Remote Start/Keyless Entry

This is a very basic remote start/keyless entry install. I cannot cover every possible situation in this how-to. Anyone that has a general knowledge of automobile electronics should be able to perform this install. I am a competent installer but I am not responsible for damage you cause resulting from this how-to. If you do not believe you can do this yourself then pay someone to do it for you. That is a better way then to end up with a burnt hunk of metal. If you need help with this then contact me by AIM, Razberry Eater.

I will list the tools you will most commonly need. If you do not have these things then go get them before you attempt this install.
1. Volt/ohm meter. For the love of God, do not use a test light. I don’t care what dad/grandpa/mechanic/baby-sitter told you.
2. Set of sockets and screwdrivers.
3. Really good electrical tape. The 3M tape is great. You want tape that is soft and flexible. You do not want tape that is brittle and hard. If you can’t afford good tape then did you steal the remote starter?
4. Some 16-14 gauge wire is handy for when the wire from the harness is not long enough.
5. Wire strippers, crimpers, cutters. You can usually get them all in one handy tool.
6. Zip ties (wire ties).
7. Quick wire splices. I use the ones that go over the wire then you put the wire you want to splice in then crimp them down with pliers. Here is a picture of them.

They are the red connectors in this picture. You will need blue ones (16-14 gauge) and red ones (22-18 gauge). You will see in the pictures during the install which ones I used.
8. Set of channel locks or wire pliers. Channel locks work best for me.
9. Drill with a set of good drill bits.
10. A good work light. It is dark under the dash.
11. A screw that fits into the ring terminal for the ground wire of the unit. You will use this to ground the wire to the frame of the car.
12. Sharp knife or razor for cutting insulation off of wires.

You will read a bit about negative (-) and positive (+) triggers during this how-to. When you test something for a + trigger you will see 12 volts when the component or switch is operated. i.e., the parking lights are a + system. They see 12 volts when you turn the switch on. When you test for a - trigger you will see 12 volts when the component is not being operated and zero volts when it is. i.e., the door pin in the ZX2 is a negative trigger. When the door is closed, the switch will read 12 volts. With the door open the switch will test for zero volts or ground. This is usually a wire that grounds a relay to operate a device.

Now I will show you how to splice into the larger ignition wires. You do not want to cut these wires in half. You will kick yourself for it. The method I use involves making two cuts about 1.5" across the wire, just deep enough to get through the insulation. Then make a cut along the wire going from one cut to the other. You should now be able to take that 1.5" section off of the wire and expose the conductor. It will look like this.

Now you will use the test probe from your volt/ohm meter to split the conductor in half and insert the wire you wish to splice. Then wrap the wire around the conductor and tape it up.

Run wires along the stock harness when possible. Make certain they cannot be kicked by accident.

It is a good idea to have a spare car handy incase you need to go get parts. Also, roll the windows down to avoid locking the keys in the vehicle. Make certain the light you have has good batteries (if you are not using a 115-volt light) or that you have spares handy.
You will have to leave the battery connected during the install. You have to be able to test the wires to make certain you have the right ones. Just remember to not cross wires or leave wires exposed. Be sure you have a good idea of the location of the wires you need and the color of the wires. If you need wire colors, email me and I will try to find them for you. I am including wire colors for the ZX2 below. It may be helpful to print this up and take it with you to do the install. Now do an inventory of the unit you bought and make certain it came with everything. The remoter starter and/or keyless entry are referred to as the ‘unit’. The wires coming from the unit are part of the ‘harness’. Unless I specify the vehicle harness you can take it as the harness from the unit. When I say 12 volts, I mean battery voltage. Not all batteries make exactly 12 volts. So long as it is in that range, 11-13 volts, it is good. I will refer to it as 12 volts because it is faster and easier then typing out ‘battery voltage’.

These are the wire colors for the Escort ZX2. These are the most common colors. I say this because Ford likes to change them between model years just to piss you off. The victim for this install is my wife’s 1998 Escort ZX2. It is a manual transmission vehicle. The wires we connect in this how-to work for the MTX and ATX ZX2`s. The only exception being the tach wire (you can use it in ATX for more accurate starting if you want, but it is required for MTX) and the start wire that goes to the clutch switch. The ATX will use the start wire that goes to the harness on the steering column. The unit used in this how-to is a manual transmission safe model sold by Designtech-Intl. They were bought by Directed Electronics and no longer offer this model. You can find MTX safe models at a local car electronics shop or Ebay.

Start: For MTX red/white coming from the clutch switch. For ATX it is the red/white wire on the steering column. It will test for 12 volts only when the key is turned to start and the clutch is pushed in.
Ignition 1: Blue. This wire powers the things required to run the vehicle like the fuel pump and PCM. It will test for 12 volts when the key is in the start and run positions only.
Ignition 2: Black/red. This wire powers things not required to run the car, like the A/C and rear defrost. It tests for 12 volts when the key is in the run position only. Some vehicles it will test for 12 volts just like the ignition 1 wire does.
Accessory wire: Black/white wire. This wire powers up things like the stereo and cigarette lighter. It tests for 12 volts when the key is in the Acc. and run positions.
Brake wire: Green. This wire activates the brake lights. You can find it on the brake switch and test for 12 volts when the brake pedal is pushed down.
Tach wire: Light green/red at PCM, red/ light blue or blue/ light green at the coil. To test for this wire set your volt/ohm meter to the 20 volt ac scale. Ground the red test probe and use the black test probe to test the wire. The wire will read a low voltage at idle. The voltage will increase as the engine speed increases. This wire is required for most MTX units but is an option for ATX.
Parking Lights: Red/black. This wire shows 12 volts when the parking lights are on and zero when they are off. You can find this wire in the relay cluster or in the green connector below the cabin fuse box.
Door Pin wire: Red/white. This is a - triggered wire. It sees 12 volts with the door closed and zero volts with the door open. This wire is usually used as an alarm input or to turn on the dome light. For the MTX unit I used it is required to be connected.
Lock wire: Grey. This wire is a - trigger wire. Located in the passenger kick panel in the same harness as the unlock and trunk wires.
Unlock wire: Blue. This is a - triggered wire. Located in the passenger kick panel with the lock and trunk wires.
Trunk release wire: Green/black wire. This is a - triggered wire. Located in the passenger kick panel with the lock/unlock wires.
Horn wire: Green/orange. This is a - triggered wire. Located on the steering column.

Hook the ground wire for the unit up first. This way you will have a good ground for your meter when you test wires. Drill a hole in the body/frame of the interior. Try to avoid using the dash/bracing. It is not a very reliable ground. Drill the hole just big enough for the screw you are using through the ring terminal. The screw should fit tight.

Keyless Entry
First we will discuss how to install the keyless entry incase that is all you are installing.
A. Locate the wires that operate the locks and trunk. The wires for the ZX2 are all in one place. Remove the kick panels from the passenger and drivers side. Also, remove the center console(MTX only). The wires are located in the passenger kick panel. Wire up the harness and run the wires behind the console (stereo and PCM) to the drivers side. You may have to use some wire to extend the units’ harness wires.

B. Keyless entry units generally require input from the ignition 1 wire. If so, then wire it up now. If you are installing a remote start, you must do this also. Remember to use the splice method described above for the best connection without using solder.

C. Keyless entry also requires power. Most keyless entry units can be powered from a constant 12 volt source under the dash of the car. Read the manufacturers recommendations for power. All remote start units should be powered directly from the battery, no matter what the manufacturer says. Drill a hole, or locate a grommet, for the power wire. All the ATX guys get lucky here because most cars have a plug where a clutch would be if it were MTX. I just drilled a hole. Make the hole is plenty big. If you can find a grommet to stick in that would be great. I just wrap tape around all the wires and stab them into the hole. With enough tape, they won’t go anywhere. You can also put a hole in the grommet that the PCM wires use through the firewall. You can use a razor to cut a slit for new wires. This is located in the firewall (of course) on the passenger side between the door and console.

If you connect it to the battery, you may have to splice the fuse holder in. Some of them come with a butt connector. However you splice it, if you need to splice, make sure you tape it up really good and put the fuse holder as close to the battery as possible. Do not put the fuse in the holder at this point.

D. Another connection typically shared by keyless entry and remote start is the door pin wire. If the keyless entry came with alarm, this wire will trigger the alarm when the door is open. The remote start for MTX requires this connection for part of the safety method. Connect this wire to the door pin wire. The ZX2 is a - triggered system.

E. The horn wire is another one that is used by both remote start and keyless entry units. It is used to confirm lock/unlock and/or start. It also activates the horn when the alarm is triggered. Connect this wire to the corresponding wire in the harness. Most horns are - triggered.

F. Guess what, another typically shared wire. The parking lights. Most are + systems. The ZX2 is. Connect this wire now. I connected mine in the relay harness. It is easier to reach.

If you have not read the keyless entry portion of this how-to, you may want to do so. Most of these wires are shared.
Now that we have that keyless entry out of the way we can get down to business
A. Let’s wire up the start wire. If you are MTX, you can just wire this to the switched side of the clutch switch. Most clutch switches are just interrupt switches that close when you push the clutch in. The ZX2 is this way. Refer to the wire color chart above for the wire color. If you are putting this into an ATX then use the start wire on the column. The picture below is for MTX vehicles since that is what I installed it into.

B. Now wire up your Ignition 2 and Accessory wires. Read the wire chart to determine the behavior and location of these wires. In the ZX2 they are on the steering column.

C. Now time for the brake wire. This wire shows 12 volts when the brake is applied. You can find this wire on the brake switch above the pedal.

D. Let’s hook up the tach wire now. Determine where you want to connect it. I put mine under the hood because I could not find a good signal at the PCM.

E. Now you need to mount the hood pin switch. Select a location that allows you to reach to bottom of the switch to put the wire on. It needs to allow enough travel so the switch doesn’t break with the hood closed and needs to be adjusted so it won’t put a dent in the hood. Drill a hole or use an existing hole. Just be certain of what is on the other side of the hole. Test the pin for operation before you continue. After everything is all fine a dandy, you might want to put some silicone around the hole so it does not rust.

F. If your unit is so equipped, you need to mount the LED in a visible place. You also need to mount the on/off switch within easy reach of the driver. This is how mine looked when I was done.

E. MTX units require an input from the e-brake. So, just hook this wire into the only wire that comes off the e-brake.

The remote start unit I used required that I teach it the tach rate of the vehicle. I can say with some degree of certainty that the ZX2 does not want anything to know the tach rate. I had to try many times to teach it to the unit. And when if finally worked, it didn’t do it right. So, it didn’t learn the way it said it would but it still works. This was the most frustrating part of the install. But, it is done now.

Take this chance to program the unit to user options. Then use wire ties to hold all the wires up. Make sure you can turn the steering wheel without binding up any wires. Any wires under the hood need to be kept away from hot and moving parts. Clean up your mess and try it out. I hope this how-to was of some assistance and maybe you gained some insight on the operation of the vehicle electrical system. Good Luck!

Wrote by: Brad Kirby (ZX2Fast) March 29, 2004
If you wish to use part or all of this please ask my permission first. You can use the pictures freely but not the text. Email me if you want to use the text.

Very nice Brad. I am happy to see you posted this up and helping us out with it.