Are Keyless Entry Cars At Greater Risk Of Theft?


The advantages and possible security risks.

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Technology is constantly making our lives easier, like the way keyless car entry allows you to open your car's door even when your arms are full of groceries. However, the more pampered we are, the more we let our guard down. Sadly, there are far too many people just waiting to take advantage of this and crime has evolved alongside security measures. Stolen car keys are no longer the only way for thieves to get into your car. They take advantage of technology in much the same way we do, only they pervert its purpose to harm rather than do good. So, if you are wondering if remotely accessing your vehicle makes you vulnerable, read on to see what you can do to minimize the risk.

Keyless entry car remote

How does Keyless Car Entry Work?

Nowadays, there are multiple forms of keyless car entry. Remote controls have been around for some time now, allowing you to unlock your vehicle from some distance away at the press of a button. This is one of the more common technologies, but it isn't truly hands-free. Recent advances have seen this updated to be more convenient, and is one of the best options to add to your vehicle when you buy.

Now, your car can detect when someone places their hand on the door handle. It then sends out a signal to search for the key fob. If it's in range, the fob receives the signal and transmits its access code. This tells the car to unlock the doors. In most cases, you have to be extremely close to the car for this to work. We elaborate on what exactly Keyless Entry is, here.

Many automakers have now developed special apps for their cars. These can be downloaded onto your mobile device and used to perform a number of functions. This means you can monitor the position and health of your vehicle, as well as unlock your car with your phone or sometimes even start it.

Car Key Fob
Car Door Handle with Keyless
Start the car with the key
Button for Start Engine

Are Keyless Cars Easier to Steal?

This is a loaded question. You'd think that any car with a remote car door opener would be easier to snatch, but you need to keep in mind that all modern cars have better security systems than they used to in the past. On top of this, keyless entry is often included as an advanced option, meaning that these cars already have a lot of extra safety and security features as standard to help stop thieves.

Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that there is definitely extra risk involved when using your keyless remote or another car unlocking device (such as your mobile phone) to unlock your car from a distance. Vehicles that include keyless ignition systems are even more at risk, since thieves that manage to overcome the locks have to do very little to get the car started.

With all that being said, here is a quick list of the advantages and disadvantages of keyless car entry:

Pros and Cons

  • It is extremely convenient to be able to access your car without needing to find your keys or fiddle with the locks.
  • Better security against traditional thieves who don't have the specialized equipment to overcome it.
  • Many keyless systems will lock the doors for you when you walk away from the car, just in case you forget to do it yourself.
  • Too much pampering can cause us to forget that many cars won't turn themselves off or lock the doors for you, which can lead to safety risks.
  • Tech-savvy criminals can easily clone your remote devices to gain access to your car without tripping the alarm.
  • Advanced technologies are expensive to replace, which you will quickly discover if you ever lose your key fob or the system becomes faulty and needs repairs.

Tips on how to Prevent Car Theft

As we've said, the skill set needed to successfully boost a car has evolved over the years as our vehicles have become more complicated and seemingly safer. As much as car manufacturers and law enforcement have worked at preventing car theft, determined criminals have worked just as hard to overcome said measures and devise new methods to steal a car.

If you're looking for some tips on how to prevent your car from being stolen or broken into, look no further. Here are some of the most common methods these cunning thieves use to bypass your car's security measures, and the steps you can take to prevent car theft:

  • Each key fob is designed to emit a signal when in close proximity to its corresponding vehicle. This commands the vehicle to unlock its doors without the need to insert a key. Thieves need only use a wireless key fob scanner outside the car owner's house or at a nearby table in the restaurant. The device captures the emission and relays it to another device in the hands of an accomplice near the car, which is why this method is known as signal relaying.
  • Alternately, criminals can actually block the signal. This is done as the owner leaves their car, stopping the key fob from initiating the locking process as they move away from the vehicle, leaving doors unlocked.
  • There is yet another way that the signal from your key fob can be exploited, at least in theory. This involves stealing the key fob signal and creating a clone key fob. A nearby key fob code grabber intercepts the signal when locking or unlocking, allowing the thief to retransmit it later.
  • Hacking or phone cloning can be used to access cars that come with their own app. These apps allow users to monitor their vehicles from a distance and even share access with their close friends or family. However, it is possible for criminals to hack into these devices.
  • Then, there are the laziest of thieves. They do not know how to hack into your devices, nor do they have all the high-tech gadgets needed to mess with your key fob signal. Instead, they simply walk around testing to see if cars are unlocked. This can happen if you are still within range of the vehicle, if, for instance, you parked right outside the front door of the store you just ran into.
  • Once they are inside, thieves can take advantage of cars with a push-button ignition system by accessing the diagnostic port, often found in the driver's footwell. They can program any blank key fob in their possession to serve as the primary fob. This allows them to access your vehicle and even start it without actually having your keys.

While all of this may seem a bit scary, you are not powerless to stop criminals from breaking into or stealing your vehicle. Here are a few tips on how to prevent keyless car theft:

  • Always check to make sure the car is locked when you leave. Generally, your car will make a noise or the headlights/indicators will flash when the locks are initiated remotely. Even so, you should test the handle to make sure you haven't been tricked by a signal jammer.
  • When at home, or even when out shopping, you should keep your key in a shielded container. This could be an aluminum tin or something similar, but there are even some wallets and purses in the US that now come lined with signal-blocking materials. By blocking the signal, you ensure it cannot be copied or relayed.
  • Alternatively, you could actually switch off your key fob, if it allows you to. This means that there will be no signal for thieves to tap into or relay. Naturally, the best time to do this is at night.
  • Many thieves that rely on high-tech gadgets don't know how to deal with old-school security devices, such as a steering wheel lock. Similarly, you could consider the installation of a lock fitted to the car's diagnostic port, so that even if someone does gain access to your vehicle, they won't be able to start it.
  • A GPS tracker is another option, so that if you are unlucky enough to have your car stolen, you will be able to find it again. Unless the device is somehow deactivated, it will send a signal to you or your security company if it registers unusual activity.


How can you prevent relay theft of your car?

There are a number of steps you can take. The best way to do so is to turn off your key fob when not in use or place it inside a shielded container that will dampen the signal, such as an aluminum case. Something you should never use is a key fob signal amplifier, since it puts you more at risk and doesn't make your life any easier.

Is push-button ignition better than standard key ignition?

It is certainly more convenient. Also, it can be seen as improving safety, since it is more difficult to hotwire or use some other device in the ignition slot. However, tech-savvy thieves can actually reprogram keyless systems if they gain entry to your vehicle. Thus, it is a double-edged sword, depending on the type of criminal you are dealing with.

What are the easiest cars to steal?

Reports show that the Ford F-150 is the most commonly stolen vehicle. This may simply be because it is the top seller in the USA. It would be hard to determine just how often this can be accredited to thieves breaking into the cars with keyless entry, since it is not a standard feature on base models.

Can keyless cars be driven without the key?

Starting cars without the keys can be tricky, but car thieves have been doing it for decades. If they manage to start the engine, they do not need to have the key fob with them to drive your vehicle.

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