Car Mechanics (UK) - - Diagnostics Masterclass -

While the stan­dard­ised EOBD port is es­sen­tial to en­sure that re­pair­ers out­side of the closed main dealer net­work can ac­cess a ve­hi­cle’s sys­tems, it poses no­table se­cu­rity is­sues, es­pe­cially on cars fit­ted with key­less en­try. While car man­u­fac­tur­ers en­sure that a key unit’s sig­nal pos­sesses rolling com­bi­na­tions, the Ger­man au­to­mo­tive or­gan­i­sa­tion, ADAC, tested 24 dif­fer­ent cars with key­less tech­nol­ogy re­cently and thwarted all of them us­ing a sim­ple home­made elec­tronic de­vice.

In the real world, a crim­i­nal can place a jam­ming de­vice near the ve­hi­cle to block out the weaker sig­nal from the fob as the owner walks away. The thief is then free to sim­ply open the door once the owner is out of sight and insert a read­ily avail­able key-cloning tool into the car’s on-board di­ag­nos­tic socket. This makes the car think that the real fob is present and de­ac­ti­vates the im­mo­biliser.

Al­ter­na­tively, the owner can be fol­lowed by one thief with an elec­tronic de­vice to ex­tend the range of the car key fob, while an ac­com­plice waits by the ve­hi­cle and uses the sig­nal to open the door.

If your car is a de­sir­able model (such as Ford’s ST/RS range), you should pro­tect the EOBD socket. You can do this by ei­ther buy­ing Thatcham-ap­proved equip­ment that will phys­i­cally cover the port, in­stall elec­tronic equip­ment that re­quires au­tho­ri­sa­tion to ac­cess com­mu­ni­ca­tion (as pic­tured), or seek out a kit that can re­lo­cate your EOBD socket and place a dummy one in the stan­dard po­si­tion.

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