Auto Remotes Are On The Move

Dec. 3, 2009
During the last five years, an increasing amount of passenger vehicles have eliminated the use of mechanical keys altogether.

In the early 1990s, transponder electronics was initially added to approximately 5 percent of new vehicles. Once the transponder revolution took hold, manufacturers began adding both transponder security and remote heads to car keys. According to USA Today, 86 percent of all new cars now come from the factory with some type of electronic immobilizer system. Mechanical locks still remain part of the security system in many cases, but remotes provide the convenience of keyless door locking and unlocking, plus the ability to activate and deactivate vehicle alarm systems.

During the last five years an increasing amount of passenger vehicles have eliminated the use of mechanical keys altogether. The following list shows all known car models which currently employ some type of electronic security. Vehicles listed as using ‘Remote Head Key’ use a combined remote head and mechanical key system. Vehicles marked ‘Proximity’ include a self-contained emergency key which can operate a door lock cylinder in case of electrical failure, but there is no mechanical ignition lock. After the vehicle security system recognizes the proper proximity unit kept in a purse or pocket, the engine can be started by simply pushing a remote .

Vehicles listed as ‘Fobik’ or ‘Keyless’ do have an ignition lock receptacle but have no active lock tumblers. The remote unit has an extension lug which can fit into the ignition receptacle. The remote is then turned to the start position like a normal mechanical key. The vehicle must recognize a correct transponder signal in the remote before the engine will start. Both Fobik and keyless units include a self-contained emergency key which can only be used to enter a locked vehicle in case of electrical failure but will not start the engine.

The volume of car models and year designations on the following list indicates how inclusive vehicle electronic systems have become. The result is increased profit for the locksmiths who offer these new products to their customers. As example: the dealer charge for furnishing and programming a Saab 9-3 remote head key is $250. A duplicate proximity unit for a Prius was quoted at $200 by a local Toyota dealer.

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