It is official: On some new keyless vehicles relay attacks still possible

Relay attacks on the rise – and so are the insurance premiums

Relay attacks on keyless vehicles have been a problem for years in the UK especially but all around the world. In the UK, in 2019, the Police crime figures show a 3% increase from the year for mainly auto theft but it also included vehicle burglaries. The Associations of British Insurers revealed that in 2018 the claims for stolen vehicles and vehicle burglaries topped off a whopping £376 million which will translate into £16K per minute or £1 million per day. This was an increase of 29% from 2017 numbers totalling to more than 56K claims which were the equivalent of 1 claim every 6 minutes.

The average claim made was around £3000. Therefore, for 2020, the insurance premiums are expected, according to a report from Go Compare, to skyrocket to overcome an even larger number of claims and implicit the cost associated with them. The common denominator for all car thefts is the keyless feature that most vehicles are equipped with nowadays. While this feature has become more of a commodity or convenience, the car owners should be very mindful of not making the confusion between convenience and security.


The numbers from Police Record Crime

In 1995, the immobiliser system was introduced in the newer makes and models, in response to the high number of stolen vehicles. As it can be seen in the table above, in 1995 per Police Record Crime, the number of stolen vehicles in a combination between England and Wales was a staggering 508,450. Even with the introduction of the new immobiliser system, the numbers didn’t lower immediately as time was needed for the older models which were easier to be stolen to exit the market and be replaced with the newer models.

A decade later, as more older vehicles exited more of the newer ones came on the market, the numbers of stolen vehicles have gone down to more than 50% and by the 18-year mark, since the immobiliser system was introduced, the numbers have dropped to more than 80%. According to data it is clear that the chances of a vehicle to be stolen decrease when having good security fitted with the vehicle.

About vehicle – related theft you can read more here. The way the system worked, in the beginning, it still does today with some models. The key has to be inserted into the ignition switch. Within seconds, the security code stored into the chip fitted in the key will synchronise with the security code stored into the security module. When there is a match between the two codes, the vehicle will then become operational.

Research from Thatcham

Thatcham Research has conducted a series of tests for the 2019 and 2020 makes and models. To be awarded the Superior mark, the vehicles would have to be fitted with certified immobiliser and alarm, along with other features to overcome any potential relay attack.

2020 Thatcham ratings released in March 3rd

New keyless vehicles that passed the relay attack test and awarded “Superior” mark

  • BMW X6 M50d
  • BMW 218i Gran Couple M Sport
  • Hyundai i10 Premium Mpi
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport D150
  • Mini EV
  • Porsche Taycan Turbo
  • Tesla Model 3
  • Toyota Supra
  • Skoda Superb

New keyless vehicles that failed the relay attack test

  • Mazda CX-30
  • MG HS Excite T-GDI
  • Subaru Forester e-Boxer XE Premium
  • Vauxhall Corsa Ultimate Turbo 100

2019 Thatcham ratings

New keyless vehicles that passed the relay attack test and awarded “SUPERIOR” mark

  • Audi A6 Allroad
  • BMW 1 Series
  • BMW 8 Series
  • BMW X6
  • Ford Puma
  • Volkswagen Passat
  • Audi e-tron
  • BMW 7 Series
  • BMW X7
  • Jaguar XE
  • Land Rover Evoque
  • Mercedes B-Class
  • Porsche 911

New keyless vehicles that failed the relay attack test and given the “POOR” mark

  • DS3 Crossback
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Hyundai Nexo
  • Kia ProCeed
  • Lexus UX
  • Mazda 3
  • Suzuki Jimny***
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota RAV-4
  • Volvo V60


Suzuki Jimny’s security rating was deemed to be “UNACCEPTABLE”.

More about how the tests are being conducted and the systems being looked at, you can read on

It is possible to still enjoy convenience while boosting the security

The immobiliser system feature is still available today. But on a different scale. Today, there is not necessarily needed to insert the key into the ignition switch contingent to the type of the vehicle. It is enough to just be around or inside the vehicle and the synchronization occurs automatically.

It is worth mentioning that having this system in place served as a deterrence in the past as it was harder to steal a vehicle without having the right key. With the newer models, while the same principle applies, the problem is that there are enough electronic gadgets out there that are used to capture the signal that a fob key will transmit mostly all the time from within the house and send it to the car. In return, the car will then believe that the key is present, and therefore will allow the vehicle to start and be driven away. How easy actually is to steal a keyless vehicle, watch this video where a BMW is stolen in under 2 minutes.

How can the risk of theft be minimised?

So, given the risks involved when having a keyless entry system, what are the ways that could help minimise the risk of vehicle theft while still enjoying the convenience of such a system?

  • When buying a newer vehicle, check if the keyless fob you may get to own has the feature of going to sleep on its own after not being used for a certain period of time
    When at home, consider placing the car keys away from doors, windows. The way a keyless car theft occurs, the thieves will use relay devices to scan and then transmit the signal the fob is transmitting to the motor vehicle in order to open, start and drive away.
  • Another option would be, putting some money towards buying a faraday bag. It is known to be blocking the signal. While it is said that it works at the same time, one should always keep an eye on it, as at some point it may stop working.
  • We saved the best for last. The Ghost II Immobiliser system. We did say earlier that the vehicles are already fitted with an immobiliser system. But that one is to prevent starting the vehicle with no other key, other than the car key programmed with the vehicle. The immobiliser system we’re referring to now will prevent the vehicle from starting no matter what car key is being used or even if a relay attack occurred. This system uses a combination of button presses in a certain sequence, that is almost impossible to guess and only the designated driver will know. This combination is set up at the time of the installation and is made up of buttons on the driver’s door, steering wheel, or centre console.

How does Ghost II immobiliser work?

Watch the video about a Range Rover Evoques fitted with such a system. Want to know more about Ghost II Immobiliser, you can read an ample description of it, from Autowatch.

Who can install an Immobiliser System?

Having a Ghost II immobiliser system fitted in your vehicle will drastically reduce your insurance premium and of course, increase significantly the security of the vehicle. When it comes to installation, the installer would have to be TASSA Approved and install a Thatcham approved immobiliser system in order for the insurance companies to apply the necessary premiums reductions. Car Keys Solutions is a TASSA Approved installer and our immobiliser systems are Thatcham approved. So, should you need a Ghost II immobiliser installed give us a call on 0203 393 5669.

Car Keys Solutions is an auto locksmith company based in London. We have a wide range of services that we offer through our mobile division and at our locations.


East Finchley, 142-144 East End Road, London, N2 0RZ
Kilburn, 286-288 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 2DB

Kilburn is our newest location. Not all services are offered here. Please contact us before making the trip.

You may also be interested in learning more about our other related services that we offer.