Nov 5, 2014

Aftermarket Stuff Sucks Everywhere

The one and only problem I’ve had, so far, with my new-to-me Nissan Frontier pickup is the aftermarket (Viper) “security system.” From the start, the damn thing has been a glitch-factory. Why anyone would fuck up perfectly good remote control doors and a factory alarm system with some goofy crap that might or might not provide the basic functions totally loses me. Of course, I have the same mental block with aftermarket crap on motorcycles. Because only one of the Viper’s remote controls appeared to be sync’d with the system, I crawled around under the dash until I found the “valet” button and turned the system off. Once that was accomplished, the pickup seemed to be pretty normal.

After going over the pickup, cleaning, inspecting, and sorting out what a maintenance process might be, I noticed the Viper’s “siren” had been left dangling in the engine compartment. Not being a fan of loose ends, I found a place to ground the thing and bolt it solidly to the chassis and discovered the system re-initialized itself once the siren was grounded. I had errands to do, so I didn’t worry about it for the moment. On the highway, I discovered the door locks now randomly cycled with the vehicle’s speed. As I found when I first got the pickup, if I stalled the truck (still getting used to the manual transmission), I had to do a routine with the key to get the truck to restart. Back under the dash and once again with the “valet” bullshit. With the Viper crap out of the system, the pickup is back to normal.

I mentioned this to a friend who worked for a company that specialized in hotrodding electronics for diesel trucks and he said, “One of the techs for [his old employer] told me the first thing he always asks his customers when they complain about electronic problems is ‘Did you install a security system?’” If they did, his first suggestion was that they remove the damn security system, then try troubleshooting the truck if there was still a problem. Usually, he claimed that solved the electrical/electronic problems; everything from hard starting to fuel mapping to malfunctioning automatic transmission programming and the usual immobilizer and door lock problems.

Supposedly, it should be easy to pull this damn Viper system, but I’m between houses, garages, and test equipment and tools. I might have to live with no electronic door keys for a winter. It’s too cold to crawl around under the dash reconnecting wires and testing the results and my new garage will even be colder for a season. Once again, it proves my rule for everything from noisy exhaust systems to air-box modifications to Power Commanders: for every dollar spent on aftermarket crap I take two dollars off of my resale offer over what the stock motorcycle might be worth. You’re buying that crap on your own dime because I’m going to be pulling it off and tossing it or selling it. Shade tree mechanics are not nearly as often catastrophic as shade tree “engineers.” When some math-impaired fruitcake with a set of cheap wrenches thinks he can re-engineer a Yamaha, Husky, Honda, KTM, BMW, Suzuki, or Kawasaki to perform better than those companies’ engineers, I’m skeptical, at best. Harley, Polaris, Ducati, or Indian might be a different matter.

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