Uninstalled Viper Alarm

My husband and I bought a Chrysler Sebring new in 2002. After a break-in, we decided to install an alarm system. (I know, should have done that first. ha ha) We went to a reputable company and had a Viper Alarm system installed. Fast forward to 2012. The car has served us well but started having trouble keeping a charge to the battery. I had my dad take a look at it, he’s a certified mechanic, to see what might be causing the battery to drain like that. He couldn’t find a problem but suggested that maybe the alarm system was old enough that something had gone faulty on it. He uninstalled it, with the help of another mechanic. Now the car won’t start at all. He sent it to the local college to see if their instructors could find the problem but they have no ideas either. My dad is considering replacing the motor and transmission (pretty much anything) just to make it run. But I don’t want to have to go to all the expense and trouble if someone knows the answer. Please help!

Replacing the motor and transmission because of a battery drain ? Certified mechanic ? This reads like a Troll or a group of clueless people.

You’re probably going to have to describe in detail what your Dad and his mechanic sidekick did (or more importantly probably did not do) to remove the alarm system.

I recently had to diagnose my own parasitic drain problem on one of my vehicles. It is a fairly straightforward process of elimination once you are set up to do the measurement. In my case, the electric seat controls had developed a high resistance fault on the up/down button. Just pulling fuses one at a time narrowed it down to that circuit.

So it is concerning that, rather than properly diagnosing the fault, the choice to start removing embedded electronics was chosen instead. Now, how to find the missing link after the damage has been done may be tough without an onsite expert…

Any time a car won’t start, there’s a basic process to troubleshoot it… however that Viper system may have made the job complicated. Someone is going to have to go through the wiring schematics, including the Viper system, to get to the root of the problem. Let me suggest a company that specializes in automotive electrical systems… and bring them whatever information you have on the Viper system.

I’ll bet lunch that the installer butchered a wiring harness to install the system. And you probably developed a high-resistance short to ground. Now, in uninstalling the system, your dad probably disconnected a circuit critical to starting and/or running that had been “busted into” by the Viper installer. For future reference, you might want to consider this an education in these aftermarket systems. Problems are far too common with these, and can be far too difficult to troubleshoot.

Some of the theft proofing systems include installing a fuse in a critical circuit so that any tampering shorts the fuse and disables the car. The fuse is to be installed in a difficult to find location. Removing one is a losing proposition for a shop unless the installer left a schematic of their work.

I’ll disagree that the problem was with the aftermarket alarm system. Viper makes a quality product and should not be blamed when people monkey with their systems. A properly installed aftermarket alarm from a reputable brand will not hurt anything. I’ve got a quality alarm (Compustar) that’s been on my MR2 for nearly 15 years now, and it still functions perfectly, and hasn’t caused any problems. But I had it installed by a very good installer and then avoided messing with it.

Alarms get a bad rap because a large percentage of them are installed by the car owner who doesn’t know what he’s doing, or are ineptly un-installed by the car owner who doesn’t put things back to 100% stock, and problems arise as a result.

Arguing that alarms are automatically bad is like saying a gas stove is automatically bad because your cousin Earl installed his own and messed up, and blew up his kitchen. Some things require a high level of expertise to install correctly, and if you don’t have it, you shouldn’t cheap out by doing it yourself. If you do cheap out and do it yourself, you should not blame the product that you installed wrong when things go south.

To be blunt, OP, your dad needs to go back to mechanic school. He made an assumption that the alarm was causing the drain without doing any testing. Then he removed the alarm, and now that the car won’t start he’s assuming it’s because the engine and transmission are broken?

That simply doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.

If I had to guess, he took out the alarm and didn’t realize that it has a starter and/or fuel kill feature, which means he has to reconnect the appropriate wires that used to go into the alarm or the starter and/or fuel pump will not function.

To suspect the alarm system is not without logic.
I agree that assuming the engine and/or trans is broken based upon the information given is illogical.
I guess we’re both going to find out whether the alarm system is to blame together.

I’m thinking that your suggestion that the correct wires need to be reconnected will turn out to be correct. I still feel an automotive electrics place is the best bet. They’ll have the expertise, equipment, and access to the proper schematics and wiring diagrams to figure out what circuit(s) is/are no longer connected.

A shop that is experienced with tracing electrical problems is needed and they are hard to find. And true, failure of the device may be rare, but most are installed by DIYers in their driveway or sound system exSPURTS who are in their first week of self taught OJT. When the main ignition wire is cut and a switch or fuse installed with butt connectors pinched with water pump pliers then tucked into convoluted tubing above the steering column it becomes a problem looking for a good opportunity.

Reconnect the viper and see if it starts?

Good idea above by @Barkydog . Beyond that, if you think what an alarm might do to prevent theft

  • disable ignition spark
  • disable fuel pump
  • disable cranking

that’s about it

So if it won’t start or crank, first thing to determine is why it won’t crank. That means checking for power at the starter motor’s two terminals. Once it cranks, if it still won’t start, next determine if power is getting to the fuel pump and ignition system. Just back0probing at the fule pump connector does that, or you might be able to hear the pump running.

A good way to test the ignition system is to remove a spark plug, reattach the plug wire, and hold the thread part of the plug against a ground point on the engine, and look for a healthy blue/white spark at the electrode when cranking. Take appropriate safety precautions.

"sound system exSPURTS who are in their first week of self taught OJT"
too often these kids are working for new independent providers/installers (that often disappear after a few years in business) and companies like Circuit City. Butchering of the harnesses seem to be their work standards. It isn’t the fault of the kids, it’s the fault of the employers… who don’t seem to know any better… or care.

Maybe I should specify a couple of things: First, we tried replacing the battery because we thought it might be old. Then my dad tried replacing all fuses. He checked wires. He took the car to another mechanic to have it checked out but they could see no reason why the battery would not hold a charge even though it was brand new. He checked pretty much EVERY SINGLE OTHER THING possible on the car BEFORE removing the alarm system. I can’t give details on what they did to remove it because I wasn’t there. But I do know that they kept track of what they took apart in the order they took it apart. They didn’t just go in there hacking wires and pulling stuff apart. He had the manual for it while they were disconnecting it because he knew that there were “kill switches” on it. He’s also not making the assumption that it’s the motor and transmission. Since the car isn’t running now anyway, he said he might try changing them out. (I also might add that he has now bought the car from me since he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it and now it doesn’t run.)

I put this comment on here to get advice and to see if anyone else had ever had trouble with the Viper Alarm. I know that sometimes these things are recalled and I wanted suggestions, not demeaning comments concerning my or my dad’s intellect and abilities.

So thanks for everyone who politely offered suggestions, I’ll pass those along. :slight_smile:

“checked pretty much EVERY SINGLE OTHER THING possible”

Sorry, but I really doubt that. Finding a problem with battery drain is really not that difficult, just a matter of placing an ammeter in the battery circuit and removing fuses until you find the fault. Ask him what current value he saw. Anything over 50 mA is bad.

Why would he want to change the engine and transmission? they are totally unrelated to a battery drain.

He’s wanting to change out the engine and transmission because nothing on the car works anymore at all and he just wants to, I guess.

Changing out an engine and transmission on a vehicle that might still be good just because it won’t start is not the thinking of a competent mechanic .

If the Viper is no longer in the car it can’t be interfering with the engine running even though it may be the cause for the failure that prevents running now. At this point getting the schematic on the vehicle and methodically testing to find the failed circuit and correcting it will get the engine running. Replacing the engine would be a costly and time consuming effort that would not correct the failed circuit.

And the complexity of today’s automobiles that use relays and modules to control even the most basic functions leaves a great many mechanics refusing to deal with electrical problems. Cars today are too complex for one person to be an expert in every aspect of their operation. But with some patience and persistence you and your father can isolate and correct the failure(s) that resulted from the Viper being installed and/or being removed. Good luck.

I’m getting very tired of the recent trend of people coming on here, asking for advice, and then crapping all over the people who give it because it’s not the advice they wanted to hear.

Is is the same guy doing a subtle troll, or is there a sudden influx of ingrates who just want their ego inflated?

I’m not a guy and I’m not a troll.

Maybe I’m too girly and sensitive to be on a guy’s forum… LOL

Well, maybe if you replaced “girly and sensitive” with “rude” and “guy’s” with “adult’s,” you’d be on to something.

Here’s the deal. We don’t read minds. You told us your dad ripped out an alarm because he couldn’t find the battery drain (which is suspicious right off the bat because battery drains are relatively easy to find, or at least isolate to one specific circuit), and then wanted to replace the engine and transmission because the car wouldn’t start after he guessed and ripped out an alarm.

Then after people called him on his improper diagnosis, you came back and clarified a few things that we could not possibly have known because you did not bother to tell us. Then you lectured us on exactly how defferential we should be to you and the guy that according to your story did not do a good job with the car. That is not going to be taken kindly when we are responding to you with free advice that most places would charge you money for.

The nice thing about offering advice services for free is that you are not a customer, which means we do not have to pretend you are always right. If you want to be lovingly fawned over while being told that everything you do is brilliant, find a pay service to get your automotive advice from.

And the best part is that, according to you, after your clarification, your dad is still screwing up by replacing the engine and transmission to solve a no start that was caused by tearing the alarm out. He can put a new engine in there, and it still won’t start if his monkeying with the alarm is what broke it in the first place. “He just wants to I guess” is not the diagnostic work of a competent mechanic.