Keyless car crime - what are car manufacturers doing to prevent it?
Cars with keyless entry systems can be stolen far more quickly and easily than those with conventional locks and ignitions, so what are car makers doing to protect them?...
Jaguar / Land Rover
Taking a different approach to car security, Jaguar Land Rover has introduced ultra-wide band radio technology to some models including the Discovery and latest Discovery Sport. This transmits over a wide range of frequencies at once to prevent thieves from being able to isolate the signal.
A spokesman said: "As an industry-wide issue, Land Rover takes vehicle security very seriously and has a dedicated team working on staying one step ahead of criminals. Land Rover is in the process of rolling out updates to our vehicles protecting them against emerging threats and has been cited by the ADAC and Which? as one of the first manufacturers to protect against relay attack.
"In addition, all our vehicles are available with InControl tracking devices which have delivered a more than 80% success of recovery. Land Rover remains fully committed to investing in vehicle security while giving customers the option of keyless entry systems."
The following Kia models have keyless entry as standard.
- Picanto X-Line S and GT-Line S
- Rio GT-Line S
- Stonic 4
- Ceed First Edition, GT-Line, GT-Line S and GT
- Ceed SW First Edition
- Proceed GT-Line, GT-Line S and GT
- Niro and e-Niro 4
- Optima Sportswagon GT-Line S, GT and GT S
- Optima Sportswagon PHEV and PHEV Plus
- Stinger GT-Line, GT-Line S, GT and GT S
- Sportage 4, GT-Line, GT-Line S, GT and GT S
- Sorento KX-3, GT-Line and GT-Line S
Although Kia hasn’t introduced motion sensor or other additional security to its keyless entry cars yet, we were told it is working on additional security measures. In the meantime, in July 2019 it introduced the KiaSafe case, a container that works in the same way as a Faraday bag to prevent criminals from capturing the code emitted by the key fob. This is provided free with every new Kia model sold, and can be bought as an aftermarket item for £9.99.
David Hart, Customer Experience Manager at Kia Motors UK commented on the ingenuity that thieves can use to steal cars “The security of our customers’ vehicles comes second only to safety and we are as concerned about the hacking of keyless entry systems as customers, the police and the insurance industry.
“Whilst our current keyless entry systems do not have UWB or “sleep” buttons our engineers are developing additional levels of protection for future vehicles and these will be applied as soon as is feasible given production schedules and new model introductions.
“We encourage owners to adopt protection behaviours as advised by the Police – such as not leaving keyless entry fobs in the front door lock of their home or close to windows – and to use the KiaSafe to ensure their key fobs are rendered safe from hacking” added Hart.
Lexus / Toyota
Most Toyota and Lexus models have a keyless entry system called Smart Entry as standard. We do not believe the key fobs have motion sensor technology, but the software can be deactivated by the owner on all models except the Aygo and RAV4 – these can be turned off by a dealer.
The following models have Smart Keyless Entry as standard:
The keyless entry system on the new Mazda 3 can be disabled by the driver on the key fob, the systems on other models can be switched off by a dealer; there is no charge for having this done.
Many Mercedes models have keyless entry as standard. All the latest generation Keyless-Go fobs (since summer 2018) have a built-in motion sensor, which turns them off if they’re not moved for two minutes. They can also be deactivated immediately by pressing a button on the fob.
A spokesman for Mercedes said: “All our Keyless-Go keys can be switched off by pressing the locking button on the key twice and the latest generation of Keyless-Go keys are equipped with a built-in motion sensor. This means that if the key is motionless – for example, in a drawer or on a hook – after two minutes, no Keyless-Go signals are sent out and the signals from the key cannot be hijacked.”
A spokesperson from Mitsubishi told us that keyless operation is standard across the Mitsubishi car range. "The various keyless operation systems can be turned off on any keyless operation-equipped Mitsubishi vehicle, removing the risk of any potential theft using a relay device.
"The keyless entry and keyless start can be individually disabled or both can be switched off. The vehicles revert to remote control central locking and can only be started when the key is in a specific location in the vehicle, making them impossible to steal using a relay device. Mitsubishi customers can visit their local Mitsubishi dealership who will be happy to assist them with this."
Some Nissan models have keyless entry as standard, we do not believe there is motion sensor technology in the key fobs.
A Nissan spokesperson stated: “There are precautions that customers can take to prevent the doors from unlocking in the event of a relay attack. These include placing keys in a Faraday pouch to block the attack signal, or deactivating the car’s keyless (i-Key) function, which can be done through the instrument panel settings on the vast majority of Nissan vehicles currently on sale.”