Technology creeps up on us. As much as we pooh pooh some of the excess complications and learning challenges there are certain technologies that we quickly adapt to. How did we even live without that? I suppose those are the ones we never knew we needed until we got a taste of the convenience (remote starting) or comfort (seat heating).
When it comes to our automobiles a lot of us are getting quite used to not having to put a key in the door to open it and now even putting a key in the ignition to start the darn thing. The latest technology lets us walk up to our vehicle with the key in our pocket. Touch the door handle and it unlocks and opens. Sit in the driver’s seat and push the button to start it. You may even have remote started the vehicle and everything is ready to just drive away.
If you own one of these keyless entry push button start vehicles, and you keep it more than a couple of years, one day you will get locked out by a dead battery. Or maybe your fob battery goes dead and you can’t unlock the vehicle to get in.
Yes, when the vehicle battery is discharged enough (or completely dead) you can’t unlock the doors electrically. You can’t open the hood or trunk either. Your first thought is I need a jump start to do anything but how do I get to the battery? Your fob seemingly has no mechanical key.
Your doors seemingly have no keyholes. “How the heck? Does this mean a tow bill to my mechanic shop? I should have listened to my mechanic when he said my battery was old and it is probably time to change it.”
You’ve got to believe the people who made your vehicle foresaw this exact situation and I can tell you they did. The solution is probably written up in the owner’s manual. You know the one LOCKED UP IN THE GLOVE BOX!
Relax! Breathe! On Star? BCAA? Got a cell phone? Got data? Google it! Most manufacturers now provide owner’s manuals on their websites so you can look up the procedure. That is if you don’t want to use other services.
Rest assured I have yet to find a vehicle that does not come with a mechanical key to get in the door. These mechanical things are just hidden away. The problem is, outta sight, outta mind.
Take a closer look at that fob you carry around. Even when it looks just like a credit card there is still a mechanical key in it. It may even be just a plastic key but it is a key. There may be some tricky little button or latch to slide it out. Once you get it out though where is the keyhole to put it and unlock the door? Again this will take some sleuthing. Most that I have seen are hiding behind a little cover in or around the door handle. It might take some finger nails, a house key or a dime or something to pop it off.
Stick the key in, turn it and voilà. You’re in!
Now where do I jump this thing? Hopefully the owner’s manual is in the glove box.
Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org