Smart Phones the Car Key of the Future? Not So Fast

As Phila-Locksmith has covered multiple times in the past, smart phones are becoming more ingrained in our everyday lives with each passing day. Whether it is simply the ever growing presence of social media, or the integration of home security there is no denying the keystone role that smart phones are playing in everyday life. Some automotive manufacturers have already begun integrating smart technology into their vehicles’ security systems. Some claim that this is the wave of the future, however; it may be sometime before this type of technology becomes common place. Not because of the cost associated with it, but because of limitations in functionality.

Auto Manufacturers Already Using Smart Phones

Despite the trepidation of many security experts, some automotive manufactures have already begun to integrate smart phones into their vehicles’ security. One of these manufacturers is Tesla. Tesla is an automotive manufacturer renowned for being on the cutting edge of technology. By downloading an application to their smart phone, a Tesla owner can complete functions such as starting the vehicle, unlocking doors and starting the air conditioning all from their smart phone. There is no doubt that this can be a useful function on a hot summer day, but there are still concerns which arise. Despite these concerns, in addition to Tesla; Volvo, General Motors and BMW also have a smart phone application which can be used to complete vehicle functions remotely.

Keyless Fobs Offer Greater Security

keyless fobKeyless fobs, like the Chevy model shown to the left, are the current standard barer for automotive security and convenience. A keyless fob allows for a vehicle owner to open and close their doors without having to remote the fob from their pocket. Additionally, the vehicle can be started without inserting a bladed key as long as the fob is located inside of the vehicle. Many vehicles equipped with a keyless fob can even be started remotely. This means that keyless fobs offer, just about, the same amount of convenience that a smart phone key would. However, there is a decreased security concern for keyless fobs. The first concern is the fact that smart phone battery life can greatly vary. If your cell phone dies and the vehicle owner uses their smart phone as the key, they will not be able to access the vehicle. Additionally, weak cellular service can cause delays of up to a few minutes when using remote functions. Volvo, one of the manufacturers to begin using cell phone applications, even has reservations about the usefulness of a cellular key. David Green, marketing director at Volvo, said that though useful in an emergency that cell phones as key are “not a viable way forward. Mr. Green went on to cite both the battery and cellular connection issues which we mentioned above. Neither of these issues are a concern for keyless fobs. In addition to limiting drawbacks, keyless fobs offer greater security because of the transponder chip inside of the fob. In order for the vehicle to start, or the door to open, the fob must be properly programmed to the vehicle’s computer. This new security system is unique and not many locksmiths can replace these keyless fobs, let alone criminals. It seems that until smart phone applications can begin to offer benefits which a keyless fob does not, their implementation will be limited.

Benefits for the Customer or Car Manufacturers?

With some many questions surrounding the use of smart phones as keys, and the comparable features offered by keyless fobs, it leaves one to wonder exactly why a car manufacturer would begin implementing this type of technology. While it is true that many people today prefer to complete as many processes as possible through their cellular device, there is also a big benefit to car manufacturers. If manufacturers are able to get their applications into customers’ smart phones it can open a large window of opportunity with regards to customer information. Targeted demographic information is more important than ever to companies, so car manufacturers want to use their smart phone applications to track location, preferences and much more. While this could allow for easy transition between two vehicles for consumers, the benefit is much larger for car makers. Vehicle manufacturers would be able to use the information about your preferences and locations to sell targeted ads from retailers and service providers. While some may find this convenient, many others could find it intrusive and a violation of personal privacy.

With many drawbacks to smart phone key applications, it will be increasingly interesting to see if auto manufacturers are going to find ways to overcome these drawbacks. It would certainly behoove auto manufacturers to find a way to use smart phone key applications because of the additional revenue source that it could provide. A key to the development of these application will be customer feedback. If customers find the ads which manufacturers will be able to sell intrusive, then it may not be feasible for car manufacturers to go in this direction. In the mean time, despite their own security concerns, keyless fobs will likely remain the top of the line product for automotive convenience and security.

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51 Death Claims as GM Recall Deadline Passes

This past Saturday the deadline to file a claim with General Motors’ recall fund for any individual or family who sustained injuries caused by General Motors’ defective ignition switch. January 31st was the date that individuals had to file a claim as over 4,000 individuals had already done. So far General Motors has allocated $400 million dollars to pay customer claims which vary in the severity of injury which they have suffered. Over 300 of these claims involve the death of an individual involved in a car crash which included one of the recalled vehicles. Phila-Locksmith has been covering the General Motors recall to inform our customers of recalls that may effect their vehicle and to examine the impact that this large of a recall could have on the automotive manufacturing industry as a whole.

900,000 Effected General Motors Vehicles Still on Road

One of the most surprising bits of information which has come to light is that there are still 900,000 recalled vehicles still on the road which have not had the appropriate repairs. The initial recall stems from the ignition switch in many General Motors models. The ignition switch used in these vehicles is too small which can result in the key slipping from the ‘on’ position in the ignition. When this occurs all power steering, power breaking and airbags all will not function. This causes an obvious danger to drivers as well as others on the road, which makes it surprising that about 40% of the recalled vehicles have yet to receive the repairs that they need. General Motors attempted to entice customers to come to their repair shops by offering a $25 gift card if you had brought your recalled vehicle in for repair during the month of December.

general motors recall

900,000 recalled General Motors vehicles have yet to receive repairs.

General Motors received a total of 4,180 claims as a result of this massive recall. Of those 4,180 about 3,000 were dismissed because they lacked evidence or were submitted with no evidence at all. So far 121 claims have been deemed eligible including 13 incident which involved fatalities. The remaining claims which have not been deemed eligible, or dismissed, are still being reviewed by the third party group which General Motors has assigned to the task. Claims that are still being reviewed could take as long as months to hear whether or not they are eligible for the recall fund. During the countdown to the January 31st deadline multiple members of congress requested that General Motors extend their deadline for claims to be submitted. This request was rejected since General Motors had already delayed the deadline previously to arrive at the January 31st deadline.

While the deadline to file a claim with General Motors’ recall fund has passed, car owners need to have their effected vehicles repaired. With 900,000 vehicles still on the road without necessary repairs, car owners are not only putting themselves in danger, but also putting other motorists in danger as well. This recall has had an effect on the way that General Motors is looking to construct their ignition systems in newer model vehicles. Due to the issues that can arise from a traditional bladed key system, General Motors is looking to shift all of their newly manufactured vehicles to a keyless ignition system. The thought being, that this will eliminate the type of problem that caused this recall.

Keyless Ignitions – The Future is Now

It has been speculated by many in the automotive industry that the clock is ticking on the use of standard cut key blades for operating vehicles. Not only are their security concerns which could be alleviated by switching to keyless ignition systems, but also safety concerns which could be eliminated. It what is a signal that this industry change may be coming faster than expected, General Motors is telling dealerships to replace the key systems on their 2014 and 2015 models for many larger vehicles which include the Chevrolet Trailblazer and GMC Sierra. The reason for this is the concern that the key can become knocked out of position when attempting to shift gears. This is reminiscent of the problem which resulted in the recall of millions of General Motors vehicles this past year.

Security Concerns

One of the benefits that many manufacturers can have by switching their vehicles to keyless ignition systems is an added amount of security. Transponder car keys have certainly helped to reduce the amount of automotive thefts that have taken place, but it only stands to be a matter of time before thieves are able to find new methods to disable transponder car key systems. As more thieves are able to become familiar with the technical workings of transponder car keys it is possible that they find easier ways to duplicate the programming found in transponder car keys. By removing the keyed blade, auto manufacturers can rely solely on improved keyless ignition technology to keep customer’s vehicles security.

keyless ignition

A simple button push can start your vehicle and provide safety in many new model vehicles.

Increased Safety

As demonstrated in the General Motors vehicles which needed to be recalled throughout the year, there certainly are safety concerns that can arise from the use of traditional blade keys. With minor wear and tear, or because of part failure, the key can be turned from the on position while an individual is driving the car. This can cause for the loss of power steering and brakes, which is obviously dangerous especially if you are on the highway. While the key slipping from the position is unlikely to happen, the possibility still remains. By using a keyless ignition fob there is no wear and tear which results from the repeated use of the ignition. This eliminates the possibility that the car can be moved from the open position while the owner is driving.

The added benefit of security does come at a cost. Having to get your keyless ignition fob replaced can be an expensive undertaking, so keeping your fobs secure and handy is a definite need. You can receive a replacement bladed car key much easier, and much cheaper, than you are able to have a replacement keyless ignition fob replaced. Despite this extra cost in the case that you have lost your fobs, keyless ignitions will almost certainly become standard on new vehicles in the near future. Their combination of safety and security allow for the most carefree driving experience possible. Following the recalls that the manufacturer had to deal with this year, General Motors seems poised to be a leader in the implementation of keyless ignition systems going forward.

SUV with Push-to-Start Car Key Stolen

(VIA Q13 Fox News) Push-to-start car key systems are suppose to increase the security of your vehicle, while also increasing the amount of convenience that you have when accessing your vehicle. For one car owner in Seattle this was not the case. The father stopped at a gas station to get a cigar with his 10-month-old in the back seat of the vehicle. When he left the vehicle to go into the store he left his 10-month-old in the vehicle, which Phila-Locksmith reminds you is highly dangerous.

The father was in line at the store when he noticed a man quickly open his car door and jump inside. The father then quickly ran outside pleading with the vehicle to thief to not take the vehicle with his child inside. Since the keyless fob was in the father’s pocket, when he exited the store he was back in range of the vehicle to read the fob and start the vehicle. At this point the thief started the car and took off with the 10-month-old baby in tow. Just a short while down the road, the thief ditched the vehicle and the child, both of which were recovered safely. Witnesses who saw the man jump out of the vehicle had to stop in from rolling down the street, since the man jumped out in such a rush that he had not even put the vehicle into park.

The question remains how the vehicle was able to start even though the key fob was not inside of the vehicle. Most keyless start vehicles claim that the engine will not start unless the fob is inside of the vehicle, but there have been multiple cases where a keyless fob has been able to start a vehicle from outside. Another concern with this story is another parent leaving their child alone in a vehicle. While a situation like this may be unlikely, why risk the safety of your child? The 10-month-old was completely alright when police recovered the vehicle. Police also took the thief into custody at a restaurant just blocks from where he had ditched the ride. Keep an eye to see if vehicle manufacturers will change the technology in their push-to-start systems in the near future as vehicle owners look for security that they can rely on. After all, what good is convenient access to your vehicle, if everyone has convenient access to the vehicle?