What is a Transmitter Pocket? How to use it to start?


  • A compartment in your vehicle designed for the key fob, known as a transmitter pocket, enables you to start or keep the engine running without being present simply by placing the key fob inside. This pocket works by the key fob emitting a secure, coded radio signal to the car's computer, authorizing the engine to start. Depending on your vehicle, the location of this pocket varies.
  • Should your key fob become damaged or its battery depletes, the transmitter pocket offers an alternative way to start your car. Typically, this pocket is tailored to your original key fob, meaning any replacement would require reprogramming to match the transmitter.
  • Keyless ignition systems, which activate the engine at the push of a button, come with their downsides, such as the potential for thieves to clone the key fob's signal. There's also the risk of accidentally leaving the engine on or failing to engage the vehicle in park.
  • Car manufacturers have introduced various protective features to enhance safety for those using remote start systems. Additionally, car owners can reduce risks by keeping the key fob distant from the vehicle when unused.

From the era of steam power and carburetors, vehicles have advanced significantly.

Now, electric vehicles by the millions dominate highways, alongside cars capable of driving themselves, showcasing just a fraction of the innovations from automakers.

Among these advancements, keyless ignition is a feature many drivers find incredibly convenient.

While keyless ignition systems may differ across manufacturers, many share common elements, such as a transmitter pocket.

Let's Take a Closer Look at Transmitter Pocket

The transmitter pocket serves a purpose beyond merely holding your vehicle's key fob; it enables starting the engine or keeping it running even when you're not nearby.

The key fob dispatches a secure, coded radio wave to the car's computer by numerous keyless ignition systems. The engine can be started after verifying the correct key, and other keyless operations are possible.

Keyless ignition is a concept introduced previously; it dates back to the late 1990s and early 2000s. [source 1]

Initially, keyless ignition was an exclusive feature in luxury cars such as the Aura, Lexus, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and Rolls-Royce.

Not long after its introduction, keyless ignition had become standard in 11% of vehicles sold in the US by 2008, a figure that surged to 62% by 2018.

Transmitter Pocket Location

The position of the transmitter pocket varies based on the car's design.

It might be integrated into the front panel of the center console or positioned close to the cupholder on the driver’s side. Additionally, many vehicles equipped with this feature include a secondary compartment for backup.

Is a Transmitter Pocket Used to Start Your Vehicle?

Indeed, the transmitter pocket offers an alternative method of igniting your vehicle. This pocket can detect the required radio signals from a non-functional key fob to initiate the engine, which is especially useful if your key fob is damaged or its battery has depleted.

It's important to note that the transmitter pocket is not designed to recharge a dead key fob. Replacement of the battery or purchasing a new fob is still necessary.

A handy tip: Should your key fob fail to work, possibly due to a low battery, attempting to use the key fob to press the engine start button may be effective. This technique has successfully started many vehicles that otherwise wouldn't ignite.

Will a New Key Fob Adversely Affect the Operation of the Transmitter Pocket?

Indeed, replacing your key fob does require reprogramming to ensure it communicates correctly with the transmitter pocket, as it's initially set up for the original fob.

The process for programming a new key fob varies, depending on your vehicle's specific make and model.

Some vehicles can recognize and accept up to eight authenticated key fobs. Therefore, configuring an additional fob as a backup might be a wise precaution for unforeseen circumstances.

Keyless Ignition Systems

Transmitter pockets significantly enhance the convenience offered by keyless ignition systems.

This innovation allows drivers to start their vehicles with a simple button press, streamlining their daily commutes.

Moreover, keyless ignition systems contribute to heightened vehicle safety and security.

For instance, such vehicles are designed to start only if they're in the park, and the driver engages the brake pedal.

On the security front, the system depends on unique signals from the key fob to unlock the vehicle, thwarting traditional entry methods thieves use, like lock picks.

Keyless Ignition System Problems

Despite their convenience, keyless ignition systems have drawbacks.

One significant issue is the vulnerability to theft, even with advanced security measures. Thieves can bypass these systems using a relay amplifier and transmitter to mimic the key fob's signal, tricking the vehicle's computer into granting access. [source 2]

Furthermore, instances of carbon monoxide poisoning have been reported when drivers inadvertently leave their engines running, a risk exacerbated by quieter engines in conjunction with keyless systems. [source 3]

Additionally, the convenience of a keyless start can lead to vehicles unexpectedly moving because drivers forget to engage the park gear, a scenario not unique to keyless vehicles but also present in those with traditional keys.

To mitigate such risks, some manufacturers have integrated an audible alarm feature that activates if the ignition is left on without the driver's presence, enhancing safety measures for these systems.

How to Avoid Problems?

While keyless ignition systems offer convenience, they're not without their vulnerabilities, potentially affecting your safety and security without proper precautions.

Aware of these risks, vehicle manufacturers have developed strategies to thwart keyless theft.

For instance, companies like BMW, Audi, Ford, and Mercedes equip their keyless models with sensors that deactivate the key fob’s signal when it's stationary.

Jaguar and Land Rover employ ultra-wideband radio technology to shield their vehicles from signal interception by thieves.

Vehicle owners can also take measures to enhance their security with keyless systems.

A straightforward practice is to store your key fob away from the vehicle when not in use, reducing the likelihood of signal detection by thieves.

Additionally, placing your key fob in a Faraday pouch, which blocks electromagnetic signals, offers further protection. These pouches may come with your vehicle or can be purchased separately, providing an extra layer of security against keyless theft.

Lastly, we would like to add:

Transmitter pockets are specialized compartments for key fobs, enabling engine start-up even when the fob's

The specific placement of the transmitter pocket varies by vehicle. Still, it is commonly found within the center console or adjacent to the cupholder on the driver’s side.

Moreover, should you need to replace your key fob, reprogramming the new one is necessary, often requiring specialized tools, scan tools, or the assistance of a locksmith to complete the programming process.

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