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What is a car immobiliser and how effective are they?

You might be thinking 'my vehicle already comes with a factory fitted immobiliser, so why are there other security immobilisers out there and how do they compare?' Are other immobilisers more effective at preventing theft and if so, how? In this article we will discuss the main differences between our immobiliser and a factory fitted immobiliser and what levels of security each of these options provide.

  • What is a factory fitted immobiliser?

  • How does an immobiliser work?

  • Are factory fitted immobilisers guaranteed to prevent theft?

  • Are keyless entry cars that have a factory fitted immobiliser easier to steal?

  • How is the CAN-phantom different to a factory fitted immobiliser?

What is a factory fitted immobiliser?

Factory fitted immobilisers are installed during the manufacturing process. They started appearing in 1992 and have been compulsory on new vehicles in England and Wales since 1998. If your vehicle was made during or after 1998, it's most likely to have this installed.

How does an immobiliser work?

An immobiliser is an electronic security device that has been fitted into a car and prevents the engine from running unless the correct key or key fob is present.

Factory fitted immobilisers tend to stop the engine from starting if a thief uses a fake key or tries to hot wire the vehicle.

Your key fob will have a transponder chip which retains your car's unique security code. Every time you start your car, an electronic code is sent to the ECU (electronic control unit). If the code is correct, the ECU will allow the engine to start.

Are factory fitted immobilisers guaranteed to prevent theft?

The short answer to this question is no. Thieves can easily find vulnerabilities with your factory fitted immobiliser. A large number of immobiliser chips have a vulnerability that can be exploited with scanning technology.

Thieves listen to these signals between your car and locking system and within thirty minutes, are able to disarm the immobiliser.

Are factory fitted immobilisers easier to steal on keyless entry cars?

Keyless entry cars are partly responsible for the rising rate of car theft in the UK and that's due to thieves being able to confuse the vehicle into thinking the keys are near when they're not.

Thieves are able to steal keyless entry vehicles through relay theft. To learn more about relay theft and how best to secure your vehicle from this, see our other article "How to prevent keyless theft?"

How is the CAN-phantom different to a factory fitted immobiliser?

Unlike factory fitted immobilisers, our immobiliser prevents the vehicle's engine from starting from the use of a key or key fob alone. This prevents thieves from being able to start your car by stealing the keys, cloning the keys or by relay theft.

The CAN-phantom works by preventing the vehicle's engine from starting until a PIN-code has been entered. The PIN code utilises the vehicle's internal buttons and switches and can be as simple or as complex as you choose.

Without the PIN code, the vehicle will simply not start.


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