Camper Tech

Keyless Tech Warning Update and Feedback

In late September we published “Keyless Tech Warning For Truck Campers“.  We wanted to inform our readers of a potential security risk after discovering that our 2018 RAM 3500 with keyless entry would unlock with the key fob from the truck camper’s cabover.

Following that article, we heard from a number of readers who shared their experiences and solutions to the keyless entry situation. The responses also raised a number of other potential keyless technology concerns.

RAM Keyless Entry Off

Above: The 2018 RAM uConnect screen with “Passive Entry” deactivated

We have since employed one of the solutions; turning off the keyless entry feature in the RAM uConnect system.  To do this you simply go to Settings > Doors & Locks > Passive Entry – and then deselect Passive Entry.  This instantly prevents the main key fob security issue.  Thank you, readers!

Below are the reader responses, solutions, and additional concerns.

Solution A: Turn Keyless Entry Off

“I have a Mazda car with a similar keyless capability.  I don’t know the trucks, but that feature can be disabled in the settings.  I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a similar setting for the truck.” – Bruce Tinkler

“Toyota has several types of key fobs that vary in remote abilities.  Mine is like your key fob; keep it in your pocket to open the door, and start the engine.  My Tacoma also has a touch area on the exterior driver side handle to lock the door.

I read manuals; it’s a habit.  On my Tacoma is a feature described as “Battery Saving Mode” (or something similar) to use the spare key.  A sequence of clicks shuts off the electric signal for the key fob.  Another sequence turns it back on.

I’ll bet that all car makers have something similar for the keys to their vehicles.  That would stop any keyless entry or starting.

My key also has a metal manual key that slides out of the plastic case.  It looks like the clip for other keys to attach to, and it works that way.  A button releases it and it works on the door, tailgate, and glove box.

For attendant parking, the suggestion is that you lock the glove box, remove the metal key, keep it and give the electric to the attendant.  That metal part would also have the camper keys clipped to it.” – Ivan Hass, Seattle, Washington

“I just read your article on the keyless entry issue and wanted to let you know on my 2015 RAM there is an option to disable the passive entry mode on the truck.  I would believe it would be the same on the 2018/2019 models.  You can find the option in the settings in your uConnect screen display.  I have done that with my truck since I felt the same way you did about security.” – Greg Castaneda

Above: This faraday shield is designed to shield key fobs from exactly the types of situations we are concerned with.  Looking for a practical holiday gift for friends and family?  This is what we’re doing!

Solution B: Faraday Pouches and other Shields

“Interesting article this morning about the keyless entry dilemma.  My truck does not have the keyless entry option (I didn’t want it), so it’s no problem for us.

I am wondering if keeping your key fob wrapped in aluminum foil would do the trick or even in one of those old Band-Aid aluminum boxes.  Something like that might work and you’d still have it for “emergencies”, too.” – Bruce Allison, RAM 3500

“I saw your article on the key fob proximity concern.  A couple days after the article was published I saw an advertisement for a key fob faraday case.  I’m not sure if it would work, but it might address your concern.  Of course when your truck is 18 years old like ours you don’t worry about those things.” – Ed Amato

“Put the key fob in a metal container with a lid while in the cabover only taking it out to press the panic button.” – Bernice and George Dougherty III

“We do not have a slide-in camper yet, but tow a trailer. We also came to the stark realization that someone could take the truck and drive off with us in the trailer.

So what I did was to get a steel cash box from Staples.  I ran a jumper wire connecting both parts of the box, cover and bottom, and then connected a wire to the box with an alligator clip so I could connect the box to the trailer ground.

What this does is to ground the box so when the keys are inside, it doesn’t act as an antenna.  Both of us put our keys inside the box at night and it does the job.  Now the keys are shielded from/to the outside world.” – Jim Bronson

“While out fishing or exploring, I’ve always carried my camper keys and hidden an extra set on the truck in case the first set was lost. I would typically leave my truck fob inside the camper thinking everything was secure.

I recently discovered the same keyless entry issue with my camper and my new to me 2016 RAM. My solution has been to still leave the fob in the camper, but I make sure to shield it from the cab of the truck.

I have a portable compressor refrigerator mounted at the rear of my camper. I just hang the fob on the back side of the refrigerator. The refrigerator blocks the fob signal and keeps the truck doors from being opened.

Another point recently raised on Wander the West dealt with backcountry travel and the possibility of losing the key fob. Not wanting to be stranded miles away from help, numerous individuals stated that they bring their second fob along and store it – just in case.” – Elver R.

“You may want to try putting your key fob in a metal box like a “Faraday cage” RF/EMI shield.  I tried it in two different shape tin boxes on my Toyota Prius and Highlander (both vehicles have keyless entry and push button start).

With the first tin box it could not open the door on the Prius, but could start the engine. With the second tin box I could not start the Prius. Also with the second tin box my Highlander could not detect the key either for entry or starting the engine. I just started experimenting. There is probably stuff you could buy to put your key fob to prevent the RF. Of course, test it until you are satisfied.” – Loren Lee

“I  believe this problem can be reduced by placing the remote key fob in a metal container to reduce the radio signal strength. I see this problem also with trailers, fifth wheels, and tent camping.” – Bob W.

Solution C: Hidden Fuel Pump Relay Switch

“I installed a fuel pump relay. The switch is very much hidden under dash. With the switch in the off position, the truck will crank, but will not start.” – Herman Andres, 2013 GMC 3500

New Concern 1: Pocket Starting Trucks

“I was standing in the bed of my 2014 RAM (no button, but it does have the remote start). It was soon after buying my new truck. I was unloading camping items when all of a sudden the truck started. I had the key in my pocket and somehow pushed the right button(s). I don’t use the remote so still don’t know how to start it remotely without looking at the manual.” – Mike W.

“We read with great interest your article on Keyless Tech. Twice, in the two months we have owned the truck, my husband has accidentally started the truck with the fob in his pocket. Once was while he was under the truck working on it! All this “convenience” is just nuts.  At the very least they should give you the option of disabling all the extra garbage.” – Audrey Ruccio

New Concern 2: Leaving Your Fob at Home

“On our Toyota, the key fob works the same way. If you have your key in a jacket pocket and then leave that jacket in the house after you start your vehicle you can drive away.

There is no warning that the key is not in the vehicle. Only when you are ready start the car again do you realize that you left the key at home or wherever. I was 50-miles from home when this happened to me. I’ll never make that mistake again.

Try it with your new RAM. I have a 2017 RAM with an Adventurer 89RB and have not tried unlocking it with the key in the camper. Thanks for the information. I will try it and see what happens.” – Bill R.

Editor: Holy cow! We tested this and – sure enough – we have the same situation. Note to self: keep the key fob at all times.

New Concern 3: Fob Cloning Devices

“I just read your article about keyless tech. You point out real concerns that we should all remember. Another new concern is “cloning devices”.

I just saw a news article describing a device that can sense your key fob if it is nearby. The device can use the RF signals emanating from the fob to duplicate the fob, giving the would-be user access to your vehicle.” – Bob Barbieri

Editor: Holy cow times ten! I checked out the key fob and RFID cloners. They are commercially available products that allow people to open keyless cars and trucks, not to mention RFID card doors. Folks, keyless technology is seductive, but it’s not necessarily our friend.


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