Car Care: Key ways to avoid vehicle theft
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In years gone by, people could pop into the dairy, leaving the doors of their Kingswood open and the keys sitting in the ignition with little worry. We suggest you don’t try that now.
Thankfully manufacturers have introduced a range of safety devices to keep our cars safe beyond a standard car alarm or immobiliser.
The key (or FOB) contains programmed electronic chips specifically coded to the vehicle.
Typically the car won’t start unless it receives permission from the vehicle’s security system which must have the correct code from the key’s transponder.
It’s a simple but effective and reasonably widespread defence method. It ensures that, no matter how much hotwiring goes on, the vehicle should not start and prevents it from being an easy target for thieves.
Intuitive locking and starting
Manufacturers are also developing technologies that make getting into your car a more simple process. For example, Volkswagen’s Kessy system activates when the owner approaches the car.
It detects a radio signal sent, from about 1.5 metres, and as soon as the door handle is pulled the vehicle is unlocked.
Once inside, the FOB just needs to be with you to turn on the ignition and start the car, making a conventional key almost redundant.
Manufacturers producing this style of keyless start systems will typically include a failsafe backup key within the FOB, which can be removed and used in the event that the vehicle has a flat battery and cannot be opened electronically.
Voice and sight-activated controls
Whether you’re composing an SMS, trying to call through to the relevant department on the phone, Shazamming the song on the radio or asking Siri to give you the answer to an obscure query, it’s not uncommon to find voice or sound-activated commands at the heart of many of the ways we access information.
Undoubtedly a fast-developing feature of modern technology, it’s no surprise, then, to see these practices evolving in our cars.
This is limited to hands-free interactions but Volvo is an example of one company looking to take the tech outside of the cabin.
The Swedish car maker is working with Microsoft to launch wearable tech that allows car owners to remotely instruct their vehicle to perform operations such as locking the doors, setting the navigation, starting the heater or flashing the lights.
Similarly for a while there’s been talk of iris-scan technology being introduced to make the lives of car thieves more difficult.
Less Knight Rider, more Mission Impossible, tech such as that provided by companies such as EyeLock would use infrared cameras mounted in the visor or dashboard to thwart thieves.
When you’re buying a car it’s always wise to know what security features your vehicle has — and how to use them.
While manufacturers work hard to improve vehicle security, those looking to find a way to get into your car also continue to try to find ways to overcome it or take advantage of those who don’t activate them.
Devices such as remote car jammers can be used by thieves to block FOB signals from reaching the car so we can’t stress enough about how important it is to hide items of value from plain sight, park in well-lit areas and check for the visual and audio identifiers.
Make sure the lights flash and the locks clunk. Pull the handle before you leave your vehicle unattended or, if that’s likely to unlock your vehicle, take a look through the window to check the mechanism has worked.
A combination of common sense paired with technological improvements will make for the best way to avoid becoming a target of auto theft and a good place to start to get peace of mind before you buy is to look at your manufacturer’s handbook, or consult with the dealer you’re buying from.