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Subaru’s PIN Code Entry Is a Great Feature More People Should Know About

A numeric-code lock is a nifty feature for when you'd rather leave your keys in the car.

Sometimes, you want to lock your car up but don’t have anywhere to leave your keys. Perhaps you’re going to the beach, taking a run, or heading into battle, and you’d rather not carry them around. A few automakers have addressed this problem, but I like Subaru’s sneaky little solution.

Ford is best known for its work in this area. Its SecuriCode B-pillar entry keypad has been available for decades, and GM has such a system for its own vehicles more recently. Subaru didn’t want something as overt and obvious as a keypad hanging off the exterior of its vehicles, though. Instead, it allows the entry of a numeric code via the trunk latch button for an altogether more stealthy entry.

Since proximity keys are a big thing these days (many new cars unlock when its key simply comes near it), using Subaru’s PIN-code entry system first requires disabling keyfob access. Otherwise, anyone could get in with the key left in the car. This is achieved by pressing a particular button combination on the keyfob and locking the doors manually. To get back into the car, it’s as simple as entering a five-digit PIN using the rear hatch button. Since there’s no keypad, repeat button presses are used to enter the code. For example, for the code “32121”, the first digit would be entered by pressing three times, at which point a chirp will sound indicating the user should enter the next digit, and so on.

It’s fussier than using a simple keypad, but definitely a useful feature. It lets Subaru owners avoid awkwardly stashing their keys in their shoes at the beach, which alone is huge. It’s also great for sports like mountain biking or kayaking, where the chances of damaging a keyfob are relatively high. Subaru owners are well-known for their love of the outdoors, after all.

It’s a great example of a low development-lift feature. Fundamentally, everything necessary for PIN code entry is already a part of the car. All it takes to implement is a few lines of software on the car’s body computer to read the code from the trunk button and unlock the doors. It’s perhaps surprising these neat little easter eggs aren’t more common in the industry.

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The only thing we can’t figure out is why this feature isn’t more well-known. According to one source, the feature has been available on all Subarus built with the Keyless Access system since 2015. It goes to show that reading your owner’s manual is often a great way to learn about the finer details of your car. If you’ve used the system, let us know how it works in practice in the comments.

Got a tip? Let the author know: lewin@thedrive.com