Friday, 11 December 2009


No, please keep on reading, this isn't a rant about Brussels interfering with our lives. Honestly, this is a much more intriguing local story.

We've had some issues relating to car remote controls. Mrs Troy's in particular has been playing up and she has taken to keeping a spare remote with her after changing the battery in the remote yet continuing to have problems. Last weekend she spoke with the neighbour on our left and he said that his remote wasn't working and he suspected someone was using a "remote blocker". When Mrs Troy relayed this news to me I just shrugged as I thought it was a quite far fetched notion.

Mrs Troy then noticed that another neighbour, across and down the road, who has remote controlled gates, was leaving their gates open which was most unusual. However with the cold weather and the dark evenings we didn't see them to query it. Last night Mrs Troy noticed that the next door neighbour to our right, who also has electric gates, had left their car out on the road overnight. At this stage you are probably imagining Mrs Troy to be like the neighbour in "Bewitched", always peering out from behind the curtains. That's a little unfair, she's just quite observant. It's more Neighbourhood Watch rather than Neighbourhood Witch.

This afternoon Mrs Troy saw that our neighbour was approaching her car, parked on the road, so she dashed out of the house (pink slippers a blur) and she asked her if she was having problems with her remote control. It seems they couldn’t get their gates to open despite having four remote control units. I was beginning to see a common theme developing here!

So Mrs Troy knocks on the door of the neighbour who lives immediately opposite us (this is someone I haven't mentioned so far). She told Mrs Troy that her husband had been having problems with his car's remote control but every time he had taken it to the BMW garage it had worked there.

Let's recap. Our car remotes play up. The neighbour to our left - his car remote doesn't work. The electric gates of the neighbour to our right won't open by remote. The neighbour directly opposite us has problems with his car remote but it works elsewhere. The neighbour further down the road also has problems with their remote controlled gates. Yes there is definitely a common theme working (or not working) here.

Mrs Troy phoned the local District Council and got put through to Environmental Health. They were puzzled and had never heard of a problem like this before. They couldn't help her. I've Googled "remote interference" and the only thing I can find is OFCOM but their website just refers to interference affecting TVs and radios. There’s nothing on their website about car and gate remote controls.

Its Friday teatime (5pm) and I doubt I'll get any answers from anywhere any time soon. That's unless via the power of the World Wide Web any of my readers can shed any light on this intrigue. Any clues anybody? HELP!!


Elaine said...


You could try this:

Troy said...

Elaine - That is a fascinating clip - with an eighteen year old Jeremy Clarkson and a twelve year old Richard Hammond. I'll try using my head next time and see if that works.

DJ Kirkby said...

Well how odd. I think the easiest solution would be for you to move to our area where there are no gated houses or garages :@

Debs said...

It all sounds very strange.

Where I live people have been complaining for the past year or so that they've been woken by strange humming sound. I haven't heard a thing though, thankfully.

HelenMHunt said...

Very spooky. Do let us know when you figure out what's going on.

Troy said...

DJ - that sounds a bit of a drastic solution. Its not as grand here as the electric gates might suggest.

Debs - that humming sounds decidely odd. (Well obviously I haven't heard it, I mean just the concept).

Helen - yes I'll let everyone know. I suspect it might be the UFO hovering over the house (no, I'm just being silly!).

Anonymous said...

No clues from Northumberland. It does sound very odd.

CJ xx

Catharine Withenay said...

All very peculiar. When things don't work in our house I usually blame the children. Or my husband. Or, in fact, anyone but me.

But I'm fairly confident they are not responsible for your current problems!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Bloody hell, Troy, you're all posh, remote gates indeed. Might be worth taking the remote to Portman Road to get them to do what YOU want for a change!

Troy said...

CJ - Well I think we can rule out farm equipment.

Catharine - as we only have one child it would seem rather unfair to blame everything on him.

Ken - we don't have any electric gates. You must be psychic as I took the remote to PR last Saturday and it worked : 3-1!

Mike said...

Troy, came across your blog after witnessing the exact same thing. Ill detail what's been happening:
This morning at 2am our wireless doorbell went off, and didn't stop ringing until someone had to get up and pull it from the power connection.
Secondly, at 6am in the morning I was preparing the car to drive to the start of a local bike race. The car remote failed to unlock the car. At first I assumed the worst (that the battery in the car had gone), but after using the actual key in the door the car opened fine and the engine could be started.
Then, just as I was about to leave the house, the remote gates did not work, and I had to open them manually.
My wife at this point was awake and tried to unlock her car with the remote, which too failed.

The strange thing is however, when my wife left the house to meet me for breakfast after the race, both the car remote and gates worked fine.
Not sure about the neighbours, it was too early to check. This is the first time this has occured.

Seems like we aren't the only ones however.

Judging by the fact that this was over 6 months ago, the problem (I hope for your sake) is probably over.

Anonymous said...

This also happened to me today. My car remote wasnt working and unlocking the car manually caused the car alarm to sound. The bizzare part was that i was parked at a shopping centre and several people were experiencing the same issue with their remotes at the same time. Car alarms were going off all around us but some other people had no problems unlocking or starting their cars.This continued for about 20 mins when suddenly all the car alarms stopped and the remotes began functioning again. It was weird enough already but 100 meters away there was also a major car crash involving a BMW at the same time the remotes stopped working. I wonder if all the emergency vehicles had anything to do with the remote interference?

Bik said...

I have exactly the same issue. Gate remote doesnt work - car remote the same. Seems to be intermittent.

The one thing i have found out is taht there is a high voltage cable running under the street where I live. I suspect it is to do with the electo-magnetic interference cased by the current passing through the cable outside.

My concern is taht, if the remotes are affected in this way, what is the effect on me and my family?

Tim Moore said...

Interference to remote controls happens frequently, and can happen anywhere, at any time.

There is a high likelyhood that the remotes that seem to be affected operate on a highly interference-prone radio frequency.

Remote controls that use the 433 MHz radio frequency are highly prone to interference, because the frequency is used by other services that are licensed to be operating there and are legal. These other services include military radars and other radiolocation systems, as well as radio two way communications and the Amateur radio service.
433 MHz remote systems are also affected seriously by all two way radio and data systems in the 400 MHz radio spectrum.
All of these licensed services were operating on this frequency band long before remotes began using 433 MHz.

One thing to note is that so called license free devices, such as garage door and car locking remotes are not allowed to cause interference to licensed services, including licensed services operating on the same radio frequency, and must accept interference from any source, so there's no protection from interference for these devices.

Basically, if it doesn't work, there's nothing you can do apart from live with it.

Proir to approximately 2000, car manufacturers and manufacturers of this type of equipment use the 304 MHz radio frequency which is much less prone to interference issues.

In Australia that automotive industry was warned that using the 433 MHz frequency would be highly problematic, but they went ahead and used 433 MHz anyway. Many Asian manauacturers now use that frequency.

It's interesting to note that in Europe now that manufacturers are now using other frequencies for remotes because of the interference issues on 433 MHz.

I'm a radio communications engineer and I've looked at this problem after having seen it widely.

Anonymous said...

Has there ever been any solution to this. It's happening near my girlfriends house in Wigston, Leicester, England. Both my car and my girlfriends stop working near her house but are fine elsewhere. We asked one of the neighbours earlier and he has had the same problem

Troy said...

It was tracked down to a neighbour's electronic item. He had a transmitter that sent TV signals wirelessly to other TVs in his house. The electronic item was faulty. Another neighbour called out someone (council or BT I forget) who tracked down the problem.

Dan Stefanov said...

Same thing happens to me for second time, my car's central locking fob is not working when I park my car by the Botswana embassy (opposite Bond Street Tube Station) in London. I'm 100% sure there is some unknown interference in this area.

君子之风 said...

I got no idea about Auto Gates

Anonymous said...

The same has just happened to me .
I live in Sydney in Australia
stopped by my gate and tried to open it with my remote - it didn't work - I got out of the car and still couldn't open it so got back inside my car to go to get a new battery and my car remote did not work .
I Pressed all the buttons on the remote and in the car but
it seemed the car s electrics weren't working .
We almost died from heat ( 29 degrees c outside but way hotter in the car) being locked in the car while I was holding for the BM W emergency service guys to respond .
Then after about 8 mins which seemed like an eternity it started to work again.
The Bmw guys looked at the key remotes and the car but it was fine .
As I was leaving one of the service guys asked me if there was an electrical pole near our gate ....
Yes! New neighbours had installed one a week ago !!!
It's huge and more than likely the culprit .

Anonymous said...

Here's the text of an email I sent to a few friends on May 6th 2010

Just wanted to record what happened when Sue & I got home this evng (about 21:40)

First, Sue's car wouldn't lock via its remote. Never happened before. I assumed its battery had died.
Livingroom lights remote wouldn't work either. tried bathroom lights remote (totally different system and remote). they wouldn't work either (not any of the 8 settings).

Tried our bedroom remote which controls a fan and light (different non-interfering again). The fan came on but the light would flash on, then off. (Never, ever, happened before. Couldn't get it to stay on.

Oh, by the way. When I went upstairs to try these remotes out, the landing light bulb blew.

Tried TV remotes and Conservatory remotes. TV remotes OK. conservatory - a noticeable 'hesitation'.

Then tried Sue's car again. It worked.

Called to Sue. Bathroom remote OK normal again. I tried livingroom remote again. Its OK too.

Decided to sit down and write this email. one of those big RAF 4-prop silent-running transporters just went over, very low.

Your guess is as good as mine. But first you must dismiss coincidence - or Sue and I being jointly and temporarily insane.

My guess is some sort of radar/radio saturation.

Any other thoughts - gratefully received.

Here is the text of an email I similarly sent 27 May 2015

Trev - it’s happening again over the last two days but more intermittently – and not noticed the RAF yet...

Yesterday and today morning none of the bathroom stuff on the remote would respond (3 sets of lights, a wall fire and extractor fan). Our bedroom fan won’t respond. The Conservatory remote works intermittently. The rechargeable telephone handsets (3) keep discharging (never before) and have to be recharged after about 30mins use. Didn’t use the car yesterday but had to drive Sue to work this morning. Key remote wouldn’t work – had to open manually. Checked when I got into town and dropped Sue – key remote back to normal. Got home. Not working.
Radio reception and non-HD TV in the kitchen is wonky – although all HD TV channels are fine. When I have the Humax system display signal strength the wonky channels show the usual 80+% strength and 100% quality. Then Q drops to 50% or 40% for about a quarter of a second every 3 or 4 seconds – which is how the sound and picture breaks up.
Not yet seen green lights in the sky and Charlie floating ten feet up.

My best thought (ONLY thought) is still those RAF training flights. Our house seems to be a marker point and fairly often has those huge transport prop planes (amongst other stuff) flying over Very Low and on silent running. This is combat mode and I can imagine they’d ‘sweep’ an area before flying over it if they could.

Not all this is answered by radio jamming as far as I know. Batteries draining. Light bulbs popping (not noticed that this time)

Since sending this last email the problem has continued. I should have clarified that radio remotes are the sufferers. Infrareds all OK.

I've also established that most of the remotes haven't fully stopped working - rather their range is dramatically reduced (like a foot or so - an inch or so in some cases).

I live in a very rural area of England close to the mid Wales border. Very quiet and no candidate sources recently installed - to my knowledge.

My broadband wireless router (FritzBox!) logs diagnostics of 'events', one of which is the cause of it switching frequences when its preferred one becomes 'busy' or otherwise inopperative. I've discovered those logs (which you have to dig in to see) show multiple frequency switching. The reason given in capital letters is RADAR.

Anonymous said...

We had a problem in our street which seemed to centre around our house where our car remote, and the car remotes belonging to the people directly opposite us and our neighbours either side . All cars could be locked and unlocked using the remotes when moved out of our street.

The problem turned out to be a wireless outside temperature sensor which sent info to an inside weather station for reading outside temperatures. Water had got into it and caused a malfunction. I took the batteries out and the car remotes started to work again. I took the sensor to work to show someone and Found that it affected most cars in the car park. It seems that BMW' s were the only cars not affected.

Hope this helps someone

Neil. B

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