To many people, there’s nothing more annoying than a car alarm going off when you least expect it. To some, this is even worse than a horror movie jump scare. There are even car alarms that randomly go off in the middle of the night, which disturb not only the owners of the car, but most likely everyone else in the block as well. Most of the time, these are just false alarms though. There’s not really any danger lurking around. However, what you need to worry about is how to prevent these false alarms from happening again.
How Car Alarms Work
Under normal circumstances, a car alarm would go off if it senses an “intrusion” above its normal threshold. This is all possible thanks to shock sensors that are featured in most modern vehicles. This could be caused by a loud sound or something hitting the car with considerable force. Car alarms also go off when a person attempts to break into the vehicle. This alerts the owner of the felony that’s going on. It also helps deter a potential thief from continuing his or her dirty, unlawful work. You could even install switches on your car’s hood, trunk, or doors. If a switch is triggered – for example, if a door is opened – the alarm will sound.
More basic car alarms use voltage sensors to trigger. If these sensors see a sudden drop in voltage – for instance, when a door is opened or when the lights turn on – the alarm will sound. You can also manually turn your car’s alarm on by pressing a button on the key fob. This could help when you’re trying to stop someone who’s messing with your car or when you’re trying to look for your car in a massive parking lot. You could then disarm the alarm with another press of a button.
A Malfunctioning Key Fob
Now that we’ve learned what triggers a car alarm under normal circumstances, let’s now talk about why some alarms go off at random times. The first and one of the most common reasons for an abnormal triggering car alarm is a malfunctioning key fob. We’ve already talked about this keychain-sized gadget earlier in this article. To those who are still unfamiliar with it, it is the device that lets you lock or unlock your car door with just the push of a button. For newer cars, having the key fob inside is what allows the drivers to jumpstart the ignition.
If your key fob is not functioning properly, it may send the wrong signal to your vehicle. Sometimes, it may even send this signal without you pressing a button. These wrong signals are what can cause your car’s alarm to go off for absolutely no reason at all. The quickest way to fix this problem is to change the key fob’s batteries. If that doesn’t solve it, you could try to reset the device or use a code reader to find out just what’s wrong with it.
A Dead or Rusty Battery
Problems with the car battery may also cause a car alarm to go off without the slightest warning. The first way a car’s battery can cause this kind of problem is if there’s not enough juice left in it. You might not know this, but car alarms weren’t only made for the sole purpose of alerting us of a crash or an attempted robbery. Car alarms can also signal other problems in your beloved car. One of these problems is a low power or energy in the battery – not enough for the starter to turn the engine, properly run and get you to where it is you need to be.
In some cars, if you try to turn on the engine with a dying battery, then the alarm will go off. Make sure to check the level of your car’s battery with a voltmeter if its alarm goes off for no apparent reason. If your car’s battery gives off a reading of less than 12.6 volts, then it’s time to get a new one. It would be wiser to get a new car battery instead of waiting for your car to die in the middle of the road as you’re driving.
There is no need to worry if your car battery is dying. It’s pretty easy to get a new one nowadays. Some stores and car shops even offer delivery services where someone delivers a fresh battery wherever you may need it, even on holidays or in the dead of night. This is especially useful during emergency scenarios. If you don’t know how to install a car battery, that’s fine, too. The person who delivers the batteries would usually have a bit of know-how on how to install them quickly as well.
Another option you have if your car’s battery has lost its charge is to use some jumper cables. Every car owner should have a pair of these. Identify which post is the positive one and which is negative. Connect the red clamp to the positive post of the dead battery and do the same on the positive post of the working battery. Take the black cable and connect one of its clamps to the negative post of the working battery. Instead of connecting the other end to the negative post of the dead battery, attach it to a bare metal surface of the dead car’s engine. This could be a bolt or a screw. Just make sure that everything your clamping to is free from dirt.
Once all the connections are set, the next step would be to start the working car’s engine. Let it idle for a few minutes. After letting a brief amount of time pass, start the engine of the dead car and let that idle as well. Once both cars have been running for some time without any issues, it is time to start disconnecting the cables. First, remove the black clamp from the previously dead car. Then remove it from the original “good” battery. Finish off by removing the red clamp from that battery and, lastly, removing the red clamp from the previously dead battery. Once done, you’ve officially jumpstarted a car.
Rusty battery terminals may also be a cause for false car alarms. If a car battery’s terminals have rust surrounding them, they won’t be able to send appropriate amounts of power where it’s needed in the vehicle. If this were to happen, the car’s sensors may interpret it as low battery power and make the alarms sound off. Try your absolute best to keep your battery’s terminals from substances that may cause rusting. This includes the usual suspects – rust, oil, and grease. This may also happen if the battery’s terminals start to get worn out.
A Dirty Hood Latch Sensor
Another reason why a car alarm would go off at random times is if your hood latch sensor is not properly maintained. This could either be due to damage or a lack of cleaning. You should always remember to wipe this part down every now and again because it is one of the biggest collectors of gunk from the road as well as from the car’s engine. If there’s too much of this unwanted buildup, then a false alarm may occur. This is because your car’s sensors may think that the dirt and debris on your hood latch comes from someone trying to break into the vehicle.
Another advantage to keeping a clean hood latch sensor is that it helps prevent unintended hood openings. A well-maintained latch sensor properly determines when someone is trying to break into your car. This keeps not only your property safe, but you as well. An effective car alarm deters or assists in thieves getting caught. This helps keep them behind the bars of a prison cell and off the streets before they attempt to do something that’s even more dangerous. To properly clean your hood latch sensor and its surrounding parts, you’ll only need good quality break cleaner and a cleaning brush.
If your car’s alarm keeps going off even after you’ve cleaned the hood latch sensor, then maybe the problem is deeper than just a bit of grime. Its connections may have been compromised. If this is the case, then false alarms may happen because the right signals don’t get sent. This issue may even affect other parts of the car. For instance, it could flash wrong indications such as a lit airbag indicator when, in reality, there’s nothing at all wrong with your car’s airbags. The easiest way to fix it is to disconnect and then reconnect the sensor, which is found near the headlights. If this doesn’t work, then maybe it’s time to bring your car to a certified professional.
Now that you know the reasons for your car alarm randomly going off, you can try to diagnose and fix the problems yourself. If you still can’t there is no shame in going to a trained professional. Spending a little bit of cash is still better than an annoying, malfunctioning car alarm that could disturb the entire neighborhood at any time without warning.