A Case Against Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket With Technology in Cars

Waze app used in a car for illustration purposes 20 photos
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube video by Waze
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Three things happened earlier this week that shattered the little faith I had in technology. I am, by no means, an outsider to the world of technology, but I do try to limit its presence in my life to within a reasonable degree.
So no, I do not own or intend to buy an internet-connected fridge. Still, I am OK with adjusting the temperature in the house from my smartphone.

With that out of the way, it is time to note the three things that made me decide against getting a car that I can unlock with just my phone in the next couple of years. I must admit I was not planning to get such a thing anyway, maybe just one of those smart alarms that have an app on my phone, but I did have a couple of preconceived ideas about those, as well.

Earlier this week, you may have read that some Tesla vehicles have a cybersecurity vulnerability since they use BLE, which is Bluetooth Low Energy, to open and start the vehicles. As it turns out, while convenient, the protocol was never meant to be used as a lock. Nevertheless, that did not stop a couple of smart lock companies, Tesla, and a few automakers from doing it.

Also, this week, you may have read about a Land Rover Discovery Sport that was stolen from a private parking lot with a coded gate, but this one was stolen using the relay method, against which there are a few safeguards.

But still, it was taken from a place where it should not have been easy to steal from. The owner did make a note of being aware of a rise in car thefts, as well as refusing to buy a wheel lock. The latter is a theft deterrent on a visual level, as it slows the thieves down, and it may make them walk away from your car and steal the next one they find.

The third event was not in the news, as it involved my phone, which had died despite being just a bit over a year old. While the warranty will cover it, and I am set to get a new one in a couple of days (global chip crisis), my faith in a particular brand has faded.

To prevent any comments on the matter, I am not a fanboy, but I did trust that their products had a superior quality, as my previous two terminals from the same brand still work, one of which after 11 years of use.

While my phone was not operational, and I was walking toward my car, I started thinking just how much I relied on my phone in day-to-day activities. I also use it to play music in my car through Bluetooth, so I also had a quiet ride on my way to the warranty center.

I thanked myself for not getting a device that required my phone to unlock or start my car, as I would have felt rather foolish with a dead phone in my hand and an immobile car in front. That is why it is not a good idea to leave personal belongings in a shared vehicle that you can rent with your phone, for example.

Now, you might say that I am extremely unlucky and that I am pessimistic at the same time. I do not consider myself unlucky, but I admit that I tend to look at the "what could go wrong" part of a situation before the positive side in many scenarios.

Experience has taught me to do so, and it is a tough teacher. I must also note that classes at the school of experience might be expensive.

The level of luck in my life is not that relevant, but seeing my phone (not a cheap one) die while it was still under warranty showed me that I must now rely on it for things that do not involve it.

I have had less than reliable phones in the past, which led me to carry two for a couple of years, but I stopped doing so when I had one that I could trust.

That small unpleasant situation of a dead phone could have been a disaster if I had used my phone to keep my boarding pass on it and did not have a physical copy of it printed with me or if my phone was the only way to get in my car and start it.

The idea here is to do your best to avoid having "all your eggs in one basket." When making a choice, think of what could go wrong and be prepared to handle it.

This goes all the way from going on a track day with a rotary and having no oil with you to ditching conventional car keys for apps. Sometimes, things might not work out as you are used to, and when that does, you need to be ready for it.

I am not suggesting carrying a backup of everything that might fail, as it would be pointless in day-to-day life and only make a difference in a certain scenario.

Instead, I am recommending thinking about all or most of the imaginable outcomes and having a solution for them that you have already thought about. That is better than nothing, and it will make the difference in the heat of the moment.
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Editor's note: For illustration purposes, the photo gallery shows several images of vehicles and smartphones.

About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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