Unlocking the Mystery: How Remote Keyless Entry Systems Really Work

Have you ever wondered how those fancy remote keyless entry systems in modern cars work? How does the simple push of a button not only lock and unlock the car but also start the engine? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the technology that powers remote keyless entry systems and demystify it once and for all.

Unlocking the Mystery: How Remote Keyless Entry Systems Really WorkUnlocking the Mystery: How Remote Keyless Entry Systems Really Work

What is Remote Keyless Entry System?

A remote keyless entry system, or RKE for short, is a method of electronically locking and unlocking a car’s doors from a distance. It works by sending a signal from a remote key fob to a receiver in the car using a specific frequency. Upon receiving the signal, the car’s central locking system is activated, and the doors lock or unlock, depending on the specific command from the fob.

How Does RKE Work?

RKEs have come a long way since their introduction in the late 1980s. The technology involved in RKEs has evolved alongside the evolution of electronics in general. Nowadays, most remote keyless entry systems are based on three main technologies: radio frequency (RF), infrared (IR), and near-field communication (NFC).

Radio Frequency (RF) Technology

RF-based remote keyless entry systems are the most common ones in use today. These systems work by sending a signal from a key fob to the receiver in the car. When you press a button on the key fob, it generates a unique radio wave signal at a specific frequency that is picked up by the receiver in the car. The receiver then sends a confirmation signal back to the key fob, which lets you know that the car has been locked or unlocked.

RF-based RKEs typically operate on a frequency range of 300 MHz to 433 MHz. This frequency range is considered sufficient to penetrate through the car’s exterior and activate the receiver inside the car. RF-based RKEs are known to be very reliable and have an operating range of up to 50 meters.

Infrared (IR) Technology

IR-based remote keyless entry systems were popular in the early 2000s, but their usage has since declined. These systems work by transmitting an infrared signal from the key fob to the receiver in the car. IR-based RKEs have an excellent range of up to 50 meters, but their drawback is that they require line-of-sight between the key fob and the car. Any obstacles in the way can block the signal, rendering the system useless.

Near-Field Communication (NFC) Technology

NFC-based remote keyless entry systems are relatively new and not yet widely used. They work by using a smartphone equipped with NFC technology as a key fob. When you get to your car, hold your smartphone up to the designated spot on the door handle, and the NFC signal is picked up by the receiver in the car, and the doors unlock.

NFC-based RKEs have several advantages over traditional key fobs. For example, you don’t have to worry about losing or misplacing your key fob since your smartphone is always with you. Additionally, you can easily share access to your car with others by giving them temporary access to your smartphone’s NFC capabilities.

How is RKE Technology Secure?

One of the main concerns with remote keyless entry systems is that they can be hacked. However, RKE technology has evolved to be highly secure and almost impossible to hack. Modern RKEs employ sophisticated encryption techniques to ensure that the signal sent from the key fob to the car’s receiver is not intercepted and deciphered by a hacker.

The most common encryption technique used in RKEs is rolling code encryption. Rolling code encryption is a technique that uses a different code each time you press a button on your key fob. This means that even if a hacker intercepts one signal, they can’t use that signal to unlock the car since the code will have rolled over to a new one by the time they try.


Remote keyless entry systems have come a long way since their inception, and they have become an essential feature in modern cars. Whether you use a traditional key fob or your smartphone, the underlying technology that powers these systems is sophisticated and highly secure. As technology continues to evolve, it’s exciting to think about what new developments we’ll see in this field in the future.


Sure, here are three popular FAQs with answers for “Unlocking the Mystery: How Remote Keyless Entry Systems Really Work”:

How does a remote keyless entry system work?
A remote keyless entry system works by sending a signal from your key fob to your car through radio frequencies. When you press a button on your key fob, it sends a code to your car’s receiver, which then unlocks the doors. The code changes every time you use your key fob, making it more secure than a traditional key.

Can someone else unlock my car with their key fob?
No, they cannot. Each key fob has a specific code that matches with the car’s receiver. This means that only the person with the matching code can unlock the car. However, if someone were to gain access to your key fob and copy its code, they could potentially unlock your car.

How far away can I be from my car for the keyless entry to work?
This depends on the specific system and its range. Generally, most remote keyless entry systems work within a range of around 30 to 60 feet. However, the range can be affected by walls, buildings, and other obstacles that may interfere with the radio frequencies. It’s always best to test the range in different areas to see what works best for your specific system.