First of all, a little bit about Smart keys:
Smart keys are electronic devices used to unlock your car from a distance. If you own one, there is no need for you to hold the key in your hands anymore if you want to get into your car. You just have to have it in your pocket.
They were developed by Siemens in 1995, and used by Mercedes-Benz for the first time in 1998.
Smart keys communicate with the car via an antenna placed somewhere in the body of the car. The key itself contains a pulse generator, which transmits a signal back and forth between the vehicle and the key. So, in order to get in, you simply have to stand close to your car, or press your car key button (depends on the type of key and the manufacturer). The signal is transmitted at the low end of the Ultra high frequency spectrum. Also, Smart keys are safe considering they are uniquely programmed: one key, one car. The key sends and encrypted signal to the car so no one can intercept it and make a copy of the key for themselves – think of it as the internet’s very own https standard.
The antennae in the car receive the signal from the key, ‘let the car know’ the key is close by, and compare the unique car code and the one programmed in the key. If they match, the system unlocks the car. It is rarely sufficient to just stand close to the car for it to be fully unlocked – you have to actually grab the door handle (it has a sensor that recognizes the touch). Some cars can also be configured in such a way that a single press of a Smart key button moves the seats and mirrors based on their pre-assigned settings. You basically say: I want this seat to go back this much and the mirror that much, and then when you press a button they move automatically.
Voila, unlocked – technology at its best. Smart keys are very convenient, as you don’t have to fumble about for your keys (and risk losing them) in order to get into your car.
Once you’re inside, you start the engine by pressing the ignition button.
When leaving the car, you can lock it by grabbing the door handle (there is a sensor that automatically locks the car), or merely stepping away from the vehicle.
Also (this is a very hypothetical situation), a Smart key can save you from getting your car stolen or getting robbed – people are often assaulted while standing clueless and distracted in front of their cars, looking for their car keys.
As with a traditional key, you really don’t want to be caught unprepared with a defective or faulty Smart key. You can do as much with a dead Smart key as with a traditional key broken in the lock – very little. Again, 10pm at night, you’ve just finished buying your groceries after a long, long day at work, you’re parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot, the street lamp next to you is blinking, the wind is howling, and your Smart key won’t open your car. Granted, if it’s just a dead battery, you can help yourself right away, since every Smart key has a sort of a backup system – a traditional, metal key that you can take out of your key housing and unlock your car door. But if you don’t know that, if you just didn’t think of it, or if your Smart key is acting funny for whatever reason; you need a professional.
If you happen to find yourself stranded with a defective Smart key, call your car locksmith. They can reprogram it and bring it back to life. Get the boys to come out, fix your key, and you may still make it home in time for dinner.