Skip to main content

Toyota Plans To Get More With This Latest Trick

Need a good reason for buying that used older model Toyota at today’s inflated prices? Discover how Toyota is planning on getting more of its customers with its latest model cars.


Subscription Service Key Fob Trick

First, I would like to begin by stating here and now that I like the cars Toyota makes. When I was an undergraduate with a wife, and a child on the way, it was a Toyota Corolla that carried us to school, to work, to daycare, to summer and winter break cross country family road trips (in-laws included) for more miles than I can remember today.

In fact, I used to defend the purchasing of my Corolla to our neighborhood WWII vets who derided me for buying a Toyota after what they went through during the war fought by the Greatest Generation---my dad included.

Not one to argue with vets and having served in the military myself, I told them it was simple economics. If GM could make me a good family car I could buy under $10K brand new that was known to run for a minimum of 200,000 miles---without expecting any major repairs---I would buy into baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet as well. But, I was struggling to make ends meet back then.

That said to clarify that this is not a Toyota hate piece, I do, however, have issues with the news that Toyota is planning on charging its car buyers with a subscription key fob service that will be required if you want to use a feature like remote-start.

According to a recent article penned by writer Rob Stumpf for The Drive:

A Toyota spokesperson confirmed to The Drive that if a 2018 or later Toyota is equipped with Toyota's Remote Connect functions, the vehicle must be enrolled in a valid subscription in order for the key fob to start the car remotely.”

In other words, you will have to pay-to-play using the Toyota fob proximity-based RF remote start system if you want to start your car remotely on a cold morning to warm it up before exiting your house.

What makes this egregious is that this is not like having to pay for a service like Sirius that requires a fairly-charged digital connection if you want to enjoy the service. Rather, the point is made that the fob uses simple radio waves (like your garage door opener) to communicate with the car, “…with no connection back to Toyota's servers needed.”

A Warning That This is The Future for Car Buyers

For more about why Toyota is doing this and what it means to future car buyers, here is a recent video that discusses it in more depth by the Steve Lehto YouTube channel:

Toyota Plans to Charge You to Use Your Key Fob

And finally…

So, there we have it. Will this prove to be just a bad idea by a good car company, or is this really just what we can expect in the very near future as another part of the price of owning a car?

Send us your thoughts: Let us know what you think about Toyota’s plan in the comments section below. Will these kind of tactics change your car buying preferences?

Related article: Toyota Service Department Mechanic Explains Latest Car Dealership Scams

For additional articles about nebulous car practices that affect car owners check out these two selected articles on how it Turns Out Tesla Owners Technically Do Not Own Their Cars; and, how This Garage Could Save You Thousands of Dollars When Things Go Wrong With Your Tesla.”

COMING UP NEXT: Rattle Can Repair Scam Warning for Used Car Shoppers

Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

Image Source: Courtesy of Pixabay


jg (not verified)    December 15, 2021 - 11:33AM

I’ve been wondering how much of this practice is going to carry over into the Solterra. Subaru has been charging for their Starlink service in my household since 2014 (across 10 or so vehicles) and provides little to no value except for the remote start in my wife’s latest Forster. Now with the increased push to capitalize on revenue from captive customers (which amounts to extortion) my biggest concern (as a Subaru customer wanting an EV) is how much monthly pay-for functionality is going to get “designed into” these vehicles. I was very excited to see the Volvo XC40 until they announced all the Google integration. That kills the entire line of Volvo and Polestar vehicles for me, as I am not intentionally feeding that corporate data-mining operation one bit.

Timothy Boyer    December 15, 2021 - 8:12PM

In reply to by jg (not verified)

My bet is that unless car buyers start pushing back, it's going to get worse---a lot worse. Just like with anything else, if there are no repercussions for bad behavior---especially when it makes money---there's no stopping it. This really ties into the Right to Repair debate where car owners are losing control over the vehicles they buy. Oh well. Thanks for the input---much appreciated.

JO (not verified)    April 27, 2023 - 12:25AM

In reply to by jg (not verified)

Toyota is holding me hostage by allowing me to use certain features like remote start and safety and security features only if I pay a monthly fee for an app that has only worked about half as long as I have owned my 2019 Rav4, that I bought brand new, literally off the showroom floor. Features that normally work for decades like an old transistor radio are not only unreliable with the new Toyota cars, but that Toyota has the audacity to charge for. This one thing aline has me doubting my relationship with Toyota will last beyond this vehicle. Even the technical support for Toyota Connected Services is a joke. The whole thing is disrespectful and a dishonorable way to treat customers who are spending a lot of money; A car is a large expenditure for most people. Toyota ought to be legally penalized for charging their customers to use features equipped in a vehicle that they own, for those services or equipment to be commonly defective without remedies, and for providing inadequate or no support for the defective services or equipment that carries a monthly or annual fee for the customer to have reliable access and use of.