A Comprehensive Guide to Car Key Fobs in Singapore

Locksmith in Singapore

According to Singapore’s Land Transportation Authority, there are at least 988,000 cars in the country. Many of those said cars use key fobs.

This small, yet powerful device not only simplifies car access but also enhances security measures. Key fobs have swiftly evolved from mere convenience gadgets to indispensable elements of the automotive experience.

In this article, we talk about all things related to car key fobs in Singapore.

What are Key Fobs?

Key fobs, technically known as remote keyless entry systems, are compact electronic devices that are engineered to provide a wireless means of accessing and controlling various functions of a car.   

The core of a key fob’s functionality lies in its integration with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. This technology enables the key fob to emit a unique, low-frequency signal, which the car’s receiver identifies and responds to. When a user presses a button on the fob, it sends a coded signal to the car, which performs the corresponding function such as unlocking the doors or starting the engine.

Many modern key fobs go beyond simple locking and unlocking. Now, they are equipped with additional features such as:

  • Panic alarms
  • Remote start capabilities
  • Tailgate release
  • Control over interior features
  • Custom settings

How are Key Fobs Different from Regular Keys?

Key fobs and regular car keys represent two distinct approaches to vehicle access and operation, each with its own set of characteristics and functionalities. Here are some of their differences:

Car Key Fobs

  • Key fobs can start cars remotely.
  • Key fobs can lock and unlock doors, start the engine, open the trunk, and activate the alarm system, all without physical contact with the car.
  • Key fobs are dependent on batteries to function.
  • Replacing a key fob is expensive as it requires not only a physical replacement but also reprogramming to sync with the specific vehicle.

Regular Car Keys

  • To operate the car, these keys need to be physically inserted into locks or ignition switches.
  • Regular car keys are limited to locking and starting the car.
  • Regular keys don’t need batteries to operate.
  • Replacing a damaged or lost key is cheaper than replacing a key fob.

Brief History of Key Fobs and Their Use in Cars

The earliest car keys, dating back to 1910, were initially used to control the ignition’s electrical circuit but did not start the engine. Chrysler revolutionized this in 1949 with the introduction of the first car key that could start a vehicle’s engine all on its own, using an ignition tumbler. This innovation marked a shift towards more integrated and user-friendly car keys.

By the 1960s, dual-purpose keys capable of starting and unlocking a car became popular, further simplifying the car owner’s experience. Ford’s introduction of double-sided keys in 1965 added to the convenience by allowing keys to be inserted in either orientation.

The late 20th and early 21st centuries witnessed further innovations. In 1983, the American Motors Corporation and Renault introduced a factory-installed system for remotely locking and unlocking doors. This was the first time car owners were able to unlock their cars remotely. By the mid-1990s, central locking systems and immobilizers became commonplace, with key transponder chips needing to match the vehicle’s code for the engine to start.

The early 2000s saw Mercedes-Benz introducing the Smart Card, a proximity key designed like a credit card, followed by more robust key fob designs. Lexus and General Motors also made significant contributions with smart cards and remote start features, respectively.

BMW’s introduction of the 7-series display key in 2015 represented a significant leap forward. This key featured an LCD touchscreen that could control various vehicle functions from a considerable distance, showcasing the potential for keys to offer extensive control over vehicles beyond basic access.

Key Fob Care Tips

Proper care and maintenance of your key fob can greatly extend its lifespan and ensure it functions reliably. Here are some tips to ensure that your key fobs are safe:

  • Regularly check the battery of your key fob and replace it when necessary. A weak or dying battery can lead to reduced range or non-responsiveness.
  • Replace the battery every two to three years, but this can vary based on usage. Remember, some key fobs have a low battery warning feature which can be a helpful reminder.
  • Avoid leaving your key fob in places like a hot car or direct sunlight for extended periods. Also, keep it away from water as moisture can damage the electronic components inside.
  • Although key fobs are generally durable, they can be damaged by drops or harsh handling.
  • Keep your key fob away from devices that can cause signal interference, such as cell phones, radio transmitters, or other electronic devices.
  • Consider using a silicone or plastic cover for your key fob. These covers can protect the fob from drops, scratches, and wear and tear from daily usage.

Stolen Key Fob: What are the Dangers? What to Do?

Dangers of Key Fob Theft:

  • Key Fob Cloning: Thieves can clone your key fob using sophisticated equipment, creating a duplicate that can unlock and start your car.
  • Relay Theft: Using a transmitter device, thieves can capture and relay the keyless entry code from your fob to the car, tricking it into thinking the key is nearby.
  • Signal Jamming: Thieves use devices to jam the signal from your key fob to the car, preventing it from locking and leaving your vehicle vulnerable.

What to Do if Your Key Fob is Stolen

  • Report the Theft: Immediately inform the police and your car’s manufacturer or dealership about the theft.
  • Deactivate the Fob: Request your car’s manufacturer or dealer to deactivate the stolen key fob to prevent unauthorized access to your vehicle.
  • Use a Steering Wheel Lock: As an additional security measure, use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves, especially if they have access to a cloned key fob.
  • Implement RFID Protection: For your spare or new key fob, use an RFID blocker or a signal-blocker shield to prevent future cloning attempts.
  • Stay Vigilant When Locking Your Car: Always ensure your car is actually locked after pressing the button on your key fob, as signal jamming can prevent locking.
  • Regularly Check Your Vehicle: Regularly inspect your vehicle for any signs of tampering or attempted theft.

Essentially, stolen key fobs pose a significant risk as thieves can potentially access and steal your car. As such, when you have guaranteed that your key fobs have been stolen, immediately report the theft to the authorities and your car manufacturer or dealer to deactivate the fob.

Key Fob Replacement

In Singapore, replacing a lost or damaged key fob involves a few options, depending on the type of key and your preference for service. Here are the most common ways to replace your key fobs:

  • Dealership Replacement

The most straightforward approach is to contact your car dealership. This option is especially relevant for newer or high-end vehicles where key fobs may need specific programming or are part of an advanced security system. However, this option might be more expensive compared to other alternatives.

  • Automotive Locksmiths

Numerous automotive locksmiths in Singapore offer competitive rates for key fob replacement. These professionals can handle various types of keys, including traditional car keys, key fobs, switchblade keys, transponder keys, and smart keys. Locksmiths can be a more affordable and convenient option, particularly for standard key fobs and transponder keys.

Final Thoughts

Key fobs represent a significant advancement in-car technology, providing convenience and enhanced security. While they come with their own set of challenges, such as the risk of theft and the cost of replacement, the benefits they offer make them a popular choice among modern car owners. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect even more innovative features in key fobs and car entry systems in the future.


Denisse loves reading and writing about culture, history, and politics. Outside writing articles for The Singaporean, Denisse enjoys musicals, gaming, and Harry Potter.

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