Why Does an Engine Immobilizer Need to Be in Your Car?

Immobilizer System

Let’s consider what an engine immobilizer is, how it works, how safe it is, and how to check if your car has this device.

Сar owners may not even be aware of the fact that most vehicles produced in the last 20 years come with an engine immobilizer. This is essentially an anti-theft electronic security technology that protects the vehicle from being stolen by someone who has no key to start the engine.

Statistics say immobilizers really contribute to fewer thefts. Nowadays car dealers distribute key fobs or smart keys with buttons to lock/unlock the doors, open the trunk, or, in some cases, remotely start the vehicle.

How It Works

Many key fobs don’t have an actual key linked to the base. You just need to be in the cabin with the key fob to start your car with an engine start button.

Today’s smart keys and key fobs have transponder chips inside which communicate a passcode to the vehicle’s immobilizer system. The car starts only if the key fob’s and immobilizer’s pin codes coincide. Most immobilizers alarm if the wrong code is used.

Besides, there are some digital systems to warn a security service during a theft attempt, and the security company calls the car owner to notify.

More advanced two-tier security systems with a fixed code (the immobilizer checks it first) and a changeable code (altered each time you start the car, required second) can be used. The car starts only when both codes are accepted by the system.

Does My Car Have It?

To check if your new vehicle comes with the mobilizer from the factory or without it – take a look at the car’s handbook which should have all the necessary information on the vehicle.

If you deal with a used car, and you could not find the needed info in the handbook, ask a skilled mechanic to inspect the vehicle and verify whether the immobilizer is here or not. The previous owner could replace or remove it, or it could be disabled.

How Safe Is the Immobilizer?

Producers of immobilizers develop and constantly improve them to effectively assist in preventing car crimes.

Today’s security systems are becoming more sophisticated, but criminals are also becoming more resourceful. They look for and find ways to bypass all degrees of security. So, immobilizers are vulnerable.

For example, recently information appeared about how easy it is to steal a Kia or Hyundai vehicle if to follow the ‘Kia Boys,’ instructional videos on the social media. Vehicles of these two brands with a traditional mechanical key and without engine immobilizer turned out to defenseless against car thieves.

Usage of keyless entry and start systems in modern cars led to increase in relay thefts. Thieves use devices to intercept the vehicle’s key code to ‘cheat’ the system and drive away with no necessity to deactivate the immobilizer.

In addition to smart security tech, drivers/car owners themselves can decrease the risk of thefts if they park vehicles in well-lit areas, keep car keys secure, and be always cautious every time they are near the car.


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