The German Automobile Club ADAC also warns that a number of keyless cars will not withstand the simple trick of thieves who can use a signal amplifier to unlock the car in an instant and leave with it. He’s tested five hundred cars since 2016, but can only count on 23 models.
The so-called relay attack is nothing new, according to ADAC, it has been known in the world for ten years, and yet a number of manufacturers have responded to it very lukewarm. Its principle is simple. Thieves work in pairs, one approaches a signal amplifier, for example, the front door of the house, behind which he expects the car keys, and the other with a receiver in his hand pulls the handle of a car parked in front of the house, starts, and leaves. Likewise, they can work in a shopping mall, for example.
According to the ADAC, the equipment needed for 2,500 kroner can be built from components purchased at an electrical shop, and the started car, even without a key inside, will run until the fuel runs out.
Cars with keyless unlocking were often easy to identify using special touch pads, grooves or buttons on the handles. Automakers struggle with this, for example, with the new Octavia, the handle looks the same in both cases today.
Car Club tests the resistance of cars to this attack (you can find complete results here), the first car tested in 2016, and the first fully insured models didn’t appear until 2018. These were the 2018 Jaguar Land Rover, Range Rover and Range Rover, and then the new cars, the Jaguar E-Pace and electric i-Pace.
The safety magic of Jaguar and Land Rover lies in the use of UWB technology. In addition, it allows you to measure the distance that radio waves must travel from the switch to the receiver in the switch when transmitting the signal. If using an amplifier, the distance is too large and the lock will not open when the handle is pulled.
Other manufacturers have recently switched to UWB. Škoda, for example, offers Octavia and Enyaq models, that is, the most modern types in their presentation. Similar to Volkswagen, which has the UWB in the eighth generation of the Golf or the purely electric ID family. Seat has the best protection for the Leon and the Cobra Formentor.
You can’t even rely on premium brands. For example, BMW offers UWB only on the latest iX electric SUV, on Mercedes, according to ADAC, you will find the best kind of safety for the S-class, on the Audi on the A3.
According to the ADAC, using a motion sensor is less reliable protection. In this case, there is an accelerometer in the switch. If it does not detect motion for some time, it turns off the transmitter and the signal extender will not extend. The ADAC warns that “this protection will not help if thieves see their victim on foot or break into a vehicle shortly after being stopped.”
Today, a motion sensor is relatively common in switchgear, especially in new cars of the German concern. They are widely offered by Škoda, Volkswagen, Seat or BMW. According to the ADAC, this even allows the technology to be added to older compatible cars. After all, you can also buy third-party products on the Internet, which add the necessary accelerometer to the key.
Unfortunately, other manufacturers are now discovering this weaker security. For example, Peugeot will use it for the first time with the new 308, Opel with the new Astra, and similarly with Toyota, the Yaris and RAV4 models are secured with motion sensors. “With the advent of the single model years, facials and new generations, the system will gradually be deployed in them as well,” says Jitka Jechová of the Czech representation of the brand.
If you are unsure of the security of your vehicle, the vehicle always offers the option to deactivate keyless unlocking. For example, in the case of the new Skoda Octavia, this is done by locking the car with a button on the key and touching the sensor on the outside handle within five seconds. After ten seconds, simply pull the handle and check that the system is really not active. The system also goes by directions Via the onboard system. “With the option to unlock the lock without a key, the dealer can also modify cars of older models at the request of the customer,” notes Pavel Gina of the Czech Škoda representative.
ADAC also recommends not leaving car keys at the walls around the house or just outside the door, unless you are behind a fence or in a garage, but in a free-access front garden, as with homes with porches, for example.
On the other hand, representatives of the Automobile Club warn of grandmother’s advice, such as wrapping the key in tin foil or closing it in a metal case. These actions may not be 100%, and the chip may rupture if the box with the key inside cannot be closed properly, and the transmitted signal will not be blocked.
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