Many car thieves today are far more sophisticated and technologically savvy than their predecessors. As vehicles contain more and more computer components that control many different aspects of the vehicle, thieves are learning to take advantage of holes in that technology through hacking. Hacking can eliminate the effectiveness of your car alarm and make car security more difficult in general. Many, including expensive vehicles, have been stolen due to thieves cloning the keys through the vehicle’s OBD II port.
What is the OBD II Port?
Vehicles made after 1996 will contain an OBD II port. These ports are computer diagnostic systems that can help to make it easier for mechanics to know more about the vehicle in for repair. They can use the system as a means to get information about it, and which will help them to diagnose problem areas. The port is usually located under the steering wheel. The mechanics make use of a high-quality OBD reader to access this information. These readers are available in repair shops and at dealerships.
However, it is not the expensive readers that should worry you when it comes to your car security. Instead, it is the cheap OBD readers that have become readily available to the general public. While these might not be as sophisticated as the ones that are used by a mechanic, they work in much the same way. It can provide anyone with access to vehicle information that should be secure and private. These devices tend to be quite cheap, as well. They often cost less than $100.
OBD vs. OBD2
Before the 1990s, some car manufacturers used computer interfaces in the vehicles they made. However, there was no standardization with the old OBD ports in cars. It wasn’t until the California Air Resources Board started to push for standardization that things changed. This requirement meant that all cars in California were required to have OBD capabilities. Standards for these systems, however, weren’t implemented until 1994.
These early ports were capable of detecting emissions, and they could even minimize emissions by manipulating emissions control valves. However, the capabilities of those early ports could do little else.
It was in 1996 that standards were used for the next iteration, known as OBD II or just OBD2. The ports used in vehicles improved greatly and had far more capabilities than their predecessors had. These standards are still in use today. All vehicles sold since that time follow the OBD2 standards.
How Could a Thief Use This Technology?
The use of these devices make it very simple for thieves to be able to clone a car key, and a cloned key would be able to bypass car anti-theft devices that you might have in place. However, even though the process itself is easy, it is difficult for thieves to be able to access the port, but still possible.
For example, thieves might break into the vehicle to gain access to the port. While this could set off an alarm if they break one of the main windows, thieves have ways of getting around the car alarm. They might break through the corner of a side window using the end of a spark plug. In some cases, this will not trigger an alarm at all. Even if an alarm does trigger, few people today tend to pay very much attention to car alarms. For many people, they become a part of the background noise. Nowadays, thieves are even using more advanced break-in methods to access the OBDII port, one of the most popular ones being jamming technology that enables easy access to a vehicle without any physical damage.
The thieves might have access to your vehicle in other circumstances, which can allow them to use the reader. Any time that your vehicle is out of your hands, such as at a shop for repairs, getting a car wash, or you are simply in a parking lot, it could be at risk. Sometimes, a car might appear as if it were broken into, but it wasn’t stolen. The thieves might have only taken what was in your glove compartment. However, they might also have used a reader to access your car’s data, which they plan to use later.
Regardless of how they get it, once they are in the vehicle, it is an easy matter to connect their advanced reader to the OBD II port. This allows them to get information about your vehicle, including the unique car key code. It will take just seconds to get this information, which will then provide the thief will full access. They can then drive away, and you won’t know until you come out to find your car missing.
It will allow them to bypass the alarm systems in the vehicle, so no one will know that there is anything amiss. It is possible for thieves to troll a range of different neighborhoods and find vehicles that are easy for them to steal when they are using these advanced technologies to obtain vehicles.
How to Make Your Vehicle Safer
Because the thieves will need to have access to your vehicle to get this information, you will want to make sure that you keep it in a safe location whenever possible. Consider keeping it in a garage if you have one available. You will want to make sure there is lighting in your driveway, as well. Motion lighting can be a good option that is affordable and effective at making thieves think twice before trying to get into your vehicle.
Lighting alone might not be as effective as you might like, as lights could be destroyed or disabled. Having a full security system on your property, including a system that features cameras, can help to deter thieves. If you have a security system, make sure you have signs that indicate as much. This way, the thieves that see them will know that it is too large of a risk to attempt to steal your car.
Also, you can add some protection for the vehicle just in case someone were to get this information and take your car. A GPS tracker, such as CarLock, can be a fantastic option. CarLock will enable you to be alerted through your phone whenever your vehicle moves or there is any strange and unusual activity in it, for example. Being alerted to problems like this allows you to contact the authorities. Having a GPS car tracker can make it possible to recover your vehicle in the event it is stolen. CarLock can even be armed/disarmed via the phone app, so it will instantly let you know if someone is tampering with your vehicle. What is more, it is designed to plug directly into the OBDII port and provides the “device disconnected” notification as soon as it is removed, which comes especially handy in the event of the OBD port theft attempt.
Be Aware of the Dangers to Your Vehicle
Car theft happens more often than many people realize. There are more than 600,000 vehicles stolen each year in the United States alone. By understanding more about how thieves work and the techniques and tactics they use, it becomes possible to learn how you can better protect your vehicle. Just because you feel that you live in a safe neighborhood, or that you are in a location where car theft is not common doesn’t mean that it can’t happen to you. Instead of becoming a victim, it is time that you started to take action to give your car the added protections that it needs. There is no such thing as being too prepared.
Ways to Keep Your OBD2 Anti-Theft Device and Port Safer
As mentioned, thieves are relentless and they seem to be everywhere today. From car break-ins to theft of the actual vehicle, they cause a host of problems for car owners everywhere. Naturally, you want to make sure that you can improve the overall safety of your vehicle. Using an OBD2 security device can be a great option.
However, one of the only potential downfalls to this is that the devices can often be seen and removed. Many thieves know how to disable the OBD2 port quickly and easily. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent this. CarLock can provide you with an alert when the device is removed, which is beneficial. Yet, you’ll still want to consider some of the other ways that you can better improve safety for your vehicle.
You might consider trying to move the OBD port using cables. This can help to make it more difficult to find the port and your tracker. Another option that you could consider is using something like a diagnostic port lock, which is discussed below.
In addition to the tracking device for the OBD, a car alarm can be yet another line of defense to consider. Having a car alarm should never be your sole means of protection for your vehicle, of course. However, each little bit including the alarm, steering wheel lock, and GPS car tracker will help.
OBD PORT FAQ
1 – What is an OBD Port?
The OBD port in a car is an on-board computer that is used to monitor what’s happening with your vehicle’s engine. If there is a problem with the engine, it will trigger the check engine light. The port is also used in garages when a mechanic is trying to determine what might be wrong with your vehicle. As the name suggests, it provides them with diagnostics when they plug their device into the port.
2 – What Does an OBD Port Look Like?
The OBD port in a car is easy to recognize. It is a rectangular port that features 16 pins. Devices can be placed into this port for diagnostics and tracking.
3 – How Do I Find the OBD Car Diagnostic Port
The diagnostic port or OBD port in a car will typically be located under the dashboard and will be on the driver’s side of the vehicle. However, there may be some differences between makes and models. If you don’t see your port right away on either the driver’s side or the passenger side, you’ll want to check with the manufacturer.
Additionally, if you’ve bought a used vehicle, there’s a possibility that the previous owner may have tried to move the OBD port. This can sometimes be done with certain types of cables.
4 – What Information Does the OBD2 Port Provide in a Diagnostic?
The car diagnostic port can provide a wealth of information about your vehicle including problems with the vehicle, mileage, speed emissions reports, and much more. It’s also used to add a GPS tracking device like CarLock to your vehicle, which allows you to see reports on not just where, but also how the vehicle has been driven.
5 – What is a Data Port Car Lock?
A diagnostic port lock is a type of protective covering that’s used over the OBD2 port. OBD port guards are available today in a range of styles, including those that have metal coverings. You’ll need to have a key to open up and access the port. Having an OBD port lock on your vehicle will often make thieves think twice before trying to steal it since they’ll have to take a lot of time to remove the ODB lock. Many times, they won’t have the tools needed to do it, so they’ll move on to another vehicle.
Thieves remain a big problem, so make sure you take all the precautions needed to keep your vehicle safe.