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How to prevent keyless car theft and keep your car safe

Here are some of the best ways to keep your car safe and prevent keyless car theft

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How to prevent keyless car theft

While keyless entry cars are great for a hands-free life, you might be worried this tech leaves your pride and joy vulnerable to thieves.

Luckily, there are some easy hacks to learn how to prevent keyless car theft.

What is keyless car theft?

Some of us will be old enough to remember the days of turning an actual metal key in a door to unlock a car. But that's old school. These days, you open and start most cars using a key fob, card or, in some cases, an app on your smartphone.

But, like contactless debit and credit cards, keyless technology can sometimes be vulnerable to illegal cloning. This is when thieves trick your car into believing the digital key is being used, when in actual fact, they've just created a clone.

Don’t panic though, because there are some surprisingly basic ways to prevent keyless car theft. We’ve got you covered with the anti-theft 101.

Keyless car theft prevention tips

Signal blocking 

A cheap, very quick and brilliantly effective way to protect your key when it's lying around at home is to buy a signal-blocking box or pouch. By storing your car keys, fob or card in an aluminium tin (even grandma’s old biscuit tins), or a special signal blocking box, the signal between the car and key is blocked. This means thieves can't intercept it and clone a new one.

If you’re out and about, then a Faraday pouch is your best friend. Think of it like RFID blocking wallet to protect your credit cards from contactless theft. Simple, but highly effective.

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Get a motion sensor fob

Lots of car manufacturers use motion sensor fobs now. These fobs stop transmitting a signal if the key is left idle for a certain amount of time. If you leave it on the counter, it will time itself out and stop actively transmitting so no one can clone it.

Handily, it also helps to save the battery life. Some fobs can also be switched off manually, which we’d advise doing, especially at night.

Keep on top of car software updates

Like your smartphone's updates, an increasing number of cars have over-the-air (OTA) updates that download the latest software programs released by their makers.

Make sure you accept these when the notification pops up because many of them include new security measures, rolled out in response to new types of criminal technology.

Steering wheel lock

Sometimes you can’t beat the old ways, and a steering wheel lock makes driving away almost impossible until it's removed. Even in this day and age, it’s a huge deterrent, and one that you can keep and use on future cars as well - assuming their wheels don't change shape...

While not completely effective (there are tools that can cut or break these locks), they do slow down thieves, plus they force them to make noise. That alone can convince them to move on to another, less secure car.

Check your car's technology

It’s important to remember that car manufacturers are always working to be one step ahead of the game, inventing advanced anti-theft technology like ultra wide-band radio, so thieves can’t tap into the car's signal.

There’s also an option in many cars now to turn off the keyless entry system when the car’s parked for long periods. Some cars even have password entry! So best consult your car's handbook to see what systems you could make the most of.

Common questions about keyless car theft:

What are the manufacturers doing about keyless theft?

Some car manufacturers are taking steps to help prevent keyless car theft.

Motion Sensor Key Fobs have been introduced by brands such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes. These keys go into 'sleep mode' if they've been inactive for 40 seconds, making it harder for criminals to get the signal.

Kia has even produced it's own 'KiaSafe' case to help prevent keyless car thefts.

Can keyless cars be stolen?

Keyless cars can be stolen if criminals are able to replicate the signal from a car's key, using relay amplifiers and transmitters.

How long will a keyless car run without a key?

There's typically no limit on how far a keyless car can drive without a key once it's started up.

In many cases, criminals will steal the car and run it until it's out of fuel or they've reached their destination.

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