Keyless entry is a standard feature in vehicles that have installed alarm systems. A small, battery-operated device or remote hangs on the key chain and features one or more buttons for arming and disarming the alarm. The button operates the door locks as well. When the driver approaches the car, a press of the button will not only disarm the alarm, but unlock the driver's door, making it unnecessary to use a key.
Another type of keyless entry popular in the 1980s used a keypad at the door handle. The keypad was not necessarily tied into an alarm and was simply a convenience feature. By entering a personal, preprogrammed code into the pad, the owner could unlock the doors without a key. This allowed quick entry to the vehicle, and it also made it easy to retrieve the keys if they were accidentally locked in the car.
Today, most vehicles use remote alarm systems for keyless entry, making keypads unnecessary. The remote has several advantages over keypad entry, including the fact that pushing a button is easier and quicker than using a keypad, and it doesn't require remembering a code. With a remote, the vehicle can also be unlocked from a distance, as the signal travels 30 feet (9 m) or more. As a result, it's also called "remote entry."
When a driver is approaching his car and feels threatened in any way, unlocking the car before he reaches it allows him instant entry. Once inside, another push of the button locks the doors. Most systems also have an emergency button on the remote, and pressing it will cause the alarm to sound, attracting attention and potentially scaring off potential thugs.
In most cases, however, a keyless entry system is simply extremely convenient. When a driver's hands are full of groceries, hardware, or even toddlers, a push of the button unlocks the doors and optionally, the trunk. This feature is especially nice in the rain. It also makes locking the doors easier.
Some advanced models offer a feature called "remote starting." This allows the driver to start the engine with a push of a button on the remote while the vehicle remains locked. The car parked in the driveway could be started from inside a house, for example, and by the time the driver gets in the car, the engine (and the inside of the car) will be warm. For people who live in the heat, remote starting can allow the air conditioning to cool the car before the driver enters, too.
Keyless entry is a standard feature on most new vehicles. If it is not included, it can be added later by having an alarm system installed that features it. Different alarm systems come with a range of features, and prices vary accordingly.