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Old 02-07-2011, 06:56 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation Engine Kill Switch - Use with Caution!!

On Friday the Wife and I drove south to go crosscountry skiing. The drive was terrible - dark, temperature around freezing, very strong wind and snow. We finally made it to the small village where we were to sleep. The owner of the house told me to turn the car around and where to park it, but I got stuck in the deep snow in his yard. The wheels started slipping, but I was able to get out of the snow and when I parked I turned the engine off with the kill switch (the key was still in the 'On' position) so that I wouldn't have to turn the key again when I write down the trip's data in my log. But first I got out to talk to the owner. When I came back to the car I couldn't open the trunk, which was weird because it always unlocks simultaneously with the doors. So I tried the rear door - locked. Front door - locked. D*mn!!

Why did the car lock the doors? After all, I've left the car many times with the key in the ignition, so what happened? I think that the problem was with the wheels slipping when I got stuck in the snow. When the wheels slipped and started spinning past a certain speed the computer thought that the car was moving and locked the doors and started beeping about my seatbelt not being fastened. All of the doors always unlock when one is opened from the inside, and they all lock when either the car starts moving past a certain speed, or the 'Lock' button on the dashboard is pressed, or the driver's door is locked from the outside with the key. Since I couldn't have pressed the dashboard button after shutting the door, nor could I have locked the door from the outside (the key was in the ignition), then it must have been the computer thinking the car was still in motion, so it locked the doors after I got out, thinking that the car can't be empty since the key in the ignition was in the 'On' position. Why didn't this happen before when I would also get out of the car after using the kill switch? My guess is that the slipping wheels made the computer go crazy, and so it may have thought one of the sensors is malfunctioning and it is safest to assume that the vehicle is still rolling, so the doors should be locked.

So here we are at 10pm, up to our ankles in snow, in strong and freezing wind, with only a light jacket on, standing next to the locked car with its key in the ignition. Everything else is also inside: our money, documents, cell phones, food, clothes, skis, computer. The spare key was at home - 5 hours away.

The owner was very concerned, he told us to go into the house, have some warm tea, use his phone to call home. I called my mechanic brother-in-law and he proposed to try to open the hood, then to disconnect and reconnect the battery, which should reset everything and unlock the doors. With help from the house's owner and his screwdriver I got the hood open, but dis- and reconnecting the battery changed nothing Since it was very late the owner told us to go to sleep and we'll try again in the morning. He brought us everything we needed, in the morning he brought bread and eggs, let me call my bro-in-law again and use his internet to look for ideas on how to open the car. I checked how much professional car openers charge (since we didn't know if any of the neighbors' teenaged kids had that kind of knowledge and/or practice) and decided that the 100-150PLN is much more than replacing one of the smaller windows (used for as low as 35PLN).

Finally, we decided that we'll first try to pry the top of the door open and stick a wire in to pull on the door handle from the inside. We even got it hooked and pulled a few times, but it wouldn't open the door. It turned out that the slightly pried open door was pushing too hard on the latch for it to move. Next we tried to press the lock button on the dash, but it is plastic and the long wire's tip would easily slip off of it. Then we tried to press the button which opens the window, but pressing it didn't work because... the car's computer went into economy mode (power cut to all accessories). So by disconnecting and reconnecting the battery over and over again we were able to keep the button powered just long enough to open the window

Thankfully, I didn't have to break (and then replace) any windows, all I have is a dent a few scratches from the prying - I'll have to get that painted before rust settles in.

I'm greatful that this happened where we were supposed to stay for the weekend, and not at a gas station or empty parking lot in the boonies. In the latter case I wouldn't have waited too long before hitting one of the windows.

The moral of this story is that using an engine kill switch doesn't shut all of the car's functions off (good for EOC), and some of those functions you may not want to be on, like power locks when you get out. Especially if for some reason the computer isn't of the best mental health.

The deeper moral of this story is that having too many electronic gizmos sucks big time.

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e·co·mod·ding: the art of turning vehicles into what they should be

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Piwoslaw's Peugeot 307sw modding thread

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Old 02-07-2011, 08:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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On my car the doors will lock after a certain period of inactivity - basic anti-theft feature - so I'm very wary of leaving the keys in the car
When travelling a considerable distance with a passenger, I always give my spare key to the passenger.
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Old 02-07-2011, 08:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Mine doesn't close by itself when turned off, I can leave it unlocked all day on the driveway. It's probably an option that can be (de)activated in the software.

That's a good idea with the spare key, but in this case wouldn't have worked - both of us left everything inside when we got out because we were never more than 2 meters from the car, plus it was in gear and the engine was off (though the computer thought otherwise...). I've pledged to find a place on my body to pierce and hang the spare key on, but I'm not sure where so that it doesn't interfere with sports and other activities. Just joking But maybe having the spare on a string on someone's neck would be a good idea during the trip.
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e·co·mod·ding: the art of turning vehicles into what they should be

What matters is where you're going, not how fast.

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Piwoslaw's Peugeot 307sw modding thread

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Old 02-07-2011, 10:06 AM   #4 (permalink)
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All of my vehicles have a spare key zip tied to the frame.
I used it one when a helper went to the van and left the keys inside.
My wifes, hers gets used every few months.......
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:40 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Just one more reason why I like me simple caveman cars with no power anything. I DO have the strength to push a lock button, crank a window, and steer!
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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just get a hide-a-key, they use magnets and will attach to the frame. i have a spare for my jeep and for my apartment (since the building door locks when it closes).

Amazon.com: Magnetic Heavy Duty Hide-A-Key Holder: Patio, Lawn & Garden
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joenavy85 View Post
just get a hide-a-key...
But of course the first thing a car thief would look for is the hide-a-key :-)

I agree about the automatic door locks. I don't even like/use the "feature" where you can lock the doors from outside without the key. If I always lock the door with the key, then at least I know I didn't lock it inside.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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All my geos have a spare key in the gas door. feel free to borrow one if you can figure out how to drive it with the kill switch connected t the clutch pedal switch. Odd this is the first time you had this happen it happens to me every time i get out of the car. Next time i have the door panels off I'm going to unhook the locking solenoids.

Gots to have that spare key.
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Old 02-07-2011, 01:13 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
But of course the first thing a car thief would look for is the hide-a-key :-)

I agree about the automatic door locks. I don't even like/use the "feature" where you can lock the doors from outside without the key. If I always lock the door with the key, then at least I know I didn't lock it inside.
the way i see it: if a car thief wants in, he's getting in, and stealing your stuff, if you have a kill switch he likely won't figure out how to get it started and will only steal your stuff, at least if you give him a key you won't have to replace the window as well as the rest of your stuff. and for those of us that have newer cars with chipped keys, don't get a key with a chip, therefore you can only use it to access the car and not start it, or just get a new ignition switch that has a different key like i had on my first car.
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Old 02-07-2011, 02:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I don't think were talking about a security kill switch, at least I'm not. a switch to let you coast with the engine off. It just happens mine is hooked to my clutch pedal starter switch and it takes some practice to use it. just stepping on the pedal turns off the cam signal and I would think no one would ever figure it out. some times it gets me.

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