I came across this rather humorous post in another forum. It brings to light a few issues with these new electronic key fobs some here might find interesting:
"I'm the type of guy who is always loosing his car keys. As a result, I used to keep a spare key on a magnet under the bumper. My old vehicle finally gave up the ghost and I had to get a new one. Wow! Talk about culture shock. The new one doesn't have a car key or even a bumper to hang a spare on! Everything is electronic. You just push a button to start the engine. The salesman assured me it was impossible to lock myself out and put an app on my phone to use for such an emergency.
Well leave it to me to prove him wrong. A few months ago, I lost my electronic fob while riding my bike. When I got back to the vehicle, I tried to use the app to unlock it, only to find there was no cell service in my rural area. two hours later, AAA showed up and used some electronic thingy to open it. Ok, now I'm in the vehicle but there is no way to start it without the electronic fob! All AAA could do was tow the vehicle back to the dealership. I should add that due to the worldwide chip shortage, the dealer was not able to give me the usual spare e-fob at the time I bought the vehicle.
By then, the e-fob backorder had ended and the dealer gave me two new ones. To prevent this from happening again, I figured I'd be smart and ordered a third e-fob to the tune of $160 (my last spare car key cost me $2). I hid the spare in a waterproof case under the spare tire. It seemed like a good idea until I discovered I could no longer lock the vehicle?? Apparently, the vehicle thought the hidden e-fob was inside and, as a safety measure, prevented the door locks from working.
Ok, back to square one. I recently read of something called a "Faraday" case which blocks the signal from these e-fobs. I ordered one and will see if it works. I don't know why hiding a spare key has to be so complicated.
Wait, the story isn't over! My wife bought a new car last month with the same new electronic keyless system. By then, I figured I was an expert with these newfangled devices. Wrong! I keep my spares in a key drawer in the garage and just put my wife's spare e-fob in with the rest. Last week, she left her fob on her dresser by accident but her car started anyway. The fob in the key drawer was close enough to fool the car into thinking it was inside the vehicle.
When she drove away, a little blue light on the dash came on warning that the fob was out of range. It was so inconspicuous with all the other dash lights, she didn't notice. She drove to the mall, turned off the engine and then discovered she forgot her fob when she went to lock the vehicle.
Of course without the fob, the engine wouldn't re-start. To make it worse, the car thought someone was trying to steal it and the horn started blowing. You guessed it, no cell service so the app wouldn't work. Luckily, she was able to use the phone at the Dollar General to get me at home and I drove down with the spare e-fob.
I see some new vehicles now have a backup push button system that allows you to enter a code to unlock and start. If I live long enough, my next car will be so equipped. Of course by then, my memory will be shot and I won't remember the darn code.
Buying a new car certainly isn't as simple as it used to be. You'd think the car makers would keep us older rural folk in mind when they design these new vehicles. It won't be long before the younger generations won't know what a car key is!
I guess the bright side is, young hooligans will no longer have a tool to "key" the car paint with."
A funny story but food for thought.
BTW, I've successfully used a Faraday key fob bag to store a spare in my vehicles. I found removing the fob battery doesn't work in all cases.
Almost any solid metal container will act as a “Faraday cage.” I use a old tea bag container. In a pinch, for the spare fob you store in the car, wrap it tightly in a few layers of aluminum foil. Don’t keep any extra fobs too near the car unless you use a metal can (with metal lid) as depending on fob design they may “talk” to the car continuously and result in short battery life.
Two other tips I recently discovered (the hard way) is to make sure you have spare batteries for the fob and keep at least one in each car. My wife’s fob died on her when she was about 20 miles from home so I had to take her mine to get the car started. OK, that is tip 1 and tip 2 is related. Review the manual on how to start the car in the event the fob battery seems to be dead. Acquaint every driver with the procedure. On the wife’s car, a Lincoln MKX, there is a very specific place inside the console where you can hold the fob (with a weak battery) and initiate a start. The same is true of a Honda Accord we have but the location isn’t the console, it is a very specific location on the dash.
Putting the fob onto a Faraday bag only causes the fob to continue to look / search for a connection.
So a better choice is to learn how to replace the battery in the fob and just leave the battery outside the fob.
Many cars having fobs will always let you start yge car without a battery in the fob.. as long as you place the fob in the right spot.
So there's more n' way t' kick the fur off that dead cat door stop y'got!
Putting the fob onto a Faraday bag only causes the fob to continue to look / search for a connection.
In most fob designs there are two frequencies that are transmitted by the car. The car continually transmits a low-frequency (e.g., 135 kHz) radio signal to wake up any wireless keys within range. If the fob is out of range, or in a Faraday cage, it does not wake up and uses minimal power. The fob is always "listening". When a key fob receives the signal from the car, it wakes up and replies with a VHF (e.g., 315 MHz) signal, and the car unlocks or starts when a door is opened or the start button is pressed. So if a fob is say within 5 feet, and that is a useable range, then the fob is continually on and transmitting the 315 MHz signal.
One way to test a Faraday device by the way, be it a can or wrapping in aluminum foil, is to lock the car with the fob, then place it into the Faraday device and place it outside the car but within range of the door and see if the door will automatically open as it normally would. If the Faraday device is working, the door won’t open.
If you loose your key fob while you are somewhere and want to get your hidden key fob out of the trunk how are you going to open your trunk without your key fob?
When I got back to the vehicle, I tried to use the app to unlock it, only to find there was no cell service in my rural area. two hours later, AAA showed up and used some electronic thingy to open it. Ok, now I'm in the vehicle but there is no way to start it without the electronic fob! All AAA could do was tow the vehicle back to the dealership. I should add that due to the worldwide chip shortage, the dealer was not able to give me the usual spare e-fob at the time I bought the vehicle.
Call AAA or seek out the nearest car thief (see https://awsinsurance.com/car-stealing-mystery-device/).
I don't know what the guy in the story did.
In my case, the fobs for my vehicles have an emergency door unlock key that slides out of the fob case. I hide that key outside the vehicle and hide the fob itself in a faraday bag inside the vehicle.
Because I spend almost 6 months away from home I take my second keyfob with me totally wrapped in aluminum foil. No need to spend money for a faraday case.
Also if the keyfob battery dies all I need to do is to remove a small tab on the drivers side door handle and then use the manual key in the keyfob to open the door. Then as mentioned before there is a certain place you hold the weak keyfob to start the car. But as has also been mentioned, best to carry a spare battery in the car.
It would be harder for me to lose the keyfob, I may look like a dork but I carry my keyfob on a lanyard around my neck. That way it cannot fall out of my pocket!
from all these comments i guess i will just keep using my old cars, one truck has only a chip key. my other truck got no chip key, no electric windows and manual mirrors or door locks. The best part is none of the kids borrow them, because the one is all manual got power steering and trans and ac. My main truck is a 2001 F150, got power everything but got a manual transmission. kids do not know now to drive a stick and i am not teaching on my truck lol.
On my recent road trip, car keys never came out of my pocket. I don't remote unlock or remote start the car. The only reason for keys to come out is to place keys in key holder in the house.
I think the challenge is understanding how best to use the new technology. Granted I've had cars with keyless entry/ign since 2011 so it's not really a new thing [for me] any more.
to this potential issue is very mundane. I wear the key fob on a lanyard around my neck, and when it is in the house it is too far away from the car to interact with it.
My wife has her fob on a ring attached to her change purse, which she always has with her when outside the house but when inside the house is also too far away from the car to interact with it.
- Tom -
Besides the fob and optional smartphone app that can remote lock/unlock & remote start/stop (assuming you have cell service), there is another way to get into my Crosstrek. It takes a while and seems dorky but it does work. I created a 5-digit code, then go to the trunk's "lock" button and enter the code with a number of button presses: Code 1234 would be "press lock button once, wait for a beep, press button twice, wait for a confirming beep, ditto for 3,4,&5." Presto, I can get into the car.
It's amazing what can be found in present-day owners manuals
of our cars have smart fobs, and really the only thing I do like is touching the door handle to lock and unlike.
Of these 2 cars, only 1 has a start/stop button for the engine, which I think by now everyone is used to.
I myself could never relate to the stories of carbon monoxide poisoning being blamed to the button.
My wife's 2011 (the newest of the cars) has a traditional 1990's fob.
We now have 3 and I learned how the programming works because my son misplaced one in 2019. I think the car can have a total of 4.
Interestingly, the one we used stopped working so I figured battery...I have 2 dozen CR2032s so no biggie. Nope.
Went on YouTube and cut tiny pieces of foil and placed them where the rubber buttons depress. Good as new!
It gets dicey for me when a phone can take the place of a key. Really. I'm not all stiff and uncool, but I'm a man who still prefers a clutch
^^A clutch??? What's that....
+1 on the clutch. I think many would be better drivers if they were forced to focus more on driving.
My colleague had 7 and 5 year old kids. He said, before either can drive a car, they must:
1. learn to drive a stick
2. change the engine oil
3. change a tire
Then, he said, it's likely this will never happen thanks to his wife. She stated, when the son, not the daughter, the son, turns 16, he will get a Mustang GT.
I asked him where that even came from, the son is only 3. He said no idea.
But it's very real. This notion of getting "stuff" for free. For no reason. And I feel in 2022, there is a new concept of "work avoidance" that even is with 45+ year olds! lol
Your colleague (you?) has 13 years to educate his wife or trade in a more compliant model.
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