• May 10, 2023

  • Abby Nuttall

  • Driver Articles

As more and more manufacturers offer keyless entry and start technology as standard on their cars, we think it’s important that drivers are aware of how this technology is vulnerable to thieves and what they can do to stop them.

How Does Keyless Entry and Start Work?

Keyless entry and start technology uses wireless signals to unlock and lock your vehicle as well as start and stop the engine. The key fob will contain a chip that tunes into these radio waves and will then send a unique code back to your car. Some models will send this code when you press a button on the fob or the car, others will send it automatically when you are within range of the vehicle.

There are also a couple of manufacturers who allow you to lock, unlock and start key features of your car from an app on your mobile phone. These apps will either use similar signals via the phone or the internet to connect to your car in the same way a key fob would.

How Do Thieves Steal Keyless Cars?

As the technology to keep your car safe evolves so does the technology that thieves use to try and steal it. With the advancement in keyless entry thieves have utilised relay technology to hijack your key fob’s signals to the car and unlock it without the keys being in range. This technology can also be used to start the engine and make a getaway in under a minute. There will usually be two thieves with one by the house (and the keys inside) and the other by the car.

A relay device can be purchased for under £100 and some of the better ones can pick up and transmit a signal for over 100 metres.

Others can hack into app software and use this in a similar way to unlock and start your vehicle.

How to Protect Your Keyless Entry Car

There are a few additional steps that you can take to make sure that your car is as protected as possible from the modern thief. We’ve got the five best tips listed below.

1. Keep Your Keys Away from the Door

It seems sensible to keep your car keys by the front door but with more car keys using relay technology we recommend increasing the distance between your keys and your car, especially if you park close to your front door.  If you increase the distance between the two it will make it harder for thieves to hack into the signal.

If you keep your keys in a dish or on a key rack, then consider moving this further into the house in an alternative but still functional location.

2. Invest in a Faraday Pouch

A faraday pouch or similar device blocks the signal from your key which means that it cannot be hacked into. These can be picked up relatively cheaply from Amazon, Halfords or similar stores.

3. Keep Software Up to Date

Manufacturers are aware of relay theft and work hard to ensure their vehicles are as protected as possible. Part of this is done through software updates so it’s important that you keep up to date with these.

If you use an app for vehicle controls, then you’ll want to make sure that this as well as the software on the device itself are kept up to date too.

4. Turn Off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

If your vehicle has Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capability then turning this off when you’re not in the car can prevent thieves from using these signals to gain access to the vehicle. We know it can seem a bit of a hassle to turn these features on and off each time you use the vehicle but it will help protect you from thieves.

5. Use a Physical Lock or Barrier

It might seem a little old school but using a physical lock like a steering wheel or pedal lock means that even if a thief manages to unlock your vehicle they’ve still got a barrier preventing them from driving the vehicle.

If you have a driveway then we recommend parking on it, as a car closer to a house is higher risk for thieves, especially if you have a gate or other barrier that blocks the vehicle from leaving the property.

Another benefit of a physical barrier is that if it’s a visible one, such as a shut gate or bright yellow steering wheel lock it will deter a lot of would-be thieves because they can see it’ll take a longer time, more effort and be more of a risk to steal your vehicle.


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