Keyless cars: How do they work and are they worth it? 

With technology constantly developing and the modern-day demand for more smart devices, it’s no surprise that keyless cars have risen in popularity over the past couple of years. But there are still plenty of people who don’t know how these clever systems work. So, we spoke to Mark Barclay from GSF Car Parts to talk all things keyless cars.

In a world where convenience reigns supreme, keyless car systems have certainly taken off, with statistics showing that the adoption rate of luxury cars with this feature has reached over 90% in 2017 (Arizton). This fairly new technology replaces the hassle of fumbling around in your handbag or pockets for your car key and instead gives you a way to lock and unlock your car hands-free.

How do keyless cars work?

Keyless systems pair a radio transponder chip inside the key with a corresponding mechanism inside the vehicle. As the driver walks towards the car, a unique low-frequency signal from the fob meets another inside the car’s computer system and unlocks the door.

As soon as you walk out of a certain range, the vehicle will lock automatically and only open again once you return — typically this distance is less than five metres but can differ for each model. There are now even keyless boot opening systems that only require you to move your foot underneath the bumper, but, of course, you’ll need to have the car’s key fob to unlock the car in the first place.

What are the pros of keyless cars?

Keyless cars are mainly developed for convenience, so if you constantly find yourself hunting for your keys or juggling armfuls of bags, this smart technology may come as a blessing. And, possibly the most useful perk of them all, you can no longer lock yourself out of the car as the fob would need to be out of range!

These keyless entry systems have been in development since the 1990s and were originally only used on luxury cars by those who could afford to pay for this technology. With the proliferation of technology, the feature has become more widely available and many more car owners can now enjoy the luxury benefits without the hefty price tag.

Some vehicle manufacturers have even designed their keyless cars to store driver comfort preferences, such as your seat position, preferred radio station and even the temperature is set by the time you get into the car. Additionally, some models offer the option to allow speed restrictions to be set when a specific key fob is given — usually to teenagers — to control how fast the car can be driven.

What are the cons of keyless cars?

One drawback is that a keyless fob can allow thieves to gain access to a car without necessarily needing to take it from your home. The signal between the key and the car’s computer system can be interrupted and hacked. Manufacturers are aware of this risk and continually working to solve these problems.

Another potential drawback is that keyless tech typically comes with a larger price tag than traditional models. Even if keyless fobs, push-button starts and other similar features are included in your car’s package, in time the tech may need to be repaired or replaced, which comes at a cost. Similarly, if your car’s signal gets hacked, as discussed above, the electrical system will need to be reset — another potentially expensive job.

Some keyless models have the capacity to be started remotely, so it’s possible that car owners can start their cars unknowingly. This can not only put them at risk of theft, but also creates the hazard of carbon monoxide poisoning for the driver if the car is inside a closed space such as a garage.

Car technology is continually developing to enhance driver experience, but it’s important that customers are aware of the pros and cons associated with these keyless systems. So, be sure to do your research before committing!

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