I have a hybrid. Am I losing sleep because I feel that someone is going to easily start up my car and take off in the middle of the night? Not really. At first, I was afraid that someone would inconvenience me by walking off with my charger until I discovered that the locking of the car will also lock in the charger to the car. In other words, even though a lot of people are wondering if this new technology is providing loopholes for thieves, I really do not think that you need to worry about the safety of your prized car.
Is it difficult to steal a hybrid car? It is difficult to steal a hybrid car. These cars are high-tech and tactics such as hotwiring them is probably is going to work as it used to in the past. They have a push button start that would require ingenious software to start the car without the remote. They also are usually connected to a tracking system that can pinpoint the location of the car within feet using a global positioning satellite.
Is it Easier to Steal a Hybrid Car just because of its Push Button Start?
All of the hybrids that I had tested, had a push-button start. It sounds scary thinking that someone could simply press a button, like on an arcade game, and then drive away into the night. Likely, it is not quite that easy.
A push button does not mean that anyone can start a vehicle. You need the remote. Each car has its own unique coding that works with its remote that has the matching code. Perhaps, you may feel that someone could buy a device on the web that would be able to determine this code and then add it to a remote. It sounds scary and it is probably unlikely that all hybrid owners are at risk, but it is a concern.
The FOB or frequency operated button, is being broadcasted by your remote when you are close to your hybrid car. If you are, let’s say, 50 feet away, you will be able to unlock the doors. Nevertheless, you have to be just feet away in order to start the engine.
A cbc.ca report stated that people are able to figure out the frequency when the car owner with the remote is within this 50-foot radius. Technically, it is possible that you could be in your bedroom, and a thief could use a laptop to retrieve your frequency without you knowing it.
You could prevent this from happening by ensuring that you do not leave your remote close to your car at night. Also, what is the likelihood that such a specialized thief would target you when neighbors or lighting could spook them?
I feel that because the tech is strong, it is not easier to steal a hybrid just because of its push-button start. It certainly is a lot harder than stealing a gas powered car that uses a key. A thief could theoretically rip out some wires, wrap them together, and drive away without the need of fancy illegal software on their laptop.
How can you protect your hybrid car from being stolen due to its Push Button Start?
I wanted to explain in more detail why thieves are really interested in push button hybrid cars. Since hybrids are silent due to the lack of the use of the combustion engine initially, a thief will be less likely to be overheard by nosy neighbors. Plus, the gadgets are quite cheap that can be used to unlock and start up a hybrid with push-button start.
I had mentioned that leaving your FOB in a room in your house that is close to your vehicle is a big no-no. It actually takes two thieves to turn on your car. One uses a device close to your house and his or her partner, uses another device super close to the vehicle to open the door and then it to use the push button start. A techie person can make the devices for as little as $25!
To prevent a techie from driving away with your hybrid, there are several things that you can do:
- You can block the signal that radiates from your remote for your car by placing it into a metal container at night. This might sound strange, but putting it into a microwave may block its signal.
- There are pouches that you can purchase online called Faraway Bags. Store your key remote in this pouch at night.
- Some remotes can be turned off. Check your car manual to see if it is possible to switch off your remote for your hybrid vehicle.
- Add a steering wheel lock. This will increase the frustration level of the thief and it may perhaps cause them to target a nearby vehicle that does not have its steering wheel jammed.
- I would advise you not to hide your car at night. If someone is determined enough, they might decide that they should break into your house and to simply retrieve your remote. If you were to hide your FOB, the thieve might look around in the normal areas for the remote and then decide that they should confront you to get the remote. A hybrid car is just an object. Why put your family at risk just to protect a car? I would personally store it further enough away from the car so that the code cannot be lifted through the use of a device just outside your door. I would actually leave out in the open in case an aggressive thief enters your home. Let them have your car, and maybe they will not worry about confronting you in the middle of the night while you are sleeping.
Is it True that the Hybrid Batteries are Being Stolen in Parking Lots?
I have never thought about the possibility that someone would try to steal my hybrid battery pack. I guess that it is because the battery pack on a plug-in hybrid is will installed and extremely hard to de-install. It does take some time. Even though I had watched a video of a guy that was able to remove on in 30 minutes, this guy had done it hundreds of times apparently.
It is not as if you can simply open the truck, pull out the carpeting and then walk away with a 93-pound battery pack. It is also dangerous because of the high voltage if you try to do it too quickly.
Nevertheless, in Sacramento, there are reports of thieves stealing hybrid battery packs. One lady says that she was shocked to find that someone had torn into the back of her vehicle, and ripped out her battery pack. They are worth quite a lot even for the popular Prius hybrid. It could you as much as $2500 if you were to purchase it yourself. Then you might have to pay another $500 or so to have a qualified mechanic install if for you.
If you were to buy a battery pack from a dealership, the pricing will be even higher.
How can you protect your Hybrid’s battery pack?
I would suggest that you use a service that will mark the VIN onto major parts in your car. In Canada, we can use Sherlock. By using it, it actually decreases your insurance rate.
The rep from Sherlock will number numerous components. They even add a code to the seatbelts. I had noticed the other day when I was detaching my seatbelt that they had etched a code onto the buckle.
Of course, make sure that you have a sticker that will alert thieves that you have marked up your components.
Another tactic is to have an alarm system that will reduce the likelihood that someone will target your car. They might be able to de-activate the alert system, but would they be willing to take the risk just to have the ability to spend 15 minutes removing your hybrid battery?
An alarm system will most likely be included in your car when you purchase it. Ensure that it works of course and check to see if it is super easy to hack. Perhaps, you may wish to upgrade it since included items in new cars are usually of questionable quality.
Now that you verified your alarm system, there is something else that you should aware of to reduce the chances of having your battery stolen. This tactic is cheap, as in free. When you are parking in a parking garage, make sure that you back into the parking space. If someone does not have easy access to the rear of your car, it is going to be next to impossible for them to remove your battery pack.
To remove the pack, you have to slide it out of the back the vehicle. I guess that you could remove the back seats and drag it through one of the side doors, but that would increase the de-install time. The longer that a thieve takes, the greater the chance that they will get caught.