Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Locking your car with remote key

I received an email that told of persons near a car, using a scanner, who were then able to open the car after the person locked it. Are these remotes safe? Why don’t car manufacturers give you the option of using a normal key that could be duplicated cheaply instead of these new remotes which can be scanned and cost $150 to replace when lost.

The pulse is momentary and of limited range, and while I suppose reading it is possible if you happened to be scanning at the right spot at the right time, even if you did duplicate the pulse you couldn’t then start the car anyway.

It stops the amatures. And the pros can steal your car faster than you can open and start it anyway. They know how to circumvent your systems better than your dealer techs do.

I agree, however, that normal keys systems should be optional for those who prefer them. I should add that when I gave my '91 Camry to my son and bought a brand new '95 Corolla my insurance went DOWN because of the new safety and security features. These things can have hidden benefits.

If you aren’t skeptical of e-mails of that nature, you should be.

Whenever I receive an e-mail with a warning–whether it alleges that a politician is actually a terrorist, or that using Cruise Control on a wet road will cause your car to “fly”, or that a new species of poisonous spiders is lurking underneath toilet seats, or that code-grabbers make it easy for thieves to steal your car, or any number of other very questionable concepts–I go to to see if it has been verified or if it is bogus.

As I expected, snopes has thoroughly vetted this spam e-mail, and has found it bogus–at least for newer cars. Cars made since the mid-90s use rolling code technology for their remote devices, making it EXTREMELY difficult to do what is claimed in that e-mail. For cars made prior to the mid-90s, the information in the e-mail is reasonably accurate, but I think that a car thief would have to be pretty desperate to steal a car that is over 10 years old. For cars made since the mid-90s, while it is theoretically possible to do what is claimed in the e-mail, it would be so difficult, would require such sophisticated equipment, and would be so time-consuming that it is only a danger if you have a truly valuable car.

So, when it comes to your Lamborghini Countach, your Bentley Continental, or your Bugatti Veyron, perhaps you should station an armed guard in the car while you are shopping. On the other hand, if you drive the type of cars that most of us drive, that e-mail is just one more ridiculous attempt to scare people with outdated or inaccurate information.

If you want to read the detailed explanation on, go to:

When I purchased my car with a remote key unit I asked and received two regular keys for the vehicle…just ask at your parts counter …bring your key code number with you.

Bummer. I’ve been had.

Scanning for somebody’s pulse and reading its frequency isn’t difficult, however I agree that it’s far more work and effort than is needed…especally since you’d need to be within perhaps 30 feet of them and it would be easier to just steal their keys. I thought of the rolling codes, but since I was trying to depict the rediculousness of it anyway, why bother. There are other protections being built into new systems too. Mine requires some action within 3 seconds or it secures everything. I know the new Lincolns have the pocket chip which lights up a keypad into which a PIN number needs to be entered.

Since I’ve been “had” anyway, I suppose it’s all moot points.

The rolling code technique system guards against this. A weak link in the loop is when you car,your keys,and your remotes are all in the hands of someone who can cut new keys and add additional remotes to your cars programing.

You should be more concerned of your credit card info being “snatched” out the air(in a mall parking lot).This happens when the retailer is using a low level of encryption on your data,a level that has been broken.

I have had a “high threat level” cookie on my computer,looking at my banking,that was scary,no idea how it got there.

My computer guy recommends using a router as a firewall of the hardware type (rather than just software firewalls)even on systems with just one computer(no other need for a router)

"…using Cruise Control on a wet road will cause your car to “fly”…

I assume you mean that the cruise control causes the engine to race if you lose traction and speed, leading to an increase in wheel speed and even worse control. And it’s true, as confirms. It appears that you lumped it with a group of untrue legends, and it shouldn’t be.

There is no doubt that using Cruise Control can cause you to lose traction on a wet surface, due to wheel spin. However, the original junk e-mail on that topic stated that use of cruise control on a wet surface “will cause a car to become airborne”. That part is…a bit much, I think. The “airborne” nonsense is what I was referring to when I used the words “to fly”.

You should be especially concerned if you’re using a wireless network to do online banking.