For some, it happens when scratching a frosted window, for others, when taking a moment to take it easy. Best of all, it’s on vacation when the spare keys are a thousand kilometers away. Unintentionally locking your car with the key inside is a fraction of a second, and the solution is neither painless nor cheap. There is only one truly reliable defense. Have the key in your pocket every time, even if you only go out to the trash can.
Unlocking a car is like a handshake. Our first contact with the vehicle. The more comfortable the better. Those who have tried the keyless approach never want to return to the eternal hunt for keys in the depths of handbags, backpacks and pockets.
Even central locking itself meant a huge leap in comfort in its time, let alone with remote control. But it was with him that the locks gained their own reason, which they can turn against us.
Historically, the oldest reason for unintentionally locking the car consisted of ill-conceived control logic or outdated quality of electronics. For cars from the nineties, all you had to do was press the button by mistake while inserting the key into the steering lock.
At other times, the various control units did not agree with each other and the system panicked. After another slam of the door, the car locked, wherever the keys were.
The second opportunity was – and often still is – the pre-programmed locking of the car after a certain period of inactivity. The user should always think about this, but it is the easiest thing to forget when on vacation under the influence of travel stress and children’s tantrums.
Children, including toddlers, should also never get hold of the vehicle key. Curiosity tells them to press every button, so they can trap themselves in a locked car while you stand helplessly outside.
Most remote systems also have a special button for unlocking the trunk. For some, however, it works once, only for one opening. Whoever puts the keys in the trunk and closes it, locks them at the same time. Many were surprised to find out on a business trip when the company car behaved differently than their private car.
More adventures come as the cars age. Most often, the contacts in the door locks wear out and give the wrong information to the control unit. It then considers an open door as closed, so when you actually close it, it locks it again. At the same time, it does not even care that you have started the engine.
Some of the described difficulties have been relieved by keyless unlocking in modern vehicles. It was introduced by Mercedes a quarter of a century ago, and today Dacia also has it. There is no need to pick up a key or card at all. Just come to the car with it, get in and press the start button.
Sensors in the car continuously emit radio waves into the surrounding area. The computer thus recognizes the approach of the key and unlocks the locks as soon as you take the handle. Thanks to the sensors in the ceiling, the system should also recognize that the key is in the cabin. There should therefore be no risk of being locked inside.
But the sensors sometimes don’t see the key. With a bit of luck, it can be deposited into the radio shadow where none of the sensors can reach. However, it is far more common for surrounding objects to take care of the shading. Typically when the key is in a backpack with other things. Including a mobile phone that itself transmits and receives radio waves.
The most reliable way is to “cover” the key under numerous pieces of luggage in the trunk. There is a sensor there, too, but the signal is lost on the way through two bags of clothes, a bundle of diapers, a laptop bag and a complete edition of Proust’s Lost Time.
The mechanics of assistance services confirm that 90 percent of trips to unintentionally locked vehicles today consist of keyless system cards stored in a backpack or purse. For example, one user hid the key in a protective “kidney” with shielding against chip readers – and of course also against sensors in the ceiling.
So whichever of the remote systems you have in your car, remember that nothing is perfect. The only ones who can help you easily and painlessly are the passengers sitting inside who can unlock it.
The assistance service does not always open the door without damaging the paintwork. Where it is not quickly accessible, the only option is to break the window. Which is annoying and expensive, just like sending someone with a second key to Croatia.
The cheapest and most reliable is to have the key in your pocket every time you leave the vehicle. And don’t leave it in the trunk either.
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