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What is Keyless Entry?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 23, 2024
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Keyless entry is a standard feature in vehicles that have installed alarm systems. A small, battery-operated device or remote hangs on the key chain and features one or more buttons for arming and disarming the alarm. The button operates the door locks as well. When the driver approaches the car, a press of the button will not only disarm the alarm, but unlock the driver's door, making it unnecessary to use a key.

Another type of keyless entry popular in the 1980s used a keypad at the door handle. The keypad was not necessarily tied into an alarm and was simply a convenience feature. By entering a personal, preprogrammed code into the pad, the owner could unlock the doors without a key. This allowed quick entry to the vehicle, and it also made it easy to retrieve the keys if they were accidentally locked in the car.

Today, most vehicles use remote alarm systems for keyless entry, making keypads unnecessary. The remote has several advantages over keypad entry, including the fact that pushing a button is easier and quicker than using a keypad, and it doesn't require remembering a code. With a remote, the vehicle can also be unlocked from a distance, as the signal travels 30 feet (9 m) or more. As a result, it's also called "remote entry."

When a driver is approaching his car and feels threatened in any way, unlocking the car before he reaches it allows him instant entry. Once inside, another push of the button locks the doors. Most systems also have an emergency button on the remote, and pressing it will cause the alarm to sound, attracting attention and potentially scaring off potential thugs.

In most cases, however, a keyless entry system is simply extremely convenient. When a driver's hands are full of groceries, hardware, or even toddlers, a push of the button unlocks the doors and optionally, the trunk. This feature is especially nice in the rain. It also makes locking the doors easier.

Some advanced models offer a feature called "remote starting." This allows the driver to start the engine with a push of a button on the remote while the vehicle remains locked. The car parked in the driveway could be started from inside a house, for example, and by the time the driver gets in the car, the engine (and the inside of the car) will be warm. For people who live in the heat, remote starting can allow the air conditioning to cool the car before the driver enters, too.

Keyless entry is a standard feature on most new vehicles. If it is not included, it can be added later by having an alarm system installed that features it. Different alarm systems come with a range of features, and prices vary accordingly.

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Discussion Comments
By orangey03 — On Feb 16, 2013

@healthy4life – It is really handy to have both. There are times when I don't want to carry my keys around with me, so I just lock them inside the car out of sight and use the keyless entry pad to get back inside.

I will use my remote keyless entry to open the trunk. Instead of just unlocking the trunk, it actually opens it up for me. The door will start lifting, and I can push it up the rest of the way when I get there.

This is great for when my hands are full of bags. I can push the door open with one of the loaded bags and toss them in there easily.

By healthy4life — On Feb 16, 2013

I have a remote keyless entry system that includes both a keypad and a remote. I love being able to unlock the car by entering the code if I lock my keys in my car and also being able to unlock it from a distance by using the remote.

By kylee07drg — On Feb 15, 2013

It's too easy to activate the car alarm with keyless entry. If I have my keys in my pocket or my purse and I accidentally apply pressure to the remote, I often hit the panic button and wake the neighborhood!

This is really embarrassing. I rush to grab the remote and turn the alarm off, because it is so loud!

By wavy58 — On Feb 15, 2013

I got my first car with a keyless entry system back in 2005, and I was thrilled. Even though this system was widely available before then, I had only driven older model cars that didn't have it.

I absolutely loved being able to unlock my car from across the parking lot. What I found really handy was that if I pressed the lock button twice, my car would honk, and since I often forgot where I parked it, I could follow the sound and find it.

By anon106098 — On Aug 24, 2010

i need to know some more information about keyless entry. Yesterday in one car showroom, one of the salespersons told me about keyless entry. He said it was the security key.

By BelugaWhale — On Jul 17, 2010

In addition to key-less entry systems that have developed, there are also key-less start systems in which you don't need a key to start your car. This is different from a remote start system and I know it sounds kind of dangerous or silly, but the key needs to be so close to the ignition in order to start which means a thief can't just automatically start your car if they want to steal it. I have a key-less entry and key-less start car and I love it.

By lmorales — On Jul 17, 2010

@Ubiquitous - I agree, it can be very dangerous without a keyless entry. However, in the same breath, I'd like to stress that keyless entries won't eliminate all of this problem. Common sense like not going out alone into a dark parking lot if you can help it and being prepared or wielding pepper spray can even help.

By Ubiquitous — On Jul 14, 2010

I think for the safety reasons alone, key-less entry or remote entry should be standard on all new vehicles.

There are many stories on the internet and local news stations about women being physically attacked and could not reach the safety of their car in time.

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