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Ford fights keyless car thefts with new security tech

Published 10 April 2019

Ford is introducing new technology to its Fiesta and Focus models in a bid to cut down on thieves stealing cars without keys.

A new motion sensor installed inside the key fob triggers a sleep mode, which prevents the key from distributing a signal that could be hacked by criminals. The new tech will be available to all Ford Fiesta and Focus drivers. 

Once the key's picked up and moved towards the car, it'll restore full functionality. Ford says its key fobs are designed to operate only within a two-metre radius of the car they're bonded to.

The new Ford Fiesta - including the van version - is currently being delivered with the new fobs as standard for no extra cost. The Focus will follow from next month.

Existing owners of the current Focus and Fiesta models can pay to upgrade their security to the new fobs for £72 and £65 respectively, in addition to roughly one hour's labour. Over the next two years, Ford plans to introduce the same tech across its entire car and van range.

There are signal-blocking pouches available to buy online for less than £10, which are designed to prevent thefts using this kind of technology.

How do relay car thefts work?

A vehicle is stolen every five minutes in the UK - with so-called 'relay thefts' one of the easiest way for thieves to steal desirable new cars.

With keyless entry and start now widespread on new vehicles, criminals are buying kits online which allows them to hack signals from key fobs. The kits are made up of an amplifier and a transmitter. 

To operate, a criminal will stand near the car with the transmitter, while a second places the amplifier near the front door of the house. If the car’s fob is within a couple of metres, the amplifier will detect its signal and amplify it, sending it to the accomplice’s transmitter. This will allow them to open and the start the car without the key.


Engineer Andy    on 10 April 2019

Ford spending all that money, and the solution was already starting them in the face: go back to the previous generation tech with blippers and standard keys - why very few of that generation of cars get broken into/stolen.

They only changed over because someone though keyless entry would be a sales boon to lazy people who can't be bothered to take the key out of their pocket to get in the car...

Edited by Engineer Andy on 10/04/2019 at 17:15

Ben with a Genesis    7 days ago

I agree, but being able to just reach and open the boot without unlocking the rest of the car each time is convenient and avoids the risk of leaving the rest of the car unlocked.

But yes it's mainly marketing. Along with big wheels that reduce economy, offer lower grip and cost more to replace!

Engineer Andy    7 days ago

I agree, but being able to just reach and open the boot without unlocking the rest of the car each time is convenient and avoids the risk of leaving the rest of the car unlocked.

But yes it's mainly marketing. Along with big wheels that reduce economy, offer lower grip and cost more to replace!

...and big wheels and low profile tyres are far more susceptible to blow outs and punctures, aquaplaning and poor grip in even low amounts of ice and snow.

Solutions to problems that never existed.

As reagrds the unlocking the boot only security issue, all it required (some cars have them) a third button on the blipper to just unlock the boot. Cost probably £5 per car.

RafflesNH    5 days ago

Buying/owning cars is not just about 'engineering' logic. (Some) People have a sense of aesthetics and novelty factor too. Life would be very boring if everything was prosaic and 'sensible'.

NickNike    2 days ago

You have a Genesis? I have a Genesis, and I would have thought you'd know that bigger wheels give a more comfortable ride.

MarcusVia    4 days ago

It's amusing to watch some of the "keyless" tech in action. I've a Volvo V90 which is "poverty-spec" and doesn't have full keyless entry - you have to plip the fob to open any door. Next to me at the garden centre was a "better-than-poverty" V90 with all the keyless tech. My daughter watched amusingly at the gentleman next to me with plants in arms as he danced around one-leggedly at the rear of the car. He alternated from one leg to the other whilst jiggling the other raised leg under the boot until he eventually gave up, ditched the plants onto the floor and pressed the remote. There must be a name we can give to this modern-day manoeuvre. The "tailgate boogie-woogie" perhaps?

Edited by MarcusVia on 14/04/2019 at 20:27

Regent2288    3 days ago

I am so Gobsmacked that FORD who created this UNSAFE Keyless feature on the Market leading FOCUS now want us users to pay for a fix.£72 Plus maybe one hours labour..That could be close to £140 /150.. I cant believe all the promotion Hype that FORD are vehicle security conscious , more like they made a huge mistake and WE have to pay for the FIX...sad.. I bet the Fleet users dont Pay..?? Next car won't be a FORD..!!

Edited by Regent2288 on 15/04/2019 at 12:19

linedancer111    3 days ago

I agree with you !

peter corrins    3 days ago

100% behind you for your comment , why should we ford drivers pay for their cock ups i think we pay enough to the government with road tax and any other tax they want to charge us , so i say come on FORD get these cars back for a recall and make them safe because thats what we paid for when buying one of your cars.

diddy11cg    3 days ago

May one enquire how the insurance companies are treating these insecure cars. If my car is stolen because of Ford's arrogance and inefficiency will my insurance company sue them for reimbursement?

   3 days ago

Why can't manufacturers of new vehicles simply incorporate an on/off button on the actual key-fob, which should hopefully eliminate this ridiculous issue entirely ?

However, I totally agree that if it is technically possible, Ford really ought to be retro-fitting this feature to 2-3 year old vehicles completely FREE OF CHARGE, unless the company is seriously intent on losing thousands of previously loyal customers ?


bobber    3 days ago

Sounds like Ford have shot themselves in the foot here. Currently available on Fiestas, Focus "from next month" and up to TWO YEARS for the rest of the range. Are their policies dictated by Theresa May?

Revelyne Fenner    3 days ago

Absolutely we owners shouldnt pay for a security retro fit.. lets campaign ... 38 Degrees?... or someone get petition going... i dont know how .. but people power could do it. Any ideas?

Barry Pulford    3 days ago

Why should customers pay for this lock up,I think it's a fix

Andrew Seib    3 days ago

Ford are hardly alone in coming unstuck with this security problem, and at least they seem to be doing something about it.

Miniman777    3 days ago

To be fair, BMW has been using keys for more than a year which stop transmitting after 2mins of inactivity. Ford are playing catch-up.

Plodding Along    3 days ago

It would probably almost bankrupt Ford to retrofit these systems for free but a 20 quid charge would be fair.

Andrew Seib    3 days ago

Most manufacturers of cars sold in Europe, from Alfa to VW, have a major problem with keyless entry security.

NickNike    2 days ago

My estate is littered with drives, single and double garages. If the lazy b******s stopped parking on the pavement and locked them away in a garage, this would be less of a problem. Anyway. it only takes a couple of seconds to slip them into a Faraday pouch.

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