Radio Interference: Carstairs vehicles not starting

There’s a bit of a mystery brewing in a small central Alberta community that’s been traced to the parking lot of a grocery store and is causing mayhem with key remotes.

About three weeks ago, people who parked at the Co-op grocery store in Carstairs found out the hard way that something was awry with their keys when they tried to lock or unlock their vehicles.

“We were notified approximately three weeks ago from a number of guests having difficulties with their remotes. It was a mystery at that point,” says Stephen Kennedy, asset protection manager with Co-op.

Key fobs of drivers who park at the Co-op grocery store in Carstairs are being affected by a strange phenomenon.

The perplexed drivers, struggling with the malfunctioning remotes, often ended up setting off their own car alarms and were unable to shut them off.

Kristina Kapeller, who co-owns an auto repair shop across the street, says drivers often come over for help.

“They come over because their alarms are going off. They go off about six to eight times minimum. They come over and they say my vehicle won’t detect my key so we have to come over.”

Kapeller says that it mainly seems to be Dodge vehicles that are affected, but it does happen in other makes too.

“Any vehicle that has a push start seems to be affected but Dodge seems to be the one. All the ones that we had to help so that their key stopped beeping at them have been Dodge.”

Over the past two weeks, she says she’s helped about two dozen people with their stubborn key fobs.

“I helped a lady who was in her 80s and a couple in their 20s who didn’t know what was going on and they panicked.”

Shirley MacRae, driving in from Calgary, says she experienced the strange issue with her brand new Hyundai on Thursday morning.

“I got out and I locked it and I thought ‘I had better get my iPhone’, so I went back and I had to press the fob like four times to get in on that side which is abnormal, really. I don’t know what happened.”

Kennedy says they’ve been in contact with the province, but the issue likely has to do with the radio frequencies the remotes use to communicate with their associated vehicles. However, what’s disrupting that connection remains a mystery.

“We’ve exhausted all of the things that we have control over, so now it’s just waiting for the ministry to come out with the right tools and technology to see if they can pinpoint it.”

Businesses in the vicinity will be executing another plan to try and track down where the signal is coming from. On Thursday evening, each one will shut off their power one at a time to see if any of them are to blame.

Even if they don’t manage to learn anything, Kapeller will continue to help out where she can.

“I just feel bad because I’ve been in a situation where my vehicle wouldn’t start or whatever the case is and people just look at you and let you sit there. I don’t want people to be like that.”


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