Published July 24, 2012
Cars parked in a busy section of a large New York city have been the subject of a perplexing issue in recent weeks, and it's a real non-starter.
According to the Journal News, complaints began to surface about six months ago when drivers in Yonkers, N.Y., discovered that they were unable to unlock or start their vehicles equipped with wireless key fobs while parked in a part of town near the intersection of Yonkers and Page Aves. But when they were pushed or towed out of the area, the systems were restored.
“It occurs very rarely, but occasionally,” David Maxson, a radio-frequency communications specialist who investigated the issue, told FoxNews.com.
Maxson, owner of Isotrope LLC in Medfield, Mass., was called in by his client, a company that operates wireless antennas on utility poles on Yonkers Ave., after it was informed of the problem, and wanted to see if it was the cause. When he went out to the site with test equipment, he determined it was not coming from his client’s antenna, but from the property across the street.
Maxson believes this is being caused by “some device in the building on Yonkers Ave., that is either broken, not working properly, or improperly installed.”
He adds that “most remote keyless entry [RKE] devices operate at a particular frequency in a radio spectrum that this interference is on. Lots of people own cars with RKE, and lots of people park on this stretch of Yonkers Ave.," Maxson said. “ This unknown source of interference is blocking the ability of the key fobs to ‘talk’ to their cars.”
This is not the first time Maxson has encountered this issue.
It happened to him personally when he was visiting an Air Force base, and “the radio communications interfered with my key fob, and I had to put it right up against the antenna in the window glass to open my car.”
Maxson advises drivers who experience the problem to do the same: bring their key fob as close as possible to the car’s antenna, making the possible interference smaller, and pushing 'unlock' again.
As this predicament goes unsolved, it has been affecting business and car owners alike.
“I’ve had constant complaints,” Michael Ruggiero, owner of F. Ruggiero & Sons Funeral Home on Yonkers Ave., told The Journal News.
Ruggiero saw the problem recently on July 15, when a woman making funeral arrangements for her father was locked out of her car. Weeks ago, his brother had to get his car towed off the lot. In another instance, a customer of the funeral home was unable to remotely unlock his car when he was leaving a wake.
Just down the street, employees at Marden Hardware also have noticed multiple occurrences of the phenomenon. Employees told The Journal News that when it first started happening, customers thought the batteries on their remotes died while they were in the store, and immediately bought new ones to fix the problem.
When the trouble wasn’t fixed, Marden employees helped the customers push their cars down the street, and out of the believed interference zone, and the issue was resolved.
This has been hurting business lately, as people “know they can’t come here unless they park blocks away and walk,” clerk Ernal Bailey told The Journal News.
Many RKE devices come with an integrated emergency key that can be used to unlock the car in the event that the transmitter stops working, but often aren't able to activate the ignition.
Because Maxson was hired to investigate his own client’s antenna, which was public property, he has not been able to solve this mystery, adding, “someone will have to go into the building with the owner’s permission” in order to figure it out. And he would be glad to.