Car Theft Group Test - Britain's Most Secure Cars

With car theft an ongoing problem, we tested seven car security systems to find out how easy it is to get into them and drive away without consent...

Car security

Keyless entry vs standard remote control key fobs

For our security test, we asked 30 car makers to provide us with their most secure car. Most either didn’t reply or told us they didn’t want to be included in the test, while two – Suzuki and Kia – provided us with models without keyless entry systems: a Vitara 1.0 SZT 4WD and a Sorento 2.2 CRDi KX-2. Our security experts agreed that these cars were more secure than keyless entry models. 

They said results from previous tests done by security experts show they would be able to steal both of them in 2min 30sec. However, to do so, they would have to set off the car alarms and damage the steering columns to bypass the ignition and hotwire them. This makes them a far less appealing target for thieves, who are generally opportunistic and looking for the easiest and quickest cars to steal.

How to protect your keyless car from theft

If your car has a motion sensor keyless fob or one that can be deactivated by pressing a button, make sure you use this function when the car isn’t being used. If your car doesn’t have a motion sensor key fob, check with a main dealer to see if you can buy one.

Consider having keyless entry disabled; you can do this yourself on some cars from Citroën and Renault, while others require you to take the car to a dealership and might charge for this.

Car security

Invest in a Faraday bag or other car signal blocking pouch and keep the key in it all the time you’re not using the car. Make sure it’s big enough to close securely with the key in it.

If possible, keep the keys at least five metres away from front doors and windows, but better still, put them in a safe overnight to prevent burglars from stealing them too.

Invest in a steering wheel lock. It may sound like an old-fashioned solution, but this will deter thieves from trying to take your car, because they’ll need to expend time and effort removing it. According to the police, cars with steering locks fitted are the least likely to be stolen.

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What Car? says…

It’s outrageous that some car makers have introduced keyless entry and keyless start systems without making them anywhere near as secure as the traditional alternatives they’ve replaced. Criminals are able to circumvent the other security systems on these cars, such as alarms and immobilisers, by hacking into their codes.

It is great news that a small number of brands, including Audi, BMW, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz, have introduced new technology to combat theft.We particularly applaud Jaguar and Land Rover for developing a system that prevents cars from being driven away, although we think this should be rolled out across all of its models.

Car security

The motion sensor technology introduced by other car makers is also a great step towards improving security. While it protects cars from the most common type of theft – being taken from driveways in the middle of the night – it’s not a foolproof solution that owners can rely on to keep their cars safe at all times. We’d advise them to invest in a car signal blocking pouch or have the keyless entry system deactivated.

Some car makers have come up with alternative solutions to the problem of car theft. For example, Tesla has added a PIN number to the infotainment system to all new and many second-hand models; the cars can’t be driven until the correct code has been entered.

Car security

Vauxhall told us that keyless entry technology is not available on almost all of its new cars. Kia, meanwhile, said its research and design department is working on new technology for key fobs or improvements to the security of key fob codes. In the meantime, it’s providing a Faraday bag free with every new car purchased and enabling dealerships to sell the pouches to existing owners at a discounted price of £10.

However, more needs to be done to improve security on many new and used cars with keyless entry and start systems. To help car owners in the meantime, we’ve compiled a round-up of cars that come with keyless entry as standard, how the systems work and which manufacturers make it possible for owners or dealers to deactivate the system entirely.

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