Car Immobilizer: Pro’s, Cons and How To’s

A car immobilizer is a device that immobilizes a car. This is an anti-theft device, so turning the immobilizer off and on should be available only to the car owner. Typically, a contactless electronic code key, a manual key or a hidden button is used for this purpose. Most modern vehicles are equipped with simple built-in immobilizers from the vehicle manufacturer. Of particular note are immobilizers with car malfunction emulation. You can ask at the car rental office about this device, when you are using cheap 9 seater car hire.

The principle of operation of this device is to block the main circuits and systems of the vehicle. There are many approaches to blocking.

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The car immobilizer can:

  • cut off the fuel supply
  • cut off the power supply to the engine
  • interfere with the operation of the transmission, and much more.

The car immobilizers are also different according to the scheme of action. Some systems make it impossible to move the car initially, while others, which are more popular, make it possible to start the car and make it move.

In the latter case, the security device is activated after a while, when the intruder starts moving and leaves on a busy street. Such a condition is good because the car is immobilized in a crowded place and, unable to continue the journey, the criminal will most likely simply abandon his attempts and hide.

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Another advantage of the car immobilizer is that its presence in the vehicle is often impossible to determine visually. Unlike an alarm designed to scare off a thief and give a warning sign to others, an immobilizer is designed to create sudden problems for an intruder. The thief may not know about the device until he attempts to steal it.

Therefore, the car immobilizer can significantly spoil the plans of the criminals. In addition, this device is very difficult to disable, since it is often difficult for a thief to determine the location of the system unit and find out how it works.

Working principle

Arming and disarming the vehicle with an immobilizer is performed by identifying the owner. The most common type is radio frequency identification of an electronic key. According to the control method, immobilizers are divided into contact and non-contact.

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There are even devices that scan the owner’s fingerprint. The most optimal among them is the contactless option. In this case, the car “feels” the presence of the owner. The key lies in the driver’s pocket and the car is operational while its owner is in the immediate vicinity. This can be very useful in a situation where they are trying to carry out the theft by throwing the driver out of the car.

The standard car immobilizer consists of three parts:

  1. Control unit. This unit activates the entire system with the help of the received signals.
  2. Electromagnetic relays. With their help, in case of unauthorized entry into the car, the interruption in the sequence of the wiring circuits’ connection is carried out.
  3. The key, which the owner of the car carries. The control unit recognizes only the owner’s key, and only the owner of the car can start the system.

The main differences between immobilizers depend on the way these standard elements of the immobilizer system interact, for example, in the way the control unit communicates with the car’s electrical circuits and the key.

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The action radius can be of two types:

  • 10-20 cm – the driver needs to get into the car and bring the key fob to the reader;
  • a few meters – the key fob gives a signal in advance and unlocks the system.

What is blocked

Most often, the ignition, starter, fuel pump, steering and the on-board computer are blocked. These locks are fairly easy to install. However, they will not become an obstacle for experienced hijackers who can easily determine what is disabled and can bypass the blocking. For example, if you do not turn the starter in a car with a manual gearbox, the engine can be started from the pusher.

The alarm is designed to prevent penetration of criminals into the car salon, as well as to warn the owner by giving an appropriate signal. The benefit of using the car immobilizer is in the fact that, when the car is at a certain distance from the owner, who has a special key fob or card, the engine stalls.

Moreover, it is visually impossible to determine if the vehicle is equipped with an immobilizer. This device does not have any external parts; it does not give any sound signals and does not manifest itself in any way in normal operation. Even the owners of vehicles themselves sometimes do not know if they have such a device.


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