Smart key, pretty dumb

Caroline Paul confronts a smart key that unlocks her car while she's surfing

smart key big[1]

Recently I acquired a new car, the first in 14 years (I wrote about it here). It was a Chevrolet Volt, with cutting-edge hybrid technology and a Car of the Year award in 2012, but the agent who sold it to me seemed impressed most of all with its “smart key.” Since I misplace my car keys often, a smart key conjured up visions of something that would come running when called. Sadly, that was not what it was. It was interesting nonetheless: a tiny electronic gizmo that remotely spoke to the car.

This meant that things I had done for my whole life without complaint or even an inkling that they were burdensome were now eliminated. No more tiresome inserting-key-into-ignition-and-turning, for instance. I could simply push a button to start the car if the smart key was nearby. No more fishing around in my bags or unsightly pocket-patting to find the old key fob. Within three feet of the doors, the smart key automatically unlocked the car. “Neat,” I said.

Soon after, I went surfing. I usually take my key with me in my wetsuit. Belatedly it occurred to me: a smart key is not waterproof. What to do? Hide it on my car? That wasn’t feasible, as it meant the car would automatically unlock, even when the key stayed hidden. Call a locksmith to make a door key and hide the smart key inside the car? Nope. Still within three feet. Then I had an epiphany: metal would interrupt the transmitter! I searched at local hardware stores and on the internet, but the lockboxes and magnetic key holders were all plastic. I bought a thick, albeit plastic lockbox. The doors still opened.

I called my local Chevrolet dealer. I told them I wanted a key that wasn’t smart, that I could put in my wetsuit. They seemed puzzled, and told me they didn’t make a key like that anymore. “Please do,” I said, thinking that they were joking.

They weren’t.

I drove the car to them in person. In person, they shook their heads. “We’ve never heard of this problem before.”

So I asked them to disable the automatic door unlocking aspect of the smart key.

That couldn’t be done either.

“Hold it,” I said. “You have a technology that you can’t override?” I had read enough science fiction to know that this was where things went terribly, terribly wrong.

I visited the Chevrolet Volt forum on the internet. Everyone seemed to love the smart key and its ability to open the doors without a button command. Clearly these people weren’t surfers. I wondered if they exercised at all, given their excitement at not having to - literally – lift a finger. When I explained my dilemma, the chat room world was stumped. Someone suggested forcibly removing the battery from the fob, but warned that the chip might reset itself. This meant that when the battery was reinserted, the car would fail to start.

This smart key was starting to look very, very dumb.

Just five years ago the goal of the best technology was that it performed what we asked of it, like an eager butler on Downton Abbey. But now it was supposed to go one step further. Technology is being designed to anticipate our need before we ask. But what happens if it anticipates wrong? Sometimes a key within three feet of a car does not mean the human wants to open it. Sometimes it means she’s gone surfing.

I’m not just bashing the Volt makers. I love its hybrid technology, which is the primary reason I bought it. And I’m told this smart key is top of the line; all car companies will probably soon adopt it. Still, this was getting to be a real hassle.

The issue was finally solved, but not by Chevrolet, and not by a computer expert. “Aluminum foil,” suggested my surfer buddy,  Rodes. Aluminum foil? You mean that kitchen item, invented back in 1910? Sure enough, just one thin layer around the smart key did the trick. The smart key could no longer communicate with the car, no matter how close it was. Aluminum foil! Such a low-tech item, easily solving a high-tech conundrum. I put the smart key, no longer smart, in the lockbox, attached it to my car, and went surfing.




Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton
Caroline Paul is the author of "East Wind, Rain" and "Fighting Fire," and she co-wrote "Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology" with her partner Wendy MacNaughton. MacNaughton's illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, Juxtapoz, and Print Magazine. "Lost Cat" was inspired by the curious disappearances of their beloved Tibia.
Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton
Tags: Downtime,Gadgets & Devices
  • Tim Lange

    RTFM, read the fine manual, I changed my Volt so the doors don’t automatically unlock when the fob is near. Battery will come out of the fairly easy, slide open door on fob, remove battery. The key in the fob (there is a key, press the silver button) will open the door without a battery in the fob.

    What, no waterproof bags for diving, really?

    • Battlespeed

      Interesting (frightening?) that the Chevy people she consulted didn’t know any of this, eh? Maybe that’s the story behind this story.

      • Amused Norn

        Highly likely that she never asked them “how can I keep my car from automatically unlocking when I bring my key close to it?” but instead launched straight in to “can you make me a dumb, waterproof key?” But that’s largely because the feature in the manual doesn’t solve the problem: Once the key key is safely locked in the car, the surfing happens, and now what? Call AAA to unlock the car? With the cellphone that’s also not waterproof and is probably sitting safely right next to the key, inside the locked car?

        • dougeducate

          My car/key does not allow me to lock the doors if the key is inside the car.

          • Enoch

            You mean in the ignition switch.

            “Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by Tech Page One.”

            As ridiculous as the article. LOL

          • dougeducate

            No, not the ignition switch. I cannot lock my doors if the key is inside (the button on the outside of the door).

          • Lightek

            but, the button on the inside of the door will lock it

          • Michael A Kocher

            Nah, most new keys have RFID tags and the car can tell when the key is still inside, so it won’t let you manually lock the door and close it, the lock just pops back up. You can lock it by pressing the button on the FOB, or by pressing the lock button inside the car with the door closed, however.

          • austinwoman

            Seriously? You mean if you are in the car and someone approaches, you can’t lock yourself in for safety?

          • Gandy

            Not with the button on the fob but I can manualy

          • dougeducate

            Think about it…not yet, huh? Try a little harder…give up? Ok. I cannot lock the door with the fob while inside. I can lock it with the button on the door. Try thinking once in awhile before asking such a silly question, ok?

          • mp

            Um… “My car/key does not allow me to lock the doors if the key is inside the car.”

            You literally wrote your car does not allow you to lock the doors… You should have wrote “my car’s key.”

            Try learning how to communicate.

          • dougeducate

            Sorry, next time I will try to draw you a picture, ok? Poor thing, bless your heart.

          • BillinDetroit

            Your attitude is inappropriate. MP read your words correctly. Learn how to use words and save your Crayolas for smoking.

          • Michael J. Virostko

            I have a Kia Sorento. The doors will not lock if the smart key is inside. But if the second smart key is used it will. Holding the smart key in the door plane will not start the car. But once the car is started, it will run with no key in the car until the gas runs out.

          • KNot Inviting

            I luv yu both!

          • KNot Inviting

            “luv yu both!”

          • Aaron Andrews

            That seemed unnecessarily harsh. You DID say your CAR doesn’t allow you to lock the doors if the key is inside, not your fob. Saying the CAR suggests the buttons don’t work either, not just the button on the fob.

          • Paulette

            Your door automatically locks when you begin driving and you can lock the door as soon as you get inside. She means that if your key is left in the car and you push the door lock down and close the door it will unlock. This feature has saved me calling AAA.

          • Lightek

            not on the buick…. locked right inside … I could see it

          • sweptarea


          • Lightek

            Well, I had a buick with onstar. I left the keys in the cup holder when I was at the gas station. Accidentally hit the lock button and the dang keys were locked inside the car! so much for proximity….
            On star couldn’t roust the car because it was a bad cloud day… or so they said. when checking on why a proximity key could be locked in the car they said it was for safety. You may want to have yourself locked in the car with the keys should there be danger outside. ok
            AAA to the rescue.

        • Bender Rodriguez

          You don’t know what words mean. You also seem to think lobbing an assumption makes it true. The truth is, people aren’t experts at their jobs very much anymore. I 100% believe the techs at Chevy looked at her with puzzled faces.

      • Pamala Vela

        Tracy Chevrolet knew this. I had a similar conundrum when taking the kids to the beach. They told me to take out the battery. When I got the car – they showed me the key on the side of the fob.

        • Aaron Andrews

          OK, so there’s a KEY built in? Um… That makes this a story about not taking the time to understand the technology one has bought rather than a story about technology doing too much for us.

          My Wrangler has the ability to turn off hill assist and the seat belt chime when offroading. I know how to do that. Why? because I took the time to understand my new Jeep after buying it. Both are detailed in the manual — I assume something like a key being BUILT IN to the fob is in the manual too.

    • Johan Smith

      LOL. Sounds like the name of this article should have been “SMART KEY, STUPID USER”.

      Pretty ironic given that she mentions “…their excitement at not having to – literally – lift a finger…” when according to you she could easily have fixed her non-existent problem(s) by doing just that herself.

      • Captain Obvious

        Doesn’t change the fact that since the invention of the car, the key has been inherently waterproof. Making the key electronic just creates one more thing to fail. She shouldn’t have to come up with a workaround for something like this. And I agree that the smart key is pretty stupid, not just for the reasons listed by the author but also because it has been shown to be an easily hacked device and is quite a bit less secure than a good mechanical lock. New doesn’t always mean better, and more complicated almost always introduces problems unforeseen by the designer.

        And as for the RTFM comments, why on earth should somebody have to put their life on pause to read a manual on a bloody car key? Seriously, a key is something that should just work and not require an investment in time for learning a new technology.

        The whole e-key thing should be an option, and should exist along side a traditional key just like the door/trunk fob and separate ignition key combination that became popular in the 90′s.

        Then there’s the ridiculous prices these keys fetch. Some of them are $300-$400 a piece!! I have a 25 year old Mercedes with a steel key (pretty much un-pickable) and a replacement, from the dealer, is $35. My key is 25 years old and still works. Try and get that from a “smart key”.

        • Reality Check

          Well, don’t get a car that uses FOBs.

          • BigRed962

            I won’t.
            The point here that many of you don’t realize, is that driving a car had been made pretty much a straight forward, common sense, endeavor…has been for several decades UNTIL NOW. Why in the world should we have to read a manual to figure out how a car works (let alone open/lock the car, start it, etc).
            The KISS principle has completely left the mentality of car designers.

          • Philbert

            It’s still common sense. It’s just that sense isn’t so common. Apparently this has really struck a chord with the Luddite community. This is a case of the market driving demand. The vast majority of people want this functionality. There will be some who don’t. I’m betting some people felt the same when you no longer had to crank the engine (literally) to start it because “that was the way things were”. Grow up, get over it and realize that things change. If you can’t keep up, take the bus, keep your old car, or ride a bike. Unless having two wheels the same size is too controversial.

          • Captain Obvious

            I think you’ve failed to read my argument, or at least gather the point I was making.

          • Captain Obvious

            Thank you for replying to these folks more politely than I would have. I am an engineer by profession as well as hobby, and I have designed both complex and simple architectures. My whole point is that adding complications. i.e. ‘design features’ to anything does not come without drawbacks. The flaws in these smart keys are such that I really want nothing to do with them at all, certainly not in their current implementations. I’m sure that a lot of the limitations of the current technology will be overcome someday, but at the same time, the addage of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ comes to mind.

            On the other hand, GM has recently been caught with their pants down hiding a horribly designed mechanical key system that seems to be implicated in the loss of multiple lives. I would however chalk this up to cost-cutting and cheapening of design, as well as inadequate consideration of failure modes and their interactions with steering column locking and safety systems such as SRS.

            What I advocate is not the stance of a Luddite, but rather being a little more aware that refining existing proven technologies is often better than replacing them. Cost cutting and rushed design/QA/production phases are always a recipe for disaster, whether it’s GM’s locks or the easily hacked, expensive, stupidly complicated ‘smart keys’ of today’s plastic, disposable cars.

            Many of the successful technological breakthroughs of the last decade or more have been so because they simplified our lives, or simply did something more efficiently. These crude electronic key systems complicate needlessly and offer little of the resilience of cheaper, more reliable systems.

            When those of you with electronic keys who so decry my suitability to use technology own a car that’s been on the road -with the original key- for 25 years, then you come and talk to me about the superiority of your overpriced RFID badges.

          • pointandshoot

            I agree with your points on engineering. Making something complicated and expensive that has no advantage over a simple design is insane. However it seems to be the route many companies, especially automakers, are taking. Back in the old days a key cost about a dollar or two and could be duplicated at any locksmith or hardware store. If you lost the original you had to have one cut using the key code for $5.00. Today you have a several hundred dollar electronic key fob. You either carry the key or the electronic fob. If you lose either on you are screwed. The difference is the replacement cost. Here’s an idea- leave the key in the car and leave it unlocked. Just pull a fuse or two when you leave. Try the engine control and fuel pump. Car won’t start or run without either. Besides- if someone wants to get into your car to steal stuff it’s better they just open the door and not tear stuff up breaking in.
            I recommend getting rid of that eco-pussiefied subsidy mobile and get a real surfers car. Something like a 72 Ford Galaxie station wagon. Plenty of room for boards, buds, beers, and all your buddies. It also can be your residence when needed.

        • Dan Wil

          Neither she nor YOU should operate any machinery, use computers or do anything more strenuous than streching because if you can’t take the time to read the manual; then you (and her) have no one to blame but yourselves.

          • BillinDetroit


            She paid for the manual. They included it. GM is not in the business of distributing books for frivolous reasons. Ergo: it probably is worth at least perusing the Fine table of contents.

            Or maybe not.

          • joe1234x

            Have you READ a manual lately? 300 pages of mostly disclaimer language with a few confusing pieces of gibberish scattered around in between. Most seem to have been translated from another language.

          • BB

            Wow. Deal with the real world much?

        • BillinDetroit

          “And as for the RTFM comments, why on earth should somebody have to put their life on pause to read a manual on a bloody car key?”

          She put her life on pause to locate and query a forum, wait for responses, then read the responses only to come up empty-handed (they hadn’t read the F manual, either).

          (Deleted reference to the “3″ key. Old timers will get the reference, idiot savants will not.)

          In short, why go online to get an answer when one came with the car? Why spend all that money for a Volt and then NOT RTFM?

          If she had RTFM (I can remember a non-politically correct time when the “F” did not mean “Fine” and using Linux meant copying and installing stacks of diskettes and then wrestling the CLI to the ground in a death match in order to compile the kernel … with more insanity awaiting any who wanted to use a GUI, modem or printer. Nowadays Linux is much easier to install and I understand far less about it. I’ve become a button pushing savant just like the Windows and Mac users. Dreck!) while she was waiting for other people to put their lives on pause to respond to her fairly trivial problem, she could have been surfing hours, if not days, earlier.

          Shielding. It works for RFIDS and teensy tiny little radio transmitters … no matter where they are found.

          Reading. Sometimes single-tasking beats multi-tasking, eh?

        • Ann

          I’ve got one of these smart keys. It’s actually gone through the washing machine multiple times (thanks to my hubby leaving the keys in odd sweatshirt pockets) and been fine. Also, every single one of these fobs has a method where you can slide out an actual regular key. You can also remove the push button start to reveal a keyed start. So if you hate all this new tech… you can just put it in a drawer at home and forget about it and use the 1970s tech if you prefer. However, some of us really enjoy not having to dig a car key out of wherever to unlock/start their car.

          • jawshoeaw

            Our prius fobs have been washed a few times too (though not in salt water). I love keyless igntion and I’m baffled that a surfer was so easily foiled pun intended. Who doesn’t know that foil blocks radio??? I admit a small metal key would be nice as a backup and in the Prius fob at least it’s removable. Problem solved.

          • jim

            i didn’t realize that there was any fob that didnt have a small manual key concealed inside it. usually there is a button or switch to pop it out

          • Tagbert

            Same on the Nissan Leaf. Pretty easy to use.

          • Captain Obvious

            Not all of the systems have mechanical backup. If you are ok with how easy it is to steal a car with electronic locking for the ignition, then I guess the convenience is a plus.

          • jim

            the old cars were pretty easy to steal apparently too.

        • ZoomZoomDiva

          A person should read and understand the manual as part of owning and driving the car.

          • Captain Obvious

            I think a person should be able to pull the motor out by themselves before getting a license, but you won’t find too much support for that sentiment.

      • Bender Rodriguez

        It seems to me she was lifting her fingers to overturn a lot of stones. Not performing the answer to the problem for not knowing the answer (or the answer simply not occurring to you) isn’t tantamount to not lifting a finger.

        Why didn’t the Chevy people say, “Let’s look in the manual!” ?

        Critical thinking skills. You gotta try it some time.

        • Xman

          People that can read? Good luck with that!

        • BillinDetroit

          Chevy gave her a manual. Hint, hint. The forum is for people who can’t find the answer in the manual: not those too hooked on a keyboard and video display to flip through its pages.

          Critical thinking skills. They’re not for everyone.

          • buzguy

            Just go to a good dive shop and buy a waterproof plastic container… they come in all shapes, sizes, and types. This is not a new problem that hasn’t been solved before!

      • the beav

        possibly stupid instructor / car salesman but even with the battery out you cannot take the fob swimming so a plastic box hidden on the outside of the car was her only solution

    • Johan Smith

      Reading the manual is too much trouble. Writing an article about the misadventures caused by not reading the manual is a great premise for a stupid rant.

      • master_click_ baiter

        Awesome click bait. So dense they couldn’t use a small dry bag. Or RTFM. Dumb as a stump. I guess surfer cliche still holds.

      • Brian Harden

        You gotta have that word count or you don’t get paid!

      • cvxxx

        American do not read manuals unless they are trying to fix something. When the idiots a compsanies rewsalize that the public doe no need $250 car keys because it’s cool then we will get progress.

        • BillinDetroit

          When customers stop paying for them, perhaps. But there is a large profit on every $250 car key and even more money to be made when they eventually break that it isn’t likely the car companies will back away from this.

          I imagine a $250 car key probably costs about $5 to make. Do the math.

      • westomoon

        Why should a person have to educate themselves about a gadget they would rather not have, which doesn’t provide any value added, and actually degrades some aspects of the process it replaces?

    • refudiator

      Key pocket on wetsuit is usually not large enough for a keyfob. It’s not in the wetsuits manual, so it’s understandable that you wouldn’t know this.

    • Just saying
      • BillinDetroit

        Ooh, that’s mean! :~)

    • A Wil

      Wow, another overly-flipped out commenter. You could’ve just a said ‘read the manual.’ But instead you begin with insults.

      • dhellew3

        Call it an insult if you like, but what else can you expect from government employees that are more concerned about their paycheck than doing a good job.

    • A Wil

      …and you should be driving a Ford. Fords are by far the best cars and trucks on the market. The Ford Focus and Fusion are two of the best cars.

    • Ryan Lockwood

      Except she specifically said she went to the dealer for a solution, and they couldn’t figure it out. Are the users supposed to know more about their car than those that sell them?

      • jim

        in my experience, its been that way

  • Yedmundi II

    And you CAN remove the battery. The smart key holds a chip with a cryptographic ID. Removing the battery can’t change anything.

    People often talk about programming the key so it can operate your car… That is not how it works, the key is not being programmed, it is the car that is being programmed.

    • Al Rowland

      Actually, many are Bluetooth devices with associated issues. I bricked two of my smart keys by carrying them in the same pocket as my Bluetooth enabled phone. Haven’t had any problems since I keep them in opposite pockets. Doesn’t seem logical but those are my facts.

  • Jean C Gilles

    Tin foil hats don’t sound ridiculous now, do they?

    • John Adams

      Or you could put the fob in a baggy before you place inside your wet suit.

      • Swiftright Right

        I dont know if I would want to risk a 100$ fob to a pinhole leak

        • Kevin Freels

          $100? Some of these keys are $300-$400! I swear the move to “smart keys” was to simply boost aftermarket revenue and kill the accessory key industry.

          • LivinginVA

            Yup – I don’t have a smart key, but it does have the “unlock/lock/panic” buttons. All I want is a spare key – non-electronic, but you can’t get them cut anymore – you have to go to the dealership and pay $75.

          • Toolguy2

            I have the same type as you. you can get a key cut to match but it will probably only open the doors and NOT start the motor…about $2-3 at Aco or ACE.

          • Reen B

            I had one made that isn’t “smart”…it unlocks the door and does start the engine, but it only stays running a few seconds and shuts off. Not sure what the logic behind the engine part is, but it’s at least a way to get in if you accidentally lock your keys inside.

          • Kysha Carter-Johnson

            The reason why the vehicle shuts off right after it’s started is because the key is not programed to your vehicle. Go to your local dealership and ask them to program it to your car so the car can start. there is a fee, usually between $62.50-$125.00

          • Gregg Garrison

            Yep … if it is even one of the older “smart keys” it will not start the car …

          • Gregg Garrison

            you can get a spare key for less at a lock smith … but only works for unlocking the doors manually …

          • Scott Campbell

            Aubochon Hardware now makes chipped keys, and they are a lot cheaper than dealerships.

          • thekarl

            My Land Rover one will cost nearly $600 to replace, and I lost one on a trip.

          • dougeducate

            My Rolls-Royce one will cost nearly $15,000 to replace and I lost one somewhere between Monaco and St. Barts. lol

          • Jon Nixon

            When I thought I lost the remaining key fob for my 2009 Prius my only options were to have it towed to the dealer who quoted a price of $600-$800. I located a private locksmith who would do the job for $500- fortunately they turned up in my grandson’s toy box…..

          • Gregg Garrison

            Good point, if you only have one key and lose it … you are screwed … at least if you still have one you can got a second/spare at the dealer for around $100 …
            but you have to have one key to allow the system to be programed for another key …

          • joe1234x

            My car requires that you have TWO working keys in order to re-program (by yourself) a new key. So, you can only re-program a 3rd or 4th key, not a 2nd. And this is a minutely smart key. It doesn’t have a fob or remote unlock or anything, just has a chip in it that the car senses for security to prevent starting if it’s not programmed correctly.
            But this is getting ridiculous with key fobs costing >$100!

          • Major


          • joe1234x


          • John Smith

            I have two vehicles with ‘smart keys’, and each one of them has a removable ‘dumb key’ inside that can be removed in case the battery in the FOB dies. Seems like this might be the better solution…lock the smart part inside the car with the tinfoil, take the dumb part with you to unlock the car later.

            Edit: Wait…I see that the Volt key fob doesn’t have a removable key (it’s attached). That is kind of dumb. Or smart, depending.

          • Sharon McElrath

            Are you sure the dumb key actually opens the door, or is it to lock the glove box when valet parking?

          • Christopher Jordan

            Mine opens the doors, trunks, & unlocks the glove box. I have a Nissan Altima tho.

          • Brian Castellanos

            Okay…because I buy lots of keys for my car.

        • chrisabraham

          It’s not scuba diving, it’s surfing. And, everything comes with risk, including hiding the key on the car with a lock box.

        • TheRefillMan

          The key fob would be much safer risking a pinhole in a bag than being used by two pinhead bags!

        • acidrain69

          Just use 2 plastic bags then. Freezer bags are more durable.

        • Tomk777

          $100? Try $300 bucks, and the hassle of reprograming it.

        • Ryan Durant

          Wouldn’t a ziploc with the key in it, placed *inside* the wetsuit have solved this?

        • KondoKev

          Yea, Ya got a good point there my friend.

        • Paula

          I’m an assistant Scout leader for my son’s Boy Scout troop. I invested in they type of bags thekarl mentioned. One for my phone and another for my tablet. I often use the tablet one for keys, ID, etc. They have cords that you allow you to carry them around your neck. Very handy for those canoe trips with a bunch of squirrely pre-teens and teens who are certain no canoe trip is complete without at least one canoe getting flipped! I think they give extra points for dumping a leader!

      • thekarl

        REI and other outdoor equipment vendors will have some heavy vinyl dry bags for just this purpose.

      • Family Doc 2

        I use a small wet bag while kayaking, made of rather thick neoprene. Cell phone fits in there, too.

  • Steve

    Why not just put the key in a plastic bag so it doesn’t get wet?

  • Red Five

    Part of the point of the article was showing that the people who are supposed to know everything about the car, well, didn’t. Sure, reading the manual probably would have showed the author how to disable the auto-unlock feature, but obviously that, like a physical metal key, is so last century. At any rate, the dealer service people should have known that it was possible to change the auto-unlock setting, even without the owner reading the manual.

    The people who claimed to be knowledgeable about the car on the forums (yes, yes, I know all about forums) were wrong about the key fob battery issue, too, and the thought of having to reprogram /anything/ just to get back into your own vehicle is ridiculous, not to mention the fact that most key programming processes are practically black magic. The Konami cheat code is simple by comparison.

    • Tamsyn Blackwell

      Sometimes the biggest know-nothings in the world work at the car dealer. I took a Ford Explorer in – a brand new one, less than two years old at the time – because it had obviously developed some sort of electrical short in the rear door windows. They would work sporadically. The genius in the service department told me it wasn’t a short – they didn’t work because I never used them. I chewed him out for that one, called Ford, and took it back the next week and got my wiring fixed.

    • Tamsyn Blackwell

      Sometimes the least intelligent individuals in the world work at the car dealer. I took a Ford Explorer in – a brand new one, less than two years old at the time – because it had obviously developed some sort of electrical short in the rear door windows. They would work sporadically. The brain surgeon in the service department told me it wasn’t a short – they didn’t work because I never used them. I chewed him out for that one, called Ford, and took it back the next week and got my wiring fixed.

    • Tamsyn Blackwell

      Sometimes the least intelligent individuals in the world work at the car dealer. I took a Ford Explorer in – a brand new one, less than two years old at the time – because it had obviously developed some sort of electrical short in the rear door windows. They would work sporadically. The service department told me it wasn’t a short – they didn’t work because I never used them. I chewed them out for that one, called Ford, and took it back the next week and got my wiring fixed.

    • Tamsyn Blackwell

      Sometimes the worst source of information is the car dealer. I took a Ford Explorer in – a brand new one, less than two years old at the time – because it had obviously developed some sort of electrical short in the rear door windows. They would work sporadically. The service department told me it wasn’t a short – they didn’t work because I never used them. I chewed them out for that one, called Ford, and took it back the next week and got my wiring fixed.

  • Bob Hampton

    Facts often get in the way of a great story. Didn’t happen this time.

  • Andy Shervin

    A tiny dry bag that you could attach to your surfing attire would solve your problem.

    • ncgh

      Not reliable. You want to trust access to your car to a tiny bag?

      • Fool_Killer

        You would rather hide the key ON THE CAR?!?

        • Swiftright Right

          She said it was in lock box on car.

      • disqus_kDedjO3dNa

        Put it in 2 dry bags then. Problem solved.

        • PNW Tom

          Shhhh. You might set people to thinkin’ here.

    • bill f

      Not really. There are two concerns here, one of which is that there is a good likelyhood that the drybag itself may become separated in the surf and lost. It’s not just about keeping the key dry. I lost a velcro – strap watch (cheapo) once that was on my wrist while water skiing that was ripped off when I wiped out. If the key is able to be left in a ‘safe place’ then the owner is much more assured it will be available for them when they return and need it.

      Seems like with all the ‘smarts’ the car would provide some form of a manual lock/unlock option. Any way, this way GM can sell you a branded key box at the dealer rate! Your 2 cent aluminum foil can have a GM logo and cost $45.00

  • Tobias David Smith

    Yet another use for the altoid case!

  • 76629online .

    This is quite possibly the dumbest thing I have ever read on the internet in over 20 years of web surfing. It just goes to show how unintelligent most people really are – so much so that they can’t even come up with a solution to such a simple problem. Unbelievable.

    • tim

      OMG ditto…LOL…a simple ziplock bag…done.

      • John Smith

        So Chevy has done anyone a favor by building an expensive key – try replacing one – that cannot be turned off? Typically poor GM design.

        • Jim Zapapas

          GM = Government Motors…
          You really expect an intelligent solution?

          • PNW Tom

            It’s not government motors any more. It became Government Motors because the all-knowing, all-brilliant private sector drove this company in the ground. It’s best to understand history before attempting to opine on it.

          • John Smith

            We lost ten billion on that “investment” – and I am not defending the management or the unions or the state government which helped ruin what was once a decent car company. GM got big, and got arrogant. So did the government that used extorted money (taxes) to bail them out. And along the way they turned their heads while the new, improved GM let buyers die (apparently) as they hid bad ignition switched. If you desire to get into a history of the automobile companies, I’m your guy. Here’s how it went. Small companies run by car guys grows so large that the bean counters take over. In Detroit they sold out to the unions (political pressure to do so), pushed costs into the future (which is “now”), shaved pennies everywhere which led to lousy cars, and were shocked when other companies built better products. It wasn’t just labor or management – Wall Street, the government and the buyers played their own role. Arrogance, size, pushing responsibility off onto others, lack of courage – all the classic signs of institutional sclerosis. Lots of folks – dealers, finance types, sales people – were anxious to steal money along the way. That’s for openers. Is your offer of a car discussion still open?

          • Abraham_Franklin

            The unions drove GM into the ground.

            GM went bankrupt because of unsustainable union retirement benefits.

          • BillinDetroit

            The Union retirement benefits became onerous because they were not funded ‘steady as you go’ like they are designed to be. Instead the companies (GM is FAR from alone in doing this) said “let’s take the money today … we can put it into new products and huge bonuses, propping up our share prices along the way with bogus profit claims and use the resulting increase in our value as a company to fund the pensions, one by one, as they come due.”

            In other words, the retirement benefits didn’t put the squeeze on them, sharp business practices did … and that is what has happened to pensions across the country, private and municipal. The Feds get a pass because they can magically print the stuff and force others to accept it. GM? Not so much. Flint, MI? Not so much. State of Wisconsin? Nope, not there either.

            I’ve got a federal pension (RRB). Have a nice day.

          • spanielmander

            1. The government is no longer a GM shareholder.
            2. You would really rather GM had gone under in the recession than spend 0.3% of one year’s federal budget to stop the company from being sold off for scrap?
            3. GM introduced magnetorheological shock absorbers, which are basically shocks with magnetic fluid in them that can be instantly adjusted using an electrical charge. Ferrari and Audi now use them too. They’re a pretty “intelligent solution.”
            4. If you were just trying to make a joke, rather than say something intelligent, you should have considered making a funnier joke.

          • deathtoallpoliticians

            yes. spanielmander, i would much rather have had gm go into bankruptcy and sold off. another company would have simply bought up the pieces and technology and continued. that is the very essence of capitalism, some win and some lose. but there should never be government bailouts of anything.

          • John Smith

            I should be ashamed of myself. My bad…

        • ndginla

          Your key doesn’t have a remote fob? All keys in any car built in the last 10 years or so is expensive to replace. Anything with an odd geometry or remote access buttons is going to run you at least $100 to replace. The Volt key is nothing different. It has a fob with a transmitter. What the key allows you to do is based on electronics in the car, not the key.

          • rainbow cadet

            Think you need to do your homework. My 2013 Toyota came with an old fashioned metal key. If I wanted a smart key, I would have had to have it special ordered for the extra cost.

    • sapper740

      Well, if he’s so bright, why did he buy a Volt? Oh wait…surfing….Chevy Volt….let me guess, he’s a Californian! Never mind.


        Lol !!!

      • Deacon know Good

        Must have got caught up in those Chevy Volt/surfing TV ads.

    • John Smith

      You obviously don;t go to Nancy Pelosi’s page to read her press releases

      • PNW Tom

        You obviously don’t understand the history and politics of GM.

        • John Smith

          I know the history and politics of GM very thoroughly – back to Durant and Louis and Sloan and Reuther, etc. It’s a fascinating study – as is Ford and Chrysler and every other large institution – of the perils of winning.

        • KnightTime

          Do you? Enlighten us, the ignorant masses.

        • deathtoallpoliticians

          you obviously don’t understand true capitalism, pnw tom. some will win and some will lose but bailouts should never be an option.

  • Sauer Thirtyeight

    So, the answer-to-the-question-nobody-asked is inside the car, in a Faraday cage which prevents it from telling the car to unlock the doors. Very old-school, works well; and if the foil is thick enough the key will survive an EMP in case of nuclear attack – how will your friends top that?

    But, with the key inside the car, how do you get in?

    • Rob Scan

      “I put the smart key, no longer smart, in the lockbox, attached it to my car, and went surfing.”

      She put the foil wrapped key in the lock box and attached it to the outside of the car. That’s how those low tech devices work.

      • Fool_Killer

        If you are going to hide the key ON THE CAR (probably in plain sight of anyone watching) then why do you care if it is locked or not?

        • [email protected]

          Because, most of us who put hidden keys on our cars/trucks, put them there at an earlier point in time and at a remote place. When I bought my Toyota, I drove it off the lot, to a gas station, and attached the “Spare Key” there (20 miles from home). Almost 20 years and 250,000 miles later the key is still there; having been used 5 or 6 times. Did this on the one I bought in 1986 too.

    • TwentyPoundGorilla

      I hope you wrapped the whole car in tin foil or that EMP-surviving smart key ain’t gonna do you any good.

  • David Turnbull

    Aren’t you looking backwards? I understand the issue I had the same problem. Not with surfing but with other water sports.
    It is easier/safer to drop your key in a waterproof box/bag than to hide it on your car. that way your key is with you.
    now the auto unlock thing would annoy me. My nissan has buttons on the door to press for actual unlock. I have found the three foot range will sometimes trigger by accident. from farther away as I am walking away from the vehicle.

    • John Smith

      Why would you want to expose a key that costs a couple of hundred dollars to replace – that’s what they cost – to being lost or damaged while you were outdoors? I damaged a Buick key from a rental car while camping and buying a replacement from a dealer was 260 bucks. That key wasn’t as “smart” as the Volt key.

      • PNW Tom

        Which proves the point that the Volt key is utterly nonunique.

        • John Smith

          I didn’t say it was unique – I just said it was stupidly complex and expensive – the very thing I would expect from a group of bored engineers and lousy executives.

          • BillinDetroit

            It’s kind of hard to ‘reinvent’ driving every couple of years. Maybe they should work on re-engineering walking?

  • Shawn L.

    Tinfoil as a DIY Faraday Cage. Very clever.

    • BillinDetroit

      This is why they make aluminum wallets … so the RFIDs in your credit cards and cash can’t be read.

  • ncgh

    You don’t have to be a surfer. I dropped my old dumb keys while shovelling snow, and didn’t find them for 2 days. Still worked fine.
    Wait till you find out how expensive it is to repair one of those wireless smart key systems. Cheaper to throw out the car.

  • william02138

    My wife’s car has a smart key. I can’t stand it. The keyless ignition part is fine, but the door locks never work the way I expect. I nearly always have to resort to the manual remote buttons to let me and/or passengers in, or make sure the car is locked after leaving it. She admits she has no clue if the car is locked or not when she leaves it.

    And the key is such a brick, it must be intended for a woman to carry in a hand bag, not for a man to carry in his pocket combined with any other keys. So I had to stop carrying a key to her car since she got this car. There’s no way I’d carry this thing in my running shorts during a road race, so I’d be up against the same issues as in the article if this were my car.

    Overall this is an expensive feature that makes life more difficult than the thing it replaced. Thanks a lot, morons. What is this, Microsoft Office?

    • CraigT

      Yes, are any of the designers men? I can’t stand these in my pockets.

      Even worse, when I rent cars sometimes they have a heavy metal wire loop that contains two identical fobs plus a big plastic badge with the description of the car. I have to carry it in my hand or a briefcase but not my pockets. Sometimes on long trips, I have cut the wire with pliers so I only have to carry one fob.


        what a dilemma

      • Jerry A

        The designers are engineers, most often men. Most of my engineer friends wear pants with big pockets, as well as cargo pockets and belt pouches for all their techies gadgets. (Running shorts? What are those? hah)

      • Joel Garcia

        The reason for this is, it costs $300 to replace one and keeping the extra key in their office would probably be lost by an employee or when a car is dropped off at a different location. So, when the vehicle is sold, it has the 2 keys it came with.

      • homebuilding

        Yes, Craig–a particularly devious habit that has NOTHING to do with the manufacturer.
        The rental car folks can now charge you for the loss of TWO keys……
        actually, I believe they are moving away from this

    • callahan connor

      “What is this, Microsoft Office?”


      When in high school a few years back my daughter’s teacher started a discussion with the students in class about oxymorons, those cute little phrases that don’t really make sense yet we somehow manage to say and have others understand anyway.

      Things such as “clearly confused,” or “jumbo shrimp,” you know?

      Well one of her fellow students, suddenly aware of what some of the other examples meant, called out “Oh! You mean like Microsoft Works!”

      Needless to say, the whole room burst out in laughter at how right he was . . .

      Now just imagine if Microsoft ever decided to participate on anything remotely related to the Chevy Volt and how well that might turn out.

      Somehow I doubt anyone would be as forgiving of a blue screen of death while driving down the freeway as they are (or not) when they get one while sitting at their desk staring at their computer screen.

      • Noel Farkingweigh

        Microsoft tech is the user interface on the newer “smart” Fords. Actually works quite well.

      • Noel Farkingweigh

        Have you seen any of the current model year Fords? Microsoft user interface. Once you get over the initial shock of the logo flashing up on the screen, it’s a very solid and user-friendly experience.

        • Andy Campbell

          Is that why Ford is getting rid of it?

          • wblv17

            NO because you have to reboot the car monthly for it to work correctly. And it doesn’t play nice with I phones

          • ZoomZoomDiva

            They aren’t. They are moving to a second generation system with more physical control redundancy because some prefer those.

        • Dave Haynie

          Yeah, that Microsoft/Ford Sync system is an odd puppy. Just last fall, there was all kinds of news about many of the other guys (GM, Toyota, etc) checking out Google’s car plans, Blackberry’s car plans… and much of that because of the claim, anyway, that Ford was just too far ahead of them.

          So then in January, it kind of a surprise to hear that Ford was dumping Sync. Not going back to Microsoft to improve it, not waiting for the next generation — it’s out. They’re weighing options for its replacement.

          That’s also got to be a pretty hard pill for a car company to swallow, and to announce. After all, they’re still selling cars with Sync in the showrooms. And they may well be for years to come — just because they’re designing a new system does not mean older cars will or even can use it.

      • CafeenMan

        You kids don’t know how easy you have it today. In MY day we actually had to CLICK an app to start it. You kids don’t know the meaning of the word, WORK!!

        • callahan connor

          “You kids don’t know how easy you have it today.”

          Wait a minute.

          Thanks for the compliment.

          • Fatesrider

            No one EVER compliments ignorance.

        • BillinDetroit

          You must be pretty young. In my day screens came in three colors, green, amber and almost white. We didn’t get blue until later.

          There was a day when you could keep your fingers on the keyboard all day and really push out the work. Now, thanks to the science of ergonomics, you have to reach for a pointing device every few seconds to click something 4 menus deep that used to take 5 keystrokes at 80 wpm or better. You could actually leverage skills learned on a typewriter when sitting down at a computer. Now you can’t.

          And you know why? Because typewriters don’t have no stinking mice!

          • pat

            Have any of you heard of encyclopedias. We had to turn pages, not push buttons, so none of you realize how easy you have it.

          • Talkingtree

            Yeah and we couldn’t find all the answers and the ones you did find were always at least as out of date as the year before the encyclopedias were published.

        • rainbow cadet

          In MY day, an app was short for an application… as in those paper forms you had to fill out for a bank account or apply for a loan or apply to college, etc.

          • Dave Haynie

            I remember those! Those were the huge volumes of books your parents bought the week after you were born, so by the time you could possible make even the tiniest bit of use of them, they were hopelessly outdated.

        • Dave Haynie

          In my day, we had to WRITE the app first, then save it to take, and then wait… wait… wait… for them to load. And we liked it! And we called them programs… nothing that hard to write should be that easy to say. And what is this, Australia or something. Not every concept needs a single syllable name.

      • nomad

        Jeez, with all the trouble you had with Microsoft, imagine what it would have been like if you had a Mac. All of my Apple devices crash constantly.

        • Yacko

          Ah, the generic Apple “devices”. If your Apple “devices” crash constantly, stop getting them into accidents. Ba-doom. Seriously.

          I use Apple iMacs and tablets all the time and all that crashes are a few third party applications that can gracefully be quit and restarted. Perhaps you are referring to this situation as crashing? The two iMacs I use generally run 60 days between reboots. The app that has the largest problem is the browser, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Perhaps the reason this occurs is because a browser is now a full fledged mini state machine executing badly put together html and javascript?

          But no, unless there is something decidedly wrong with your hardware, your use of that hardware, your ability to troubleshoot that hardware and ability to ask others for diagnosis and help, then your Apple “devices” do not crash all the time.

          • Semperfi

            Don’t know what you’re talking about. My PC with Vista has been on for the last six months, I don’t turn it off. I installs updates automatically and restarts on it’s own. I have never had a “blue screen” and the only program that ever froze was Firefox which I have since removed. But I guess it’s just fun to bad mouth Microsoft and pretend you’re so hip and all…
            BTW I also have several other laptops and tablets running windows 7 & 8 and also haven’t experienced any problems…

          • Andy Campbell

            It also restarts every few days, killing any running app. I have linux machines that did not NEED updates, and have been running for years without rebooting.

          • BillinDetroit

            Then you are, sad to say, way behind on security updates to the kernel, my friend. I hope you aren’t running anything sensitive on that machine or anything on the same network unless it is behind a super tight firewall that IS actively maintained.

            I’ve run Linux for many years. You can leave BSD running that long (IF it is locked down tighter than a virgin at an orgy) but you need to periodically patch Linux.

            There was a time when we could do what you are doing with impunity, but that is no longer the course of wisdom.

            BTW, what’s the MTBF on your hard drives? Getting a little loud lately?

          • Lee Warran

            After all is said and done that shiny turd is still expensive junk!!

          • 108

            Oh, that would be because you don’t actually *USE* your mac devices. Every time I’ve ever tried to use a mac it crashed. Literally every single time. I grew up programming Commodore 64s though, so it would stand to reason that I had actually tried to *USE* the macs as *computers*. God forbid anybody try to do that with a mac…

          • BillinDetroit

            Hmm … a buddy was having problems with his Apple desktop (forgot which model) and took it to two techies (They had t-shirts that claimed they were. It turned out the t-shirts were stolen.), both of whom offered to perform last rights but neither of whom could resurrect it.

            He mentioned needing to buy a new Apple (he used a dongle for a sign cutting program that wasn’t available for any other platform) computer when I took some sign cutting business to him and not having the money for one.

            Being the decent sort of geek that I sometimes am (and in a bind for having promised someone else to get the work done on the cheap), I offered to take a look at it for him as a third party with no financial interests in pimping a new computer to a guy in a bind. I told him that I would fix it for $20 plus parts (if needed) or ‘eat’ the parts if I guessed wrong. To be honest, I already knew what the problem was to about a 99% certainty. The code in an Apple is different from a PC, but they are otherwise a PC. They have to do the same things in order to put a picture on the screen or a dot on the paper.

            Once I figured out how to “pop the top” on it I grabbed a voltmeter and the onboard battery. It took about 10 seconds to verify the problem and the cost of the battery plus shipping to fix it. Since it had spent only about 5 minutes on my bench (desk), I waived the $20 in exchange for a spaghetti dinner at the dive around the corner from his house.

            My point? Don’t get on the guy for failing to troubleshoot … something as simple as a failed battery got by TWO techs. Apple does not market itself to gear heads … and apparently has problems hiring them, too.

          • Hunter Hutchins

            Leave it to Apple to release a computer that won’t boot when the battery is weak.

          • BillinDetroit

            Apple is not alone in this.

            Unplug your computer. Open the hood and either remove the battery (coin type … generally 2032) or pull the plug. Now, try to boot.

            If it boots, you pulled the wrong battery … keep looking, there’s another hidden in there somewhere.

            Ever wonder how your computer knows to request a password before booting or how it knows the time and date at boot even if not connected to a network?

            Well, now you know.

            BTW: pulling the battery for a few moments MAY be enough to let you access a “locked down” computer if you’ve forgotten the boot password.

            Don’t have a boot password? Never let anyone who doesn’t like you near your computer. If you haven’t set a boot password, they are free to do so.

        • BillinDetroit

          That’s not a flaw, it is a feature.

      • dougeducate

        You need to work on the definition of “oxymoron”.

      • Wyatt Earp

        Yet, Ford had alliances with Microsoft to create distractions while the car is in motion.

        Software that doesn’t work? And idiots are lining up to buy computer controlled cars. Imagine if your car came with Windows Vista? If the software that was in 90% of the computer controlled cars crashed all at once?

      • cara de alho

        “clearly confused” does make sense–it means: it is clear to me that you are confused.
        Nothing wrong with “jumbo shrimp” also– Shrimp is an animal, and it comes in smaller and larger sizes. Using “shrimp” to signify “small”, that’s just a colloquial usage.
        But did this event happen when your daughter’s teacher was still in high school?

      • mahadragon

        …or waiting 10 minutes for the car’s computer to “Update” itself and reboot every other time you used it.

    • dougeducate

      I never have any problems with my smart key. When I lock it, the parking lights flash twice. It use to honk when I locked the doors, but I disabled that. As for unlocking, one press on the handle unlocks the drivers door, two unlocks all door and three locks them (flash flash). Pretty simple.

      • william02138

        Good for you. I have no doubt that someone who is into it could spend a little while with it and/or read the manual and figure it out. Not everybody is into this stuff, and they shouldn’t have to be.

    • Jim Bjr

      You can get a fob case that will let you clip it to your belt or inside your pocket opening or the waist band of your running shorts. Problem solved.

      • william02138

        That won’t make it weigh any less, or be less brick-like.

  • HeraSentMe

    If divers can waterproof cameras to use them underwater, surely you can come up with something to waterproof a smart key.

    • John Smith

      Again – why do they make it necessary to expose the key to damage or loss by making you take it with you? It’s because they weren’t thinking. GM was probably too busy hiding the fact that their other little “key problem” was killing people by shutting off the car and thus wiping out the brakes and steering.

      • Al Rowland

        Actually it shuts off power steering and power brakes. If we all weren’t such whimps and our cars so oversized, we’d still have manual both. Kind of convenient that this is a similar modern problem like the smart key.
        Kind of like the runaway cars where no one thinks to shift to neutral or turn the thing off. We aren’t very good at even low tech like cars.

        • BillinDetroit

          I was driving my Dad’s Electra 225 (now THERE was a boat!) lugging a bunch of girls around to go caroling (I got roped into driving my sisters and their friends if I wanted it later that week). Unknown to me, by pre-arrangement I was tasked to drop a girl I’d never even noticed before off last … way out in the country (How far out in the country? She had to hitchhike to the taxi stand to catch a ride to the bus stop.)

          Except for the impromptu kiss she planted on me when I walked her to her door (guys used to do that sort of stuff), all went well enough.

          Then, just a few hundred yards from her house, a plastic part broke on the carburetor, wedging the throttle open and I was “off to the races”. “Deuce and a Quarters” can MOVE when they want to!

          Through the fog, let it rev, put it in gear, brake down from 90, put it in gear … all the way home (including through our little one-horse, two stoplight, town). This was before cell phones and definitely before i had the guts to tell my Dad that I had killed our only car 10 miles out into the country. He had a truck to come get me, but I’d have been better off tearing my clothes up and walking the whole way home carrying the steering wheel.

          There was no turning it off … I HAD to get it home … or prove it couldn’t be done (thus the steering wheel illustration).

          He was on my arse for a full week about that … before the dealership found the problem and explained that it wasn’t my fault.

          The recall for the failure was still months down the road.

    • tom rockett

      They can but if it’s already $100 bucks for the non waterproof one how much are you willing to pay for waterproof? Simple solution – remember those metal things you used to put in the door and turn? They are about a dollar for a copy and are waterproof too!

      • Marvin

        FWIW, on our present and previous Subarus, using the metal key to unlock the driver’s door (the only one with a key hole) triggers the car alarm. There may be a way to fix that in the manual, but I haven’t found it. People have told us of other brands with the same problem.

        • John Crowley

          You have to do the following: Before leaving the car, lock all doors. Then open the driver side door MANUALLY. Get out, shut door, and lock with key. The car alarm will not go off when you reopen the door with the key.

          • Marvin

            Thanks. I’ll try that.

          • Fatesrider

            The solution for one person doesn’t obviate the fact that most people aren’t willing or able to put up with “smart keys” that “anticipate” your needs.

            I have a 12 year old Civic. The alarm arms and the doors automatically lock 30 seconds after closing the door (per my preference). I have to waste the .0002 calories it takes to press a button to disarm the alarm and open the door. Why anyone thought they needed a car that unlocks at approach belies an individual who has no concept of security – only of dubious convenience.

          • Marvin

            For whatever it’s worth, it didn’t work, on our car at least. It’s still possible it’d work if one went through the rigamarole each time he exited the car, but it’s not really practical if there are passengers other than the driver. Exactly why anyone thought that entering the car with a key rather than an electronic gizmo should trigger the car alarm is not at all clear to me, but we appear to be stuck with it.

          • Martin Logan

            I believe the trick is, using the same method to enter as you did to lock it. Either use the remote both times or use the key both times. That’s what I’ve been told.

          • Marvin

            It doesn’t seem to work that way, unfortunately. During the first fifteen or so minutes after going through the procedure, it’ll lock or unlock either way. Leave it overnight and try the key, the horn begins to beep.

          • BillinDetroit

            Why is it so tough for the driver to be the last one to exit? Is everybody else going to get more food or something?

          • Marvin

            LOL. You seem a bit bitter, Bill. Of course there are many reasons the driver may not be able to exit the car last, as well as reasons he or she can’t go back later to do the Hokey Pokey, as Alan put it. The question worth asking is why the car’s key is considered an unacceptable means of entry by the car’s software. In what fever dream is security enhanced? One of your entries above may allude to the answer: once the fob stops working and a new battery won’t fix it, the company can score a several thousand percent profit on a new fob.

          • rainbow cadet

            Sometimes a driver has a passenger who is disabled and requires help getting in and out of the car. Also, parents with small children have to get out of the car, open the back door and get their small children out of car seats. So, in many cases, YES it would be tough for the driver to be the last one to exit the car.

          • Alan Burger

            Somehow i kept waiting for you to do the Hokey Pokey in that routine.

    • [email protected]

      I waterproofed my camera. The Lucite box cost over 900 USD with another $450+ for the Flash unit. Totally waterproof to 90 meters. Since I dive a lot, take money shots, and since these costs were about 1/4 of my camera cost it made sense. Probably cost about 100 for a proper box for the key, but the added bulk will make it easier to lose.
      Oh, my key goes in a pocket, there is a spare on the truck, and the Master (don’t mean my wife) lives at home

  • gezzr

    Just goes to show that the “Chevy Volt enviro-nuts” are NOT the sharpest pencils in the box!!!

    • Holygigidy

      Did you just label Chevy an “enviro-nut?” How does one confuse the people who build cars with the people who buy them? That’s some unsharpened pencil logic right there.

      • callahan connor

        Somehow I don’t think they were referring to the manufacturers so much as the car’s owner and salespeople.

        But the bottom line here is, it should not take an engineering degree just to be able to lock and unlock your car doors only when you want them locked or unlocked . . . no matter what a salesperson at a dealership tells you.

        • tom rockett

          And when you buy a vehicle you should be able to get just the options YOU want. I had to pay $1200 just to get a tilt steering wheel because it’s part of the “convenience package” I Don’t need power(heated) seat,mirrors, windows or locks but was forced to pay for them

          • Jerry Perkinson

            It is about cost. To let you get down to the individual features would be insanely expensive for manufacturing. It is much cheaper to have 4 or 5 “packages” so they can just mass produce thos versions, than to have to custom build every car with a hundred thousand different possible combinations.

    • PNW Tom

      But not before you displayed your ignorance for the world to admire.

  • Michele

    Youtube search for a video titled “2011 CHEVROLET VOLT HOW TO IF ’11 CHEVY REMOTE KEY FOB FAILS.” This shows you how you would unlock doors and start the car if you kill the fob. Google is your friend you know.

    • tom rockett

      A brick and screwdriver works too- google that if you need to

      • BillinDetroit

        What color brick?

  • Davedawggy

    Oh let me see somebody came up with a idea and all the workers gathered around and went “cool”
    made it not thinking about anything.

    • Roscoe Bonsweenie

      Well said.

      gotta ask yourself, if the dealer gave you the choice, $100 bucks for the smart key or $2 for a regular key, which would you choose?

  • Michael

    In my opinion I would blame Chevy for allowing ones doors to unlock by being near the car. Should be a combination of being near and touching door handle like Nissan and Toyota do. Putting all “smart keys” in a category of being bad is a little harsh. Society is also quick to blame others than take blame themselves. Maybe research something before you buy it to see how it fits your lifestyle. Maybe read the owner’s manual instead of being lazy and asking others (who obviously don’t have a good answer) for a solution. Maybe buy a car that isn’t subsidized by the government (thanks for using my taxes to pay for your so-called electric car (which it isn’t)). What a ridiculous article. How does this stuff get published?

    • Lisa Marie Cobb

      I think a big part of it is the fact that is really is not a necessary feature to automatically unlock. I mean, really, was it that tough to press the little rubber button?

    • Scotttheobtuse

      Actually, the blame is shared by consumers…”smart” technology is a selling point in today’s world. G.M. jumping on the bandwagon shouldn’t shock anyone. Especially since EVERY auto maker has followed suit. And as for government bailouts, isn’t there a conspiracy theory forum somewhere for anti-government folks to haunt? And by the way, how can you call yourself a man and say “read the manual”?…NO real American man EVER reads the manual….or asks for directions when they’re lost…or…

  • Don Perrin

    Put your key fob in a small zip-lock bag, then carry that in your wetsuit?

  • Prem Janardhan

    Ford used to have door combination locks, probably a relatively low tech solution is good for such situations. Program the key not to unlock the door, leave it in the car, and use the combination lock.

    • NVRick

      I have a 2011 Lincoln MKS. The driver’s door has an LED number panel which is invisible until you touch it. If I want to lock the, I can lock the car using the number panel.
      When I want to get back in, I enter a combination on the panel and I’m good to go.
      In addition, there is a door key embedded in the fob which can be taken out and taken in the water with the fob locked in the car..

  • Jason

    My biggest grip about smart keys is they’re easier to lose than real keys, just as hard to find (“smart” locator technology would sure help) and 200 times more expensive to replace. I think the car manufacturers are hedging their bets that you will lose at least one or two during the course of your car ownership

    • ZoomZoomDiva

      I’ve seen several designs, and I disagree they are easier to lose than a traditional key.

  • Jeff Tegeder

    The Toyota Prius has a feature to shut off the smart key function. Also stops the battery from going dead if you are parked, say, at the airport for an extended time. The car keeps searching for the key otherwise…

  • Jeff Kitchen

    What a dunce. Agree, RTFM. And, as a scuba diver, we carry our keys in water proof containers.

    • [email protected]

      Sorry dude, WE do not. Mine lives in a pocket, and gets thouroughly wet. Of course, I have the old Mark I version, Metal!

      • BillinDetroit


  • J_R_Brown

    I’m not a surfer so I don’t know how much it would be a problem to just find a wetsuit that had pockets big enough to put the key in…..
    Maybe you’ve hit an opportunity square on the head…design a wetsuit that has a waterproof pocket sown into it in a place convenient to store items such as this???

  • Michael Martian

    Block someone else in, so there is no way they can move their car while you are gone. and hide your key on their car.. make sure you park at least 3.5 feet away though. Sure they will be mad that you blocked them in at first, but explain your dilemma and i am sure they will understand… /Grin

  • cthiel

    And what exactly is the problem that we solved with the invention of this new “smart key”? By the way, baggies don’t keep key fobs dry.

  • tom rockett

    New tech is great, we’ve made alot of good devices but most of them forget one thing. Some people don’t want the new tech to replace the old tech until they are finished using it! Can I go buy a basic car? Can I find a car without all the new tech? No, all these new features have been added for my “convenience”. No Thanx, my old one works just fine. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean everyone wants to be forced to switch to it. I had to pay 30$ and pull the fuel pump because a sensor required for California emissions went bad. The dealer had trouble getting the part because I live in Florida where I bought the vehicle new. Why are California required parts on my vehicle but not covered by warranty because I’m NOT in California?

  • Forensic_Scuba

    I own a BMW multi-functional smart key, this thing can be programmed to do everything. All it takes is letting the dealer know what it is you require it to do. Both vehicle keys can be programmed to activate different options. My wife’s options are different then mine.

    Push the magic button and of course the power door locks open, ignition immobilizer and alarm are turned off, the interior lights come on, the window opens, radio presets are selected as are the mirror and seat adjustments, the climate control turns on. There are dozens of available options to select from.

    My dealer will happily program the key for the cost of a new laptop computer. The vehicle manual and the BMW forums has shown me those few options I can program myself but most can only be done at the dealership on a proprietary machine.

    I live in fear of losing the key as the replacement cost would probably exceed the cost of a new Toyota.

    • daddybcat

      Oh, waa….

  • FanboisSuck

    you should be embarrassed that you write for a tech blog but cant figure out a basic RFID key.

    (and, apparently, you cant figure out how to use a waterproof bag either)

    • BillinDetroit

      Is it RFID? I heard tell of a battery and RFIDs don’t need batteries. Even the active ones gather juice from the rf field around them.

  • sam_brit10

    It strikes me that many comments here, especially those from the smug ones who belittle the author for overlooking the “obvious” solutions (such as a dry bag for her wetsuit) are entirely missing the point of the editorial. There were many ways to solve the problem of the wetsuit, but her point was, the smart key was an unnecessarily complicated (and, from reading other comments, very expensive) solution to something that was never really a problem to begin with. The metal ignition key worked fine, was cheap to replace, easy to use, reliable, compact, and lightweight. Why replace it with a “solution” that added all sorts of new problems? Or at least, why not make it optional? Why should she have to scour a manual to find out how to keep the key from unlocking her car when she didn’t want it to?

    On the other hand … I remember reading an essay once by Issac Asimov postulating an electronic replacement for physical books. The point of the essay was that the book is pretty much perfect as it is: easy to carry, easy to use, doesn’t need batteries. But my Kindle fire, with its ability to carry hundreds of books, keep my place in each one, and download more anytime I want them (if there’s wifi available) has such clear advantages over a paper book that I don’t mind having to charge the battery or putting it in a plastic bag to read on the beach.

    • BillinDetroit

      Ah, but can your paper books be remotely deleted?

      • sam_brit10

        Actually I get rid of almost all my paper books (usually obtained through thrift stores or trades) as soon as I’m done with them because I don’t have space for them, something I don’t have to worry about with my ebooks. So while I think that the remote deletion of ebooks by the seller is totally appalling, the threat is not enough to keep me from obtaining most of my books electronically.

        My point, however, was that just because we can upgrade something to a sexier electronic version doesn’t mean we should, unless the advantages are clear.

        • Scotttheobtuse

          And by the way, I have a VERY large (and valuable) private library.

    • Scotttheobtuse

      I would use kindle or one of the other fake (oops, I mean ephemeral…I mean electronic) books, but since I like to get the authors to sign them, I would soon not be able to read them through the autographs….

  • Peter Henden

    The really dumb thing about “smart keys” is that thieves have hacked them and now they can steal a car easily with a small electronic “black box”.

  • Bob Clayton

    You certainly can open and start a Volt mechanically. Consult your User Manual on page 2-7. The mechanical key is the switchblade on your key fob. The problem is that it is attached to the transmitter which does not solve your separation issue. Two possible solutions: force Chevrolet and/or the dealer to make you a standalone copy, OR buy a new key fob and smash it to remove the mechanical key. Then leave your electronic device at home when you go surfing.

    Any/all electronic keys on any car can be hacked so your car will never be secure unless keyless entry is disabled anyway. Eventually Chevrolet will have to offer that option. I suspect there is a fuse you can pull. The one I find disables about 8 other systems you need. Not a good choice.

  • MoreFreedom2

    Looks like car thieves will be looking for those boxes holding the keys where people are getting out of their car into the water. The problem is still not solved.

    I prefer a keypad on the driver’s door for this purpose.

  • jak

    smart keys not so smart. try unlocking your car in extreme cold. batteries don’t work very well in the sub zero weather. Thankfully my car still has a key hole…

  • PNW Tom

    “Clearly these people weren’t surfers. I wondered if they exercised at all, given their excitement at not having to – literally – lift a finger.”

    So, in other words, a feature that the vast majority of users find useful is condemned by someone who wants to go surfing with a key. My amateur diagnosis is that someone has a severe superiority complex.

  • Anna Dobbs

    My new Mazda has a smart key. It is the one feature that made me almost not buy it. I hate smart keys! But unfortunately, I’m stuck with it.

  • Pooua

    I went swimming at a state park way out in the countryside, putting my only set of car keys in the pocket of my swimming trunks. The good news is, the electronic door control is 100% waterproof. The bad news is, it slipped out of my pocket in 25 feet of murky water. The dealership assures me that the control will work, if I am able to recover it. Meanwhile, I had to have my car towed 90 miles to the nearest dealership so I could have a replacement key (itself $80) made. In the process, they create a new code for the new key and reprogram my car with the new code. That meant that when I found a second key that had fallen out of my pocket and between my car seat, it could not start my car. Only the dealer can make these keys, so I can’t make a spare without spending at least $80.

    I sure hope my car is never stolen. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on technology that is designed to prevent that from happening. Of course, he could just tow it.

  • Deacon know Good

    Could have put the fob in a zipped sandwich bag, inside another sandwich bag, and carried it inside your wetsuit. Problem solved.

  • Deacon know Good

    Don’t worry, wait until the day after the warranty ends, the fob will stop working.

  • CafeenMan

    So now I know how to steal cars from surfers. Look for the plastic lock-box stuck to the underside of the cars at the beach.

  • bogusmailmark

    What happens if you’re in your car and want to keep the doors locked? Does the key override you?

  • Jay Avitable

    This is one of the most concise and accurate pro-consumer, technology oriented postings I have read in a long while. “Smart keys” were NOT developed for the car owners’ benefit, make no mistake about that. They were developed for the dealers’ benefit. I have no REAL problem with that, as long as everyone is honest about it. Nothing matches the convenience/utility/costs of an “old school” dumb key. Many recent “keys”, not limited to any one make/model are: big, expensive, inconvenient. I can’t keep a spare in my wallet, I can’t afford to give out “copies” to friends/family, and I have to worry about damaging it when I go out to play in the snow/rain/mud.

    • Ravan Asteris

      True. I got my 2002 car used, from a dealer, but it only had one smart key and one fob with it, and the plastic on it was damaged. It was over $150 to get another set in 2009. Only available from the dealer. Unnecessarily expensive.

  • Veralidaine

    This ‘smart key’ thing seems like an excellent way to increase robberies.

    And, as a young woman who has to sometimes walk in dark parking lots after night class, the **LAST** thing I want is to have my car unlocked the entire time my key is within three feet of the door. The best moment after a long walk in the dark parking lot/structure? The moment I am IN my car, and can LOCK the doors. If I’m being chased by a creepizoid and I have one of these so-called ‘smart keys’, the car is no longer a safe-zone. That door is STILL unlocked, and he can STILL get to me very easily.

    In fact, this thing should be considered a safety hazard.

  • candiduscorvus

    Or use a faraday bag. Aluminum foil is a cheaper and easier version of that.

  • Renee Rabbit

    What’s interesting is that during the development phase they didn’t at least do focus groups or better yet, usability studies to see how REAL people needed to use this technology. Experts/designers assume way too much – people have VERY diverse needs that must be met for a technology to be truly useful.

  • juan valdez

    Aluminum foil is what thieves use in their bags to avoid triggering store sensors. Check manual page 5-61 Passive Door Unlock

  • 946towguy

    I own a towing company and LOVE these smart keys, as long as they are on the customer’s vehicle and not mine.
    Seriously, though; smart keys cause unnecessary problems with automobiles. When, not if, they fail or get lost, they usually strand the motorist.
    When the tow truck arrives, it is usually necessary to use special equipment, due to the transmission and/or steering being unable to be unlocked. If your car is inside a parking garage when this happens, the bill just to use a low clearance wrecker and dollies to get the car to the street can be over $300. Being a smart key, the local locksmith probably can’t readily make a copy, so it is off to the dealership for dealer prices.

  • DJKuulA

    My Ford “smart” key fob has a real key inside of it — dunno if Chevy does the same thing.

  • Al_453596

    I have an Acura. When the battery is dead on the fob, you and pull out the key to unlock the door old style. In other words you do not need the battery for it to operate. You then plug it into the dash to start the car. What does GM do to allow you to use your car if the FOB has a dead battery in the FOB?

  • Michael Dunn

    i bet the person who told you about the aluminum foil steals stuff from stores lol. thieves sometimes line the inside of a paper bag with aluminum, and then can put items in it and avoid the store detection things. bet the key uses that same “complete the circuit” technology.

    • BillinDetroit

      I hadn’t heard about that stunt. Where did YOU learn it? :~)

  • Kevin Freels

    Yeah. This is all too common anymore; solutions looking for a problem to solve. You see the same thing in phones, applications, Operating systems, and even garage door openers. I don’t want everything automated. I want it to do what I want when I want. All I want are some simply considerations. For example, making that key waterproof would be a huge step in the right direction

    • Carl Kuntz

      I just bought a new car (make immaterial) and the dealer handed me a a folio with 5 books – Owners Manual – 624 pp.; Quick Reference Guide 29 pp.; Display Audio System Owner’s Manual – 232 pp.; Warranty and Maintenance Guide, 64 pp.; Owner’s Warranty Rights Notification!!!! What the hey?? I asked dealer if there was a test I had to take after studying all this. Luckily, there’s not. We need to make one more step technologically to handle all the n”improvements” etc. we deal with now. A surgically planted chip that can be plugged in and it downloads all the techno ??? we need!

  • nomad

    Your solution to keeping your doors locked while you’re away is to lock the doors and leave the key on top of the car? …


    …There are not enough dots on my keyboard to express my confusion.

  • Dale Barthold

    my vette has a switch on the fob that enables or disables the proximity sensor. I can use it ‘automatic’ or push the switch and then I have to use it by pushing the buttons – would think GM would have this on all smart keys? BTW – I would rather have the old Key and a fob to manually control what I want it to do, smart keys are a dumb overpriced piece of technology that should be an option

  • gregmlr

    I have dealt with several Chevrolet dealers over the years and find their service departments to be very uneducated when it comes to their own vehicles. It’s ultimately what drove me away (no pun intended) from GM altogether.

  • US Common Sense

    In other words, keep an eye out for a Chevy Volt with a Surfboard rack. There’s a key wrapped in aluminum foil hidden on it somewhere. :)

  • bouledoux

    My Toyota Prius has one of those RF smart keys also. I agree, they should have had some sequence of button pushes that would temporarily turn it off and on so you could leave it in a hidden key vault. It would also frustrate a would be carjacker or thief if you could manage to disable it before handing it over.

  • Penumbra

    This is absolutely absurd. What surfer / diver / casual swimmer / anyone who’s been within 50′ feet of a body of water in their lifetime doesn’t immediately make the logical leap to a heavy gauge waterproof bag (not a freezer baggy, that’s silly)? If I was taking just about anything in the water with me, including a traditional “dumb” key, I would want to protect it from salt water. That key will soon come in contact with electronics when you use it in your ignition.

    In addition, I have never, ever seen a smart key (every car I’ve driven since 2006 has had a smart key) that didn’t have a traditional key as PART of the fob. Because electronics of any kind can fail, the manufacturer can’t take the risk of stranding you in the middle of Iowa because you dropped your fob in the rest area toilet (true story). I pretty much guarantee (especially since I drove smart-key GMs for 8 years until recently) there’s a traditional key IN your fob accessible by a button of some kind. Take that with you (waterproofed in a pouch of some kind) on your next foray into the surf.

    Lastly, it’s a generally known fact that the guys at your dealer are morons, especially the sales guys. If you want to know more about the car than they do, spend an hour on the manufacturer’s site before you go in to buy something. Sometimes the service department is better – sometimes not so much. In any case, if you were truly hoping some schmuck who can’t get a real sales (or service, for that matter) gig is going to solve your problems for you, you’ve got your finger pointing in the wrong direction. There were a lot of ways to solve this situation on your own, including (as has been suggested), reading the darn owner’s manual. That’s what it’s there for, after all.

  • Steve Somebody

    Smart Keys: Another problem that doesn’t exist solved. I guess auto makers don’t believe in “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” I loved my switchblade key that came with my 2010 Mazda 3. When I went to buy my 2013 Mazda 3 I almost didn’t buy it because they didn’t offer that anymore. Just the dumb “smart key”. OK auto makers how about this: Give us options. Let us decide what kind of key we want. Maybe we don’t want a $1,000 key that we might lose and then have to spend another $1,000.

  • Ed. Floden

    I miss window cranks. They never needed a key, in the ignition, to open them.

    • BillinDetroit

      And they worked as your car submerged itself when you overestimated the length of the pier (a common mistake).

  • Ed Campbell

    I have an old Dodge truck and a very old Plymouth I am in the process of restoring. Both use a real key that costs $1.35 to make a copy. The keys are waterproof, and the doors must be locked from the outside with the key, so you cannot lock the key inside. That is what I consider to be a SMART key.

  • Ryan Vitiello

    I used to work for a Volvo dealer, and sometimes customers would want us to leave the key locked in the car when we were done working on them, so they could pick them up after hours. We found that you could place the smart key in the trunk of sedans or coupes, and the car would not auto unlock the doors with it there. It was the only place in the vehicle we could find that it would not read the smart key. This is a suggestion for people to try that don’t want to deal with a lock box, don’t want to reprogram the car and plan to simply get into the car with a dumb mechanical key.

  • Sid

    Two words.. Plastic Bag.

    If your so worried about water getting in, double or triple bag it, otherwise there are cases on the market designed to be waterproof.

  • WhatsInAName

    >>Soon after, I went surfing. I usually take my key with me in my wetsuit. Belatedly it occurred to me: a smart key is not waterproof. What to do? Hide it on my car?
    There are waterproof soft cases for smart phones that ought to fit easily in your wetsuit. $5 or less.

  • geeda

    All these people and posts on here… It is obvious many people have the same problem. Interesting how some so quickly jump to blame the “stupid owner” or whatever. My experience has been when technology or computers make mistakes or are not right we blame the people not the technology or the makers of the technology.
    Let me make it quick:

    Usually when I rent one of those cars that have the enormous key fob (sometimes with two keys on it!) I just get a pair of sturdy wire cutters and cut the wire to free the one enormous key. Plus when I’m traveling I usually don’t need my house or other keys.

    This situation is ridiculous and appears to be getting worse. If you are coming and going late at night and want to move about discretely (for whatever reason) you should be able to turn off that annoying chirping and loud beeping they have these cars do. On many it seems you can’t.

    Have you noticed on some of the newer models (mainly SUVs?) the mirror shifts out of position to “help” you back up. Ever noticed how you have to then shift your position to suit the new angle of the mirror (that you did not ask to shift)? If the mirror shifts and then you have to, what is the point of the mirror shifting. Think about it: The solution (automatic mirror shifting) kinda assumes you cannot or will not shift in your seat. What fool will back up a car and not shift their position in their seat?
    Technology has possessed us Y’all. If we are not careful it will rule us. Hopefully manufacturers will realize that consumers should have the option of turning off ALL this stuff and having a modern vehicle that they can just drive.

    • Scotttheobtuse

      I have to say this, even though this poster is pretty much on track….there are some people who should have the song from “the wizard of oz” for their theme song…you know, “If I only had a brain”. Case in point; I pull into a McD’s and order two items from the dollar menu. When I get to the window, he tells me my order comes to 4 dollars and 34 cents. Thinking he’d confused me with another car, (not having heard anything from the speaker when I ordered) I asked him to read back my order. A double cheezie and fries, both 1 dollar, plus tax, 12 cents. But he insisted that the computer had to be right and I owed 4.34….I tried three times and could not get past his almost religious adherence to “the computer says so!” I asked to see the manager, who apologized, took the correct amount, shut the register down and gave me my order.
      In the words of the comedian,”you can’t fix stupid”

  • paulinpittsburgh

    The first clue as to this persons inability, or is it unwillingness, to research and figure out a problem on her own was found in her revelation that she actually got suckered into buying a Chevy Volt. So the key thing really isn’t a surprise.

    People who actually believe they’re doing something good for the environment by purchasing these trendy hybrids and electric cars are as myopic and intellectually lazy as they come. 10 minutes of web searches would reveal just how harmful these heavily subsidized environmental time bombs are no matter how much gasoline they don’t burn.

    The law of conservation of energy is a pretty well established physics principle and there is no green fairy dust to overcome it no matter how much taxpayer money is stolen to put the same amount of energy it takes to move a object of X weight into a battery laden with caustic chemicals and heavy metals instead of a gallon of gas so you can’t see it working.

    • Underwater Ops

      Any good systems engineer who has actually run the numbers will tell you that your screed, and it is just a rant, has no engineering justification to it.
      And the scientists who do the same thing, but with much finer details in the calculations, come up with the same conclusion that you are wrong.
      So stop doing your “research” at Fox news and talking point web sites, actually learn the principles, and learn the math.
      And citing the “law of conservation of energy” doesn’t mean you understand it, as you clearly do not. Electric motors are 90% efficient or better. Gasoline engines are 10% to 15% under normal driving conditions – and often worse. The weight of the battery is far less than 75% of the car, so in the end – the battery driven car is an environmental savings with even the roughest math.

      • Scotttheobtuse

        Okay, FINALLY someone who has a real argument for new tech. The internal combustion engine only has two great advantages. One is ease of fuelling. It IS a lot easier to fill a tank than it is to charge a battery… far. Most people in the battery design field are saying five to eight years down the road, there will be mature battery technology that will be a lot faster and easier to use. Two is flexibility and adaptability; the internal combustion can be used in any combination of speed, load and road conditions. The people who are working on alternate fuels are closer to a practical alternative to the environmental solution we need… well as fuel sourcing as we start running out of hydrocarbon fuels.
        But then again, we still won’t be able to use the (by then even more complex and aggravating) key…..or find it.

  • Dennis Brown

    Why do you think the crazy people in the homeless shelter wear tin foil hats?

    • BillinDetroit

      To keep their brains from starting?

      • Scotttheobtuse

        Excellent! Just….excellent!

  • chrisabraham

    Solution: ziploc technology!

    • Underwater Ops

      Doesn’t keep water out. Ask any new diver who tries the stunt (and they all do).

  • Greg Streuber

    You actually admitted to the world that you bought a Volt? Your family must be in hiding now, afraid to face the humiliation!

    • Scotttheobtuse

      The same thing could happen to a Karma owner….just sayin’

  • Underwater Ops

    Also, Otterbox makes key sized waterproof cases that go down to 100 feet or more. So that’s a stopgap.
    Mostly, carmakers need to always offer a manual key alternative.
    Fun thought …. 1 EMP event over a large city in 20 years and no car will move. Can’t open it, can’t drive it. Can’t even fix it.

    • BillinDetroit

      Except for all us po’ folks who couldn’t afford anything new enough to have a computer. :~)

  • nobaboon

    took two people to write this, but you couldn’t come up with a solution together? stop blogging, start thinking.

  • BriSoFla

    Why doing you put the smart key in a sandwich ziplock bag and then put it in your wetsuit. It will be water proof and not near the car. Why is this so difficult?

  • disqus_MMNZhWvMGL

    I surf with a drysuit, and wear my smart key. It’s awesome to be able to open the door of the car without getting out of the drysuit.

  • Bob in VA

    The Ziploc Company have been making fine waterproof bags for decades. That’s where my iPhone goes when I go scuba diving (double-wrapped, of course), and so far no leaks.

    • Tundra_Yet_Again

      While I know there are cases that your iPhone can go in that can handle a hundred meters etc, a ziplock bag is not one of them. taking an iphone down about 25 feet would pretty much do it in with the pressure.

  • TheRefillMan

    Did they read the Obamacare “manual” (would bet $100 bucks that they “bought” that, too)?

    • Scotttheobtuse

      I looked; there IS a conspiracy theory forum….so why are all these people making comments here? And by the way, NOBODY read the Affordable Care Act manual. Not the congressfolk who voted against it. Not the congressfolk who voted for it. As one of them said,” it would be faster and easier to read all the Harry Potter books.” I have not voiced my opinion of the A.C.A. nor will I. I don’t know enough about how it will turn out.

  • eric

    Two authors, who write as though they are one person, and surf and are “partners” and couldn’t find a ziploc bag in their/her pantry and I could just go on and on and on.

  • GoingToTellItLikeItIs


  • John Newcomer

    If the Smart key was so smart, why didn’t it read the manual for her?

  • Dave Morris

    What did you expect? It’s a surfer, dude!

  • frank

    My Lexus only unlocks when I grab the door handle. At night the valet lights come on as I get near. I love that. To lock close the door and touch the top of the door handle. Works like a charm. All of which is programmable in the system setup for the user.

  • apeon

    Anyone buying GovtMotors reg car, much less a -Volt—deserves the SMART key—what stupidity

  • luke skywalker

    Online Forums = The blind leading the blind…
    Car Dealerships = (too often) high school drop-outs leading the blind (no offense to those @ dealers who actually know how to do anything)
    The Media = A subsection of the blind.
    FYI, smart keys are everywhere, not just on Volts.

  • Heinrich

    Push the silver button on the key fob. Take out the metal key. LEAVE THE KEY FOB AT HOME. The metal key will unlock the car and will start it. No problem here. Moving along.

  • D Christopher

    Same thing if you don’t want your cell phone tracking your every move. Wrap it in tin foil.

    • BillinDetroit

      Pull BOTH batteries. When you are ready to give your pursues the slip, put the batteries back in, stuff it into a balloon, inflate it, tie it off and chuck it into the nearest body of slowly moving water. It’s okay if it doesn’t float on top as long as it doesn’t completely sink for a while.

  • Andrew Popper

    I simply tie mine to my running shoes near the front of a shoe. I did that in the NYC marathon. Parked my car near Central Park, went home by Subway ran the race limped over to my car after 26.2 miles and drove home

    • BillinDetroit

      Rats … I thought you were going to tell us it had been stolen.

  • Kyle Rasmusson

    so I guess anyone that knows where she surfs now knows that there is a key hiding somewhere on her car……might want to re-think advertising that on the internet.

  • aboer

    Why is it you can always tell the branded content sites by the really tiny font. Cmon Dell, update your layout to something that is actually readable.

  • Anita Hines

    Well, it’s good that you all are so smart… just because something says it’s waterproof doesn’t mean it won’t fail and let water in… and salt water? Amazingly corrosive stuff that manages to eat through all kinds of stuff. But I digress.

    She went to the dealership and to people who should have known, so why is SHE the dumb one?

    Anyhoo, onto the point I actually wanted to make. Another problem with these “smart” keys? My friend’s Dodge Charger – she can’t just stop and let a passenger out of her car and keep going. Even tho the driver’s side door hasn’t opened and the car has stayed running and in drive, if any other door opens, the car will refuse to budge. It tells you that the key fob has exited the vehicle. She has to shut the car off and restart it in order to get it to recognize that the key is still inside the vehicle.

    Laziness is going to be the death of us all.

    • BillinDetroit

      “She went to the dealership and to people who should have known, so why is SHE the dumb one?”

      Because she didn’t have to go anywhere? It’s just a guess, but I’ve been awfully lucky with my guesses the past couple of days. Like when I guessed that the lotto powerball number wouldn’t match my ticket and that Kelly LeBroc wasn’t coming to dinner tonight.

  • cheese101

    Don’t buy a volt.

  • John Luchsinger

    Give me a key and stop trying to make everything soooo easy! Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Now we are going to have backup video, and GPS monitors, and any and everything else to keep us safe and wonderful…. Give me a ’64.5 Mustang three speed on the floor. Let’s go back a few years instead of forward eh? so what, in a few years it will all be electric and little, really fun stuff to drive…ugh

    • Jerry A

      Well, newer cars have twice the gas mileage and half the chance of killing you in an accident. Not a bad trade-off. But my argument doesn’t allow for curmogeonly nostalgia for a half-remembered past that never was as good as our memories make it.

      • BillinDetroit

        Ah then, you’ve never driven a pre-1970 Camaro really, really hard.

  • sanjuro

    This lady never heard of a ziploc bag?

  • Marvin Wages

    Simple answer, buy a Ford. I can leave my key fob in the car and still lock it. There are a series of numbers on the driver’s door and all I have to do is remember the combo. Wait, might be too hard for a surfer.

  • Maurice C

    Put it in a ziplock bag and put it in the wetsuit,just make sure the air is all out and the zipper is completely closed.

  • LW Schulin

    Read the manual, followed the instructions..still can’t get my wife’s car to do what I want. 09 Lexus ES350. When placed into PARK, it unlocks all the doors. This is a personal safety issue. Some thug can just jump in upon parking. I want this disabled. I prefer that she have to manually unlock her door when she is prepared to exit…as in, as soon as she has her pistol/mace/taser in hand.

    • Smedley N

      There should be a message center on your dash. Go into settings, you’ll find: Unlock doors in Park. Turn it off.

  • Diggsc

    I waterproof a lot of things using a 1 cent ziplock bag.

  • Chuck Shull

    If your worried about your car being secured when surfing, and just told the world that the key is on your car when you are doing so where will you put the key now?

  • S A Barton

    A key that automatically unlocks the car when you approach within 3 feet sounds like a dream for a thief who has a few minutes to stroll through a parking lot or garage listening for the click.

    • Gus Hodges

      In reality, it picks up the signal but doesn’t actually unlock until it detects your hand on the handle.

  • mr_fudd

    Good God, but I hate “smart” keys! Instead of having a 2 dollar key that’s easily replaceable, waterproof and small, you get a $200 key that can’t handle water. Like the author, I’m in the water constantly. I boat, I fish and I dive and with a plain old dumb key I don’t have to worry that the soaking wet retriever in the canoe with me is going to disable my transportation.

  • 108

    That’s really intelligent – author and publish a story that is basically a road map for car thieves. Now all they have to do is go to the beach where people are surfing and start looking for wireless keys magnetically attached to the usual places on late model vehicles.

    • BillinDetroit

      108! Good God man … did you know you have a doppelganger?

  • SteveKasian

    That’s really intelligent – author and publish a story that is basically a road map for car thieves. Now all they have to do is go to the beach where people are surfing and start looking for wireless keys magnetically attached to the usual places on late model vehicles.

  • Ravan Asteris

    Why didn’t you simple buy a watertight box, put the key in it, then wear it? Low tech solutions for high tech problems.

  • Suzy S M

    Don’t blame the technology. The technology is excellent.

    My car has a remote key which works perfectly.

    Further EVERY remote start key I have seen, the battery part detaches from a plan hard key inside, so that if the battery goes dead or unit malfunctions, the car can still be opened and started.

    So hers must have one and I suspect she exaggerated the ignorance of the Chevy personnel to make a good story, because at car dealerships, they frequently get asked this due to dead batteries!

    So all she had to do was detach it.

    But I suppose no one would pay for a blog about that!

  • Just saying

    Ha this is funny : )

  • ggoblue

    a keyless entry pad beats all other options…I work at gm but I love my wifes ford with keyless entry.

    • Smedley N

      That’s one of Ford’s best ideas ever. I had that in my Lincoln, and my Expedition. Going to the beach? Throw the keys on the floor and lock the doors.

  • Brady W

    I recently bought a car with manual key openings and roll down windows…less electrical stuff to screw up.

    • BillinDetroit

      These guys are renewing my interest in the ancient VW Beetle my father in law left behind … but then, too, there is the Dodge pickup truck still sitting in the garage awaiting a tear down and rebuild. Ah yes, flat head sixes rule!

  • acidrain69

    Why didn’t you just put the key in a waterproof bag and take it with you? Solves all the issues: water proof, doesn’t leave the key outside of your person, still allows you to open the door as designed.

    This is an article in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.

  • tonye

    I can relate.

    While driving, I accidentally dropped from my pocket the fob to our new ’14 Accord Hybrid. When I got to my destination I could not find it and I could not lock the car.

    After searching for quite a while I found it wedged deep between the seat and the center console.

    I much prefer the older dumb fob with key combo. That way you put the key into the ignition and can not lose it while you’re driving.

    Sometimes, newfangled things are not necessarily better.

  • badger5350

    My mom has a 2008 PT Cruiser, she’s lost her keys before and I wanted to get a spare. You have to go to the Chrysler Dealership to even have one made. The cost $189.00 for making the key and another $69.00 to program the key to work with her vehicle. I told them this is for a car not a spaceship. Incredible. Too much Technology. I remember the last key I had made cost around $5.00. What’s wrong with this world we live in now?

  • Dwayne James

    why not just drop the key into a freezer/sandwich bag or buy an expensive dry bag or case? Much ado about nothing. Give in to the Borg!

  • eric m

    a few options: seal the key in thin layer of clear silicone or get one of those waterproof small containers that you wear around your neck like a necklace ; if you dont like the way silicone looks on the outside , there is special clear sealant designed for circuit boards to make them waterproof ; stash they key away from your car .my honda comes with an override key . .

  • mahadragon

    I might give the author the benefit of the doubt, but her case sounds like every other complaint on the internet. How many owners of smart keys are surfers? And how many of those people don’t have a place to keep their keys? It’s like the person on the airplane with who can’t eat a certain food and gets upset when that food is presented to them. The world isn’t built for a few people. The world revolves around the masses.

    If 50% of their customers were surfers then YES! I would absolutely expect the service guys to have an answer to the author’s dilemma. Unfortunately that simply isn’t the case. When cars are built or meals are served on an airplane, it’s done with the average person in mind. Things are done for efficiency. It’s when you get that 1 case out of 10,000 that tends to throw a monkey wrench into the equation. Now what do you do? And of course, it’s this 1 person that always winds up complaining on a forum.

    • EdG1955

      Perhaps you should have thought a little bit before commenting. One needn’t be a surfer to want to get within 3 feet of a car without the doors unlocking. What if you just want to put something in the trunk but not drive the car? What if you want to wipe off a spot of bird poop? Or sit on the hood? Or check the tire pressure? …..

    • Tundra_Yet_Again

      Yeah I’m not a surfer so I don’t have her problem. I’m a SCUBA diver so I have my own set of problems :)

    • Scotttheobtuse

      One question…..What’s the percentage of people who might have to walk to their car in the rain? a little higher percentage than surfers, huh? Electronics getting wet is not a problem that confines itself to surfers, obviously.

  • Stanley Tweedle

    Among other things, I make and program modern car keys but this took me by surprise…
    A lady seriously asked me the other day, if the battery in her key fob died how she could get into her car.
    I explained that she had a key and a lock on the door.

    • EdG1955

      But the Volt doesn’t.

  • yhz2pvd

    Here is just a thought about the smart key dilemma, as well as anything you want to keep waterproof. I have three or four pairs of board shorts that have a thigh pocket that “houses” a doubled sealed waterproof bag. These bags actually had loops on them that attach to a loop strap in the pocket to secure it in the pocket so you do not loose the bag.

    I am sure if you head to any camping supply store or even surf shop you could find a similar option of for that fact grab a couple of Ziploc bag, put your key in that and then slip into your wetsuit like you did with your old key.

  • BringBackTheFlex

    Good lord. All the people on this comment page must be 25 years old or younger. Since when should you have to READ A MANUAL to operate a key? At the very least this technology should have been explained by the dealer, “Do you want the default to be automatically unlock the door or mechanically unlock the door? Here is how to switch it yourself.”

    To expect a person to read a manual in order to lock or unlock their car is absurd. I can understand having to read to program an alarm system, but this is ridiculous. Did all of you reads the manual to turn on or off your TV? How about to make a call on your phone? Flip a light switch? Plug in an iron? Turn on the water faucet? These all come with manuals as well.

    • rainbow cadet

      Most agreed… the under 25 crowd probably would not have survived growing up in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s.. you the days of having only 3-6 channels on the tv, a “remote” was the youngest kid in the room, b&w tvs, rabbit ears on the tv (with tin foil), no microwaves, no cell phones, no laptops, no ipods, had to go to the library for (omg) a book to do research papers. OMG some of us grew up in the days of dinosaurs!!

  • Caihlyn

    The smarter technology gets, the dumber humans get. Go figure.

  • ‘Merica

    Have a car stereo shop install a number pad on the outside of your car and one on your dash.

    I am a truck driver and during the late 90′s my company did this in all of the trucks because of problems with drivers losing keys in remote destinations.

    All of the cars in my family have them and so does my motorcycle, it is nice, because my teenage daughter has often let other kids drive her car. This way she can just change the code if they become enemies. These number pads install into standard car alarms, which today are more about whole car automation than not getting the car stolen.

    Not only do you get a number pad, but you can set them to roll down your windows when it is too hot, put your top or sunroof up if it starts to rain, remote start either on a daily timer (really awesome for diesels in the cold north,) or remote start from your smartphone.

    I love the keypad, I only wish they made them waterproof, so we could put them on our kids jet skis.

  • thesparky1

    I ran a rec facility with a waterfront. We used expensive uhf walkies for communication. I purchased some waterproof walkie bags from one of the marine supply websites. You could still use the radios when they were in the bag. I imagine a smaller version of that kind of bag would work fine.

  • Dwayne

    Ever hear of a ziploc bag? Key in bag, bag in…wherever you ordinarily put your key when you surf. What’s the big deal?

  • SourPatchKids


  • BigRed962

    I personally love technology. However, in cars…they are going overboard.
    Smart keys…I’d never want/use, for this and other reasons (battery dies, eventually, how do you get in your car? or the key does get “wet” and doesn’t work)
    Electronics running everything – if it breaks (all electronics eventually do, it is a MUCH COSTLIER repair than the older “tech” used in cars).
    I keep older cars because, in fact, they are more reliable, cheaper to fix (when something does go wrong -which in fact is rare, despite them being 10 – 20 year old cars). You just have to take proper care / maintenance, as well as starting with a reliable make/model to begin with (Mercedes, bmw, Toyota, ford, Honda, -

  • andanotherthing1

    Sorry, but buying a Volt was not very smart to begin with. Try a plastic zip lock bag for the key to your car that was made for a problem that doesn’t exist.

  • Jeff Anderlik

    I was on vacation and lost my keys helping my best friend cut wood, and thought it would be no big deal to go to the dealer with my V.I.N. and get a key. But the electronic key was $80 and they only come in pairs if you don’t have one, so I was looking at $160. I had my wife overnight her key and I made it home, but what an ordeal. I don’t like power windows much either because I’ve replaced too many motors & switches; I think the crank does a fine job but my wife likes to push a button. She’s helped me a few times so I think she sees my point though.

  • NirwenElf

    Sheesh. Problems with a key-fob?? I’ve had a Nissan Altima since 2007 with a key-fob. While I don’t have the surfing problem (I live 6 hours from the beach so can’t surf as much as I would like), I do have a fishing problem…meaning I fish on a boat in a lake on a regular basis. How do I solve the key-fob problem? With a waterproof case and lanyard. Holds my key-fob, a little cash, chap stick, etc. Had this beauty BEFORE the key-fob because I have other things that I didn’t want to get wet. Works just fine.

    For those of you saying to RTFM, I agree wholeheartedly. I take the time to at least glance through any manual received with a purchase, and have kept my auto manual in my car just in case. My SO, on the other hand, couldn’t be bothered with manuals, and gets ticked off when I figure out how to take a cover off our child’s play-couch (safety zipper) without having to resort to pliers and brute strength.

  • Lee Warran

    The guy needs his head examined for buying that shiny turd in the first place.
    Peddle that piece of junk and buy a real car with a viable locking system.

  • Madmark999

    I work with Live Fire Training in the Army and we used a smart key type item to track the troops during training. Small, about the size of a matchbook, attached to their clothing and we could see everywhere they went in the shoot houses and training areas. But it took just one group going through to realize that the package their skittles came in (included in the MRE they had for lunch) could render them invisible. They wrapped the skittles wrapper around the sensor and they disappeared on our screens and then reappeared just in time to win the exercise.

    I use a waterproof key holder in my swimsuit for surfing

  • Lycan R1

    Buy a Land Rover or Land Rover’s Range Rover series — there is an embedded “classic” key (keyshank) in the smart key that you can take out and attach to the key holder in your wet suit. You can even order the key from Land Rover. I’ve done this myself. Works great — you get what you pay for — these are expensive, but you’ll never look at another SUV again.

  • sweptarea

    Why would you want to buy a Volt ?
    Agree that smart keys are a dumb idea. The answer to a question no one asked.

  • Ann

    I have a jeep but I believe the volt key is similar to mine. There is a sliding locking mechanism that removes an actual hard key. The start button pops out easily to reveal a normal keyed engine start. On days you go surfing you could have just remove the old school key part and left the fob at home. Voila. Problem solved, no tin foil required.

  • Jason

    Umm how about a waterproof bag to keep your key in while surfing? I exercise, go to the lake, and all of that stuff and have a smart key for my car. But any trip to the water means the key, cell phone, etc. all go into a waterproof and floating bag just in case. I assume you took your old keys with you when you went surfing, what did you do with them then if you lost it? Did you not keep a spare? Or in a floating bag? Or just left them in the car? There are other solutions here besides expecting the car company to redesign their systems. And yes, most likely Chevy has the ability to override these keys, but they don’t want that knowledge out there- because with all the electronics in the car, your car is already open to being hacked (see the movie “Untraceable” for reasons why this makes me afraid)- they don’t want to broadcast that they can do it. Just one simple solution is the bag, or even a ziploc baggie they are water proof and fold up and go into your pocket too, something as simple as that can fix a lot.

  • Capt Jack

    This person was stupid enough to buy a Volt. Nuff said

  • blankho

    I had the same problem with my Land Rover. It’s not just the key getting wet, you also get screwed when your wife has the key in her purse and she has you drop her off at the mall. Then guess what? You drive away with no key and when you shut the car off…..No start. Figured out the tin foil thing and hid another key inside the car for cases like that. It is truly a stupid design that no engineer ever field tested. You should have a valet key to carry that can shut off the remote, open the car, and start the car if necessary. Afraid to ask what happens if the battery dies.

  • Jenna Moore

    This irks me, too. Every time my husband goes out to get into his car, he inadvertently unlocks mine. Arg. My suggestion for you: Waterproof cases are available pretty cheap. They’re really just waterproof bags for phones and such.

  • Jason Nemeck

    Why not buy a waterproof bag and stick it.

  • Preston Weiters Jr.

    4.22.14, Now that you’ve put this out here, someone will now fish around the underside of your car for that box, bust it open & drive away.

  • thekarl

    You can also use foil to drop you phone signal when you want to go dark. If you want to take your key with you REI and other outdoor equipment vendors will have some heavy vinyl dry bags for just this purpose, but losing it is expensive. My Land Rover one will cost nearly $600 to replace, and I lost one on a trip.
    For reference, the authors problem is they want to stash the key on or near the car while they are in the water, but the constant communication if the key is near drains the key and car’s batteries and will allow anyone to unlock the car who tries the handle.

  • mikesco

    How is this for a scenario, you are on a cross country trip and on one of your stops your smart key breaks or you lose it in a remote town and you do not have a spare with you, the only way you get to drive your car is to have it towed to the nearest dealership so they can reprogram another one. What use to be a $75 locksmith bill is now a potentially major $400-500 bill, possibly more.

  • Joe Markiewicz

    However, the situation raises a question of a much larger scope that probably needs to be addressed.
    What about ‘smart’ credit cards that will alert you of items on sale in the store? “Speed passes” that you can swipe next to the gas pump? What about…you get it.
    The aluminum foil is not such a bad idea, but you can take it one step further. They make parchment paper for lining baking sheets and pans(try it, you’ll love it!), but one brand offers aluminum foil on one side to better ‘shape’ the paper to the container. With a pair of scissors and a little adhesive tape, you can make a small sleeve/envelope to disable these ‘NEW, MORE CONVENIENT, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH’ items.
    You know there are more on the way. Or if you live in the Northeast and have an EZ-PASS account, you can get an envelope to put your tag in so that the reader can’t read your tag; same idea.
    The latest and greatest isn’t always ;-)

  • hannoverfisst

    Just because the technology doesn’t do what you wanted it to do, doesn’t make it dumb. It makes you dumb for not doing your research and assuming that the manufacturer would take into consideration that someone would want to take a piece of electronic equipment into the water to surf with it. Hang 10.

  • Spot from Pompeii

    Find a way to adapt

  • Marsha Booker

    lol this is so funny b/c foil was the first thing I thought of when she said that plastic wouldn’t do…

  • Timothy Howard

    !! start buying manual transmission vehicles, I have a 13 Kia Soul and to even get the fob to unlock the doors would have come standard on an automatic.

  • Hi

    Now there’s a car to take joyriding at the beach when you’re surfing, since it’s well advertised that a key is expected to be in a lockbox underneath…

  • Shane Nashville
  • Randy Dobson

    necessity is the mother of inventions

  • Patricia

    I have a Camry Hybrid, forgot my smart key in my pants pocket, washed pants, key worked. Oh, and to replace the extra key that my son lost? $500!!

  • Dan McNamara

    Upper-middle Class White People problems

  • lawrence forreston

    one time i put tissue paper around an electric can opener and the lid just popped off!

  • Chris K

    Spent all that time shopping for a lead-lined lock box, but couldn’t find a Ziploc baggie anywhere?
    As another comment pointed out, the article should be called “Smart Key, Stupid User.”

  • westomoon

    Funny, I just had my first encounter with one of these this week — a loaner from the dealer while my normal car was having a major spa day. I was equally bemused by it — the “value added” seemed pretty pointless. I’m a huge fan of my remote-unlocking fob, but I like to have control over how & when it operates. And I really don’t find it burdensome to turn a key to make my engine start.

    I’m glad to learn from these comments that every “smart key” has a dumb key hidden in it somewhere — though the dealer didn’t seem aware of that fact. I normally discover that my fob needs a new battery via the Braille method — when the clicker doesn’t work and I need to use my key. I was kinda wondering what one would do when the battery gave out on one’s smart key — does Radio Shack do road service?

    I’d been planning to get a Volt if they ever add a sensible body option. But this little piece of news makes me wonder — how much other pointless gadgetry have they loaded on to these cars?

  • gt6303c

    A waterproof bag for your keys, people have been doing it forever with their id/money. You could even get creative and find a way to laminate your fob.

  • Brad

    First… World… Problems.

    I had an ’07 Infiniti which uses a fob, smart key, proximity key or whatever you choose to call it. After our son was born I purchased a 2013 fully loaded Buick Enclave, which does not have a proximity key option. I would gladly trade any other feature of the car for the proximity key. It is extremely convenient. Once you’ve used one it is difficult to go back. It is particularly handy for when your hands are full with all the things you have to lug around for children, especially infants. No car in 2014 should be manufactured without a proximity key as an option.

    To the poster: this article is a real stretch. As others have pointed out, you can change the behavior of the proximity key to not automatically open the door.

    • DCUnitedWillRiseAgain

      Did you read the article? She took it to the dealer, and they said it couldn’t be done.

  • fusspot

    Guns don’t kill people; People kill people…

  • durgadas

    The definition of good technology is that someone has considered what is needed when it’s NOT NEEDED. People who create technology are often so enamored with what things can do, they forget that part of it, which is, for many of us, the MOST IMPORTANT PART. For me, this means that whoever designed the system should be fired, and someone who can recognize this fundamental need be hired instead. This is a human problem and nothing else.

  • Dave Ferro

    I guess no one thought about taking out the fuse that governs the power locks?

  • schrodingers_gat

    Why not use a static bag like they do for shipping EZ-Pass transponders? It’s the same technology

  • Chad Guillory

    How about buttons for all of the functions? Could also lock your key in a car with a security keypad like a lot of cars have nowadays. I’m disabled and can’t even afford a car to have modified, but if I did, this combination would be something I’d want.

  • no shoes

    zip lock plastic bag?
    or just take the battery out of the key fob?

  • Jimmy

    My prius has a smart key but under the steering wheel is a switch to turn the entire smart key system off and you have to use the manual key for the door and insert the smart key into the square hole to actually start the car. Toyota gave it to you both ways.

  • homebuilding

    Even though it’s rather hopeless, I’ll still shop for a manual transmission and a turn/key arrangement. (Oh, and wheels smaller than 16″ diameter, too)

    There’s a lot to be said for simple, proven and not needing any maintenance for a couple of decades.

    “Over tech” afflicts darned near everything from washing machines to kitchen stoves and dozens of other things that were just fine, as designed 25 years ago. Slight tweaking is fine, but loading everything up with all manner of techno-gingerbread is nonsense.

  • Jack_C85048

    All you need to do is put your smart key in a ziplock bag (the freezer bags are great for things you don’t want to get wet) – and surf away! You could go high-end and buy one from your local surfship that will also hold your mobile device.

    Low tech solution to your high tech problem.

  • Jason MacDonald

    Wrap it aluminum foil, then put it in the keybox. Make sure it is *completely* enclosed- night take a few wraps. The Radio waves won’t go through it.

  • JrMaybach

    I stand up paddle board, and in my car I carry a box of zip lock snack bags. I slip my Iphone, and smart key in the baggie, and they become water proof.

  • homebuilding

    News flash of today……Ford Motor Company revised profits downward, citing too much warranty work.
    …todays cars are complicated, he said)

    Duh! Make us a few models without all the gingerbread. A metal key will be just fine, thank you.

    As to all the other bright, shiny things, start by making the paint stay on the shiny side for a few more years (by the way, I do enjoy the rust resistant, galvanized lower panels).

  • Purlum

    I have a mazda with a smart-key. The fob comes with a removable metal key so I can take the key out, leave the fob in the car, and then lock the car manually with the metal key.

  • alexh10

    They make waterproof bags for kayaking etc that are very durable and dont use ziplock technology. Not sure what the smallest size is…

  • Dummass Dumbos

    ya but did you look around to make sure no one was watching you hide your key?

  • John

    Toolguy2 had the best advice, but I’ll expand on it, make a cheap open the door only key for 3 dollars, take that key surfing, before exiting the vehicle place your entire key ring with the smart key in an area inside the vehicle where the car cannot detect it, low and center is best, try under a rear floor mat, placing them in a mylar bag may help.
    (if the ignition turns, or you cannot lock the vehicle it’s being detected)
    Have your fun in the sun, come back, unlock the door and grab your keys.

  • Las Paled

    This one is easy guys and it actually is technology. Park Car—-> Open Hood and place key in Engine Compartments (there are several safe places that are secure) —–> Close Hood and place Waterproofed Smart Phone in wet suit —–> go surfing —–> come back and use the OnStar App to unlock car —-> Open Hood and Retrieve Key —->
    Seriously… this was a silly article… I have done this with MY Volt a bunch of times.

    Peace out from San Diego.

  • BJK

    Or you could put the smart key in one of those waterproof containers that surfers use to contain their stuff… even a snack sized plastic bag, tucked into your suit…

  • Philip Marquez

    why not just put it in a ziploc bag and take it with you?

  • Garrett Jax

    What you need is to have the entire device, both inside and out, including the circuits, connectors, and battery, coated with a hydrophobic substance. I don’t know how much would be charged or where you can have it done but if you go to YouTube and just search for “hydrophobic” or “Ultra Ever Dry” you will see this amazing substance for yourself. And NO it is not fake. The videos are all real but you will swear it looks like magic. Check it out!

  • warren22theape

    Or you could just put the key in a plastic bag. Also there are higher quality waterproof pouches for exactly this purpose. I can’t believe this “surfer” couldn’t think of plastic bag. I guess the sun evaporates common sense.

  • Dave Haynie

    Try an Altoids box. Though I’m not sure I’d want to lock my only key in the car, that seems like a bad plan. For parking down the shore, I just don’t leave anything of value in the car, and I hide the key inside somewhere. Never had a car stolen or a key lost that way.

    My 2003 Prius has a smart key, but it was kind of a stealth version. It’s in the key fob of an otherwise normal looking it. It can’t open the door when you get close, because the transponder is passive, not active. Thus, it also doesn’t need a battery. You put the regular key in the regular keyhole, only it’s not the key actually unlocking the car. So you still have the security of the smart key.

    You’d think this kind would still be possible to offer, at least as an alternate. You’re not getting a pure dumb key for a car that really needs a smart key, though. They’re using fairly high end cryptography (in my case, whatever was good back in 2001 or whatever), and while you can clone one to another, if you lose them all, you have to buy a new engine computer. There’s no way to start it without that code, not without some serious hackey, anyway.

  • Rossini7

    Is there not a button inside the Volt to disable the smart function? There is in my 2nd Gen Prius. There’s also the dumb key inside the smart fob that can be separated just to use the locks. Is this not how Chevys work?

  • ZoomZoomDiva

    Why not just put the key in a waterproof holder in your wetsuit?

  • Robert Jorgensen

    One of the things I like about the Toyota Prius is that you CAN disable the auto unlock and if you look closely at the fob it has a hidden key to the drivers door

  • sdtangler

    Loved this article. Nice job~

  • Megan Myracle-Cieplik

    It’s called a ziploc baggie. You can pick a whole box of them up for about $5 at your nearest grocery store. Problem solved. Your welcome. If you feel that would not be secure enough, go to your nearest outdoor retail store (I like REI) and get a water proof baggie. This route is a little more expensive, but will also solve your problem.

  • Blackspur

    Welcome to our Brave New World where everything is stored on the cloud because nothing could possibly happen to the cloud, where OS force you to do it their way because they know best for us all, where every piece of software is “updated” everyday because they never really made it right in the first place.

  • Terry Vanderpuke

    a tire-iron works great to unlock your car

  • pope305mike

    Almost $700.00 to replace a land rover one . Other then that never really had an issue .

  • Prof. Torg

    Bring on the waterproof smart key.

  • SoZesty

    Obey…really? You could have solved your problem with a 9 cent double freezer bag or if you wanted to go that way a $9 Drypack Is it a slow news day or something over there at Tech Page?

  • Mike

    You shouldn’t have to do something else and I get that is the point of the article. Here is a solution a jeep owner came up with to a very similar problem.

  • Jim M.

    I think a waterproof holder such as, Aquapac Keymaster AQP-608 Waterproof Wallet from Amazon would probably do the trick.

  • gradyphilpott

    I can lock my fob inside my car and then lock the door with the key that is kept inside the fob. Then the car will not open unless the key is used to unlock it. You can disable the trunk in my car either mechanically or electronically, using the key for the release by the driver’s door or by switching off the trunk release with the switch in the glove compartment, which can be locked by the key. Regardless the trunk will not open as long as the fob is in the car or the key is unavailable.

    It’s not really the author’s fob that is the problem. Either GM screwed up royally or the author didn’t read the manual.

    Pro tip: Don’t lose your key.

    I failed to note that the article was written by women.

  • Ben Stansberry

    Best short story I’ve read in weeks.

  • NB

    Just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean you should do a thing….

  • Mudme

    There are a multitude of waterproof containers of various sizes for diving or when you spend time near water (like fishing or boating) and don’t want to risk getting your keys (or bologna sandwich) wet. I have heard that there are some specifically designed to keep keys nice and dry. It seems like you spent a lot of effort trying to find out how to hide your key in or near the car (how do you get a key out of a locked car?) when the solution is a google search away. That is really…smart of you.

  • Dutchman61

    What should also be pointed out is it will take all of 5 to 10 minutes for a thief with a transmitter to crack the code and open your car. There are already reports of car thieves going to parking garages and waiting to see which cars they unlock. GM is a lazy company and I doubt they use that many combinations. At one point, consumer groups found that Saturn used only 12 conventional key patterns for neatly 8 years to save money which made the cars vulnerable. I remember a guy demonstrating it to a friend using our Saturn and not realizing I was standing right there. I know friends who have gone to the mall and found their car was open when they returned to it. I bet someone parking next to them had the same combination.

    Ford has begun doing it as well as GM. The reason is to save cash. The electronics cost them all of $1 to implement and save on average $50 to $150 per car by eliminating locks, ignition switches, etc. I actually asked a Ford representative if the company would put in writing that this was as secure and he refused. You will shortly see a huge spike in car theft for these so called smart key cars and a bigger insurance hike.

  • maryp63

    My last car had a smart key – sure it was convenient when going to get in the car but I hated it. Coming home in the rain or at night and getting to my door and then searching for my keys was not fun. Before I always had keys in hand. Also, my Nissan had no key holes to unlock the door or trunk so the key inside the fob was only good for the ignition which was in a weird spot had I needed to use it. Car battery died once and it was a good thing the driver’s door was unlocked as I never would’ve been able to get in the car. It had it’s pros but I just hated it. Bought a new car last year – no smart key but has the buttons to unlock the car, open the trunk and panic button – absolutely love it!

  • Kile

    It took you that long to figure out aluminum foil?

  • Al Best

    Michael Faraday in 1836 solved that problem for you.

  • John D Slavik

    I love kayaking and use a waterproof bag that hangs from my neck to carry my cell phone and the key to my Cruze (not as smart as the Volt’s, but still has electronic buttons to activate). Honestly a key such as you describe would be a ‘deal-breaker’ for me. I simply wouldn’t invest in a vehicle that requires a multi-hundred dollar device to activate it with no backup. Let me share a funny story with you that, while true, sounds like a blonde joke.
    I was on patrol (I used to be a police officer) and was driving through a local mall. A young woman was waving frantically at me. With pictures of rescuing her from a purse snatcher or something like running through my head I pulled up. She asked me to take her to the Circle K on the corner because the battery on her car remote died and she was unable to unlock the doors! I explained that we weren’t allowed to do that and asked if the key fob she was showing me were the keys to her car. She said, “Yes.” I had her hand them to me stuck the key in the slot on the door, unlocked and opened it and then handed the key back and told her to just start the car and she could drive herself to the convenience store on the corner. Later, at shift change, I shared the story and the first question I was asked was this…”Was she a blonde?” She wasn’t but I swear that I laughed so hard and so long I thought I was going to die. For a few weeks after all you need do to get a belly laugh out of anyone in my shift was to ask, “Was she blonde?”
    This was back in the 80s but I never forgot that lady’s desperation when the battery died on the remote. We get so used to using something in a certain way that we forget about alternatives. But because of this incident I still remember to check on a new car if there is some way to open the door other than reliance on the electrical signals from a “smart key fob.”

  • Buster

    Not sure who the author talked to, but I walked into the parts department of my local dealership and asked for a old fashion manual key for my car 2013 car. Told them I ONLY wanted to use it to get into the car, not drive it. I also stated I wanted to leave my electric key in the car to prevent it from being damaged from water or anything other outside forces. With very little question and 3minutes later I was sold a simple manual key.
    I tested this the author’s statement by going to other dealerships of various brands and requesting the same for all types of cars. Every single one said they had no problem producing such a thing. Not sure why the author of this article had so much trouble doing the same. I tried Ford, Chrysler, Chevy, Audi, Dodge, Volkswagon, and a few other brands.

  • Ashley

    Now thieves will know what to look for at the beach if they want to break in new model cars

  • djericho

    Really? they make waterproof bags to wear around necks, ankles, etc that guard electronics like cameras, cellphones, gopros… for a tech blog… not so forward thinking.

  • selahgreene

    ‘Smart’ keys can also be belligerent. I’ve got one for my 2003 Grand Cherokee that throws fits periodically. I got the car new, and planned on keeping it as it is a great rig, but the “Panic Button” feature is the most ridiculous ‘technology’ I’ve encountered. Many times, the panic alarm would go off on its own, without any input from the key fob. This happened while I was in my office (with the keys on the desk, so I wasn’t ‘butt dialing’ the panic alarm), when I was in meetings, whenever it decided it wanted to go off. One time, we were in a hotel in Seattle, with the Jeep parked outside our window, and it decided to have a panic attack at 1:30 in the morning.

    I took the Jeep and key fob to the dealer and asked to have the panic alarm feature disabled, and got the same response as the author of the article: “Huh? This is technology! It’s sacrilege to even think of turning off technology.” Fortunately, the Jeep hasn’t had a panic attack for several years now. Maybe it was just going through auto adolescence and needed to grow up.

  • Dyvid

    Anti-static bags that you get with every computer component.

  • Scott Campbell

    You could just have put the key in a Glad snack size zipper bag. Completely water proof and cheap.

  • delores_in_wa_state

    Main problem. You bought a Chevy. I have a Toyota Camry. You know, the corporation what puts thought into their auto making. It cam with TWO keys. One was a Genius Key with the buttons to unlock and lock things and to use for DRIVING. It also came with a normal intelligence key (without the chip).

    This normal intelligence key can open door and check engine and so, forth – as long as you don’t drive the car away. If you drive the car away it will turn itself OFF after you do so far to prevent theft. THUS, the reason for the Genius key. A step above the “Smart” key Chevy gave you. As an added bonus, I will pay way less on auto repairs with my Toyota, than you will with your Chevy.

    I am all for buying American-made and paying a little more – as long as the product is not historically a waste of money.

  • JustDon

    Man, if only they would make a little plastic bag to put something in if we were going into the water.

    Of course, we’d want the bag to be sealable, so that water couldn’t get in… like if we could just ZIP it shut to lock it or something.

    I know… sound all futuristic, but I bet we could do it. (After all, we can make keys that are *almost* smart…) We could call it… a LOCK-ZIP bag… or something like that. (Weird, I know…) ;o)

  • Dynamic iFiction

    Caroline, I just want to apologize for not taking you photograph when you obviously wanted me to. The shortcuts that are becoming more and more a part of our more and more convenient lives, based on the bright ideas of less and less people, I believe, may be designed to end the world more and more quickly.

  • Alius Umbra

    Now I am not so sure I wanna get a new car at all :(

  • Sam Spade

    This would be interesting for a Jeep with the doors off.

  • Chris Dean

    Most automakers have a key within the smart key that is removable.

  • Jimi

    Try putting the key in a plastic bag and take it with you – DUH!

  • Dan

    From web-browsers, to “smart” phones, to cars, myopic programmers and engineers constantly tossing away practical options, narcissistically enamored by their own ability to make everything automagical.

  • Rob J.

    I’m a scuba diver and I hate the idea of a smart key. I’ve yet to find any sort of compact, reliable underwater case. They all flood under pressure or are too bulky to be practical. When I dove in a drysuit I could just put items in my pockets, but I once had it leak. Two cell phoes died that day.

  • Reply_Ignorer

    This article is written By Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton
    someone had to tell Wendy and Caroline to try foil… still laughing…