Dave opened his entertaining talk telling us about his past life,
ex-REME and for the latter part of his career, Renault Security
(vehicles). He's done lots of stuff and the hardest thing he has
ever driven was a tracked vehicle downhill on ice.
Dave focused on Car security, various technological driver aids,
and in particular Renault with Thatcham rated security devices;
Dave spent the last three years of his career based at Renault in
France before retiring in 2003.
Lots of problems with this as has been noted in the press
recently. All manufacturers have the same issue as they all work
on the same frequency as UK police radio - 468MHz; by sheer
coincidence, this is the same frequency as home doorbells -
Keyless systems should work 1m from car door and require a foot
on the clutch before starting the car engine. This is a safety
feature to prevent young children getting into the car and
starting the engine - hopefully they cannot reach the clutch!
How should the key fob be stored at home to prevent theft by
clever thieves? Place it in a metal tin to create a shield around
it - known as a Faraday cage. Bit of a pain for the most of us -
my keys are stored in a wooden drawer!
One point to note was when buying a second hand car, make sure
there are two sets of key fobs. Otherwise, walk away! Your car
will be stolen. If stolen with the key then your car will not be
insured - the insurance company will ask to see both sets of keys
before paying out.
If a car is stolen by clever thieves using a laptop and scanning
for your keyless fob whilst standing on your doorstep late at
night and the car is started by using the signal from the key in the house, then the car will keep going until it
stops. Once stopped, it cannot be started without the key fob or
code. Remote key fobs have a rolling code with several billion
combinations so unlikely the thieves will get it started again,
but then the car could be used for spare parts. It takes three
thieves to steal your car - one to stand at the door scanning, one
to hold the laptop and one to break into the car. (Wish our
three main political parties would work in a team like this to
get us through Brexit - PG comment).
With key-less systems there is generally a push button start so
how to stop the car if for example the driver has a heart attack?
On Renault and Jaguar the Stop/Start button has to be pressed
three times. This cuts power to the engine and power steering
but allows you to coast safely to a stop. On a Renault, the
lights stay on so creating some safety to other road users.
With Jaguar the lights go out.
The distance at which the key fob works is up for discussion but the
figures below can be used as a starter:
- 1m Proximity to start the car
- 50m to open the doors
These are two different things. You do need to be within a 1m of
the Stop/Start button to start the car though or was that obvious?
Electronic Handbrake - how do you know its on? No idea!
There is generally a light on the dashboard to say it is on. Dave
reckons this is safer than a traditional manual handbrake as when
activated the Engine Management Unit comes on and activates the
ABS system. Technology can be useful when you know how to make it
Alarms - after market alarms do not go necessarily have to
go through Thatcham testing, whereas OEM alarms do. Dave's advice
is to never buy an after market alarm unless it has been Thatcham
Note that Thatcham is owned by the insurance companies.
Steering wheel locks - Check its Thatcham approved; do
not buy the type that goes between the steering wheel and foot
pedals - unless Thatcham approved. Prefer to go for one that is a
disk and covers the whole wheel - DiskLock - cost of around £120.
Laptop security - When leaving work, place laptop in
boot of car. Not when stopped on M4 services - you are being
watched and the thief will now know where your laptop is!
Airbags - These only go off with inertia generated by a
collision at around 22mph. If a car spins and crashes, the inertia
is absorbed so airbags won't necessarily go off. There was a case
where Renault were sued because of this, but it is impossible to
reproduce similar instance to prove liability. Cars also have
three crumple zones to also help absorb inertia.
Worth noting that at 30mph and unrestrained item in the back of
the car, ie on parcel shelf, will go through the windscreen.
Airbags have a 10year lifetime, but how many vehicles are over 10
years old on the road? And who replaces them? The cost to replace
is in the order of £5k!
Do car manufacturers talk? No, but there is a working
group where they talk through Thatcham security. The group members
may talk to each other, but this is unofficial.
Is technology too much? Do not want a car driven by
gizmos but could get worse with electric cars!