View Full Version : removed the "parasite" - dealer installed scam alarm

Greg Elmassian
09-22-2014, 11:18 AM
As many people have reported, one common scam is when the dealer has already installed some "optional" stuff on a car and then pressures you to accept them because they are "already on the car".

This, of course has been going on for years, and I know that one of these things is an "alarm" that provides "missing" or additional functionality to your factory system.

I'm not sure, but the pop may not have an alarm at all, but I was under the impression that all Fiats came with some kind of immobilizer system.

Anyway, I got my car in San Diego, but apparently it was a dealer trade with an Orange county dealership.

The San Diego dealer does put "alarms" on all it's cars, but they did not realize that mine, had one also, but apparently a different model, or something.

I was not pressured to pay any additional cost, but when I asked about it, I was told it was "disabled".

Now, right off, I can tell you I did not like that... anything that can control if my car runs or not and I don't have control over, or know anything about, makes me uncomfortable. I know that on the gas powered cars, the "alarm" has a starter motor cutout.

So I asked more questions, and the dealership could not activate it, and was told they would check with the OC dealer, yeah, sure, after 2 weeks nothing. I also found out that the company that installs these in Southern California is called "SouthWest Dealer Services"... sounding fishy.

Well, more research and my dismantling of the small gadget that had a button and should have had an LED in it led me to determine this is a KARR alarm, and what it is REALLY for is that the dealers can use a single key fob to unlock ALL cars so equipped, and it seems to also be an extra level of anti-theft for them with the starter cutout.

What is hilarious is that I found that their San Diego office was walking distance from my place of work, so I went over.... same story, the dealer needs to "activate it", i.e. someone pays.

More research determined that there was no reason for a starter motor cutout, because my 500e alarm system ALREADY immobilizes the car, and there is NO starter motor. The added shock sensor might be nice, but now I would have to carry 2 key fobs. The more I researched, the more I realized that this was a convenience item for the dealer, a liability for me, and (when they can get it) a lucrative scam for the dealer when they sell one.

OK, so yesterday, I went into the dash and followed the wires up from the little pushbutton thingy they had attached to the panel by my knee. I found the "Brain" and now followed the "tendrils" of wires to their locations.

I was looking to see if any wires were cut / interrupted, vs. just "tapped into"...

3 wires to the ignition switch - all snap on taps
2 wires down by the fuse panel - all snap on taps
1 ground screwed to a flat metal spot

Removed them all, and taped up the spots where the taps cut through the wire insulation. While pushing wires back in place (that were pulled out to tap into them), I found another wire stuffed away that went where the alarm brain was mounted and it had a fuse in it... great, if that fuse blew, someone would have had a heck of a time finding it because it had been moved. Looks like the installer removed it from it's mounting and stuffed it out of sight so he could mount the "alarm".

So, the ugly and useless parasite has been removed, and all is well.


09-22-2014, 09:28 PM
I hate taps.

Good for you for removing the parasite!

09-30-2014, 05:11 PM
...Well, more research and my dismantling of the small gadget that had a button and should have had an LED in it led me to determine this is a KARR alarm, and what it is REALLY for is that the dealers can use a single key fob to unlock ALL cars so equipped...

The same device is installed on our 500e by KARR. The dealer tried to sell us the "security system already installed" but since you can track the car with the FIAT iPhone app we declined and they deactivated it. ( still left the KARR sticker on the window)
I would like to remove it also. ( don't want some else to access to my car.) Can a novice do this or does one have ot take the dash apart ?

09-30-2014, 08:35 PM
In many cases, these "Alarms" are in reality designed for repo men to be able to disable the car if you haven't made your payments. If you have to go through last resort financing, many times the lender will require the dealer install tracking/disabler on the vehicle. They won't tell you, and often it is done during the final detailing before delivery. Dealers sometimes simply install it on all of their cars, often in conjunction with an "alarm" package.

You really do want to take it off.

Greg Elmassian
09-30-2014, 09:33 PM
That's the reason I detailed where the connections were... I did all the work by popping off the panel on the left side of the knee airbag, and unscrewing the 2 screws and parting the 2 plastic trim pieces on the steering column.

Take care, don't force anything and you can do it yourself.


09-30-2014, 09:44 PM
Everytime I have seen the word Karr this comes to mind...

01-26-2017, 01:51 AM
I bought a used 2013 500e for a pretty good price at a 1.5 starred Yelp! used car lot. They install the same device on all their cars and have you pay the $695 fee for it (I'm sure they get a kickback). This infuriates a number of customers as the device plus numerous fees adds to the bottomline. I decided to just buy the car because I was still getting it for below market price and I was able to get them to come down $600. The whole negotiation took less than 30 seconds.

Should I be concerned that this device might be a parasitic draw on the 12V battery, or is it just benign with the only real offense being a mess of wires?