16 May 2013:
The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) has reminded motorists to take care of their car keys to ensure they aren't accidentally locked out.
“Key problems are a fairly common factor in AA callouts,” said the AASA. “About one in twenty AA members called us with a key issue last year, and about eighty percent of the calls were to report being locked out of the vehicle,” said the AASA.
The AASA added that the South African experience was by no means unique, with the American Automobile Association reporting that it assisted four million motorists who had been locked out of their vehicles in 2012.
Older vehicles with traditional locks tend to be more prone to drivers accidentally locking the keys in the passenger compartment or boot. Even modern vehicles with remote boot releases can still lead to accidental lockouts if the driver has only opened the boot without unlocking the doors and then leaving the key in the boot.
A growing trend with the increasing use of electronic car keys is that the keys themselves fail and drivers are left stranded. Manufacturing defects in keys are uncommon, and the majority of failures are due to damage, mishandling or flat batteries. The AASA reminded motorists that electronic car keys are sensitive to hard shocks, moisture, dust and temperature extremes, and that replacement keys for modern vehicles can sometimes cost several thousand Rands.
“Think of a modern car key the way you'd think of an iPod,” the AASA said. “You would make sure you didn't drop it or put heavy items on it, you'd keep it in a safe place, and you might even put it in a pouch to protect it,” the AASA explained. “You definitely wouldn't risk dropping it in a puddle or leaving it somewhere where liquids could be spilled on it,” the AASA added.
The AASA said that battery failure was a common reason for keys not functioning correctly, and he advised motorists to replace key batteries every couple of years. “Some keys have rechargeable batteries which are charged while the key is inserted in the key slot or ignition switch,” the AASA added. “Remember to charge the spare key for such vehicles by using it once in a while, otherwise it might not work when you need it most.”
“Consult your vehicle's handbook or phone your dealer if you have any questions about your car's keys,” the AASA said. “And if you do ever find yourself locked out of the car, remember that the AA can help get you going again,” the AASA concluded.
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1126