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Most Best-selling Cars Are Susceptible To Keyless Theft

Criminals can lengthen the radio signal produced by your fob
31 January 2019 | Updated 01 February 2019

Hundreds of popular cars – including four out of the UK’s five best-selling models – are susceptible to keyless theft, according to Which?.

The consumer protection group analysed research from the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) to find out the impact of keyless attacks in the UK in 2018.

The Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus were found to be susceptible to this kind of theft. Only the Vauxhall Corsa was deemed safe from such attacks, because it is not available with keyless entry and start.


Relay attack

Thieves have been using keyless theft – also known as the relay attack – for several years, yet manufacturers continue to make new models that can be stolen in this way, meaning there is an a growing pool of vehicles for thieves to target.

ADAC tested a total of 237 keyless cars and found that all but three of them are susceptible to relay attacks. 230 of the vehicles tested, from more than 30 brands, could be unlocked and started using relay boxes, while a further four models could be either unlocked or started.



The only three keyless cars that ADAC has tested that were not susceptible to relay attacks are from Jaguar Land Rover – the latest  models of the Discovery and Range Rover and the 2018 Jaguar i-Pace.



Which? researched the cost of installing keyless technology. If you were to buy the 2018 model of the VW Toureg, for instance, equipping it with keyless entry and start would set you back £700 and for the Volvo V60 (2018) would cost you £500. While these upgrades could be seen to offer additional convenience in everyday life, it could be seen as paying hundreds of pounds for a less secure vehicle.



What’s more, the 2018 models of the Ford Eco-Sport and Nissan Leaf are among those that include keyless technology as standard, and yet are still susceptible to these attacks. Which? is concerned that car manufacturers are sacrificing the security of cars for a small added convenience.

Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine, said: “With more than one car being stolen every seven minutes, it’s important that people can feel confident in the security of their vehicle.

“The fact that so many cars on the road are susceptible to keyless theft simply isn’t good enough. We want manufacturers to up their game when it comes to making their vehicles safe from theft.”

To find out more about how cars can be susceptible to theft, and to see a full list of which cars failed the test, visit:

Picture: Relay attack – using ‘relay’ boxes – one placed near your car and the other near where you keep your key – criminals can lengthen the radio signal produced by your fob, tricking your car into thinking the key is within close enough range to be unlocked and started.


Which? advice to protect your car from theft:

  • Don’t make your car look more appealing to thieves than it already does (e.g. never leave valuables on view)..
  • Cars are far more likely to be stolen at night. If you can’t park overnight in a locked garage, try and park in a well-lit area or consider investing in CCTV.
  • If you use the remote-locking button on your key fob, make sure you check the doors are actually locked – this will ensure you beat any thieves using a remote signal blocker.
  • Keep your car keys out of sight at home and never within close proximity of your front door. If you own a keyless car, contact your manufacturer to find out how you can protect yourself.
  • Use a steering wheel lock. The best locks are approved by Secured by Design and cost around £120.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 31 January 2019


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