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Inside the Dodge Charger Key Fob

Written by Staff, Chrysler Engineeri Fleet

With the introduction of key fobs, the traditional key has become antiquated. The fob performs all the functions of a key faster, more easily, and with additional features. Not only has the switch to fobs been revolutionary in the retail segment, but also for fleet purposes. 

Using fobs, officers can now perform functions such as Passive Entry with any Dodge Charger Pursuit. These fob functions go for both Key-Alike fleets and those fleets that do not opt for Key-Alike. The retail features in combination with the police-specific uses for fobs make the fob easier, quicker and more convenient than old-fashioned mechanical keys, which is why four (4) fobs are included with each Dodge Charger Pursuit. If you choose Key-Alike as an option, each Charger Pursuit comes with a total of eight (8) fobs.

 

Retail Features

When looking at a Dodge key fob for the first time, it appears very similar to any of the key / remote combinations that have been available from most automotive manufacturers since the late 1980s. Yes, there is one exception: the older versions did not have a visible traditional bladed key. The Dodge fob has a removable, mechanical key “shank” within the fob. The fob and metal key are unique to its assigned vehicle. It also includes several buttons on one side for unlock, lock, trunk and PANIC. 

On top of these typical features, modern key fobs have additional purposes—key fobs transmit security information to the vehicle and allow the vehicle (using five antennas located throughout the vehicle) to sense the position of the fob relative to the car.  This technology allows the user to unlock the car door or open the trunk without ever taking the fob out of his / her pocket. 

This function, known as passive entry, is made possible by the fob transceiver—the vehicle can sense the fob’s proximity to the door or trunk, and when the user pulls the door handle or presses the open trunk button, that door unlocks and opens. The transceiver also makes keyless start possible—when the fob is in the front occupant compartment and the user presses the Engine START / STOP button, the vehicle senses the position of the fob and starts the engine. 

These two functions, known together as Keyless Enter ’n Go™, set the modern key fob apart from previous remote keys—the user never needs to use a mechanical key unless electric power is lost. If the battery in the fob is drained, it cannot communicate with the vehicle, but the mechanical key may be used to unlock the car.

If, in fact, the battery of the fob is drained of power, to start the car, put the nose side (side opposite of the emergency key) of the key fob against the Engine START / STOP button and push to operate the ignition. Though the necessity of a mechanical key is reduced to a failsafe, the key can always be used to lock and unlock the doors and trunk if the user so chooses. 

In all, the key fob is three separate tools all in one—the standard mechanical key, Remote Keyless Entry, and Keyless Enter ’n Go. (Keyless Enter ‘n Go is a combination of Passive Entry and Keyless Start.)

 

Police Fleet Features

In addition to the retail features, police fleets have the opportunity to utilize the capabilities of the fob in new convenient, specialized ways. As a convenience to Dodge Charger Pursuit customers, Key-Alike is offered on fleet vehicles. The Key-Alike option allows all key fobs to be used with all fleet vehicles—so any officer can operate any car with their fob. 

There are currently four (4) different Key-Alike frequencies an agency can choose from when ordering their vehicles. Once that frequency is chosen, subsequent model year Chargers can be ordered with that same frequency, thus allowing a 2012 model year fob to be utilized in a 2013 model year vehicle, and vice versa.

With key fobs, not only are all the mechanical lock cylinders and keys the same from vehicle to vehicle, the vehicles are programmed to respond to all associated key fobs. In a fleet with the Key-Alike option, any key fob may be used on any vehicle for Keyless Enter ’n Go functionality.

That means any officer with a key fob in his / her pocket may unlock the car with passive entry and may start the car with keyless start. Remote Keyless Entry (the buttons on the fob), however, is only linked with one vehicle—the vehicle to which the fob was programmed. 

 

Police Fleet Safety Considerations

For safety purposes, a few key fob features that are available to retail customers are disabled on police vehicles. Passive entry is disabled for the vehicle trunk. This disable means an officer cannot open the trunk by pushing the button located on top of the trunk, next to the center brake light. Essentially, the trunk fob antenna is disconnected. This is done for several safety reasons, but mostly to prevent unauthorized access, such as in a situation where a suspect may be pinned against or near the trunk, or when the officer and suspect are both standing near the trunk

Instead, officers may use the trunk open button located to the left of the steering wheel (vehicle ignition must be in RUN mode), the mechanical key holstered in the fob (Police Package vehicles are equipped with a trunk key cylinder), or by pressing twice on the trunk open button on the fob. The last of these methods may only be used with one specific vehicle for a given key fob, while the first two methods may be used with any fleet fob on any fleet vehicle. 

Another disabled feature is the automatic unlock / trunk open feature, which prevents retail customers from accidentally locking their keys inside the vehicle. If the key fob is locked inside the vehicle or in the trunk of a retail vehicle, the doors will unlock or the trunk will pop open, the vehicle horn will chirp three times. 

The police trunk is not fob-safe, like the retail car. This is disabled to allow officers to lock keys inside if desired and to prevent from drawing unwanted attention with the horn chirp. This also means the officer may accidentally lock the fob in the trunk, i.e., putting the duty uniform in the trunk when changing into workout clothes or tactical gear. The best solution to having the fob locked in the trunk is to opt for Key-Alike and ask a fellow officer to unlock the trunk with their fob or metal key in their fob.

Benefit On The Street

An officer and partner may each carry a key fob to their assigned car. To gain access to their vehicle, there is no need to fumble for keys. As long as the officers are carrying the fobs, each time they walk up to the car and place their hands under the door handle, the door will unlock. 

To lock, they can press the small button located on top of the handle. Pressing the buttons located on the fob will perform the desired function only on their car, and may be helpful in locating their car if it is garaged with other police cars or it is at a scene where many cars are gathered. 

If either of them needs to drive a different car, they can just walk up to another Key-Alike equipped fleet car and unlock by placing their hand under the door handle, get in, push the Engine START / STOP button, and be on their way.

(SIDEBAR)

Police Package Considerations

Key-Alike

Key-Alike allows one key to access multiple vehicles. For a fleet equipped with Key-Alike, each key fob has Passive Entry (PE) and Keyless Start functionality with any vehicle in the fleet. Each mechanical key will open any door or trunk on any vehicle. Remote Keyless Entry (RKE) only works with one vehicle per key fob—each key fob is assigned to one specific vehicle for RKE functionality.

 

Trunk Access

There are three ways to open the trunk. First, with the ignition in the RUN mode, press the cockpit trunk release button located below the steering wheel on the left side. Second, double press the trunk release button on the key fob. Third, use the mechanical key located inside the key fob.

The Passive Entry trunk release button located on the outside of the trunk is disabled on police vehicles. The key fob trunk release button will only open the trunk of the vehicle to which that fob is assigned, whether equipped with Key-Alike or not. On fleets equipped with Key-Alike, the mechanical key inside the key fob will open the trunk and doors of any vehicle in that fleet. 

 

(SIDEBAR)

What is this thing called?

Words mean things. So, what is this thing called? Is it a FOB, fob, FOBIK or Fobik? And what do fob and FOBIK mean, anyhow?

Fob is a word, not an acronym or abbreviation. It is from the German “fuppe” meaning pocket. A key fob was a medallion used to identify a key ring, often attached to a leather patch. In some cases, the medallion had an icon or insignia of the car make.

FOBIK is a Chrysler acronym. It means either Finger Operated Button Integrated Key (FOBIK) or Frequency Operated Button Integrated Key (FOBIK). This unique Chrysler term applies to the electronic key fob with the stub used as a key. These were used when Chrysler transitioned from traditional metal keys to Push To Start. Once Push To Start became standard, the FOBIK went away.

So, the right word for the newer Dodge vehicles is simply fob. No need any longer to pronounce it with a German accent.  – Ed Sanow


Published in Police Fleet Manager, Nov/Dec 2012

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