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Keyless system cars easy to steal, German car club finds

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Keyless system cars easy to steal, German car club finds
A Mercedes with Keyless Go technology. Photo: Wikipedia
12:33 CET+01:00
The German Automotive Club (ADAC) tested 24 different cars with the new Keyless Go technology for safety. The result: all of the cars could be stolen with one easy trick.

The locking system Keyless Go is a technology built into new cars from leading car manufacturers such as BMW and Mercedes which allows the driver to open the door and start the car without reaching into his pocket for his key.

He simply needs to approach the car and the doors automatically unlock. The sensors in the car and key combine to release the lock as soon as they are in close proximity with one another.

With most cars with Keyless Go technology there is a simple ignition button, meaning the key also isn't needed once the driver is inside.

The ADAC has now taken a deeper look into the safety issues of the locking system.

In a report released Thursday the ADAC tested 24 car models from 2015 from 19 different manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, VW, Toyota, Renault, and Ford.

The results were damning. They managed to illegally open every single car and drive it away within a few seconds.

“All you need to do is extend the transmission-range of the key from two or three meters to a few hundred meters. The car thinks that the owner is nearby, unlocks the doors and starts its engine - all without any trace of a break-in.” said Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC.

To extend the transmission-range, the thief doesn’t need to be a high-tech hacker, the car club said. The devices can be built out of every-day electronic items - and without much effort.

Broadcaster BR24 give an an example of how such a theft could take place:

One thief can follow the owner of a car with a Keyless Go system after he has parked and locked his vehicle at a supermarket. He then activates the transmission-range device to extend the range of the key’s signal.

Another thief, meanwhile, waits at the car with his device, receiving the signal of the key, transmitting it to the car.

Within a second, the door opens and the engine can be started. The car can be driven for as long as the tank is full - so from most places in Germany it wouldn't be a problem to drive the car abroad.

And there is more bad news: if the car owner reports his car as stolen and then police find it with no trace of break-in, the insurance firm may think he tried to fake the theft in order to make a claim.

Now the ADAC is pointing a finger at the car manufacturers.

“It’s the duty of all car manufacturers to get rid of this problem. It makes no sense that this more expensive locking system is way easier to break into than the normal one,” ADAC stated on its website.

SEE ALSO: Thieves 'could hack VW, Porsche, Audi cars'

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