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Change Our Mind #11: keyless car keys make no sense at all

Opinion: our staffer reckons manufacturers should return to the traditional car key

Published: 01 Jun 2020

Who remembers when car keys were as simple as their name suggests? Compact in size, used to lock and unlock the car’s doors, start and stop the engine, and perfectly suited to the task at hand. Until, that is, the industry came up with the idea of the keyless start.

To achieve this, it meant replacing said key and all its well-suitedness, in favour of an object that is, essentially, still a key. And that’s where the problems begin. The keyless car key still needs to be on your person to open the car, and in the vehicle while the engine is on. So, basically then, the keyless key is still a key, only it isn’t, it’s keyless. Got it?

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Problem number two. In an apparent attempt to consistently outdo each other at all times, manufacturers are coming up with ever-more elaborate designs. However, this means they’re often too large and heavy to comfortably fit in clothes pockets, raising the question – where the hell are you meant to keep the thing?

And that’s before you even settle down behind the wheel. Previously, the ignition chamber was used to accommodate the traditional key – you put it in at the beginning of the journey, and removed it at the end of the journey. Convenient, eh?

Not so much anymore. Instead of being kept in said ignition chamber while the car is in motion, one must figure out where to keep one’s keyless key where it doesn’t rattle, or potentially launch itself elsewhere around a roundabout. And, after all that, you still have to press a button to start the car, because turning a key is oh-so-difficult.

Moving on. Old-fashioned keys were good at what they did primarily due to their simplicity. Not so much anymore. Problem number four with the keyless car key is its complexity, making it much more prone to going wrong. Don’t worry, though, fixing or replacing a keyless car key costs much more than a traditional key would have. Hooray!

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And finally, a note on security. Companies like Tracker have long been concerned about the growing number of keyless entry car thefts; earlier this year it reported a 26 per cent rise in keyless entry thefts compared with 2016.

In summary, then. Keyless car keys are less practical, more expensive, and less secure than the conventional keys they replaced. What’s not to like?

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