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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    it sounds like there is enough evidence now that the location is causing the problem.

    Yea, and it's getting to be more of a common occurrance.

    Here is one that was figured out a few years ago.

    http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20100527/NEWS03/305279999

    So you have 2 ways to go about diagnosing. 1 is try to get the car to tell you (though I would not be surprised if there was nothing to tell, since the car would think the fob was not there).

    Actually the car knows the fob is there, but the signal from the automatic doors keeps being detected and the car goes into "anti-scan" to prevent some theif from being able to trick the car into unlocking. To most owners who have a key as well as a key fob, they simply have to open the door with their key, and then the can start their car. They would only report that the key fob doesn't work at random times. Keep in mind the proximity to the door sensor will change with each visit to the store for most people so they may not associate the failure events with one specific location.

    Now to "prove" it. Connecting a fully functional scan tool, which means the top of the line Snap-On's, Bosch MDS or the actual O.E. equipment where the tech has full access to the immobilizer and the remote keyless entry (RKE) functions would be required. In a lot of cases only the O.E. tool will give the tech access. Drive the car to the reported problem location, "open a window" :) and see what the car will report to the tool as different functions are observed. If the car goes into anti-scan you will see that reported in data and of course the fob will be inoperative.

    To get a car started that keeps tripping, the store just needs to turn off their doors for a little bit, some cars as little as 30 seconds, others as much as two minutes.

    The shopping cart anti theft systems are a bit like a hidden fence for your dog, except they don't shock the person who is taking the stores cart, they just lock up the wheels. ;) These systems operate a 9K hz, way too low to be of any concern for RKE, and even TPMS systems.

    http://www.gatekeepersystems.com/sol_cc_cc_how_it_works.php
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,246
    Ah, the motion detectors on automatic doors - didn't think of those.

    And if you complain, the stores will hide behind the FCC and will refuse to pay towing charges.

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    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,368
    This is very interesting about the interference problems and the locking and starting systems while the car is parked. Could some of the car's systems be interfered with while the car is being driven as the car passes some electrical/radio rich locations along a highway?
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,246
    Gee, all those sudden unintended acceleration cases where people are driving through store fronts - guess those are really caused by stray electrical currents or radio waves. That's an even better theory than my tin whisker one. :shades:

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    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    And if you complain, the stores will hide behind the FCC and will refuse to pay towing charges

    The people in the store would likely have no idea this really is occurring, to them the person would look like they are trying to scam the store. If you thought someone was trying to scam you, how would you react?

    To them, they see hundreds of cars go in and out successfully, and occasionally see someone who has a broken car. Having someone off the wall blame them for a car having a problem would simply not make any sense to them.

    Then we have the other problem, "the who's going to pay for this" dance you expose. Most people have towing on their insurance policies, and then many others have AAA etc. So the towing price is mute. For the tow companies, some consumers will turn around and blame them for the service, as if the tow truck drivers are supposed to know everything there is to know about vehicle electronics. Heck, it may take a month or two of calls for one company to even begin to realize that a pattern is even occurring, let alone get to the point that something near a given store is to blame at all.

    The biggest problem is now that this is here, someone could simply google and find this thread. The reaction will be to blame a store first without any proof or confirmation if the reason they couldn't get into their car is this particular problem or not. To confirm it, simply go get your car after hours when the doors are turned off, or ask the store again if they could briefly turn the sensors off. Once confirmed, just simply park far enough away from the door sensors and everything will be fine.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    The key FOB operates on ~400 MHz. The automatic door opener for a store operates on a significantly higher frequency, maybe 16 GHz or higher (higher frequencies provide a narrower detection beam so that the doors only open when someone is in close proximity). If the anti-scan system thinks that a 16 GHz signal is really someone trying to unlock the car, then that seems to be a major shortcoming.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    This is very interesting about the interference problems and the locking and starting systems while the car is parked. Could some of the car's systems be interfered with while the car is being driven as the car passes some electrical/radio rich locations along a highway

    No. The electronics are well shielded and with the use of bias voltage carriers, and twisted pair communication busses external normal EMI wont shut down a car.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    You do realize that someone will stop reading the moment they see what you wrote and use that as an excuse instead of admitting that they hit the gas instead of the brake pedal?
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,246
    edited January 2013
    simply park far enough away from the door sensors and everything will be fine.

    Good - solve the no start and the obesity problem in one fell swoop. :D

    (When I crash into storefronts, I always use the bee in the car excuse myself).

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    Unless of course the door sensor is broadcasting incorrectly and is infringing on the fobs frequency.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,368
    edited January 2013
    >That's an even better theory than my tin whisker one.

    I'm planning ahead in case my Buick decides to act up on me some day with unintended acceleration! :blush: Excuse: it was the radar for the door openers or the infrared sensor for same and its decoding circuitry. :sick:

    With the drive-by-wire setups in cars and the increased electronics, side incursion sensors, lane departure sensors, frontal spacing sensors for the cruise control, sensor for the automatic this-n-that..., etc., I want to know what to look for as I shop for a car. :cry: I want to know that a key will still work in the door and a key will still work in the ignition for starting. :surprise: But what about my question if systems can be disrupted while driving. :blush:
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    But what about my question if systems can be disrupted while driving.

    What about it? Until the day comes when we have verifiable proof of an event, the expectation at this time is that it's not going to happen. Can you turn your car off with your fob? (No) What happens if you throw the fob out the window while your driving down the road, does the car stop? (No)

    If you insist on a car with a conventional key, then make sure you get one in your hand and use it when you go for a road test. If you don't like or want to trust a Smart Key, then your going to have to choose a different car in some cases. The smart key technology is making cars more secure, but like everything in there is world there is always going to be a learning curve associated with new technologies.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,524
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lshd7WR-a6I

    Eric means well, he dosen't know how things have changed.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,232
    "90% of the synthetic oil out there is not fully synthetic"-----wrong

    "If you use synthetic in your older engine, you'll notice that your engine will get noisier?" ---say WHAT?!

    "you will develop oil leaks because synthetic oil can slip through smaller spaces"---say WHAT?!

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Just being nit-picky, but he should have washed his hands before doing the video... Would it have been that much more effort?
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Many years ago I stopped in a fast food joint in Macon, GA for lunch. Immediately next door, there was a construction site and active blasting was going on. There were signs to turn CB radios and cellphones "off", as one would expect.

    When I started to leave, I noticed my fob wouldn't unlock the car door until I was about 6" from the door handle.

    My question is, if anyone knows the answer... Is there some sort of jamming device used at locations where blasting is done, to prevent stray signals from prematurely detonating the explosives? If so, is it FCC approved?

    I'm just curious...
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,647
    "When I started to leave, I noticed my fob wouldn't unlock the car door until I was about 6" from the door handle."

    Click BOOM "What's wrong..." Click BOOM "...with this..." Click BOOM "...darned fob??" Click BOOM
    :P
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Probably not a very common carry-around item for most car owners :P , but tow truck drivers and dealerships could come out with a piece of lead blanket. Hold the blanket between the suspected interference source, and then position the fob on the 'protected' side and get in that way?
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,246
    edited February 2013
    Maybe just a mylar space blanket? They are as cheap as a buck.

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  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,287
    Well that brings to mind an interesting mental picture. Walking around the vehicle with while holding space blanket extended in front of you and clicking the fob as you go, might as well be wearing the tin foil hat also. ;)
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Ahh, but you see it can't be just any reflective metallic blanket, it has to be lead in order to retard RMF from penetrating. I actually have a piece of lead sheet a few sq ft x about 1/32" thick a friend gave me who used to be a pipe fitter. I keep it in a tight plastic bag and a person should wear some throw-away latex gloves at least if they are handling it.

    Which brings to mind another source for a lead though in one of those parking lot scenarios if it was an emergency. Often there are medical offices nearby to malls, and any dentist office, hospital etc X-ray dept might lend out a lead blanket for a few minutes... with a substantial deposit.

    Sure am glad I can't afford all this pushbutton start crap..I have been skeptical about it from the start and here is just another example that not all new tech enhances our lives. It just seems wrong to not to have to use a key, in the ignition first and then push a start button if you want...like the first Miatas or? had. I forget...
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,246
    edited February 2013
    Well, the mylar supposedly will reflect the RFID stuff, if that's an issue. Or at least that's a common liner for the credit card sleeves the tinhat crowd people buy to keep the Federal Reserve from finding out what their credit limit is. :shades:

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  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Is there some sort of jamming device used at locations where blasting is done, to prevent stray signals from prematurely detonating the explosives? If so, is it FCC approved?

    There are devices out there to jam cell phone communications. But they are illegal for the general public to possess.

    However, I'm not sure how useful that would be in a blasting area. Theoretically, the RF (radio frequency) emissions from the jammer could set off the blast as easily as a cell phone, maybe even easier because the jammer probably puts out a lot more power/energy than a typical cell phone.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    might as well be wearing the tin foil hat also.

    Ya left out the pyramid!
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    it has to be lead in order to retard RMF from penetrating

    RMF???

    No, don't need lead. Aluminum foil will work fine for shielding/reflecting far-field RF energy. So will copper. Or steel. Also, it doesn't have to be solid. A mesh or screen will do, depending on the frequency of interest.

    The space blanket host referred to usually has a thin layer of aluminum deposited onto one side to reflect heat back towards the occupant.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Well, the mylar supposedly will reflect the RFID stuff,

    Sure will, so long as the mylar has a metallic coating on it. Plain old mylar is transparent to RF - it's the metallic coating that gives it it's shielding capability.

    Anyone here use an EZ Pass for automated toll collection? Mine came in a ESD (Electrostatic Sensitive Discharge) bag. Looks dark grey, but you can see through it. Put your Ez Pass in it and it can't be read.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    I wasn't aware that aluminum foil/copper/steel were all as affective as lead sheet.
    In fact, while they may work, I still suspect that not as affectively. if someone was trying to get into their car at that mall and they tried a roll of tin foil outta their shopping cart and that didn't work, I would put my money on the lead.
    But of course I might lose it all the same..(the money)

    Sure is interesting though to read about things like this...it is not a simple world we have anymore...not even close..
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    I wasn't aware that aluminum foil/copper/steel were all as affective as lead sheet.
    In fact, while they may work, I still suspect that not as affectively.


    That's a bit of "over-generalizing"...

    Think about it in terms of things you can see.

    A tent will keep you dry in a rainstorm, up to a point. Overload the capacity, say, by turning a fire truck hose on it, and the occupants are going to get wet.

    From a radiation standpoint, generally speaking, the denser the metal, the more effective it is at blocking radiation. Dental office X-rays are pretty intense, and that's why a lead blanket is used in that instance.

    If you're attempting to avoid minor RF radiation, something as lightweight as perforated aluminum foil may suffice. It all depends on things like the power of the signal/radiation and frequency, but srs 49 is much more qualified than me when it comes to specifics...
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,246
    Thanks - guess I've never seen "plain old mylar". :-)

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,777
    Has anyone used license plate spray that claims to block the photo radar cameras?

    I wonder if it really works?
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