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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi All-
I just completed the installation of a remote starter on my 2001 Xterra SE. This is the first time I’ve installed a remote starter. There were a few lessons learned, and I thought I’d pass on the knowledge to save someone some time and headaches. Keep in mind this applies to the 2001 X, but I suspect it would apply to any gen1 X.

My remote starter is a Bulldog Deluxe 500. It is ok, I guess – it provides feedback to the remote letting me know if the vehicle actually started. It’s not the highest of quality, but it was cheap. I got it for $45 on craigslist.

Anyhow, my notes:

General Wiring
First and foremost, this is a fairly easy to install a remote start on the X, if you know what you are getting into. All of the wires are located on the drivers side, under the dash. You don’t have to remove much to get at the wiring. You’ll be tapping into the wire harness coming from the steering column, and the wires that plug into the Smart Entrance Control Unit (referred to as a SECU within this write up). You’ll need to tap into a wire on the Transmission Control Unit if you want to wire up a tach wire (I did this, as I read it’s better than voltage detection).

Lock / Unlock
At first I wired my remote start to the lock / unlock circuits for the interior lock / unlock switch. I later learned that it was a mistake. You need to wire you lock / unlock wires to the lock / unlock wires that are connected to the exterior keyed lock for the drivers door. When you unlock the drivers door with your key (not the factory FOB, you actually put the key in the door lock and turn it), it mechanically unlocks the drivers door. If you unlock the drivers door a second time with the key, it unlocks all of the doors in the car. What is happening in the background is that when you lock / unlock the drivers door with the key, it closes a switch which is fed back into the SECU. Because this is a keyed lock, the SECU arms / disarms the factory alarm via the keyed lock signals.

So, originally I had wired my lock / unlock circuits to the interior door unlock switches. I ran into problems. Apparently if you shut off the X, get out, and don’t lock the doors, the factory alarm eventually automatically arms. Later, I’d return to my X and unlock it with the remote starter, which failed to disarm the alarm since it was wired to the interior switches. I’d open the door and the factory alarm would go off. Worse yet, I couldn’t figure out how in the heck to turn off the alarm. My remote start key FOB unlock wasn’t doing it. Putting the key in the ignition wasn’t doing it. Ultimately I figured out I could disarm it with the exterior keyed lock on the door. From this experience I learned that you have to wire your remote start lock / unlock to the door exterior keyed switches. The wires show up as YELLOW and YELLOW / RED at the SECU.

Another note about the lock / unlock circuits. As mentioned above, you have to turn the key in the lock cylinder twice to unlock all of the doors on the X. So, your remote start unlock circuit must pulse the unlock output twice in order to unlock the doors. Otherwise, you have to push the unlock button twice on your remote. This was a setting I could change on the Bulldog remote start.

Accessory Isolation Circuit
I had read in multiple places that “you might need to isolate your Accessory wire”. Might my butt. My experience was this: at first, I didn’t isolate the accessory wire. I remote started the vehicle with no problems. But, when I put the key in the ignition and turned it to the “ON” position (not the “START”, just to “ON”), the starter would grind. It was a very, very slight grind – more of a ping. However, if I turned the key slowly, it was a very definite grind. Yack. Problems.

The theory here is that the remote start is supplying power to the accessory line. The power feeds back into the ignition cylinder, and at some point while turning the key, the accessory line shorts to the start line and activates your starter. Not good.

Most people install a relay that breaks the accessory line from the ignition cylinder while in remote start mode. I did not do that. There are some really hacked up methods out there. Understand what they are telling you to do before following their directions. I question the validity of some of the circuits out there. I didn’t use them any of them….

Two Starter Wires
Our X has two starter wires, both powered by the keyed ignition cylinder. When you start the car, both wires are activated when you turn the key to the “START” position. One wire goes directly to the starter solenoid, the other goes the ECM (computer).

My remote starter only had one starter wire. Initially I just tied both the X starter wires together under the dash, and connected them to the remote start starter wire. There is some paranoia on the web about connecting the X starter wires together. People say “they separated them for a reason”. Yeah, I agree – because they go to different places! Personally, I don’t think it matters. If you look at the X wiring diagram, it clearly shows them connected together in the keyed ignition cylinder.

My remote starter was working fine with the starter wires connected together. But, I knew I needed to add a relay due to the accessory circuit problem. So, I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

What I did was this: I bought two SPDT relays. The coils of the relay are connected to the “IGNITION #2” output from my remote start. The normally closed inputs are connected to the keyed ignition cylinder start wire outputs, and the normally open inputs are tied to the remote starter’s start output. The output from the relays are connected to the starter solenoid and ECM. Basically, when my remote starter is activated, the relays connect the starter / ECM to the remote start wires, and when the remote starter is not activated, the starter / ECM are connected to the keyed ignition cylinder. Hard to write in words, if anyone wants d a diagram for this circuit, I’ll gladly draw it up. I’m 100% confident in my circuit, and have tested it to the kilt.

Anyhow, the above circuit resolves the accessory wire feedback “starter grind” problem. It separates the starter wires, so that they are not connected together under the dash. Also, when in remote start mode, I can turn the key to the “START” position and my starter will not grind. So, if you turn the key too far, this circuit will protect your starter.

Hood Pin
My kit came with a hood pin switch. You drill a hole in the metal above the grill and install the switch. When the hood is closed, the switch is grounded. If you open the hood when the remote starter is running the engine, the engine will shut off. Also, when the hood is open, the car will not remote start. This is a safety feature for when your X is being worked on.

Ok, the switch they gave me is junk. It worked 50% of the time. Save yourself some time and wire directly to the factory hood switch, which is conveniently wired to the SECU. Easy!

Defogger
Our X does not have a trunk / hatch release circuit. I wired the remote start “Open Trunk” output to the X rear window defogger switch input at the SECU. Now, when I press the “Open Trunk” button on my key FOB, the defogger activates (if the vehicle is remote started, of course). It’s identical to activating the defogger via the button on the dash. Nice! This assumes your "Open Trunk" output is a sinking output - meaning when it is enabled, it grounds the output wire, as opposed to an output that supplies voltage when enabled. The voltage when enabled outputs can still turn on the defogger, but a relay would be required...

Bypass Module
Our vehicle does NOT need a security bypass module. You do not have to surrender a key.

Tach Wire Color
Keep in mind that the tach wire color is different between the 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder models. Bulldog does not indicate this on their website (they may at some point, I wrote them).


Ok, I think that’s it. I’m fairly comfortable with the technical aspects of this project. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I’m always glad to help!
 

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A LOT of good info here - a remote starter is on my to do list, but a ways down the list. Good to know I have this to fall back on. Good write up!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, hopefully my write-up was clear.

I had some time to kill this morning, so I drew up my relay circuit. It assumes that you have an IGNITION #2 output on your remote starter. This circuit will stop the accessory grinding, and will keep you from grinding your starter if you accidentally turn the key to the "START" position while the motor is running under the remote start control.

Also keep in mind that you'll probably need a bundle of heavy gauge wire for the wires connected to the terminals 30, 87 and 87a (I used 10 gauge). You can use 18 gauge for the 85 and 86 connections. Also, the vehicle fuses the start circuit at 40 amps. So, I used 40 amp relays. I had to go to a car stereo shop to find the relays locally - SPDT 40 amp relays weren't readily available from the local auto parts stores.

Lots of crimping to do for this circuit....
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I did have one more anomaly with the remote start that has been bugging me.

I noticed that when I unlock the car with the remote and open the door, the door chime keeps sounding. It was like I had the key in the ignition. For a while I thought I had screwed up the wiring that detects when there is a key in the ignition. Then I figured it out...

There's an option on my remote start to turn on the parking lights for 30 seconds anytime you unlock the doors. So, the X is sounding the chime, letting you know that you forgot to turn off your parking lights. It's the same as shutting off the X without turning off the lights and opening a door.

I'm sure glad it isn't a wiring issue. It's a bit unnerving to tie into the wires at the back of the SECU.

Now my only problem is the low grade Bulldog unit. It's somewhat inconsistent - - - it's supposed to unlock the doors when you shut off the vehicle, and lock them when you start it. It's highly inconsistent. Sometimes it does it, other times not. I wrote Bulldog yesterday, no response so far. I've written and called them a few times during the install process (hey, I'm new to this!), and have either not got a response, got an incorrect response, or got a half assed answer. I'm NOT impressed with them, and their product seems more like a toy - - - although the 2-way communication with the remote is slick.

Alright, enough ranting. Next project is a hacked AUX input, and then valve cover gaskets. I just hope my RMS isn't leaking....
 

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Discussion Starter #10
On a positive note, my relay circuit works great. Zero starter grinding. I'm loving the remote start!
 

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Hi All-
I just completed the installation of a remote starter on my 2001 Xterra SE. This is the first time I’ve installed a remote starter. There were a few lessons learned, and I thought I’d pass on the knowledge to save someone some time and headaches. Keep in mind this applies to the 2001 X, but I suspect it would apply to any gen1 X.

My remote starter is a Bulldog Deluxe 500. It is ok, I guess – it provides feedback to the remote letting me know if the vehicle actually started. It’s not the highest of quality, but it was cheap. I got it for $45 on craigslist.

Anyhow, my notes:

General Wiring
First and foremost, this is a fairly easy to install a remote start on the X, if you know what you are getting into. All of the wires are located on the drivers side, under the dash. You don’t have to remove much to get at the wiring. You’ll be tapping into the wire harness coming from the steering column, and the wires that plug into the Smart Entrance Control Unit (referred to as a SECU within this write up). You’ll need to tap into a wire on the Transmission Control Unit if you want to wire up a tach wire (I did this, as I read it’s better than voltage detection).

Lock / Unlock
At first I wired my remote start to the lock / unlock circuits for the interior lock / unlock switch. I later learned that it was a mistake. You need to wire you lock / unlock wires to the lock / unlock wires that are connected to the exterior keyed lock for the drivers door. When you unlock the drivers door with your key (not the factory FOB, you actually put the key in the door lock and turn it), it mechanically unlocks the drivers door. If you unlock the drivers door a second time with the key, it unlocks all of the doors in the car. What is happening in the background is that when you lock / unlock the drivers door with the key, it closes a switch which is fed back into the SECU. Because this is a keyed lock, the SECU arms / disarms the factory alarm via the keyed lock signals.

So, originally I had wired my lock / unlock circuits to the interior door unlock switches. I ran into problems. Apparently if you shut off the X, get out, and don’t lock the doors, the factory alarm eventually automatically arms. Later, I’d return to my X and unlock it with the remote starter, which failed to disarm the alarm since it was wired to the interior switches. I’d open the door and the factory alarm would go off. Worse yet, I couldn’t figure out how in the heck to turn off the alarm. My remote start key FOB unlock wasn’t doing it. Putting the key in the ignition wasn’t doing it. Ultimately I figured out I could disarm it with the exterior keyed lock on the door. From this experience I learned that you have to wire your remote start lock / unlock to the door exterior keyed switches. The wires show up as YELLOW and YELLOW / RED at the SECU.

Another note about the lock / unlock circuits. As mentioned above, you have to turn the key in the lock cylinder twice to unlock all of the doors on the X. So, your remote start unlock circuit must pulse the unlock output twice in order to unlock the doors. Otherwise, you have to push the unlock button twice on your remote. This was a setting I could change on the Bulldog remote start.

Accessory Isolation Circuit
I had read in multiple places that “you might need to isolate your Accessory wire”. Might my butt. My experience was this: at first, I didn’t isolate the accessory wire. I remote started the vehicle with no problems. But, when I put the key in the ignition and turned it to the “ON” position (not the “START”, just to “ON”), the starter would grind. It was a very, very slight grind – more of a ping. However, if I turned the key slowly, it was a very definite grind. Yack. Problems.

The theory here is that the remote start is supplying power to the accessory line. The power feeds back into the ignition cylinder, and at some point while turning the key, the accessory line shorts to the start line and activates your starter. Not good.

Most people install a relay that breaks the accessory line from the ignition cylinder while in remote start mode. I did not do that. There are some really hacked up methods out there. Understand what they are telling you to do before following their directions. I question the validity of some of the circuits out there. I didn’t use them any of them….

Two Starter Wires
Our X has two starter wires, both powered by the keyed ignition cylinder. When you start the car, both wires are activated when you turn the key to the “START” position. One wire goes directly to the starter solenoid, the other goes the ECM (computer).

My remote starter only had one starter wire. Initially I just tied both the X starter wires together under the dash, and connected them to the remote start starter wire. There is some paranoia on the web about connecting the X starter wires together. People say “they separated them for a reason”. Yeah, I agree – because they go to different places! Personally, I don’t think it matters. If you look at the X wiring diagram, it clearly shows them connected together in the keyed ignition cylinder.

My remote starter was working fine with the starter wires connected together. But, I knew I needed to add a relay due to the accessory circuit problem. So, I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

What I did was this: I bought two SPDT relays. The coils of the relay are connected to the “IGNITION #2” output from my remote start. The normally closed inputs are connected to the keyed ignition cylinder start wire outputs, and the normally open inputs are tied to the remote starter’s start output. The output from the relays are connected to the starter solenoid and ECM. Basically, when my remote starter is activated, the relays connect the starter / ECM to the remote start wires, and when the remote starter is not activated, the starter / ECM are connected to the keyed ignition cylinder. Hard to write in words, if anyone wants d a diagram for this circuit, I’ll gladly draw it up. I’m 100% confident in my circuit, and have tested it to the kilt.

Anyhow, the above circuit resolves the accessory wire feedback “starter grind” problem. It separates the starter wires, so that they are not connected together under the dash. Also, when in remote start mode, I can turn the key to the “START” position and my starter will not grind. So, if you turn the key too far, this circuit will protect your starter.

Hood Pin
My kit came with a hood pin switch. You drill a hole in the metal above the grill and install the switch. When the hood is closed, the switch is grounded. If you open the hood when the remote starter is running the engine, the engine will shut off. Also, when the hood is open, the car will not remote start. This is a safety feature for when your X is being worked on.

Ok, the switch they gave me is junk. It worked 50% of the time. Save yourself some time and wire directly to the factory hood switch, which is conveniently wired to the SECU. Easy!

Defogger
Our X does not have a trunk / hatch release circuit. I wired the remote start “Open Trunk” output to the X rear window defogger switch input at the SECU. Now, when I press the “Open Trunk” button on my key FOB, the defogger activates (if the vehicle is remote started, of course). It’s identical to activating the defogger via the button on the dash. Nice! This assumes your "Open Trunk" output is a sinking output - meaning when it is enabled, it grounds the output wire, as opposed to an output that supplies voltage when enabled. The voltage when enabled outputs can still turn on the defogger, but a relay would be required...

Bypass Module
Our vehicle does NOT need a security bypass module. You do not have to surrender a key.

Tach Wire Color
Keep in mind that the tach wire color is different between the 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder models. Bulldog does not indicate this on their website (they may at some point, I wrote them).


Ok, I think that’s it. I’m fairly comfortable with the technical aspects of this project. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I’m always glad to help!
Just had a quick question about the wiring scheme. I currently have negative pulse to yellow red double pulse set. Positive single pulse to door lock and live 12v wire. I get nothing no unlock no lock nothing. What am I doing wrong here? I have 3 more wires to work with do we need a ground. Some infor would be great. Checking fuses now.
 

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Just had a quick question about the wiring scheme. I currently have negative pulse to yellow red double pulse set. Positive single pulse to door lock and live 12v wire. I get nothing no unlock no lock nothing. What am I doing wrong here? I have 3 more wires to work with do we need a ground. Some infor would be great. Checking fuses now.
Okay checked all the fuses and all are good. FYI the door key is not working. I turn twice and nothing. Think I might have a bad relay. The door lock switch and key button work fine. If I could locate the wires for the current security system would bee good I know the relay is in the SECU box.
 

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I'm just going to leave this here. If you need to test negative pulse you can convert it to positive for testing purposes. Use a relay 12v to convert it to positive to read on a volt meter. Here's a link
Saves a lot of headache.
 
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