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Common Problems With Keyless Entry

Updated April 17, 2017

Keyless entry devices allow car owners to lock and unlock car doors, activate an alarm, and even remote start the engine, all without turning a key. As convenient as these devices are, they can be a huge pain if they don't work, behave in unexpected ways or compromise the security of your car.

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Programming Issues

Many problems with keyless entry devices stem from programming issues. Like a universal remote control, key fobs are programmed with special codes that are designed to communicate only with your unique auto. Cars are usually sold with keyless entry systems preprogrammed, but often resale vehicles lack the original keyless fob, so an aftermarket one needs to be purchased. Installing and programming these can be tricky, but closely following manufacturers' instructions should ensure smooth reprogramming.

Battery Power

Often the cause of many problems related to responsiveness between your car and fob are weak or dead batteries in the remote device. The drain on these devices is minimal, so batteries can last for years, meaning users can be caught off guard when they die. Most keyless entry devices run on watch batteries, but before purchasing replacements, check the required size and voltage by carefully unscrewing the rear casing and removing the original battery.

Unintended Actions

Sometimes keyless entry systems can act in unwanted ways. For example, the panic alarm may go off when the door unlock button is pressed. This unwanted behaviour is typically caused by a short circuit or wiring problem, and can sometimes be the result of the device getting wet or otherwise broken. Rather than attempting to troubleshoot the device, owners can order a replacement from their dealer or manufacturer, sometimes even after warranties have expired. Many aftermarket companies sell replacement key fobs as well.

Hacking and Insecurity

The vast majority of remote entry devices utilise microchip technology called KeeLoq, which generates over 18 billion unique programming codes designed to ensure your key fob works for your car only. Hackers are becoming increasingly adept at discovering ways to hack these codes, to find out ways to use a car owner's remote entry system to steal his or her car. This issue is fairly rare at present, but the increase in everyday wireless devices has created this new avenue for thieves.

Auto Theft

One of the most common dangers of keyless entry systems is the ease with which thieves can locate cars to steal. The same way an owner can press the door lock button to sound the audible alarm chime to locate his car in a crowded car park, so too can a car thief if he gets his hands on a remote access key fob.

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About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Elle Williams has been a journalist since 2000. She has been published in "The Georgetowner," "The Washington Times" and scholastic papers, among other outlets. Williams studied government and English at Georgetown University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree. She is currently seeking a graduate degree in film and television and is expanding her writing to include fiction and scripts.

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