getting in and out of the car. AHA! No START signal at the starter relay, no go.

I removed that connector completely, wired it up the way it was supposed to in the first place, and it fixed the starting problem. But the question is: What the hell was that connector doing there in the first place? It doesn’t appear on the Toyota Shop Manual wiring schematic, and since the wire colors used didn’t match up to the original Toyota wires, so it was obviously spliced in after the car was manufactured.

It seems like it must have been some kind of car alarm or theft prevention thing. But this car wasn’t supposed to have any alarms installed.

So who put it in, what did it do, and why?

Some kind of what we used to call a “kill switch”. Keeps other people from starting your car because they don’t know that there’s a switch at all, let alone what the rightful owner knows to do to activate it.

It’s mentioned in one of the “Back to the Future” movies when Biff gets his car back from the shop after having the manure cleaned out of it. The mechanic mentions they weren’t able to start the car, asks him if he’s got some kind of kill switch, and Biff tells him to mind his own business.

Since the scene takes place in 1955, that’ll give you some idea of when this kind of dodge was more well-known than it is today.

Toytota ought to be aware that this practice can cause reliability problems down the road. Makes sense though, to prevent theft of dealership cars. If the thief gains access to the dealership keys, but the matching gadget to this connector is installed and not visible, and the thief doesn’t know about it, the car won’t start. Only the salesmen know about this connector apparently. This connector must have been wired-in by the new car dealership for theft prevention while the car is still on their lot. I hope Toyota will work w/the dealerships and come up w/a way to do this while not affecting reliability for the future owner(s).

I had a car that I had installed an aftermarket remote start / keyless entry unit on. One day as I was leaving a place of business, I unlocked my car with the remote - which also armed the alarm on the car next to mine. That car belonged to the receptionist, who had bought it from her brother, and had no idea it had an alarm (and would have had no idea how to disarm the alarm if I hadn’t told her).