Protecting your car from key fob hackers, thieves

Livestream and VOD for Dakota News Now
Published: Dec. 18, 2022 at 7:00 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -It seems like something from the future, leaving the key fob in your pocket and starting the car with the push of a button. According to Joe Wentland of Audio Playground Electronics, the key fob has a range limit.

“The average is just about six to 10 feet, depending on battery strength,” said Wentland.

Thieves have found a way to use the fob to their advantage: a relay device that boosts your key fob signal from further away to start your car and drive away.

Wentland says some vehicle manufacturers are making changes.

“Companies now are starting to come out with some harnesses to try to prevent the hackers from doing that. That’ll keep them from being able to, you know, take your car,” said Wentland.

But for the many vehicles that don’t have a protective harness, there are ways to block your fob signal from hackers for about 200 dollars. It’s a box that blocks the key fob signal.

“Put it in this device here with your remote start, and when they’re not using the vehicle, this door locks, and that’s gonna block all the RF signals to get in there, and you’re gonna be the only person whether it’s a keypad or your cell phone app that can actually unlock this and be able to start the vehicle without having the actual key,” said Wentland.

He demonstrates how the fob in the open device still works.

“The key is sitting on the windshield within six feet,” said Wentland.

But with the device closed...

“The display comes up ‘no key fob detected,’ so the vehicle will not start,” said Wentland.

There are other ways to protect your car, like using the app that comes with some remote starters.

“It not only gives you remort start capabilities but also GPS tracking, battery voltage, and just a bunch of extra technology stuff. So if your car does get stolen, you can track it, and you know, get it recovered,” said Wentland.

Dash cams can capture a would-be thief checking out your car and notify you before it’s too late.

Other steps can keep your car from being targeted.

“Keep them locked, you know, in lighted areas,” said Wentland. “They’re less likely to go to a lighted area because they’re going to be seen.”

In your home, keep as far away from your vehicle as possible. Some car owners store their fobs in metal or RFID-blocking containers limiting access to hackers.

Practical and no-cost practices can also save your car from being stolen.

“But if you leave a key fob in the vehicle, just like your keys, you are prone to have your car stolen, especially in today’s day and age,” said owner Patty Meyer.