‘They cost a fortune to replace,’ warns mechanic over convenient car feature that could even get your vehicle stolen


A HOME mechanic warned drivers of a little-known danger associated with keyless ignition systems.

He said keyless systems are more efficient and convenient, but physical keys are more reliable.

A home mechanic discussed a little-known issue with keyless entry smart fobs


A home mechanic discussed a little-known issue with keyless entry smart fobsCredit: YouTube/scottykilmer
He said it can make a vehicle easier to steal, and can cost a lot of money to reprogram if lost or damaged


He said it can make a vehicle easier to steal, and can cost a lot of money to reprogram if lost or damagedCredit: YouTube/scottykilmer

Scotty Kilmer is a home mechanic who earned his 6.2 million followers on YouTube (@ScottyKilmer) by publishing accessible DIY maintenance videos, covering industry news, and in-depth product reviews.

He spent 42 years as a professional mechanic before bestowing his knowledge onto the internet.

In a recent video, he discussed keyless ignition systems and how they could put drivers at a greater risk for theft.

He made his distaste for smart keys known and showed a strong preference for physical keys.

“I like plain, old keys,” he said.

“They’re cheap and they very rarely break – but the new keys with no key and have RFID signals in them cost a fortune to replace if you lose them.”

According to A+ Mobile Locksmiths, the typical price range for a private locksmith to reprogram a smart key is $50 to $100.

For a dealership to perform the service, the price range increases from $220 to $500.

He went on to say that the convenience that comes with the lack of a physical key becomes apparent if the fob becomes wet.

“Unlike a plain old key, they’re not waterproof,” he continued.

‘It’s gonna cost you thousands,’ warns mechanic of crucial maintenance many forget – $30 task can give you extra miles

“If these fall in the water or they accidentally go through the wash, goodbye.”

In regards to theft, Kilmer referred to RDIF signal cloning using an RFID transmitter.

“These also make your vehicle easier to steal,” he said.

“People can copy these signals. With a regular key, they have to make a copy of the key. With [keyless entry fobs], there’s no key to copy here – just a computer signal.”

Another method is RFID signal boosting, which essentially copies the signal and boosts it close to the car to fool the security system into thinking the key is close enough to unlock the car and disarm the anti-theft system, writes Sure Lock & Key locksmiths.

However, not all hope is lost.

“First of all, not all cars can be hacked by the method described above,” the site wrote.

“For your calmness, we need to note that encryption flaws are usually common among older cars sold outside the USA.”

Little-known Car Features

How often do you look at features on your vehicle and not know why they are there? Here are some answers:

Gas Tank Locator:

  • Drivers may or may not have noticed the small arrow next to the gas symbol on the dash.
  • This indicates which side of the vehicle has the gas tank so you don’t need to stretch the hose over the car or get out of your vehicle to check before parking at a pump.

Road Condition Indicator:

  • A snowflake icon might flash up on your dashboard when driving in cold weather.
  • This informs drivers that temperatures outside are cold enough for the roads to freeze.

Secret Key:

  • Vehicles that come with a key fob that uses buttons to open the doors often have a secret key for emergencies.
  • On that one day that the fob battery runs out, drivers can often find a manual key contained inside the fob.
  • There is often a button to press or a cap to slide off to reveal it.

The site writes that the most vulnerable brands to key cloning are made by Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, and Tesla.

To disprove Kilmer, many smart key fobs are water resistant, as many of his viewers were sharp enough to point out.

“My 4Runner key fob has been wet multiple times and it still works,” they wrote.

Another viewer commented about keys not being waterproof, referring to his personal experience with both systems.

“Scotty probably means the old fashioned single piece keys from like the 80s and earlier,” they wrote.

“The new keys that have the integrated fob have a dust seal around the edge just like the keyless fobs. It’s meant to keep out dirt and dust and SOME water.”

Someone else wrote that there are drawbacks to physical keys, too.

“If your ‘regular’ key isn’t chipped, it means your ignition system has no immobilizer and is super easy to steal. I’ll take the wireless key any day.”

He claimed physical keys were more reliable - but some viewers disagreed


He claimed physical keys were more reliable – but some viewers disagreedCredit: YouTube/scottykilmer


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