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Remote door locks: live and learn

The “lock” button of my remote door lock fob stopped working. 2006 Toyota Matrix
I went out to my car this morning and it was unlocked. Apparently been unlocked since I drove it 2 days ago.
Someone went in it and emptied the contents of my glove compartment on to the floor and opened all the other compartments, except the one for change.
Stupid thief could have heisted ~$2 in quarters. I never leave valuables in my car.
I could still lock the doors with the buttons on the front doors, so I went researching the remote lock receiver (one of the many “black boxes”).
I found out it’s expensive ($4-500 new) and buried behind trim in the back of the car.
This evening I was thinking more clearly and calmly so I went out to pull the trim and have a look at this module.
I tried the “hatch” button to see if the separate rear glass opening latch still functioned, and it did.
I closed the glass and low and behold the “lock” button started working again! Problem solved!
So the remote won’t lock the doors if the rear glass is not closed securely.

Well, at least it was a relatively cheap lesson. Thanks for sharing.

Well that is interesting. My 2009 Toyota Rav4 gives a long, loud beep if you try to lock the doors and one is not secured. My 2000 Explorer beeps like crazy. I’m surprised yours does nothing.

Well, not so cheap. Just found out a pair of prescription glasses I kept in the car are gone.
I guess I did keep something valuable in the car.
They were ~3 years old and well worn, but replacements won’t come cheap.

Crack heads and Meth heads will check street after street for open cars, looking for change or whatever else they can quickly convert into more drugs…2AM wanderers “just out for a walk”…Some even have a dog…

"Someone went in it and emptied the contents of my glove compartment on to the floor. . ."
I had the same thing happen when I was a graduate student and the car was parked in the married student housing lot. My car was locked, but the vandals entered by breaking off the radio antenna and using it to force open the lock. I found the contents of the glove compartment strewn all over the floor. All that was taken was a defroster gun I had gotten for Christmas that plugged into the cigarette lighter and was supposed to take the place of an ice scraper. However, it took several times longer than just scraping the ice, so I never used it. I didn’t mind losing the defroster gun, but I didn’t like the idea of someone rooting through my car and leaving a mess. Another time I had parked the car at the water utility company to pay the bill and hadn’t locked the car. I saw a man running away from my car and when I got to the car, I found he had stolen the flashlight out of the glove compartment. With the key fob, it is so easy to lock the car that I always do it.

You might be interested in this link about how car thieves are hacking door locks using a hand held device. I’ve heard this has become a big problem in the San Francisco area recently.

Car thieves can now instantly hack locks, alarms with a handheld device
June 11, 2014

Locking your car the moment you park is customary so as to avoid thieves from getting at your car and valuables, not to mention the car alarm system meant to give you a peace of mind that your vehicle is secure.

What if there was a way, however, to easily unlock a car by somehow hacking or broadcasting a signal from an unknown device?

In the United States, a mysterious hand held device aids is being touted as the biggest aid to car thieves, allowing them to instantaneously disable the locks and the vehicle alarm system. As caught on various dashboard cameras, the device gives criminals easy access to take away personal and valuable belongings inside the car.

We tried to lock the wifes purse in the trunk with her key in the purse. No go. It wouldn’t let us lock the trunk. So you either take the purse with you or carry both sets of keys with you. I dunno, I’d like a little more control myself. And if you had a hatch or door ajar, seems to me that’s when you’d want the doors to lock. Usually an ajar door will still lock, just not be tight.

I wouldn’t care for that feature. I have a cap on the pickup and when I go somewhere, where I could lose the keys (hiking, swimming, etc.) I hide the keys in the cap. I presume that the sensors would think that the key is in the cab, if it’s that close. But I suppose you could walk a bit, lock the doors and then put the key in the cap.

George, that device seems to only work on the passenger side. I have long suspected that it is only a magnet. If you know where the lock solenoid is located, a magnet should unlock the door.

WOW, thanks for the notice @GeorgeSanJose, that is something else.

@keith, I think the device has to be more than a magnet since the device is also defeating the alarm systems. Opening a door without also turning off the alarm system will cause the alarm to activate. The magnetic field of the remote device would have to be huge in order to activate the solenoid like you suggest. I suspect the device not only may have various RF channel frquencies to match the ones currently used but also sweeps rapidly through various lock codes. This is a very devious device in my opinion and was designed by someone with some very good electronic design skills. I think this is going to cause auto manufacturers a big headache in the redesigning of automobile remotes in order to help stop this new threat. Use of the rolling code system like current garage door remotes use might stop this kind of thing. The thieves are probably using the passenger door side in order to get quick and easy access to the glove box and console.