Caravan Rear Entry

Caravan Rear Entry
What is the range of a remote entry system for an automobile?

I just had a remote entry system installed in my 2001 Caravan and it won’t work unless I’m about four feet from the driver’s door. When I try to unlock the rear hatch, I have to go up near the front of the car before the doors unlock. If I have to get that close, I might as well go another few feet and put the key in the lock. I called the installer and they told me that remote entry systems aren’t supposed to work at a distance, that’s for alarm systems or remote start systems. This sounds like bull to me. Is it?

It is true that range isn’t considered as important with keyless entry systems as remote start systems. With remote starts, you want to be able to start your car while you stay in your nice warm house. With a keyless entry system, it’s enough that you can unlock it by the time you walk up to it.

However, most after-market keyless entry systems have a better range than you’re describing. The only time I’ve seen range as bad as that was in a factory system that used an infrared remote (like a TV remote controller). You can look for the antenna; there will either be a separate antenna piece made to stick to the upper part of the windshield (in which case your range should definitely be better than what you’ve described) or, more commonly, what will look like a piece of wire extending from the “brain” of the keyless entry unit.

You should be able to see the “brain” by looking up under your dash; you’ll probably find it zip-tied to factory wiring or structure…there’s no reason why it would be hidden. The antenna shouldn’t be coiled or bunched up; it should be extended to its full length, not pinched or shorted, and preferably kept away from metal (obviously it’s impossible to keep it completely clear of metal under the dash, but it shouldn’t be taped up to a metal brace for its entire length, for example.

Do you know the brand and model of your keyless entry system?