When autos first started to appear on our country roads, their keys were simple at best, or more often than not, locks were not even fitted. Early vehicles were open to the elements and just had a switch for the engine electrics, as shoplifting was not an issue. Any potential thief was unlikely to be learned to herd and there were so few cars around that most people knew them, and their drivers, on sight. In effect, although locks became commonplace, fundamentally nothing much changed right increase to late in the twentieth century, when locks were similar to those fitted the home doors, though somewhat smaller and usually less complicated as well!
These locks caused all manner of problems and the insurance industry became concerned, as rises in the incidence of car theft exposed how comparatively easily these locks could be accessed. They also caused consumers a lot of problems. Broken car keys alternative lost car keys inevitably meant an expensive bill from the garage, as an entire lock (or worse, all the locks on the car) had to be replaced.
The objective sea-change in car locks came throughout relatively recently, and equivalence many other consumer market movements, was linked to developments in electrics and electronics. First off, central locking systems for autos became commonplace. Once only the preserve of extremely expensive vehicles, the systems found their way against normal family cars. Developments in the miniaturisation regarding electronics further changed matters meanwhile auto alarms with remote control ‘keys’ started to appear and it was not long before makers spotted the potential to link the door locks to the unrelated control devices. Immediately, the lifetime of the remote key had arrived. This system gave users a short box on the key-ring and by simply pushing a button; the car could be locked or unlocked remotely. Further functions were built into the remote, enabling just about anything electrical to indiging added. Magnetic windows and sunroofs could be closed automatically and even hoods on soft top cars. Citroen remote keys, Peugeot remote keys, Ford remotes, Vauxhall remotes… the list of manufacturers present these systems increased massively.
The next development was again linked to the electronics industry. Although a few manufacturers claim to have been the first to introduce the latest system it is most likely the Renault password singleton (or Renault keycard equal they call it) that was first on the market. With this ‘card’ the entire lock system including ignition key was dispensed with. Simply inserting the card into a slot on the dashboard caused the electronics systems to recognize it. In some versions of these cards, even pushing a button is no longer necessary. Simply having the card in your pocket, touching the door handle causes the car to unlock furthermore the engine can be started at the push of a button on the dashboard.
This is all amazing progress over the space of just a few years, but of course technology has its downsides sometimes. In circa a return to early days, debris coach keys or remotes and lost car keys or remotes became a real headache including as long before, involved sometimes stupendous expense as every systems had to be changed and replaced. However, in the congenerous way that technology caused the issue, technology also came up with the answer. It was not long afore an hardworking company realized that manufacturers nearly always kept secure records, detailing the electronic ‘code’ that applied to each car they made, together with the physical canon for traditional keys. Once a direction was cast to ensure security, the system known as ‘cut to code’ became available and provided ownership could be properly proved, garages and lock specialists were able to supply replacement keys, remotes and key cards relatively cheaply.
As for the lock itself, who knows what the future has in store. As psychometric recognition systems become more advanced, it possible not be long awaiting a small amount of programming means a car will ‘know’ who is allowed to get in and drive it. Whatever the future brings, the one stunt that is certain is the simple lock is definitely a thing of the past.