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Auto Theft Prevention/MaxiGuard Alarm on 84 Corvette


I recently took my car out of storage and reconnected the battery.  When I turned the key, I got lights and radio but nothing from the starter.  There is a sticker on the window that says MaxiGuard Vehicle Security but I don't know if that was standard on this model or an aftermarket.  After searching the internet, I tried a number of things like turning the key in the door a few times.  Ultimately the car started but this issue keeps recurring - never happened over the last 2 years.  I don't have a valet switch.  Is there a way to reset the security or ultimately disable it?  I assume I need to learn that before looking for a different aftermarket option.  The 84 Corvette was equipped with an anti-theft system but not with a chip in the key.  Any help is greatly appreciated!  Thanks, jay

Hello Jay,

I miss Wisconsin this time of year until the end of October, but had to get out of that cold Wisconsin winter season to move to Texas and also save myself a tone of money with no corporate or income tax that I paid as a life long resident of Wisconsin.

About your car: Maxigard is an after market alarm system that was bough out by Directed Electronics in the 90's.

The only factory anti theft that may have been installed on the Vette may have been a factory alarm which is obviously severely outdated if so equipped.

Do not feel all fuzzy and warm about the factory security installed in that steering column with the locking steering wheel. We grossed millions of dollars because of this inferior design steering column they used for 30 years. The ignition lock in the column is secured with a screw to prevent a dent puller from forcing the ignition lock out of the steering column. The issue there is the ignition lock is sloppy in tolerances. Many 6 cut ignition keys will operate it, the lock is easily force rotated and when this ignition lock gets some useage, the lock can rotate without the use of the key.

Of course that is one issue and any teenager learns in reform school how to break the left side of the steering column in less than 30 seconds with a screwdriver to access all the steering column locking mechanisms including the ignition actuator rod, unlocking the steering wheel and the ability to shift the transmission all without even touching the ignition lock!

We rebuilt over 10,000 of these GM Saginaw steering columns because of this damage. Courtesy of GM this is what made our theft recovery business in Milwaukee thrive for 20 years.

There is another very common problem with this steering column especially with Corvettes, Fieros and trucks, and that is where the column was used to support one's weight getting in and out of the vehicle. The steering column would become loose. Since this column was pretty much taken out of service by 1999 in the Cadillacs, very few know the art of disassembly and reassembly which is required to repair this problem for good. We still rebuild these steering columns if you run into fellow Vette owners having this issue.

Please do not think I am knocking your car, I am not. I am just stating what I know to be fact from 2 decades of experience with this steering column.

You state there is no valet switch. Possibly all there is, is just the maxi gard sticker. These usually came with a lighted toggle commonly mounted under the dash.
To put this alarm in the valet mode would require the key to be on not running and the switch to be flipped. The red led would stay on steady and would be in the valet position there by disengaging the alarm. If you alarm was triggered, not only would the engine not crank, but the parking lights would flash and the siren would sound. If none of these events is happening, I wonder if the alarm is still in there.

In that era, there were all sorts of gadgets installed. Kill switches known under different names like Star gard and others being mounted under the dash and having a flat "Computer" key that fit into a socket under the dash. Of course in place of this security key, inserting a quarter into the socket had the same effect. Some of these after market starter kills were elaborate, working with the lighter and other innovative ideas.

Since we have no clue as to what your issue is at the moment, what is required is to remove the dash components under the steering column. Looking under the dash with a light, you will look up to the top of the steering column. There will be your electrical ignition switch there with two harnesses. You will trace the yellow as well as the purple wire downward looking for the wire being cut and spliced branching off to a switch or an alarm module. The reason I tell you yellow and purple is because GM ran either for the start circuit and this covers either one. They are 12 g. If  you see where something is spliced, you may want to cut the wire and install a new one an inch or two long to make sure your connection there is good.

That may be your only problem and you are good to go. You could however have a bad starter. To check that, it is easy. When acting up, place a testlight on the purple wire at the starter. Have someone try to crank the engine. If the test light lights and the engine doesn't crank, you need a starter.

If under the same conditions and test light does not illuminate, you have a wiring problem or bad electrical ignition switch (not to be confused with the mechanical ignition key/lock cylinder).

This can be checked by using the test light on the wiring coming out of the ignition switch under the dash on top of the steering column at the purple or yellow wire, while someone is turning the key in the start position.

Sitting in storage is no good for a car. Grounds go bad, especially if someone drove the car in the winter with that damn road salt. Corvettes do by design have ground issues and you may want to follow the negative battery cable down to the frame, disconnect the bolt, make sure the frame is shiny bare metal and tighten the bolt back down.

This could also be a neutral switch issue. This too is under the dash at the top of the steering column close to the fire wall. If you have power from the ignition switch, but not out of the neutral switch, that is your issue.

That should pretty much cover you.

If equipped with an optional factory alarm, resetting is what is done through the door lock, but then again if working and engaged, the headlights would flash and the horn would sound until the battery is dead (Short sightedness on the GM engineers part).

In essence, just because you see the maxi gard sticker, does not mean the unit is in the vehicle.

As for an updated alarm: I would recommend Crime stopper. They have a website and have been around since the late 70s. Almost all other alarm manufacturers were bought out by Directed, the makers of Viper. The owner of Directed (DEI) is seen n TV constantly as a congressman from California Daryl Issa.

Crime Stopper to my knowledge did not get swallowed up by DEI. They have paging systems that will notify you if someone is breaking into the vehicle and you can put a starter interrupt in as well.

You cannot count on anyone else to call the cops f they even want to pay attention to your alarm. The public is desensitized to false alarms and because of budget cuts, car theft IS NOT a priority! Milwaukee takes theft reports over the phone and don't even come out. They have been that way since the early 90s.

If you have any other questions, let me know.

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Rob Painter, ASE, CFL, CFEI


My background in auto theft is extensive. I have been directly involved in the repair of over 10,000 theft recovered vehicles. I also do insurance investigation as to how a vehicle was last operated. My clients are insurance companies and attorneys. Was featured in the A & E auto theft documentary "Stealing Wheels" July 26, 2000. Has consulted with Daimler Chrysler steering column engineers to make their steering columns harder to defeat. Holds patent # 6,039,140 for 8 different variations to protect air bags from theft.


ROB PAINTER, ASE, CFL, CFEI Forensic Vehicle Component Analyst Diplomate, Board Certified Forensic Examiner ASE Certified Auto, Collision, Med/Hvy/Duty Truck Technician Certified Forensic Locksmith Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator Certified Vehicle Fire Investigator Certified Forensic Auto Theft Examiner Certified Auto Theft and Fraud Expert P.O. Box 190 Big Bend, WI 53103 Phone (414) 698-9696 Fax (262) 662-1352 As per federal court rules of evidence (702) (Daubert) my testimony has qualified me as: Auto Theft and Fraud Expert Forensic Vehicle Analyst Fire Origin and Cause Expert In the trial transcript of Holiday vs Progressive Insurance Company (March 12, 2002?Eugene, Oregon) with Holiday being my client-named ?the expert for experts.? BUSINESS EXPERIENCE Founder of the ?Forensic Institute of Auto Theft Analysis? (January 2002). This is the training school that will set the standards in determining the last operation of a reported stolen vehicle-burned or unburned. Much of my testing and procedures have been accepted as the guide for the forensic community. 1986 opened Auto Recovery Specialists Inc., providing exclusive repair of theft recovered and vandalized vehicles. The initial concept of the business was to return vehicles to their original shape before the theft, vandalism or fire. In 1987 bought the rights to the theft deterrent known as the ?Chicago Collar?. Duties include complete component replacement: dash, stereo system, interior, locks and coding, rebuilding steering columns, repairing and installing vehicle security system components (factory and after market), engine components, body repair, glass replacement, repair and service of air conditioning components, brake and suspension repair, and replacement, wiring harnesses etc. to return vehicle to pre-theft condition Complete reconstruction. During the past 17 years directly involved in the repair of over 10,000 theft-recovered and fire damaged Personally examined and rebuilt thousands of steering columns on both import and domestic vehicles Internationally acknowledged as expert in auto theft including court, consulting with insurance companies, attorneys and law enforcement. Consultant on steering columns, locks, stereo systems and vehicle security for Special Investigation Units for many large insurance carriers during the past eight years. Consulting services include but not limited to: How a vehicle was last operated (with or without keys in burned or unburned vehicles), Origin and Cause of vehicle fires, and vehicle defects. Provides services as a consultant and researcher to attorneys and insurance companies, and private industry throughout the US in cases related to vehicles. Has worked with crime prevention officers throughout the US establishing training programs designed to protect the public from becoming victims of auto theft. PATENT: 3/21/00 issued patent# 6,039,140 for 8 different variations of airbag anti-theft devices. PUBLICATIONS Currently authors articles and test reports on an ongoing basis for SIUs and the forensic/vehicle fire industry. Published author: (1,297 slide training course) Auto Theft/ Fraud Training Course) ?The Modern Forensic Approach to Auto Theft Investigation.? (January, 2001) Author: ?Variables to Be Considered In Vehicle Fire Investigation after Suppression.? (Insurance publication-November 2001) Author: ?Ford Magnesium Steering Columns and the Results to Ignition Components after a Fire?. Article for peer review from the fire and forensic community. (November 2001) Author: ?The Truth About GM VATS.? (Article) (November 2001) Author: ?The Truth About GM PASSLOCK TM? (Article) (November 2001) Author:? Auto Theft Investigation: Hollywood vs. Reality? (Article) (February 2001) For the John Cooke Fraud Report. Published author: (Manual) ?Forensic Vehicle Fire/ Arson and Auto Theft Investigation? (October 2000) Published author: (Article) ?Petty Claims? for the John Cooke Fraud Report (October, 1998) Published author (Manual) ?AUTO THEFT: LET THE TRUTH BE KNOWN!? (1998) (Previously distributed by Barnes & Nobel) Co-authored the investigation manual, ?Surreptitious Entry & Auto Theft & Burn & the Investigator.? (1999) Authored test questions on the subject of steering columns and vehicle security for CFL designation to be given by the International Association of Investigative Locksmiths. January, 2000 Published author: (Manual) ?Saginaw Steering Columns-What Has Not Been Told? Training manual for fire investigators. (March 2000) Published (Article) ?Beyond The Lock? (May 2000) Published Author: (Article) Fraud Defense Network-August, 2000 Edition-?Melting Steering Column Tests.? Published author: (Test Report) ?Burned Toyota Steering Column Testing to Determine How Last Operated?. Tool marks and procedures. (December 1999) Currently at the FBI Crime Lab in Washington DC and the US Army Crime Lab in Atlanta, GA for peer review. ACCOMPLISHMENTS Defeated the ?unstealable? Ford Securilock transponder system for a court case 10/10/00. They said it could not be done! Primary designer of a state of the art ?bait? car for a police department to catch car thieves. Worked with The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration and discovered a potential fire hazard on a vehicle and determined origin and cause of under hood fires on this type of vehicle. Featured as ?Auto Theft Expert? in the A & E auto theft documentary ?Stealing Wheels? that aired July 26, 2000. Contacted by Sears and Edelman Marketing to be a national spokesman for an anti theft device for vehicles. (November 1999) Invited to provide evaluation and consulting to steering column engineers at Daimler Chrysler Corporation in Auburn Hills, MI (10/19/99-10/22/99). The purpose of this project was to demonstrate how steering column locking mechanisms could be defeated without the use of a key and how to reinforce the columns against theft. Court Qualified as an Auto Theft Expert and my videos of defeating columns were also accepted by a Cleveland, Ohio Court in October 1999 as a valid piece of evidence. Contacted by Disney Touchstone Pictures for technical assistance in making the movie ?Gone in 60 Seconds? (March 1999) CONSULTANT FOR FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS ? Former contributor for The Insurance News Network (Auto theft and prevention) includes heading a forum for the public on how to protect their vehicles for 3+ years. ? Former editor and consultant for the public on matters involving auto theft and prevention 2000-2001 on the web at ? The Insurance Career Center (Auto theft and fraud). ? National Association of Investigative Specialists (Auto theft and fraud) ? Expert Find (Auto theft and fraud} TECHNICAL EXPERIENCE ? ASE (National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence) Certified in Auto: brakes, steering and suspension, engine repair, manual drive train and axles, air conditioning. Med/Heavy duty truck: gasoline engine repair, electrical/electronic components. Collision: elec.....

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