Do Keyless Ignitions Make Cars Easier to Steal?

28 Oct 2020

Keyless ignitions have gained much popularity in the automotive market in the past several years and you can basically find them in every vehicle from economy vehicles to luxury SUVs. They’re convenient for the car owner, but unfortunately they also make it easier for thieves to steal your vehicle. And, to make matters worse, it’s becoming cheaper to buy the devices that defeat these systems.

Vehicles with keyed-ignition are also susceptible to theft, but they provide a deterrent that’s enough to keep a lot of thieves away. With the traditional keyed ignition, you need to insert an actual physical key into the ignition cylinder and rotate it to start your vehicle.

And, modern vehicles that have keyed ignition systems offer another layer of security — immobilizer systems that look for a specific RFID chip before they allow your vehicle to be started. Now, keyless-ignition vehicles also work in the same type of manner, you need to press a button to start the vehicle instead.

Which? published a new report that found keyless vehicles are alarmingly simple to break into. The report showed that 230 models of the 237 tested models could be opened by using relay technology.

This technology employs the use of a relay box. This is a device that wirelessly transmits a signal from one area to another. So, if a thief wants to steal a keyless vehicle, they can simply hold one relay box outside the front door of a home and receive the signal the key fob provides through the walls. Then, this signal transmits to another relay box near the vehicle and essentially “fools” the vehicle into thinking the key is close by and therefore unlocks the doors.

Which? Also said the top-selling keyless vehicles are vulnerable like the:

  • Volkswagen Golf
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Ford Focus
  • Nissan Qashqai

Thefts that involve electronic devices are increasing and it’s clear manufacturers should be doing more to make their vehicles more secure. But, in the meantime, how can you protect your keyless-ignition vehicle from thieves? You can place the key fob inside a metal container which will stop the signal from being able to pass through windows, walls and doors. You can store it in your microwave or refrigerator.

Or, if you are worried about forgetting your fob next to the icecream or accidentally zapping it, you can simply place the fob far enough away from your car where the signal can’t be intercepted. Wrapping your key fob snugly in tin foil or placing it in a signal-blocking pouch or wallet should do the trick.

Using a GPS tracking device for your car can help you quickly locate your vehicle in the event it is stolen.

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