×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

463 comments

That's a crying shame... (5, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302333)

I miss the days when you could open the car door with a coat hanger and hot wire the ignition.

Re:That's a crying shame... (3, Funny)

kanani (882288) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302345)

but now you can hotwire it with your cellphone and you don't have to lug around that pesky coathanger

Re:That's a crying shame... (5, Funny)

Tyrion Moath (817397) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302349)

I miss the days when you could put your cellphone in the same pocket as your car keys.

Re:That's a crying shame... (4, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302497)

I would only ever do that if I had one pocket. Cell phones are usually made out of soft, easily scratched plastic. Keys are made out of metal. Not a good combination(I mean, obviously, but people really put their keys and cell phone in the same pocket?).

Re:That's a crying shame... (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302611)

My pockets must contain: keys, wallet, cellphone, leatherman. Keys+leatherman makes for loud clanking, wallet keeps leatherman vertical; back pockets are out of the question (wallet would be ok, but gives back problems). Hence, keys & cell go together, and I only buy flip phones. The surface gets a little scratched, but that's fine by me since the screen & buttons are protected.

Re:That's a crying shame... (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302685)

I keep my cell in the same pocket as my keys unless I'm wearing me jacket (which has a cell phone pocket). The phone is safer from damage with my keys and lip balm than it is in the the same pocket with my business card case which scratched the heck out of the last phone.

Re:That's a crying shame... (4, Funny)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302383)

At least nowadays there are far more fun and entertaining ways to disable someone's car. I do it to drunk friends all the time. If they want to drive, I usually take their fuel injection system fuse. I'll have to add "fry nissan keys with cellphone" to my list of things to do to cars to keep them stationary.

Re:That's a crying shame... (4, Informative)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302615)

Sounds like a great way to lose friends, if you take a fuse you can put it back in and everything's fine, if you fry a key it'll can cost you a ridiculous amount (near $100) to get a replacement.

Then again, letting them drive runk is a pretty good way to lose friends as well :(

Re:That's a crying shame... (3, Insightful)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302667)

actually, i'd be willing to bet that nissan will have to fix these and possibly recall the keys. cell phones are all over. if this happens as easily as it sounds, nissan should be changing their technology and replacing the keys and/or ignition system.

Re:That's a crying shame... (5, Informative)

dawnzer (981212) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302873)

I called my sister after reading this (she has a new Altima), and she said Nissan sent out letters awhile back about the problem. They said they are developing new ones that aren't affected by phones, and will be sending out replacements.

Re:That's a crying shame... (1, Offtopic)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302711)

Personally, I can't think of a single person who would (in sober retrospect) rather get a DUI or kill someone than spend $100 for a new car key.

Re:That's a crying shame... (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302717)

Gah you kids and your puny little tricks... back in the good old days, if a friend was too drunk to drive, we'd tackle him, steal his keys and drive the car 8 hours north to Sudbury and sell it to some Canadian redneck for more beer money. By the time we bussed back home we'd be ready to drink again :)

Earth to PC users! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302389)

The Mac community was so over Bungie long before you'd ever heard of them. It's a pattern that repeats itself everywhere: 802.11, the Web, GUIs, trackpads. Even Microsoft Office came out first for Macs. Sweet Jesus, the iPod—you PC users weren't invited to the party until the 2G models were out, almost a year later.

In summary, everything you PC users think is new and exciting is yesterday's news to us. Please kill yourselves.

Re:Earth to PC users! (1, Funny)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302487)

if you're going to try to sound like a trolling mac user, please for the love of god remember, it's not PC. That's too easy. It's PEEEEECEEEEE(or your favorite number of "E"s to put in there).

Thank you.

Re:Earth to PC users! (0, Offtopic)

s.bots (1099921) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302537)

Call me crazy but aren't Macs PCs (Personal Computers)? I hate to hear people cuss themselves out so hard, but I guess that's what happens when you troll....

Re:Earth to PC users! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302849)

Call me crazy but aren't Macs PCs (Personal Computers)? I hate to hear people cuss themselves out so hard, but I guess that's what happens when you troll....

They're in such a panic to product-differentiate themselves (helped by recent Mac-vs-PC ads on TV) that they can't understand that the product(s) with the 20 t0 1 installed base are referred to with the generic term. Only the (permanently) niche products have to have a "special" name so you know you're talking about the rear-runner.

Re:That's a crying shame... (1)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302423)

I miss the days when you could open the car door with a coat hanger and hot wire the ignition.

Well, all you need now is a laptop with Bluetooth and the know-how. Isn't that just as easy?

Re:That's a crying shame... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302491)

You can still legally get lockout kits, and the (more proficient) car thieves know how to disable most alarms.

The other way is to grab the car with a wrecker.
People don't seem to care about that when it isn't their car. We've hooked up to move cars off-property for legit repos, and when expedient we've dragged them down the street with brakes locked and tires smoking. Once off-premises we'd tow it properly, but the point is that unless you are with your ride, someone who wants it can usually still get it.

Re:That's a crying shame... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302721)

I miss the days when you could open the car door with a coat hanger and hot wire the ignition.

Are you old enough to remember the billboards advertising VW bugs which said, "Do you remember when you could tune a car with a screwdriver instead of a committee?"

Re:That's a crying shame... (1)

bjdevil66 (583941) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302865)

I guess Hollywood will have to go away from the "man hotwires the car just in the nick of time" plot device - now it'll be the "reprograms electronic starter with cell phone hack" save.

Excellent. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302335)

Less idiots yapping on their cellphones while driving. If you can't take away their cellphones, take away their keys.

FEWER (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302427)

"FEWER idiots," says the grammar Nazi.

Stupid New Cars (5, Insightful)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302353)

The amount of electronics in modern cars is ridiculous, especially when you think about how often electronics break and how easily they're broken.

My mom has a ford escape, there have been two wiring recalls and the wiring has failed on two separate occasions. They had to completely replace the main board!

I can understand that putting electronics in cars seems like a good idea, but it's not.

It's DANGEROUS!

Re:Stupid New Cars (3, Funny)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302387)

The problem wasn't the wiring in the car.

The problem was that your mom owns a Ford.

Re:Stupid New Cars (2, Informative)

fred911 (83970) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302493)

"The problem was that your mom owns a Ford"

  Problem with your statement is that the Escape is a Mazda Tribute.

Re:Stupid New Cars (2, Informative)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302571)

"The problem was that your mom owns a Ford" Problem with your statement is that the Escape is a Mazda Tribute.
Nope, no problem, because not only does Ford own a 33.39% controlling interest in Mazda, but they also co-developed the Mazda Tribute.

Re:Stupid New Cars (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302403)

The new mechanical engine in modern cars is ridiculous, especially when you think about how often mechanical engines break and how easily they're broken.

My mom has a ford Model T, there have been engine problems and the engine has failed on two separate occasions. They had to completely replace the engine!

I can understand that putting mechanical engines in cars seems like a good idea, but it's not.

It's DANGEROUS!

Think of all those poor out of work horses and buggy whip manufacturers now!

Re:Stupid New Cars (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302551)

Mechanical engines do break down, obviously.

The problem is that electronics in the engine increases the complexity to the point where a failure is almost guaranteed.

Don't get me wrong I do believe that electronics in cars is a good idea, but I do not believe that critical systems should rely on electronics.

Comparing a Model T's engine to a modern cars engine is actually a very good analogy, except for one thing. Electronic controls do not give anything that a well engineered engine does not, while a Model T's engine was a vast improvement over the horse and buggy.

Re:Stupid New Cars (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302627)

Electronic controls do not give anything that a well engineered engine does not

What about better mileage, less emissions, and more reliable mechanics [wikipedia.org]?

If you move away from the engine you've got things like anti-lock brakes which are an electronically-controlled aspect of a primary safety system. (Though, while I don't know for sure, I suspect a failure in the ABS controller would likely not keep the brakes from operating normally.)

Re:Stupid New Cars (4, Insightful)

Hamster Of Death (413544) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302629)

You interact with critical systems every day that rely on electronics. You probably just never sat down to think about it since they are implemented well and tested to hell and back. How often do traffic lights fail? Elevators? Medical equipment? These all have a drastically lower rate of failure than consumer electronics. The problem here isn't with electronics in cars, it's with poorly implemented electronics in cars. Manufacturers need to give their quality control teams a kick in the butt and the means for them to implement the correct solutions. However, as long as marketing runs the show we will continue to have the users as a testbed instead of technicians testing these systems before the users and time and effort will go into areas that have a bigger payoff like 'styling'.

Except they do... (5, Informative)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302693)

Electronic controls do not give anything that a well engineered engine does not

Huh?

Show me a car engine that can meet current emissions requirements without electronic controls while running on fuel that you can buy at your local gas station. You can't, because it simply isn't possible. Even diesels have computer controls these days.

Electronic controls are an absolute requirement for gasoline engines because of the fine level of control of air/fuel mixture and ignition timing required to burn the fuel efficiently and somewhat cleanly whilst not destroying the engine in the process.

One car I owned recently (a 1995 Chevy) had an 11:1 compression ratio and ran on 87 octane fuel (that's the lowest grade of gasoline available in most of the USA). Without electronic controls such as knock sensing, O2 sensor feedback, mass airflow measurement, and the precise control of both the quantity and timing of fuel injection and the timing of the ignition by a computer, it simply would have been impossible to reach the power level that engine developed (or even to drive at all with an 11:1 CR on 87 octane fuel without knocking holes in the pistons) and at the same time producing HC and CO emissions that were a fraction of the same size (5.7L V8) engine from ten model years earlier.

An easy example of how electronic controls have improved the reliability of modern cars is the elimination of the ignition distributor. Pretty much all modern cars do not have distributors now, because they were such a common point of failure for ignition systems that they made cars break down due to things like worn out cap and rotor, or burned points (going back to before 1975 when electronic ignition became pretty much mandatory). Take a look at the tune-up intervals in a modern car's maintenance schedule. It used to be you'd have to change half the ignition system out every couple of years - now the whole thing is good for at least 100K miles in most cases.

Without modern electronic engine controls, US cities would still be blanketed photochemical smog from vehicle exhaust, and people's cars would be significantly less fuel efficient and far less reliable.

Your statement that electronic controls are not a vast improvement over the previous mechanical and vacuum controls is patently incorrect.

Re:Stupid New Cars (2, Insightful)

zitch (1019110) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302807)

Is it really electronics that increase complexity in an engine, or is it what is being asked out of an engine that's increasing the complexity?

When it comes down to it, how much "mechanical" engineering will it take to build an engine that will get the power for the size and efficiency of a modern engine? Combine that with the fuel efficiency and emission requirements being forced on modern cars, how do you think any mechanical system will be able to determine how much air/fuel mixture is needed so that the catalytic converters can best convert any unwanted gasses that may result from the combustion process? Have you ever seen how complex a hydraulic control system for a 4- or 5-speed auto is? And it's just there to make a "current speed + how far pedal pushed down -> gear to use" calculation, too.

For an example, look at the 2003 Honda Accord I own. Computers and electronics control the air/fuel mixture, the spark ignition timing, and even the gear changing on the auto tranny. How can you replace these electronics with mechanical processes and maintain the same amount of reliability and performance? And these are only some of the parts I would consider "critical" in an engine. That is also excluding functions like ABS and airbag deployement (I.E., not only when to deploy them, but what "stage", as modern airbags have multiple stages that are used depending on severity of a crash and if the occupant is wearing a seat belt).

The real problem is not electronics, but what you alluded in your last sentence: poor engineering. If a part becomes a common point of failure on a type of car, whether it's a mechanical part or part of the electronics, it's from bad engineering at some level in designing that car. It could be that the part wasn't built to expected specs, or the part is being used in a way that it's not designed for. But in the end, it's still bad engineering. And that could be the result of any number of causes (oversight, cutting corners, etc.). Just because it's "electronics" doesn't make it any more prone to failure.

Re:Stupid Horses (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302647)

Think of all those poor out of work horses

Those horses don't work right. If you don't feed them, they get cranky and just go off and graze. They refuse to go near the buggy to tow it anywhere. Some of the really cranky ones, just run away whenever you walk near them. If you surprise horses from behind, they can kick you! They can really hurt you if you get kicked. Horses also leave piles of horse manure wherever they go.

Horses are far too unreliable. Humanity should just stick to walking.

Re:Stupid New Cars (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302703)

My mom has a ford Model T, there have been engine problems and the engine has failed on two separate occasions. They had to completely replace the engine!

Counterexample!

I know someone with a Model T ford -- it was the first car he ever bought, it still runs and has the original engine!

Bad, bad analogy! (5, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302847)

The Model T was extremely simple, sturdy and reliable. Just to give you an idea, it didn't have a fuel pump. The tank was located above the engine, gasoline flowed down into the carburetor. There was no water pump either, water flowed through the radiator by convection. Ignition was powered by a magneto, it didn't need a battery.


The Model T had two different clutches, one for going forward and the other for reverse. When the forward clutch wore down and started slipping under heavy loads, one turned the car around to go up a steep hill. Or, if the brakes didn't work, you could use the reverse pedal to stop the car.


Perhaps one could say that Model Ts were so widely used because they were more reliable than horses. It's more probable that a horse would become sick and die than a Model T engine would need replacement.

Re:Stupid New Cars (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302453)

But if they don't keep adding more and more electronics to cars, how will they get people to buy a brand new one every few years?

/bicyclist

- RG>

Re:Stupid New Cars (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302525)

Simple... Car makers will install Windows and people will line up to their dealers on Patch Tuesday to get updated or buy a replacement vehicle. Some people might get mad if they're told that the "driver" needs to be replaced, but I'm sure that won't happen too often.

Re:Stupid New Cars (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302459)

Add to this the number of new cars that are coming with only a drivers-side exterior lock. If it gets frozen, jammed, or sticks, you can't just unlock the passenger door to get inside.

If you're "lucky," you'll have a hatchback and be able to crawl in through the rear.

If you're really unlucky, you'll be doing this while the kids are screaming, and you're wearing a skirt.

Contrariwise, if you're really lucky, you'll be in the car behind, with your video-camera-equipped cellphone.

Re:Stupid New Cars (1)

iago-vL (760581) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302545)

I'd hate to imagine the series of events that would lead me to being unable to unlock the drivers-side door while wearing a skirt...

Re:Stupid New Cars (1)

ShaggyIan (1065010) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302763)

I love that feature. Right up there with "opening the door with a key does not disarm the alarm".

Had a keyfob die while not at home (or at the dealer, go figure). No way to open the car without setting off the alarm.

Re:Stupid New Cars (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302527)

Right, because CAFE standards would have been met without EFI.

I bet she bought the first year of a model because she liked the way it looked. Them's the knocks.

Re:Stupid New Cars (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302559)

I don't think it's the electronics per se, but rather the attitude creeping in from the computer industry. I've noticed it in other industries as well, such as television and phone service. Faults that wouldn't have been tolerated ten years ago are suddenly cropping up everywhere. People have become desensitised to failure with electronics because of computers. Sloppy QA because of the training/expertise/staff overlap with computers.

And at the same time, another problem is preventing this from being solved. People put up with it. The way capitalism is supposed to work is that if somebody fucks up, you can go with a competitor. But now it's trendy to complain and then forget about it until next time something goes wrong. Shitty mobile phone reception? Moan about it, but don't ask for your money back. Crashing computer? Complain to your neighbourhood geek, but don't demand a refund. Evil dictator in charge of your country? Re-elect the fucker! When there's no consequences to providing a shitty service, that's exactly what people will give you.

Re:Stupid New Cars (5, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302589)

No, crappy engineering (Ford cruise control switches, having large areas of harness "hot" even with the vehicle not running...) is dangerous.

The public want blingful features, the public are no longer mechanically literate, and the public will not vocally insist on reliable vehicles. This creates tremendous pressure on makers to offer stupid shite at a competitive price.

Even good features like electronically controlled automatic transmissions are often poorly engineered and are brutally expensive to replace when they fail.

As an aside, tool prices have remained quite low, and if you are the sort of person who isn't afraid to learn you can save many thousands of dollars by doing your own work. The money you save easliy buys good equipment you can use for a lifetime.
Never has an auto repair course at the local community college been a better value. You can free yourself from ever having to buy a new car, free yourself from being at the mercy of undertrained or unethical automobile repair outfits, and know the person who worked on your car gave a shit.
If you can understand computers, it isn't a great leap to understand other technology, and as usual the internet can help.

Mechanical systems? (1)

hugorxufl (1071598) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302735)

I always thought electronics had the potential to be MORE reliable than mechanical. But, no, I'm happy to take up space with my Selectric in the office and have a tiny Royal portable manual typewriter at home.

Re:Stupid New Cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302811)

So buy an old one?

20% of vehicle problems stem from electronics. (3, Interesting)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302823)

Source? My auto mechanics textbook from college has this blurb that tries to reassure you about electronics in cars by saying "80% of problems don't stem from electronic failures."

The electronics have given us more features and higher fuel efficiency. But still, there are times when it would be nice to make it all manual. Cars that you can't shift into neutral unless the battery is charged can be a pain to get off the road after an accident. If a wheel sensor goes bad, you ought to be able to turn them off and drive the car to a service station, instead of put-putting along at five MPH on the side of the parkway.

Re:Stupid New Cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302855)

"The amount of electronics in modern cars is ridiculous, especially when you think about how often electronics break and how easily they're broken."

No, it's a wonderful wonderful thing.

I have made a good living over the last year buying a certain make and model of car that had a bad batch of capacitors in their ECU. Ten minutes with a soldering iron, and what was 'spares or repairs' comes back to life in quite an astonishing manner. A few more hours of touch up and respray and I am set to make a tidy profit.

Re:Stupid New Cars (2, Funny)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302869)

I can understand that putting electronics in cars seems like a good idea, but it's not.

That's why I like not having any electronics in my car. Oh, wait, I think the indicators use an electronic flasher unit, but it's not like anyone else around here signals when they're turning.

Let me guess ... (-1, Flamebait)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302367)

It runs Linux, because only Linux programmers would spill that much urine on the concept of "fault tolerance".

How prophetic (3, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302371)

A safety ad here runs the slogan (roughly translated) "Car and Cell don't mix well". It actually promotes abstaining from using your cell while driving, but in this light, it gets a whole new meaning...

Honda and Microwaves (5, Funny)

Hsensei (1055922) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302393)

A friend of mine his dad purchased a Honda S2000 the garage was next to the kitchen. Well when they turned on the microwave it set off the alarm. The cars' keys would always have to be next to the microwave because of the "feature". When he called Honda then told him to buy a different microwave. I fould it hilarious.

Re:Honda and Microwaves (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302665)

Actually, your poor grammar and spelling are where the real hilarity lies. I laugh at your failure to fully grasp the English language, sir! Ha, I say! Ha!

Re:Honda and Microwaves (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302737)

So Honda's logic was that the microwave is not in fact compling with FCC interference regulations, like the sticker on the back says it does?

That's not unreasonable. We usually buy the cheapest appliances, and there's virtually no testing on imports after the demo model. Since around 1995, I've seen some amazing crap inside electrical items that were supposedly UL and CSA certified.

And really, do you want to stand beside a microwave that can trigger car alarms? Take Honda's advice on that one.

They should take a lesson from the MAFIAA (5, Funny)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302401)

Nissan should simply state, that the car owners only bought the right to use a specific version of the key, and that they'll have to buy a new car, if they ruin the old key.

Re:They should take a lesson from the MAFIAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302473)

I'm not usually one to be, a grammar nazi, but do you think you could, lighten up with the, commas?

Your post reads like William Shatner speaks. At least you got one out of three right...

All microwaves? (2, Insightful)

DMCBOSTON (714393) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302407)

Maybe leaving it on the microwave isn't such a good idea, either. Are they REALLY that damn sensitive? I'll take a mechanical lock anyday.

Maybe I should rethink the cel habit? (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302417)

First all of my audio producer friends complain about how cel phones will splat on a recording if they go off during an interview, now this.

Somehow the tinfoil beanie types who worry about brain damage are seeming less tinfoil beanie-ish these days...

Where's that Reynolds Wrap?

Re:Maybe I should rethink the cel habit? (1)

iago-vL (760581) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302567)

Brain damage? Most of us wear them to stop the government's Orbiting Mind Control Lasers from tricking us into buying more Pepsi and McDonalds!

Lies... (5, Funny)

penguinwhoflew (904673) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302447)

"The car won't start and the I-Key cannot be reprogrammed."

Obviously it CAN be reprogrammed, or else they wouldn't have this problem to begin with.

Re:Lies... (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302501)

i'm guessing that they mean that it basically fries whatever kind of chip they use for this, resulting in the key being completely useless.

Re:Lies... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302517)

Not necessarily. You can't record over commercial CDs. You can't take an old game boy game you hate and overwrite the ROM with the image of a game you like. Just because something holds data doesn't mean it's CHANGEABLE data.

Re:Lies... (2)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302535)

And I completely ignored the issue of the cellphones rendering the key unusable. Well it doesn't necessarily have had to erased the data; some other component could fail as a result of whatever particular radiation the key is vulnerable to.

Re:Lies... (1)

MoriaOrc (822758) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302593)

Maybe what they mean is that it can't be reprogrammed to the way it was before.

Imagine holding a magnet up to a magnetic storage device. It destroys all the data on the device, and you can't just hold up another magnet on the other side and expect the device to have all the old data on it. You need to have any data you want to put on the device stored somewhere else, and go and get it to put it back on.

It could be that Nissan is using some sort of supposedly write-once chip in these keys. Although that's obviously not entirely true, it might be "ROM enough" that they can't set it back exactly to what it was (only strong signals can affect it). Now, if someone smart is involved in this I-Key thing, they should have a record of all the I-Key signals and the keys themselves are probably pretty cheap. They should at least be able to replace them...

Cannot be reprogrammed? (4, Insightful)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302449)

IF the signature can be altered by a signal why could it not be re-alligned by another? Is the frequency somehow damaging the medium that holds the signature?

If you expose magnetic media to random magnetic forces you lose data... but it does not destroy the medium itself.

OTOH if you pass a Sensormatic EAS tag through an EMF it destroys the medium.

Why would you make a key like that? What's going on here? Who's running this show?

Re:Cannot be reprogrammed? (3, Informative)

Quietust (205670) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302809)

When dealing with old-fashioned EPROMs, all bits are "1" when the ROM is erased. When you program it, some of the "1" bits go to "0" in order to represent the data you wanted to write.

Now, it's certainly possible to change additional "1" bits into "0"s into the ROM and change the data further, but it is not possible to change a "0" into a "1" without erasing the entire EPROM (by removing it from whatever device it was in and shining ultraviolet light into window on the top of the chip).

My guess is that something similar is happening here.

Only high-end cars? (3, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302451)

The only thing that surprises me about this is that it's taken this long and it's only high-end cars. Here in the UK, practically every car on the market for the last 10 years has an immobiliser chip of some sort built into the key. It's sold as a security measure, and the fact that it allows the manufacturer to charge you £70 (around $140) for a replacement key - £30 for the key, £40 to reprogram your car to recognise it - has nothing to do with it ;) Are things radically different in the US?

In any case, my understanding was that with most of these, the key leaves the factory with a fixed number, no two keys have the same number and you reprogram the car to recognise the key rather than reprogramming the key to work the car. This sounds to me like a simple case of bad engineering which was never considered when the key was designed.

The upshot is that Nissan will re-design the key so it's not affected by cell-phones, new cars will ship with the redesigned key and owners of existing cars will have to pay a small fortune to replace the keys because it's not a safety recall issue.

Re:Only high-end cars? (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302591)

My '05 Civic has something like that, yes. If the key's not in the ignition, the engine will refuse to start.

I can't say about recent US-designed cars, though.

Re:Only high-end cars? (2, Informative)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302653)

Most American manufacturers stopped with the magical keys because consumers bitched about paying $100-$200 for a spare key.

Re:Only high-end cars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302705)

It depends. At least on Fiats, you get 2 normal (blue) keys and a red master key. The blue keys are your everyday keys - the car recognizes the chip in them - but can't be fully copied. If you lose one you have to have a copy made from the red key (basically a template - they physically copy the key as well as reading data from it to program the correct code into the new blue key). It's advisable to keep the red key very safe - if you lose it and ever need to have another blue key made (they can break, apparently) you need a new ECU, which is frighteningly expensive.

I'm really adrianbaugh: anonymous because I forgot my password....

Re:Only high-end cars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302761)

a small fortune to replace the keys because it's not a safety recall issue.

WTF? they made a defective product like any other that has been made- it doesnt have to be safety related to be covered especially if it was under warrenty to begin with [high end cars do have a warrenty dont they?]

Re:Only high-end cars? (Proximity Key!) (3, Informative)

WarrenLong (540264) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302773)

These are not your regular key with an immobilizer chip. These are "proximity" keys. You just leave them in your pocket, purse or whatever. When you turn the ignition key, the car searches around "wirelessly" for the key. Same thing for opening the doors; you push a little black button on the door handle, and if you are in possession of the key, it unlocks. The car is surprisingly careful about where you have to be in order to accomplish these things. For example, it won't let you lock your keys in the car. I think it also detects the difference between a key in the driver's pocket vs. a key in the passenger's pocket and sets the driver's seat etc. appropriately.

Re:Only high-end cars? (1)

djonsson (542920) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302863)

I can't imagine that immobilizers are a massive scam to sell expensive keys. Most people don't even change the keys for their car very often.

It's most likely because of the EU resolution requiring that all cars sold within the union since the 1998 model year must have some sort of immobilizer system installed.

who thought this was a good idea? (3, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302457)

seriously, these chipped keys are nothing but problems and it makes the keys stupidly expensive. to get another key for the ford van we have will run you $50, and that's just for the blank! cutting it is another $15. then another $5 to get it programmed if you can't do it yourself (doing it yourself requires 2 already programmed keys)

why can't we just use a bit of properly carved metal to start the vehicle without throwing in a bunch of junk?

Re:who thought this was a good idea? (1)

furball (2853) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302495)

why can't we just use a bit of properly carved metal to start the vehicle without throwing in a bunch of junk?


Try to imagine your insurance rates for said car without the chipped keys. I'm not in the business but I'd wager that the chipped keys fairly significantly reduce the rate of car theft which makes insuring said car cheaper. I'd further wager that the rate increase of carved metal versus chipped keys to be more than $50 per annum.

Re:who thought this was a good idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302549)

Watch the Masterminds TV show, these fully-electronic key based cars can be started with just a laptop, no key required. Easier, quicker, and less obvious than stealing cars the old-fashioned way. Insurance companies WANT you to buy cars with high insurance rates, it makes them more money.

Re:who thought this was a good idea? (1)

man_ls (248470) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302585)

I think technically, insurance companies want you to do whatever ends up making them more money at the end of the day. This doesn't necessarily mean paying higher insurance premiums on easy-to-steal vehicles, since they'd also be paying out for theft at a higher rate. They give you a break on your rates for various conditions and attributes because statistics say that if you have X, you're less likely to become a financial liability. Thus, they can charge less (loyalty increases) and still profit.

Re:who thought this was a good idea? (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302601)

You would be correct, insurance for cars without the chips is more expensive.

The chips don't really work though. If you can steal the entire car without starting it (tow truck, whatever) then you can program keys using the numbers on the main board of the car fairly easily.

Re:who thought this was a good idea? (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302683)

"I'd wager that the chipped keys fairly significantly reduce the rate of car theft which makes insuring said car cheaper."

Couldn't be farther from the truth. Look up the list of most stolen cars. A few use chipped keys. I'm particularly fond of Honda's idea of security, its downright idiotic. Honda has had chipped keys for 10 years. My mom's 1999 3.2TL has a simpler key than a generic padlock, and that is justified because the keys are chipped. However, looking at the top stolen cars, you'll see Honda Accord (which is what that Acura 3.2TL is based on) right up there. My 35 year old Mercedes on the other hand has an insanely complicated key, and you won't find Mercedes on any top stolen car list. If you want access to the ignition switch in the Honda, crack the steering column. If you want access to the ignition switch in the ancient Mercedes, you have to rip apart the dashboard, which is a lot more work. Also, the insurance on the more powerful, more reliable, head-turningly beautiful Mercedes (two-seat roadster) is $1200 less annually to insure than the Acura sedan.

Now, my Volvo uses chipped keys (2002 V70) but the keys are also mechanically complex. It costs $1000 more to insure annually than the Mercedes.

Re:who thought this was a good idea? (2, Insightful)

localman (111171) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302695)

I have keyless entry and ignition on my car (2004 Prius) and I gotta say, I do like it a lot. When I rent cars nowadays and have to use a physical key, or even a pushbutton to unlock, it feels positively archaic and a bit annoying. I'd most likely get the feature again on my next car. They put a lot of thought into the behavior, and it basically does what you expect without you even
thinking about it. Eventually it feels like the car just knows you.

Sometimes it can be confusing, like if you get out of the car while it's running to let a friend borrow it. It gives a beep to let you know -- but if you don't remember to take the key out of your pocket and give it to your friend, they can drive away but won't be able to start the car once they turn it off. That's never actually happened to me, but it's just something annoying that could happen with the system.

But it's still one of the nicest little conveniences I've seen added to a car in quite a while.

Re:who thought this was a good idea? (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302769)

I've got a '99 Grand Marquis that can be programmed by the owner. You just have to know the sequence - which is stated in the manual, as well as having at least one known good key for the vehicle.

That's not a bug, it's a feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302461)

Well it was until they fixed it... I bet there's some engineer out there is as annoyed as I am about people on the phone when they should be driving, he probably made it that way on purpose. And then they had to go and "fix" it.

If it can't be disabled, at least make the car chime loudly and annoyingly if not in park when active phone usage is detected at the driver's position.

This is precisely why... (4, Interesting)

photomonkey (987563) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302583)

This is precisely why, at least where I live, the cars you most commonly see are more than 15 years old OR are less than three years old.

The relative simplicity of cars even from the early 1990's, nevermind the 60's and 70's, is what allows them to stay on the road so long. They're easier to work on (no super-expensive diagnostic equipment needed in most cases), the parts are made of stronger metals (steel and iron instead of aluminum and plastic) and the electrical systems are more independent of eachother than in today's cars.

The electrical mess that is today's cars is probably the single largest contributing factor to people's desire to replace a car instead of repairing it. Electrical gremlins are one of the hardest problems to chase down in today's cars because everything is sensor this and computer that. The systems are not redundant in most cases, and the parts and skills necessary to fix the problem once its diagnosed can be cost-prohibitive.

In an age when everyone is rightfully concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency, why are we building cars that are very complicated, have a high energy cost to produce and go straight to the junkyard, on average, in less than 10 years?

The worst problem is that, with the exception of some of the more advanced engine control systems allowing better fuel economy, very few of these electronic 'improvements' actually make driving safer, better or more enjoyable.

I mean, as cool as it looks to wave an electronic key and have the car start, have we gotten to the point where a mechanical lock and tumbler are too hard to turn?

People got along for more than 100 years in cars without GPS systems telling them (in some cases incorrectly) to "turn right in 300 yards".

Even hybrid gas-electric cars are based on 80+-year-old tech. Diesel-electric submarines were built and operated with very little, and early on no computer support systems.

As with a great many things, I think it's time we take a good hard look at what we have, and attempt to simplify instead of further complicate.

Re:This is precisely why... (3, Insightful)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302663)

People got along for more than 100 years in cars without GPS systems telling them (in some cases incorrectly) to "turn right in 300 yards".

Perspective

People got along for thousands of years without cars, so maybe you should consider getting rid of yours.

Re:This is precisely why... (1)

alexfeig (1030762) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302827)

So... what? Are we supposed to hold back R&D because the old system worked well enough? Isn't the point of new technology to supposedly make things easier? If people had that attitude about things, we'd all be using 9600 baud modems because text is "enough" and pictures are an unnecessary frivolity?

I betI know why! (4, Informative)

kurthr (30155) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302625)

This probably only occurs with GSM cell phones. These phones use a TDMA (Time Domain Multiple Access) technique, which causes them to transmit at very high powers (2W) for short (1ms) times. Depending on the efficiency of the transmitters it's common for voltages over 20Vp-p (peak-to-peak) to be generated and transmitted to other devices.

The capacitive coupling of an antenna to a key could then be quite good at the 1-2GHz frequencies (0.5pF @ 2GHz => 150Ohms). That's a low enough impedance to power up a device (through its protection diodes) and cause it to reprogram itself due to noise on the inputs. It could actually even fry the poor little silicon device, if it rectified the voltage got up high enough (>5V) for any length of time.

It's not that hard a problem to prevent (put a filter on your inputs folks!), but I doubt the automotive key entry designers are normally thinking of transmitters at that power and frequency.

Slightly OT (2, Interesting)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302725)

I have noticed of late that when someone's cell phone rings in my house it's almost like a mini EMP just went off. If the phone is close to a set of speakers you can often tell before the phone even rings that there's a call incoming -- the speakers start making all sorts of noise.

I've looked into this and I'm not the only person who has speakers/electronics that respond to cell phones this way. Are they really pumping that much juice in the signal these days or is my setup wired so that EM signals somehow translate into sound on the speakers? And how do I fix that?

TLF

Re:Slightly OT (1)

s.bots (1099921) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302779)

I run into the same problem with my band, if a phone ever goes off during practice it sounds like everything coming out of the speaker is scrambled. The offending phone only needs to be within about 5 feet to wreak havoc. So far the only solution we've figured is "turn your damn phone off when you come here!" but I am very curious as to the cause of this. Is there a shielding or somthing for instrument/speaker cables?

Re:Slightly OT (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302791)

If I have my cellphone near my desk phone at work, (say within 6 inches), about once an hour and just before an incoming call, I get a series of loud raspy tones coming from the deskphones earpiece even though its on the cradle.
I'm thinking the signal from my phone must be very powerful. Scary considering its in my pocket quite often and that cell phones operate in the microwave band.

Re:Slightly OT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19302813)

Prairie oysters anyone?

This is news? (2, Informative)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302731)

I thought that was a well known danger. My father recently got a car with one of those, and it came with a warning to keep the key away from electronics like TVs. Cell phones might be more problematic since people often keep them with their keys, but if they can do it too that probably means its a rare problem (otherwise we would have heard of a lot more people getting into this kind of trouble).

New Owner -- G35 (5, Informative)

alexfeig (1030762) | more than 6 years ago | (#19302795)

Just bought a 2007 Infiniti G35S and it's a beautiful car.

Infiniti has been dealing with the problem quite well.

This is really not as big of an issue as the press is making it out to be -- it's a very isolated issue. I keep my phone next to my Blackberry all day and haven't had any problems. On the G35 forums, maybe 3-4 people have run into the issue. All owners recieved a letter about 2 weeks ago informing us of the issue and that they would have a replacement key for us within a few months.

Read more about it here: http://g35driver.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15378 8 [g35driver.com]

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...