Hooniverse Asks: Key or Fob, Which is the Worse Pocket Protuberance?

Remote-Key-for-Car-Alarm
I have five running automobiles in my possession, and four of those are daily drivers. Fortunately I have an amazingly long driveway for suburbia. Having all these cars means a lot of jockeying for position or moving three cars when you need to access the fourth, and that means carrying around a pocketful of keys and fobs.
Our mechanical menagerie has both. Our Audi has the standard switchblade style combined unit while the rest of the cars have fobs that are separate from the actual keys. After a while of dealing with both forms, I have to say I can’t come to a decision as to which is better. The benefit of the single key and control in a unit is the lack of dangling elements interfering with your knee while the key is in the ignition. The downside is that they tend to be fatter than a separate fob, ruining my girlish figure when in a pants pocket.
Do you have this same conundrum, or do I just have too much time on my hands? What do you think is better, an all-in-one key and controller, or a separate key and fob?
Image: 24-7mobilelocksmith

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  1. engineerd Avatar
    engineerd

    The answer is neither and both…when the fob is the key.
    http://replacecarkey.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/bmw-key-fob.jpg

    1. Vairship Avatar
      Vairship

      Hopefully there’s still a real key somewhere for when the battery goes dead in either car or fob. 😉

  2. 0A5599 Avatar
    0A5599

    My Thunderbird had a toggle switch for ON and a pushbutton for START. Simple.

  3. smalleyxb122 Avatar
    smalleyxb122

    Either is fine. What sucks is when they are combined to give you the disadvantages of both. Exhibit A (no, the key does not retract into the fob in any way):
    http://www.contemporarycorvette.com/site_assets/images/products/2015-02-26%2014.27.40%20(640×361).jpg
    Pagani has what is simultaneously the coolest and dumbest key/fob.
    https://vktailormade.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/pagani-huayra-key-video-05_800.jpg

    1. kogashiwa Avatar
      kogashiwa

      I have this style and am completely okay with it.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar
        Sjalabais

        That’s actually the only part in our Canry that’s broken in two out of three cases. Dunno why we have three keys btw.

        1. kogashiwa Avatar
          kogashiwa

          Neither of mine broken yet, but the battery in one gave up a few weeks ago.

    2. engineerd Avatar
      engineerd

      This is how my wife’s key is. Giant fob for the 50 different functions it can perform, plus a non-retractable key. Talk about ruining my curves in my skinny jeans!

  4. theskitter Avatar

    Let’s see, keys are smaller, use no batteries, take much longer to wear out, avoid the action/reaction delay, why would I need my own window to be powered, save the manuals, get off my lawn.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      I thought the same until I discovered the decadent luxury of walking up to my car and pressing a couple of buttons to unlock it and start it without ever having to reach into my pocket. Its a perk I like perhaps a bit more than I would have ever expected.

      1. theskitter Avatar

        But don’t you have to reach into your pocket to get the thing with the buttons, or are you talking about the Town Cow?

        1. Tanshanomi Avatar

          I now have a little push-button built into the door handle to unlock it, and a button on the dash to start it. I never have to touch the fob.

          1. wunno sev Avatar
            wunno sev

            oh god this feature is so NICE
            my Fiesta has it and keys feel like such a primitive thing to deal with now. i might have to change a battery in a few years, and idgaf. worth it.

    2. Vairship Avatar
      Vairship

      Some of us are lucky enough to have an old Chevy with TWO keys: one for the door lock, and a different one for the ignition. Makes it harder on car thieves, I guess?

  5. Alff Avatar
    Alff

    Keep ’em separate so I can go old school without the added doohickey when the remote eventually fails. Bigger problem for me – getting everyone to return their key to the communal rack, on the right hook, to facilitate moving cars around the drive.

  6. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar
    BigRedCaveTroll

    I carry my truck key by itself, so it sits nice and flat in my pocket. The only other key-related things I carry are my house key and a P38 can opener on a keyring. I used to carry a flat version of my car key in my wallet in case I locked myself out, but I can’t find someone to cut me a flat Nissan key. My wife’s key for her Fit is bulky enough that it might as well have an integral key fob. Fob? FOB? Does it stand for something?

    1. The Real Number_Six Avatar
      The Real Number_Six

      Say this with an Irish accent: effin oul bollocks

    2. ptschett Avatar
      ptschett

      Apparently it comes from a German word for pocket.

      1. nanoop Avatar
        nanoop

        I’d doubt that. My inner ethymologist can’t find any matches.

        1. ptschett Avatar
          ptschett

          Per this (on the internet! it must be true!) it could be from a regional dialect or Low German: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=fob
          (aber, Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut…)

          1. nanoop Avatar
            nanoop

            Listen, I’m a random dude on the internet, so I must be right: as online wisdom knows, any random dude overrides dedicated authors of informative web pages.
            I get the verb ‘foppen’ (to prank, cheat), but I am more of an engineer, not a linguist, so I better shut up now.

  7. Frank T. Cat Avatar
    Frank T. Cat

    When the key is a giant bulky hunk of plastic, and the two button remote is even bulkier, and they don’t easily lie flat in the pocket… thanks, SAAB:

    View post on imgur.com

  8. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    My Lotus has 4 keys, one each for the doors, ignition, glove box and trunk. They look similar so there is some fumbling going on.

    1. Alff Avatar
      Alff

      Complicate and add keys.

      1. nanoop Avatar
        nanoop

        Chapman? Yes, Graham.

    2. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      dead_elvis, inc.

      I had a similar situation with a VW Squareback that was assembled from multiple parts cars. Fortunately, I never had anything of value inside and rarely bothered to lock the doors, and carried only the ignition & driver’s door keys.

  9. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Well, since I display my Rover keys proudly on a six carat gold chain around my neck for all to see and respect, I don’t see what the issue is.

    1. nanoop Avatar
      nanoop

      Are people excited or disappointed when they see it’s not for a 75?

    2. Alff Avatar
      Alff

      Is it a Rover or a Chavrolet?

  10. JayP Avatar
    JayP

    I’ve got a key for the truck, a key and fob for the big car and a combo for the Mustang.
    No matter the format, the ability to show up lost is remarkable.

  11. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar
    BigRedCaveTroll

    I’m gonna go ahead and use this post to rant about something that’s always bugged me. When I was younger and somewhat wild I had a 2005 Corvette, and the entrance/exit setup and that car always bugged me. It had what were basically switches instead of door handles, and there was no keyhole in the doors. It just had a fob for getting in and out and starting it. It did have a provision for a key, but what you had to do was go around to the hatch, pop it open, and then pull a cord and the door would pop open, but then you’d have to index the windows after starting it. Why on God’s Green Earth would you design such a complex system on a car that’s supposed to be oriented towards simplified, affordable performance? I never understood why they chose to do it like that and was always irked by it when I had some alternator/battery problems I was trying to chase down.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Because ‘Vette, that’s why.

  12. ptschett Avatar
    ptschett

    I’ve had ’em all: just keys (the ’73 Cougar I had in high school), keys with separate fob (’96 Thunderbird), fob with a key sticking out of it (’05 Dakota), fob that has to be inserted into an ignition switch in the dash (traded-in ’10 Challenger), fob that can stay in your pocket (’15 Challenger). Each individually is fine, but the annoyance for me is when I *have* to be carrying two fobs (e.g. the Dakota & Challenger both need to be moved.)

  13. nanoop Avatar
    nanoop

    Remote unlock and opening the rear hatch are great. Starting by turning a key is fine for me, too. Consequently, the VW cluster’s folding key is fine.
    What I hate are hidden functions, called by double clicking or pressing the button longer than x. There is no standard, and the effect is great when the toddler in the house finds out how to open all windows of the rental remotely… In the rain.

    1. ptschett Avatar
      ptschett

      I miss the hidden function from my 2010 Challenger: pressing unlock, letting go, then pressing & holding it again would lower the windows till you let off the button, if you timed the initial press-unpress-press right (which was the hard part.) It was great on hot summer days so it was less of an oven when getting in.

      1. nanoop Avatar
        nanoop

        I would not be surprised if you had to order buttons labelled CTRL and ‘Shift’ soon.

        1. Vairship Avatar
          Vairship

          Whatever you do, don’t hit the button marked ‘DEL’!

  14. Sjalabais Avatar
    Sjalabais

    So who can identify the keys above by brand without cheating? I am shocked to realize how few of the keys above I can identify, and will drown my car guy sorrow in nice and light Weizen instantly while playing WoWS.

    1. Texlenin Avatar
      Texlenin

      World of Warships? Ever watch “The Mighty Jingles” on the Tub of ewe?

      1. Sjalabais Avatar
        Sjalabais

        Yes, great channel! You?

  15. Preludacris Avatar

    I don’t like fobs or oversized modern keys.
    This is all I want, thanks:
    http://www.logitechcanadasales.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/3391-22.jpg
    (but, you know, cut for my car)

    1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      1. ConstantReader Avatar
        ConstantReader

        That’s actually the valet key for an old Volvo. Only opens the driver’s door and starts the car. It’s the one you leave with the valet. The other (bigger) one locks the glove box and opens the passenger door for mi’lady.

        1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
          dead_elvis, inc.

          That’s not been true of any of the half-dozen 140/240s I’ve owned, nor for any of the others that my extended family has had over the last 30+ years.

          1. ConstantReader Avatar
            ConstantReader

            It’s true for the 700 and 900 series Volvos that I’ve owned.

    2. ninjabortion Avatar
      ninjabortion

      Key is too pretty, make the cylinders match those smooth smooth lines. I dig my old honda motorcycle key like this pic i found, really like the odd holes in it.

      View post on imgur.com

  16. Scoutdude Avatar
    Scoutdude

    Back in the days before remotes and transponders I had a locksmith cut each side of a Ford key separately so one key fit two cars. Filled a little notch on one side so I knew which was was up for each car.
    Now I have 2 cars that take the same key, and for a short while 3, benefits of buying your ex feet vehicles from on organization and that they check the “fleet key” option when they order their Fords.
    As far as the root question goes it is nice to have them separate so that it is cheaper to get the 3rd key to have in case one is lost and I need to program the car again.

    1. Hatchtopia Avatar

      I was the guy who operated the key machine at the grocery store I worked at in high school. So when I got myself a replacement key for my Prizm, I notched one side to indicate which way the ignition cylinder liked to be entered. One of that car’s few quirks.

  17. salguod Avatar

    I’m in the same position, 5 cars & 4 dailies. Right now, 2 of them are street parked. In the new house, there’ll be enough driveway space for all of them. But, shortly after moving in my 2 oldest are moving into an apartment together, taking 2 cars with them.
    The Prius has a fob that is the key. Normally, you walk up to the car with the key in your pocket and grab the handle and it unlocks, push the dash button and it starts. If the smart key system is off or the fob battery is dead, there’s a slot in the dash for the fob.
    The other 3 have normal keys & fobs. I like the Prius system, but the fob works fine too. So does the old fashioned key, like the T’bird has, for that matter.

  18. SlowJoeCrow Avatar
    SlowJoeCrow

    The rise of fobs and bulky fob/key combos show a major blind spot in the design because they don’t consider the possibility that you have more than one car. I used to walk around with the plain old keys for 3 vehicles in my pocket but just try doing that now.
    I think what we need is is a universal car remote with several slots to accept something like a SIM card for each car. Then you can have one device for many vehicles. Of course this breaks somebody’s rice bowl and requires competitors to cooperate, so don’t hold your breath.

    1. Scoutdude Avatar
      Scoutdude

      Back when aftermarket remote start systems were becoming common I put some in my wife’s car and my daily driver. I had the top of the line units that also added remote locks and trunk/hatch. They also had a button to switch between up to 4 different signals. So I fob worked both cars. Each of us had a fob with the 1st setting programmed to our own car and the second to the other”s car.
      On vehicles with a separate fob and key I have programed 2 cars to accept the same fob for my wife so it worked on her DD and the family truckster. Now when she was at home she had to remember to lock the other car back up. I considered getting a key cut with different sides and programming both cars to accept it as a 4th key but figured she would be more likely to complain about the fact that she had to have the right way up more than she would for the one less key on her chain. I did program the remote at her request after she said I just one one remote that works on both vehicles so I don’t have as much crap on my key chain. Of course that only works within the same generation of a given mfg, so you cant program your Chevy to listen to a Toyota fob.

    2. Vairship Avatar
      Vairship

      Pretty soon, I’m sure there;ll be a cell hone maker that’ll allow you to use your phone as a fob key.

  19. outback_ute Avatar
    outback_ute

    The worst case I’ve come across was a hire car in the US where they had both keys and fobs all joined together with a steel cable plus a big plastic tag/label. They would barely fit in your pocket at all let alone comfortably. I gather they don’t want to deal with the second key, but surely throwing it in the trash would be better than this!

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