Standard car key vs. keyless entry: Which can better secure your car?

Updated Nov 08, 2022 | Same topic: Let's Drive Smart!

Read on to learn about both the advantages and disadvantages of standard car key vs keyless entry to determine which one is better for your car.

For Filipinos, a car is such a hefty investment, having cost money to acquire, personalize and maintain. As such, it becomes a car owner's responsibility to protect that asset, what with the increasingly creative and elaborate ways that unscrupulous parties come up with to steal cars these days.

It's practically impossible for us to guard our cars every hour of every day, so we rely on various ways to secure them: closed garages, aftermarket alarm systems, even the old-fashioned steering wheel lock.

One security feature many of us may have overlooked is the use of the car key itself. There are two ways that this is implemented: the standard lock and keyhole combo, and the relatively more sophisticated keyless entry.

remote auto open and lock

The remote lock is more than locking and opening the doors of the car 

Technology has gone a long way where cars are concerned, especially with regard to performance, convenience, and entertainment. These car safety features definitely add value to any car regardless of brand or model, making them very attractive to potential thieves.

The means to a car's entry thus becomes the first line of defense against theft. Yes, that’s why locks and keys are important and all because to secure our cars. The question now is; whether standard key lock and key ignition versus keyless entry with auto start are more secure than the other. Let point out both the pros and cons of these two and answer the question. 

Cars with old standard keys

Cars with mechanical locks will be hard to break into at any time since thieves will have to use bulky tools and are more likely to be spotted.


1. Difficult for theft to break into the car

It takes more effort to pick a key lock and either hotwire or improvise a means to start the car. Most car thieves need time to execute everything flawlessly.

Theft try to break into the car

Car thieves need time to break the key lock

2. Older cars are less attractive targets for car thieves

Many instances of car theft are focused on expensive and exotic cars with modern features. Newer cars typically fetch a higher price in the market, especially for certain car brands.

>>> You might like to check out: 3 effective ways to enhance your car safety

3. Without the duplicate key, it will be a bit of touch and go

Thieves might have a chance to get a car more easily with a duplicate key – if they’re lucky enough to get their hands on one.

4. The key barrel in the steering wheel column can be replaced

Key barrels that are damaged during theft can be replaced with a new key barrel and key. Having a different key for the ignition can improve the car’s security.

Replace car key barrel

A damaged key barrel can be easily replaced

5. It costs less to replace old-style locks and key barrels

Mechanical locks and barrels are easier to replace and will not need an expensive technician to do it. Also, a damaged key barrel presents an additional layer of difficulty for the prospective car thief.


1. It is easily hotwired

Experienced car thieves can bypass the ignition and steering lock by simply hotwiring the car.

Hotwiring the car

The old-style car key is easily hotwired

2. Duplicate keys can be pilfered from the car owner

Anyone successful enough to get the duplicate car key can practically just stroll into the driver’s seat.

3. There’s no ECU to engage the immobilizer

Older cars are not equipped with ECUs which activate immobilizers that keep the engine from starting.

4. Key lock and key barrel can wear out in time

When the mechanical parts in the key lock and key barrel wear out, it may cause problems when attempting to start the car.

Worn out car key

A worn out key lock causes problems when starting the car

Cars with keyless entry

Cars with wireless entry and auto start are the modern version of car locks without having to use physical keys. This involves an electronic key fob to enable keyless entry as well as keyless ignition.

>>> Related: How to install car keyless entry: Definition, Step-by-step guide, and FAQs


1. Less moving parts

These wireless systems are more sophisticated in that they have fewer moving parts, minimizing wear and tear.

2. Modern security systems warn the owner remotely

These systems are able to sound the alarm in real-time, in the event of attempted intrusions into the vehicle.

>>> For further reference: Anti-theft features in car that Filipino drivers should know about

3. Centralized power locks give better security

Electronic key fobs allow faster entry and come with panic buttons for scaring off potential car thieves. Plus, the push-button ignition starts the car faster.

Push button ignition

A car can start faster thanks to push-button ignition

4. There’s no physical key to break because it is electronic

Electronic keys allow entry without a physical key, which is more convenient than with a conventional key. You can even open or lock the car up to a certain distance away.

5. Without the key fob, there’s no way to enter or start the car

Even if a car thief manages to gain entry inside, the car won’t start without the key fob.


1. Key fobs with RFIDs are expensive to replace

Each car responds to its designated master key fob; the immobilizer will engage even if you use another fob from an identical model. If the key fob is lost, it would be quite expensive to have it replaced and reprogrammed.

2. The code of the key fob can be cloned using relay attack devices

Key fobs broadcast a radio frequency, which enterprising car thieves can intercept using signal cloning. The code is then sent to another key fob which can be used to open the car.

Car key fob

Don't lose your car expensive car key fob!

3. Modern key fobs can be jammed and prevented from locking

Remote key fobs can be prevented from transmitting their signals by means of jammers which can be made at home or purchased online. The owner might not even be aware that the car has already been compromised.


Comparing old standard car key versus keyless entry with auto start reveals distinct advantages and disadvantages between the two. Older cars require a more physical means of breaching security, while modern cars require more ingenious efforts.

Car thieves will not stop in coming up with increasingly creative ways to steal your precious possession, so it’s important that car owners are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each method, and resort to layering when necessary, to reduce the chances of the car being stolen.

>>> Click here to get more helpful tips and advice for your safe driving 

Norjan Ismail Abbas

Norjan Ismail Abbas


Norjan enjoys writing about various topics, and car is among them. Don't ever ask him which his most favorite car is since he has none. He believes each car is beautiful in its own way.

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