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Locked out of a VW in Fitzroy – A too clever car

Most people in Australia when they think of the humble VW, picture a noisy, air cooled van which hippies used to drive around in…. or a beetle… either the vintage or modern variety.  But more commonly in Australia, VW’s more commonly come in two varieties, the Passat and the Golf. Both are pretty nice cars, though a bit expensive as they are made in Germany as opposed to Asia, so production costs are higher, as are transport costs.

We got a call out to a Car lockout in Fitzroy where a young lady who had recently bought a 2nd hand VW golf, pulled into her driveway after doing some shopping, got out to check the mail box, walked back to the car, picked up some shopping from the front passenger seat, somehow in the middle of this she dropped her keys on the passenger seat…. She walked to the front door, realized she had no keys and then came back to find her car doors locked, keys inside.

This is a problem we see often, it goes like this.

  1. Many European cars have sensors in the doors and an onboard computer.
  2. When you unlock the door, then open it, and re-close it… the on-board computer understands all this, and realizes you have probably unlocked the car, got onside, and are now happily driving away.

But here’s the problem.

  1. If you have a broken door sensor, then your on-board computer may not get the message.  So it doesn’t realize the door has been opened.  So when the young lady in this case got out of her car, removed the keys from the ignition shut the doors and then opened and closed the passenger side?  The computer got confused, thought she was now outside the car (she was) had unlocked the car from the outside (she hadn’t – the car had been left unlocked) and had not got in, thus her car needed to be re-locked to secure it.

Pretty much a case of some car engineering person getting too clever for their own good.

We arrived on the scene in 20 minutes, and had their car open in 2 more.  We showed the young lady the problem and advised her to take the car to an auto electrician who specialized in European cars to get the door sensor fixed.  We were able to quickly confirm it was a door sensor failure, as the interior light on the driver’s side always stayed on.  It wasn’t noticed at first by our new customer, as she drove mainly during the day and it was not obviously on, and in any case, it was usually obscured by the sun visa.

Anyway, our Fitzroy VW owner was ecstatic to not only have her car unlocked without needing a new key (they cost hundreds these days) but to also have someone explain the problem and the solution.

So if you have a European car that is locking itself when it really shouldn’t be?  Check to see if any interior lights are staying on when they should not be, and if so, you need to get your door sensors replaced.