Fwd = Why don't keyless remotes work?
- Forwarded by: fwestra@...
Original Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 14:22:25 +0200 (CEST)
========================== Forwarded message begins ======================
MYSTERY IN BREMERTON
Why don't keyless remotes work?
By Lloyd A. Pritchett Sun Staff
Something has caused almost all the devices to stop working in
Joel Maimon of Port Ludlow first noticed the problem when he arrived
in Bremerton for work Thursday morning. No matter how many times he
clicked the remote keyless entry device for his car, it wouldn't work.
He wasn't alone.
Art DeCamp, service manager for Haselwood Expo Buick Pontiac
dealership in Bremerton, first realized something was amiss Wednesday
afternoon when a flood of customers began calling with the same
By Thursday, virtually every new car dealership in the Bremerton-Port
Orchard area was inundated with hundreds of similar calls from upset
customers. The outage also affected unsold new cars sitting on their
The cause of the bizarre problem was - and still is - a mystery. No
one so far has been able to explain why the remote keyless entry
systems on nearly every vehicle in the Bremerton-Port Orchard suddenly
stopped functioning at about the same time Wednesday afternoon and
hasn't worked since.
"It's strange," DeCamp said. "A lot of people are really upset."
Speculation about the cause has ranged from solar flares to the Mir
space station or possible interference from USS Carl Vinson or some
other local Navy ship.
But Navy officials say there's no evidence that a naval vessel is
causing the problem, and experts say such a localized problem couldn't
be caused by solar activity.
A spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission in Washington,
D.C., which regulates radio-controlled devices, said the agency will
look into the problem if it persists.
The malfunction, which seems to afflict all makes and models of new
vehicles, disappears as soon as a car is driven outside the area.
Although a few vehicles with remote entry seem to be immune to the
problem, the vast majority are affected by the outage.
Larry Sharrett, general manager of the Parr Auto Group, said all new
cars at the group's Bremerton dealerships are affected, whether
foreign and domestic.
"It's across the board," he said. "I simply have no idea what's
DeCamp said remote keyless entry devices use a radio signal in the
300- to 500-megahertz range. When the "lock" or "unlock" button is
pushed on a handheld device, it transmits a signal to a receiver in
the car that locks or unlocks the doors.
But in the Bremerton area, "something is keeping it from working by
not allowing the signal to do what it needs to do," DeCamp said.
The problem started at almost exactly the same time the aircraft
carrier USS Carl Vinson was returning home to Bremerton from seven
weeks at sea, causing service managers at some car dealerships to
suspect radio emissions from the ship are somehow to blame.
But the ship's communication experts checked the ship over and could
find no evidence that it was the source of the problem.
"We've checked all of our radars and communication suites and the ship
doesn't appear to be emitting any frequencies that might have an
effect on these remote control devices," said ship's spokesman Lt.
Daphne Burke, spokeswoman for Naval Station Bremerton, said there is
no evidence that any Navy ship or shore facility is to blame for the
"We've been looking ... but we have no answer," she said. "We're going
to continue to check until the problem goes away or until they find
Solar flares, which were also suspected as a possible cause, have been
ruled out because of the pattern of the outage.
Joe Kunches, acting chief of the Space Weather Operations Division at
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said intense
solar activity can cause global radio interference.
But it wouldn't cause such a localized problem, he said, nor would it
persist for more than an hour or two if solar activity was the source,
he said. And it definitely wouldn't continue after the sun goes down.
John Winston, spokesman for the FCC in Washington, D.C., said the
problem could be caused "by any one of a number of things."
He said if the problem persists, an agency investigator will be
assigned to look into it.
Meanwhile, Joel Maimon and thousands of other vehicle owners are
relearning how to use their car keys - and wondering how much longer
they will have to use them.
Reach reporter Lloyd A. Pritchett at (360) 792-9212 or at
Published in The Sun: 03/24/2001
SunLink � 2000 - An online publication of The Sun newspaper of
========================== Forwarded message ends ========================