I recently had a new alternator fitted, and now my car radio has been locked and is asking me to enter the code. The service technician told me that this was due to the fact that the battery was disconnected. He also said the radio’s code should be included in my owners manual (it’s there but it’s). Where can I locate the code? Why would the manufacturer come up with such an irritating function in the first location? Jan in Fredericton
While they’re not as common on modern vehicles the radio codes (a.k.a. security or anti-theft codes) were created to prevent thieves from stealing a car’s audio system.
There was a period – think back to the former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s first term in the Oval Office – when car stereos were a hot item.
Recent statistics indicate that the thief could be attracted by the look of a pen or change that is left within your automobile. For instance, in the United States, FBI reports show that theft of car stereos dropped by more than 50 percent between 1994 and 2009. The market for affordable stereos has been aplenty on the market, and the overall performance of the factory units has significantly increased. The faceplates that are removable in a number of models also assist in preventing theft.
Going back to the 1990s at the peak of audio theft era the manufacturers decided that having a distinctive code could be used to stop thieves from stealing and the feature was incorporated into a number of models. When the unit is disconnected from its source of power, these stereos are put into lockdown mode and aren’t able to be operated until the right number is entered. This way, anyone who steals the device is prevented from operating it, without having the correct code.
Since the radio cannot tell whether it was taken or just disconnected from the battery to allow for maintenance (this was the situation when your alternator was in place) the radio is now requiring you to enter the code.
As the owner of your vehicle You should be able to have this three-to five-digit code in your head or stored somewhere. It’s in the package for new owners of the vehicle. If you bought a second-hand vehicle, it is recommended that the code was handed down by the owner who originally owned it. If it’s gone missing or lost and the registered owner of the car is able to get it returned. The only downside is that it could cost you that you’ll need take your vehicle into the garage.
If you own the stereo that came with your vehicle then you’ll have to go to your dealer so that the serial number is identified and confirmed that you are the registered driver of your vehicle. The service department then can search for the serial number. If you’re lucky, it will be free of charge but you’ll need to pay a small cost.
If you’re using an aftermarket model then you’ll need to get in touch with the company that makes the stereo. “So long that it’s a genuine model that’s been bought properly The customer must call us directly, and we’ll be able to direct them to the right place to get the unit repaired promptly, “says Francisco Lacey of Kenwood Electronics Canada.
“They must either go in the Kenwood dealer from where it was purchased, or to an authorized service centre, where the unit will receive reset master lock. The unit isn’t required to be taken out, it’s able to stay in the vehicle.”
The process isn’t very long, according to Lacey and is typically with a quarter-hour labor fee. Based on the shop the cost is usually between $20 and $25. It is interesting to note that 2012 was the first year in which the function of coding has been eliminated from Kenwood units that come with an easily detachable face for security feature.
When you have the code, be sure that you record it in a notebook or even put it in a hidden spot in your car, such as underneath the car’s carpet, or under floor mats.
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