Hidden Features You Might Not Know About On Your Car's Key Fob

Key fobs are a generally pretty mundane and overlooked piece of automotive paraphernalia. A few decades ago, drivers didn't have a way to remotely unlock their cars, and now it's taken for granted. The technology is actually fairly recent, as the first car to ever feature a remote unlock feature via a key fob was the AMC/Renault Alliance from 1983 (via Car and Driver).

A key fob is one of those ubiquitous pieces of car technology that no one really notices until it stops working. As you've likely noticed, several newer cars don't even have traditional keyed ignition cylinders anymore — rendering the "key" part of the key fob obsolete. Today's key fobs are way more useful than just unlocking and starting your car. Even the average key fob in 2023 is likely packed with a lot of technology to make getting your car ready to drive a little more convenient.

For more than just unlocking

Remote start is a lifesaver if you live in an area where the temperature sits regularly on either end of the spectrum. Getting into a car with the A/C already cranked to max after a hot day is one of life's greatest joys. Conversely, allowing the car to heat up and defrost in the driveway when it's frigid outside can be a huge time saver. Ford has taken this feature much further with the 2024 Mustang. That car allows the user to rev the engine remotely, just for the fun of it. 

Tesla — ever the company to tout its car's ability to "drive itself," — allows drivers to "Summon" their car out of a parking space via a phone app that doubles as a virtual key fob. If you want a physical device to gesture towards your Tesla Model 3 or Y to unlock it, Tesla offers an optional car shaped key fob for $175. If you thought $175 was steep, a key from Porsche costs upwards of $800 to replace. But that price comes with a few perks, as the Porsche Key Protection program comes with lockout assistance for not only your Porsche, but your house, as well as towing assistance and taxi reimbursement if you find yourself suddenly Porsche-less.

Lastly, since many cars don't have physical keys, it might seem like a huge pain if the key fob's battery dies. But hope is not lost, as many key fobs hide a physical key you can use to get in your car. To find this, just look for a switch or button on your key fob and a key should slide out (via Consumer Reports).