POSTED: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 5:22pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 5:23pm
If you drive a fairly late model vehicle, you probably love your smart key.
Call it electronic overkill.
Originally that little black key fob in your pocket made it easier to lock and unlock the car.
Now, it does a lot more, and some safety experts are worried.
Every week when I get a new car to road test for KETK, I see just a little more technology. Some of it is good, like anti-lock brakes and stability control.
And some of it is nonsense, like paddle-shifters or rain sensing windwhield wipers.
But the humble key fob has really evolved.
Oh, is still locks and unlocks the door, opens the trunk, it even, can start your car remotely.
The one thing you don’t have to do anymore is actually turn the key.
Sean Kane is president of Safety Research & Strategies.
“You had very specific procedures that were required for you to remove a key from a car,” he says. “That included locking the car in the park gear, turning the ignition key to the off position, before removing the key. Today with a smart key or key fob, you can exit the car without doing any of those things.”
And with engines quieter than ever, you may not realize the engine is running. That has led to more thefts, so-called rollaways where a car is left out of gear, and even deaths by carbon monoxide because people don’t realize the engine is running in the garage.
Some aftermarket remote starters installed on Toyotas have been a problem, because they might interfere with the cars electronics.
One of the problems that we’re seeing is that smart keys aren’t all that smart. And what we’re seeing is a whole host of electronic inteference issues.
So why do we have smartkey in the first place? Were drivers overly fatigued actually turning the ignition key?
The reason is money.
Anytime an automaker can replace a mechanical device with an electronic device, their cost goes down.