Toyota owners have to pay $8/mo to keep using their key fob for remote start

Without a subscription, Toyota's RF key fob loses functionality.

Enlarge / Without a subscription, Toyota’s RF key fob loses functionality. (credit: George Frey/Bloomberg)

Automakers keep trying to get a piece of that sweet, sweet subscription income. Now, it’s Toyota’s turn.

Nearly every car company} offers some sort of subscription package , and Toyota has one called Remote Connect. The service offers the usual fare, letting owners use an app to remotely lock their doors, for example, or if they own a plug-in vehicle, to precondition the interior. But as some complimentary subscriptions for Remote Connect come to an end, Toyota owners are getting an unexpected surprise —they can no longer use their key fob in order to remote-start their vehicles.

In terms of technology, this remote-start feature is no different from using the fob to be able to unlock the car. The fobs use a short-range radio transmitter for you to send the car a signal that is encrypted with rolling codes. The car then decrypts the particular signal and performs the requested action, whether it’s to lock or unlock the doors, beep the horn, or start typically the engine. RF key fobs have been around since the 1980s, and GM added a factory-installed remote start option in 2004 (no subscription needed).

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