Installing a Steel Mate 386M Keyless Entry Central Locking kit

One day while attempting to climb into my Soarer for the commute to work, the lock refused to work. It jammed up more than your local freeway when a zombie outbreak occurs. This gave me a couple of options of course (after a week of climbing through the passenger door to drive anywhere)…and eventually a long hot afternoon of swearing at poorly written instructions in a central locking kit..

The original plan was to remove the handle, free the lock and see what was going on. However that caused no end of hilarity frustration as three separate home mechanics completely failed to make any headway through the tight confines of the Soarer door. The jammed lock was there to stay.

After considering things like setting it on fire, I came to the realisation that a far more practical way of getting in would be to install keyless entry and bypass the entire lock entirely. And so a quick visit to the nearest electronics shop netted me the Steel Mate 386M which looked like thus:

Steel Mate 386m

(With the Soarer already having a lock system that locked both doors with the turn of a key, I elected to get the Steel Mate 386M kit which includes two key fobs, the receiver, tonnes of wires but no actuators because the car already comes with it. Buying a kit with actuators would be a complete waste of time as I could already use the factory units.)

Unfortunately this kit that has no actuators comes with instructions on how to wire them up to the actuators that aren’t actually part of this kit. And that’s all the instructions you get:

Steel mate 386mYes if you’re tapping into pre-existing central locking wires (and there’s only two of them in the Soarer driver door) then this guide is complete rubbish and not worth consulting as it doesn’t explain which ones you’ll need for positive and which ones for negative wires. The 12V power and the black ground wire is the easy part (the receiver I installed in the drivers foot well so I tapped into a couple of stereo wires that were nearby) but the only way I got anything to work was to twist certain colours together and pray like hell.

After trial and error, I think it was blue and brown and white and green… Or maybe it was white by itself on one and black and green together on the other…(It’s been a while and since I wanted to rip it out after a while and stomp on it repeatedly for lack of instruction). But I did get it working…eventually. The wiring didn’t look pretty…but it did was it was supposed to, provided the tiny room soldering job held (a couple of times it broke).

Gah, never again.

Steel Mate 386M Central Locking Kit

PROS:

-It was cheap. $50 to eliminate the ‘I have to open the other door and climb over the passenger seat just to drive’ problem.

-The box did look nice.

CONS:

-The wiring diagram is beyond useless when tapping into exiting units.

-You might end up spending an hour or two attempting to work out which wire you need to connect to and stumble over the answer completely randomly. A multimeter might have helped (didn’t have one at the time)

-If installing in a coupe, you’re going to have a tonne of wire left over.

-It eliminated the auto lock feature that locked the doors once the speed went over 22KPH.

SCORE: 2/5

With decent instructions that actually went to on to explain the product you bought rather than the next kit up, this could be okay. If you had someone who had done this before, this could be okay. I had neither and spent a lot of time swearing at it. Most of the time it worked while I still had the Soarer.

POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES: 

Sadly the poorly written instructions don’t stop with the Steel Mate, there’s a few on the cheaper side of things like the E Support Car Universal Remote Control Central Door Lock Kit Locking Keyless Entry System where someone wrote: Not easy to hook up. Wiring diagram is incorrect. I had to use an ohm meter to figure out what each wire did.

The Universal Car Remote Central Kit Keyless Entry System with Remote Controllers 8113 shares the same flaw: Product works as advertised, though like the other reviewers have stated, that documentation is poor. See previous reviews for explanation of the mysterious first 6 wires coming out of this unit, as the individual functions of each are not given in the included manual.

However the DS18 RC-CLS2 Red Cobra Central Lock 2 Door System is cheap and has a couple of good reviews so far, so you might try your luck there.

Remember if you’re not too friendly with car wiring, consult your nearest auto electrician. They might have even better options for keyless entry and central locking.

If you’ve got any easy to install, well written instruction keyless entry/central locking kit suggestions, let us know below!

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