August 31, 2004

The Redneck's OnStar: Locked Out of Your Car? Try This

My father-in-law, Bob, forwards this hint with the message, "We've got to try this sometime." Okay, but he goes first.

This only applies to cars that can be unlocked by that remote button on your key ring. Should you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are home, and you don't have "OnStar," here's your answer to the problem!

If someone has access to the spare remote at your home, call them on your cell phone (or borrow one from someone if the cell phone is locked in the car too!)

Hold your (or anyone's) cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the other person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the phone.

Your car will unlock. and it works. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk, or have the "horn" signal go off, or whatever!)

UPDATE: Department of "If it seems too good to be true it was forwarded email." An alert reader in the comments points out that Snopes has already debunked this with an entry that gives you all you need to know about automobile unlocking systems. Excerpt:
"Relaying remote entry system signals via telephone might work if the signals were sound-based, but they're not. An RKE system transmits an encrypted data stream to a receiver inside the automobile via an RF (radio frequency) signal, a signal that can't be effectively relayed via cell phone.... We don't know whether whoever created this message was deliberately joking or earnestly mistaken, but the vision of stranded motorists vainly holding cell phones up to their cars in the hopes of unlocking them is an amusing one.
I certainly hope my father-in-law didn't talk my mother-in-law into trying this.

Posted by Vanderleun at August 31, 2004 9:03 PM
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I don't think so...
As far as I know, those car remotes all use radio signals, which won't be transmitted by the phone.
Even if some of them use acoustic signals, the phone system only passes frequencies in the audible range. Try this: hold the remote up to your ear and press the button. Hear the tones? No? Then whatever signal the remote is emitting isn't something that will travel by telephone.
On the other hand, I suppose it would be amusing to watch people try the car-remote-over-the-phone trick.

Posted by: Eric Wilner at August 31, 2004 10:23 PM

Call me a skeptic. You'll have to show me, or at least tell me you've done this yourself.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at September 1, 2004 1:14 AM

Just tried it. Dosen't work with my AT&T. Can you hear me now?

Posted by: LP at September 1, 2004 1:42 AM

Snopes has already debunked this...

Posted by: Nathan Brindle at September 1, 2004 5:52 AM