By on April 18, 2015

door_lock

I would like to raise a complaint here with an automotive feature that we’ve all had to live with now for some time: automatic door locks.

Usually, when it comes to cars, the word “automatic” is a good thing. Not the transmission, of course. But automatic climate control, for example, is dramatically better than those manual levers that you’re always twisting and turning and arguing with your passenger about. (“NO HONEY, WE NEED MORE RED!”)

And I think most of us would agree that automatic windows are way better than crank windows. Same with automatic mirrors, and automatic locks, and automatic lights, and an automatic tailgate, and a wide variety of automatic stuff that has replaced our need to really do anything except drive, change the stereo, and speak to our passengers. And if we could get an automatic passenger interaction system, I would probably be pretty excited about that.

But what I absolutely can’t stand is automatic door locks.

Allow me to explain how automatic door locks work. You’re cruising along in your automobile, and you reach a certain speed, and then your doors lock, usually without you noticing it. This is all fine and acceptable, until you go to pick up someone, and they try the handle, and you realize that they’re locked out. Then you have to press the damn button and let them in, when you never really wanted them locked out in the first place.

Here’s an even worse application of automatic locks: my uncle once had a fairly modern vehicle that touted, as a “feature,” an automatic locking system that would lock the doors after the car was turned on for approximately two minutes, regardless of speed. So one time he parked at the dry cleaner, and left the car running in the service drive outside, and went in to drop off his dry cleaning.

Well, after a few minutes, he’s talking to the dry cleaner, he’s standing in line, he’s giving instructions, whatever, and he comes out to his automobile to discover that the doors are locked and the engine is running. The man had locked himself out of a running automobile.

Now, if this sounds like something that absolutely shouldn’t happen, you’re right. And that’s why automatic locks should be abolished in their entirety.

Here’s the thing: if I want my doors to be locked, I personally will lock them myself. I will get in my car, reach over, and press the “lock” button on the door panel. This is a simple action, and I am more than capable, as a human being and a consumer of automobiles, of carrying it out in its entirety.

What I don’t want to happen is the doors start locking and unlocking at random intervals without my knowledge. I don’t want to end up locked out of the car. I don’t want my passengers to end up locked out of the car. I would almost rather have the windows go down at random levels, causing me to quickly react and send them back up like an automotive whack-a-mole game, than have to deal with this crap from the door locks.

This is especially annoying when you’re driving press cars. Allow me to illustrate the situation: you find a nice open spot to take a lovely picture of the latest press car you’ve been given. You pull over. You get out to grab a great image; a lovely shot that will make all the readers excited to learn about your press vehicle du jour. And then you stop. You think. Does this thing have auto locks?

So what you do is, you either leave it running with a window down, or you turn it of off and bring the keys with you. And not once: Every. Single. Time. Because you’re that worried about the potential of the doors automatically locking and blocking you out from returning from your vehicle. You’re that worried about having to call the local PR guy for whatever automaker you’re dealing with, and announcing: “I’ve locked myself out of your press car, and also I’m parked in front of a decaying urban structure that I thought would make a good photo background.”

So I have a piece of advice here for automakers: We like the other automatic features. We like the automatic seats, and the automatic trunk, and the automatic brake lights that pulse really fast when you’re slamming on the brakes. But automatic locking has no business in any of today’s automobiles. Please. Spare us.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

201 Comments on “Automatic Door Locks Simply Shouldn’t Exist...”


  • avatar
    Alfisti

    Drives me batty with my saab. The wagon hatch closes and locks at will, just absolutely insane.

    Disagree re auto climate control, i loathe it. I want ti control the temp of the air blowing in and this is very inconsistent with auto temp, would rip it it if u could.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      +1 on auto climate control.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        +2 on auto climate control.

        I often like a low steady flow of air and climate control would shut it off at times when the right temp is achieved. When I am following a garbage truck, a cigarette smoker, or driving past a farm with cows, I prefer to push recirc on. If I am driving past a lovely field of flowers or in the mountains, fresh air it is. Automatic climate control just can’t know this.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I’ve owned five cars with auto climate, and none of them has ever totally shut off the air when the system is on.

          There’s still a recirc button to push. Most systems will allow you to control one or more parameters manually while keeping everything else in auto. I do this with the A/C button in the winter, to make sure the compressor is always running in typical Seattle 37-and-raining weather.

          • 0 avatar
            palincss

            Agreed. On my E39 BMW auto climate control never shut off the flow of air — you could put the fan speed to zero if you wanted that — and the recirc button is right there next to the AC button. Also, that car was smart enough to automatically switch on recirc when passing major stink zones like the Blue Plains Waste Recycling Center.

        • 0 avatar
          RonaldPottol

          Well, get a better system. I’m fairly happy with the one in my 1998 Volvo v70 GLT, I can set the temp for driver and passenger, fan has both auto and manual settings, plus buttons for recirc and A/C. I usually force A/C off until outside temp is over 66, for example. It works well.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      +3 on auto climate. I don’t want the fan blowing full blast without a good reason, but that seems to be SOP for auto climate. Also, when’s the last time you saw levers on a climate control system? Knobs have been pretty standard for a couple decades.

      • 0 avatar
        eManual

        +4 on auto climate (not). In addition, I want to control air conditioning during defrost. In my GM cars, defrost with air conditioning comes on when the outside temperature is above freezing. You can also more easily fix standard 3 knob (mechanical) systems.

    • 0 avatar
      Ooshley

      Plus auto-climate control still causes arguments re: the set point. Esp. coz my wife has a psychological compulsion to set it to MIN/MAX when it’s hot or cold out in to belief it’ll get to the desired temperature quicker.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      -1 on automatic climate control. I want it. I only ever get to use it in rental cars and my grandpa’s ’91 Town Car.

      It might be an annoyance if you have a garaged car and live in a flat place with consistent weather. For me, my experience with manual climate control is this cold-start driving routine:

      1) Let car soak overnight in cold, moist ocean air
      2) Get in car, crank full defrost, full fan, full red, drive halfway to the freeway peering through a somewhat defogged windshield.
      3) Engine temp cracks 100º and the temp gauge starts to rise, now I can get some lukewarm air out of it. Switch blend control two notches left to a mixed setting with no A/C. Drive to the freeway and merge.
      4) Engine temp abruptly reaches 180º. Suddenly the defrost air bouncing off the windshield is like a blow dryer in my eyes. Crank the temperature down to 40% red. The cabin is warm and morning sunlight is streaming in, as the highway snakes along the western side of a warm sheltered valley.
      5) The highway emerges from the valley – suddenly I’m cruising along the cold seaside, with hills to the east shadowing the highway from the morning sun. Have to crank the temp back up to 60% red.
      6) Pass through a tunnel, come out on the sunny side of a hill… I keep having to reach over and adjust that damn temperature control ad infinitum.

      Automatic has to try very hard to provide a worse user experience.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      Climate control you are at the mercy of whoever is programming it. Subaru climate control is horrible, but the unit in my Lexus is great. I wouldnt go back to manual though you have to adjust the fan speed and temp constantly that is rather dumb way to do things when computing power is cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      You people are all crazy. I hate making constant adjustments to the temperature and fan speed… “I’m too hot. No, I’m too cold. No, I’m too hot. No, I’m too cold.” That’s how it is for me with manual climate, and it’s rage-inspiring.

      Good auto climate > bad auto climate > manual climate.

      My Subaru has the worst auto climate of any car I’ve ever owned. It keeps the fan speed too high and is reluctant to go full heat even in cold weather. But it’s still better than manual climate.

      My G8’s climate is pretty good. The best of any car I’ve ever owned was the Acura TSX. That’s the kind of thing Honda gets right.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “+/- Automatic Climate Control”

      Hah! Did we just hijack D. DeMuros’s piece on door locks? I think we stole next week’s headline: “Automatic Climate Change In Your Car — Real or Hoax?”

      Ok, I’ll grant that automatic climate control has improved, but like all other automatic features — lights, wipers, etc — while trying to tweak the system, I can accidentally turn the system off and not realize it. I find that very annoying, but perhaps it just means I need more seat time with system. Manual climate controls do need my attention now and then, but that never bothered me. I also signal when I make turns, and that never bothered me either.

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    On most cars, automatic locking is a feature that you can turn on and off – sometimes it has to be done by the dealer or someone who has software that can access the car’s electronic systems, but it can usually be done.

    I happen to like automatic locks. What makes sense is not getting rid of the feature but making it user selectable and even tunable. As more cars gain touchscreens or tablet/phone interfaces, it should be pretty easy to make this a user accessible menu option instead of something that requires work by a dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      WhiskeyRiver

      Agreed. Most cars you can turn that off with some odd combination of user action. Ford/Lincolns with keyless entry are easiest – all done with the keypad on the door.

      I’d guess that the programming code might no be so easy to come by on a press car. Ford used to put the programming code in plain sight on the trunk hinge or some other safe but easy to see location. Now, it’s a sticker on the computer for the security system. Some disassembly required if you don’t know the code.

      A welcome programming feature that, as of now, is unavailable: turn down the volume of the passengers. My wife is always telling me I’ve made a wrong turn or I’m driving too fast. And that I never listen to her. At least I think that’s what she says. The first car to offer that feature will gain my undivided attention.

      • 0 avatar
        gasser

        Your wish is granted. As you age, your hearing will decline and your marriage will be much improved.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          You must not be married =8-) .

          I’m deaf as a post and so SWMBO now gets made because I always have to ask ” ?WHAT?” .

          Damned if you do , damned if you don’t .

          Even with my hearing aids turned up , I can’t hear engine ping nor vacuum leaks….

          _BAD_ for a mechanic who only works old elderly vehicles , lemme tell you =8-^.

          -Nate

      • 0 avatar

        If you get a BMW loaner car, you have to go to the trunk and pull the rug to see the radio/bluetooth. The bluetooth pass code is on a sticker on the side of the box. In the Trunk. Under the rugs (s).

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      >> On most cars, automatic locking is a feature that you can turn on and off

      +1. Modern door locks are configurable and I like the feature. But reconfigurability doesn’t solve DM’s press car problem.

      Several years ago, I’ve met parking attendants with the same concern. They asked me “does this car automatically lock?”

      So while automatic door locks are a bane to those who drive many different cars, they are a blessing to the average driver.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yeah, I love automatic locks.

      But it’s nice that you can turn it on/off in the menu in my Volvo.

      (I’ve also been so long in the automatic habit of locking then door when leaving that I never lock myself out – because that habit breeds the habit of *always* taking the keys.

      If I have to leave it running – in very limited circumstances – the window gets rolled down “just in case”.

      And I agree with WhiskeyRiver; the Ford keypads are *brilliant*! You can’t lock yourself out…)

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Since I live in a big city, I want the locks to lock when my wife is driving.

    Luckily, the smart key fob has solved all these problems for us.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t know what it’s like on Ferraris, AMGs, Range Rovers and other near-exotica that graces the alley behind the DeMuro estate, but in all the GM and ChryslerCo products I’ve owned the automatic door locking function is fairly easy to turn off.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    It happened to me. I left it running to clean the windshield at a gas station, and it locked the door while still running. Luckily, the small town local PD still responds to such calls and an officer came to unlock it for me with one of those long metal thingies. Have yet to get the reflex silver touch up paint for the marks it made on the interior sill of the door.

    However, if I press the unlock button before i leave the car, it never locks. Oh, and since my wife is away for months at a time, I also keep her keys in my inner coat pocket in the winter “just in case.”

    Despite all this, I still like them. I am the guy who NEVER locks the apartment door – against my wife’s protests – but there is something about feeling “tucked in” when I hear the Audi locking all doors.

    I do have another issue I have been thinking about though. When I took the car for the latest oil change / new tires, the shop guys must have been annoyed by the chimes, and they turned them off. My car makes no sounds now. Awesome for the seatbelt, not so sure about the indication when you are running out of gas. I think I like the new regime MUCH better, but I worry sometimes too. Jury’s still out.

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      Isn’t there still a gas light, like what 99% of people have relied on for the past decades to warn them that they are running near 1/8 tank?
      I’ve been driving for some time, and I’ve only gotten a car that “chimes” on low fuel 3 years ago. I’ve never run out with all previous vehicles. I think you’ll survive.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        You are right!

        The indicator does come up – and takes half the trip computer. So it is not a rational fear. But I still do fear i might forget to look while driving in a daze on those days where I have to do 3 hours straight under the afternoon sun in I-90.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      If only the automakers would come up with some kind of indicator, right in front of your face, that would show you the exact amount of fuel in the tank, so you wouldn’t need to rely on a chime like a Pavlovian-trained dog, salivating for treats.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        And , what THE HELL is wrong with treats ? =8-) .

        SWMBO gives me treats of various natures all the time and so I’m always tinkering on / cleaning / fueling up , her car…….

        This works for me , my Dogs also like to come into the middle of a job and roll on their backs in spite of puddles of grease , oil and coolant , demanding their belly rubs .

        Don’t you like dogs/treats ? .

        -Nate
        (who’s apparently well trained)

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        God, I wish I had a car where the fuel gauge was *exact*, rather than more or less a vague idea once you know the correction factor, where the top half of the gauge indicates about 2/3 of the tank capacity…

        I’d be less bitter if this wasn’t true of all three of my vehicles.

        (I wouldn’t think it should be hard; it’s a sliding contact on a resistive wire, if it’s anything like the level sender in my old Merc.

        Of course, that one actually WAS accurate, as long as the algae buildup got cleaned off every year or so.)

    • 0 avatar
      scwmcan

      I don’t understand this complaint ( doors locking while the car is running). Unless the car is older I guess. All of my cars in the aughts at least will no longer allow the doors to be locked with the keys in the car ( and especially not with them in the ignition). As a matter of fact I have seen the complaint many times that people could not leave the car running, and lock the doors while running into the gas station or whatever. Is this something that has changed recently?

  • avatar
    redgolf

    Locked out of my Panther while at the ATM,car running,oh!oh!I just remembered my door key pad code located on the outside door,above the door handle, Ford had a better idea!Thank you Ford, and now that my key doesn’t work in the driver side,key chain fob quit working also, built in key fob on the door!Works Great!

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    This is one thing I love about my Grand Marquis. Nothing locks or unlocks unless I push the interior button or turn the key.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      Yeh,and then just in case you screw up and lock yourself out with the key still in the ignition,you’ve got the outside door mounted key less pad.Do you remember the code? Duh, oh! oh!

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        I’ve got a base model, I don’t have the keypad.

        • 0 avatar
          redgolf

          What,no door fob? Base? Mine is a 1995 Grand Marquis GS base, 118k actual, got the door fob (keyless)what’s your year? Must of been a cost cutting year, thought they all had em!

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            In 1998 Ford discontinued keyless (key pad) entry since remote (fob) entry was all the rage on other brands. However loyal Ford, Lincoln and Mercury customers cried foul and it was reintroduced on 1999 models.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    Hate them.

    In my Wrangler they are also random. For the life of me I don’t understand what triggers it. It not consistent from a time basis, nor a speed basis. Its like it is its own nervous nelly, seeing bad neighborhoods randomly – and assuming people are going to break in while I’m driving down the street at 45 mph. Good thing the interior door handle overrides it.

    • 0 avatar
      badcoffee

      Wrangler shouldn’t even have doors, let alone automatic locks

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        Thumbs up, +1, upvoted

      • 0 avatar
        See 7 up

        Why? So you feel more manly.
        Mine has auto lock, power windows, nav and a manual trans. Once I got stuck offroad and a dude was like, pull your power window fuses! Guess what, it magically freed itself from said situation and I grew a mullet instantly.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          I missed it ~ what was fixed/changed when you pulled the fuse ? .

          TIA ,

          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            See 7 up

            It became a better offroad vehicle, incapable of getting stuck like those pansy power window jeeps. Truth be told, it got stuck again, but once I actually removed the window motors and installed a crank its been unstoppable offroad.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Wait ~ it becomes a better off roader because the POWER WINDOWS stop working ?! .

            I stopped off roading in the 1970’s when a ” new ” 4X4 was a 1967 Dodge Power Wagon , I know I’m missing something here , you didn’t answer my question .

            Agreed , power windows are not necessary .

            -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Per Jeep: “The auto door lock feature default condition is enabled. When enabled, the door locks will lock automatically when the vehicle’s speed exceeds 15 mph (24 km/h). The auto door lock feature can be enabled or disabled by your authorized dealer or through the Uconnect® Settings in your radio.”

      Now, if it’s not being consistent on yours, probably a sensor or setting is FUBAR.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    My 2011 Outback actually doesn’t have this feature which is odd. I happen to quite like it.

    Leaving the car running and going inside somewhere for more than 1 min is stupid. Someone could just get in and drive off with the car. If it’s really that big a deal, why not just get a remote start?

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      Not to mention that idling in nearly any situation is unnecessary and wasteful. I live in Canada and I can tell you that a vehicle warms up faster if you drive it… If you can’t stand getting into a cold car, you’re wearing the wrong clothes.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    In a few days we’ll all have a smartphone app that commands the locks to open, windows to go down and the AC to max out. And then autonomous controls will increasingly do the driving for us as we ‘read a magazine.’ It won’t be annoying, but enthusiasm for cars will seem increasingly daft.

  • avatar
    pragmatic

    If they are easy to turn off fine. But I’m not returning to the dealer to have mine reprogrammed (as if the Lincoln dealer would still know how to reprogram a 15 year old car).

    Annoying useless feature. Mine will lock the car if I get out too quick after turning it off. So far I’ve always had the keys when getting gas and the only time it has locked me out is at home where I have a spare set of keys.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Look in your owner’s manual and you’ll find the procedure for turning the auto locks off. If your Lincoln has auto locks then it also has keyless, not remote entry (unless it is a 1998 the year that Ford stopped using it until loyal Ford buyers complained) so you should never be locked out of your car, if you can remember a 5 digit code, either the one factory programmed or one of your own choosing that you can add to the system.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        If it were that easy. Mine is an LS and to get the manual transmission I needed the V6 thus no message center. LS’s without the message center require the dealer to reprogram the locks. If they can be disabled I have no problem with auto locks. But its sort of silly feature. My other vehicles have manual locks and if I want them locked I lock them. With the Lincoln I need to keep the door ajar while clearing snow off the car (its nice to have it running when its below zero). Also when nature calls I need to roll down the window lest it decide to lock while left running by the side of the road.

        Also while skiing in my previous vehicle I use to leave the keys in the car with the hatch and doors unlocked. Why would I want to ski with the keys and risk losing them?

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          That is a bummer that you have what must be the only Ford product that you can’t program the auto locks yourself. It is also unusual that it will lock the locks if it hasn’t been taken out of park. On my older Fords you have to go through N for them to lock, they won’t lock by putting it in R, on our newest Ford a 10 it is based on moving forward at few miles per hour. On the other hand the LS isn’t a “real” Lincoln.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatic

            Never seen a MANUAL transmission with a PARK setting and one of the reasons I bought it is its not a real Lincoln.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            On the older Ford products they didn’t offer the keyless entry and thus autolocking on vehicles that were available with a manual trans other than the SHO. So yeah it is tied to the shifter. The reason I have stayed away from the LS is because it is not a real Ford and has that fussy engine and the stupidest engine fan ever. I’d love to know who thought a hydraulic motor for the engine fan was a better idea than an electric one.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatic

            Well Toyota thought it was a better idea (1992-1996) in both Camry’s and Lexus. Ford’s problem was the techs never figured out that most of the problems were caused by clogging of the solenoid valve. The recommended fix was change everything (pump and motor) when better fluid and/or cleaning/changing of the solenoid fixes the problem.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    I had a rusting winter beater with a short in the door that, at near freezing temps, would randomly lock and unlock depending on the car’s motions. While mostly annoying, you could toggle this action violent de/ac-celeration or hoonage. I got good at unlocking by going into a parking spot a high (ish) speed and braking hard. Sometimes the car rocked back after stopping and ‘double-tapped’ to lock.

  • avatar
    Keith_93

    This article kinda feels like you need a “Get Off Of My Lawn” bumper sticker.

  • avatar
    BobWellington

    I personally like it in my ’06 Explorer. It also helps that when I open the driver’s door, it unlocks the rest of the doors. And I can turn both of these features off if I want to.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    I have a low-tech solution. Get a car with manual door locks.

    My ’99 Ford contour has manual locks, this is never a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I had manual locks on my MY98 Saturn. I can remember saying for years I don’t want power windows (as those were an issue in SLs) but I just wanted power locks. Lo and behold the current MY02 Saturn has power locks but manual crank windows (and manual everything else).

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    My car has the opposite problem; it’s a chore to get the damn doors to lock. I’m fine with the fact that there are no power locks (nor windows), but what bugs me is that I have to take a minute to explain to every passenger how to lock their door. You see, in order to manually lock the doors from the outside, you either need to do it with the key, or you need to flip the manual switch – that part is obvious enough – but then you need to simultaneously pull on the exterior handle while shutting the door. Failure to do so results in the door switch going back to the unlock position.

    This is fine on the driver’s side, where it can potentially keep you from inadvertently locking the keys in the car, but it’s just a pain on the passenger side. My preferred method now is either just to wait until the passenger gets out and closes the door, and then locking it myself before exiting the car, or walking over to the other side after getting out.

    Or I leave the top down so that the door locks become a moot point; no one’s going to try to steal a 16 year old Mazda, anyway.

    Old VWs had a simple, effective solution to make it improbable for the driver to lock their keys in the car. All doors, other than the driver’s, would allow you to push the door luck plunger down with the door open, so it was easy to lock while getting out of the car. The driver’s door didn’t allow this, so that you had to lock the car with the key. No key in hand, no lock. When you’re used to this, flicking the key in the hole and turning it right takes about as much time as getting out your fob and pressing the button.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      How old a car are you driving? I’d totally forgotten about those kinds of locks (bringing back memories of the pushbutton door handles on 60’s GM), until you mentioned it.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        1999

        • 0 avatar
          never_follow

          Mk3? I know mine does this. Vacuum locks (which only failed once, amazingly) FTW!

          The only issue with the design is that the paddle that turns the actual lock is cheap pot metal on the earlier ones. I replaced mine 3 times, then found out later cars like yours have a paddle made of better metal.
          Nothing like trying to unlock the car in the middle of winter and having the bitter taste of failure as your key happily spins with no resistance.

          Another interesting tidbit is the really late (1998 and 1999) cars didn’t have a passenger side keyhole, so if your little lock paddle broke, you were really up the creek.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    I like them.
    I always instructed my passengers to lock their doors. One night, when I stopped my truck, two guys with guns drawn approached. They could not open MY door, but the other got in the passenger door, reached across and tried to shut off my engine.

    Aside from the obvious danger, I was maddest at my passenger who had not locked their door when instructed to do so.

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      If two guys approach my car with guns drawn, I’ll unlock my doors and give them the car.
      Every car I have owned hasn’t been equipped with bullet proof glass or armor.

      Which brings me to my question: Should your passenger have locked their doors, would you call the assailants bluff? And if you were wrong?

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        You are thinking incorrectly. The experts now say to never surrender. If approached like that, gun it. Besides that, if you were so distracted they got that close with guns drawn and your locks are open, you could have easily been grabbed or stabbed by anyone opening the door.

        Your number one priority is not getting in reach. Number two is attracting attention of everyone you can while getting away. Ramming other cars or things is fair play.

        Lock the doors, close the windows, and if you let your wife or children out in a jeep without doors in a metro area you are an irresponsible child who lost his man card if he ever earned one.

        • 0 avatar
          See 7 up

          I only date (married) a woman that can venture into urban areas without the help of my “man card”, like the vast majority of women that live, sans man, in “dangerous” urban environs all without constantly cowering in fear looking for their man savior to tell their preciously inadequate female brains how to survive.

          As far as “letting” my wife drive a Jeep sans doors, ha! She’ll do it if she wants and I’d expect her to run me over if I told her she needed my permission.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Why do you think that has anything to do with your responsibilities?

            Did you see the comment about the lady in Vancouver yet?

            If you want to pose as clever, you need to try harder.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            More power to you brother, but such behavior is too beta for me.

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      My question is how you ever let those guys get within reach of the car when you saw them approaching with guns drawn?

  • avatar

    I am ambivalent at automatic locks as such… Perhaps their inventor had a few things stolen from the passenger seat by street snatchers in the hellish cesspit of New York and figured that the cost of his camera exceeded the cost of listening to Doug’s silly complaints. I can see where the reasoning behind them originates. But yesterday I was at a car show, and about 1 in 5 cars had trunk popped open and it was impossible to lock. Apparently, the organizers disconnected batteries on cars, and the locks just would not stick without the onboard power. Now that may be taking the idea of centrally controlled lock a notch too far.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Don’t forget that at a car show you don’t want some joker locking a kid in the trunk, and having to find the keys, etc.

      (I wouldn’t be surprised if the trunk locks were physically disabled; they shouldn’t need power to *latch*.)

  • avatar
    Fred

    I parked cars in mid 70s and Cadillacs at least had a feature where the passenger could lock all the doors. It happened often that the wife would push the button, the husband would close his door with the car running and it was locked. No one ever has a spare key with them, so we would have to jimmy it and of course the owner would inspect for scratches. Always with a smile.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Owning Kia’s, the wife and I have the alternate version of the annoyance: Walking to your car, you hit the unlock button on the remote, at which point you have approximately thirty seconds to actually open a door. Otherwise, the car re-locks itself.

    Yeah, obvious First World Problem, but I still find it annoying. Especially when I make the mistake of unlocking the car while folding up a bicycle to put inside. Which invariably takes longer than thirty seconds to finish.

    And my ’05 xB will relock the hatch after I’ve hit the button a second time to unlock all doors. Not sure if this is a feature or a defect.

  • avatar
    kmoney

    The auto locks are a security feature to make car jacking less effortless. A female friend of mine had her door pulled open and was dragged out of her car at a red light not too long ago (and this is in Vancouver, BC not Cape Town or some place like that). I think they are a pretty good idea, and am pretty happy that both our cars lock when you put them in gear.

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      Even without the feature, you can still just lock the doors.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      I spent a week in Cape Town last fall. It was beautiful and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until the 2nd or 3rd day that I figured out why everyone kept their rear-view mirror cocked at such a funny angle – so they could see would-be car jackers approaching them from the rear of the car.

      Interesting place.

  • avatar
    Mr. Orange

    In the years I have owned cars with automatic locks i’ve never had a single issue. Not one. It has never locked me out. Never locked unexpectedly. Never been a hassle or cause for derision.

    How you may ask? I read the owner’s manual. It explained when the doors would lock themselves. At what speed and under what conditions. Also the car I presently drive gives me the option to disable all auto locking functions.

    So me. I have no problems.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Thank you. This needs to be heard. Both me and my brother have unintentionally been locked out of our cars , and the cost of road service , to your own home, to open the door of your own car that has been idling in the driveway for three hours is always too much, no matter how cheap it is. (my brothers car was not running and was parked outside the DMV but still)
    In both our situations we had recently purchased the cars in question, and neither of us knew it had this ‘feature’ beforehand, but I can say it has made me really paranoid, especially as a smoker (yeah, I know I should quit) who does not smoke in his car.
    The worst part is that here in Norway , where we have actual winters, not being allowed to let your car warm up on idle while brushing and scraping snow and ice of it is downright evil.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    I prefer to have all doors locked when I am inside the car. It delays the bad guys for a couple of seconds giving me time to get away. To get at me, they have to break in. That leaves evidence to justify my claim of self defense.

    Our Focus locks the doors at low speed. Unlocking is entirely manual. Either push a button on the dashboard or pull on the inside door handle.

    Both locking and unlocking are entirely manual on my 2008 G37S. Consequently, I sometimes forget to lock up before I start down the road. With a button in the outside door handle and another inside, the remote key fob never leaves my pocket. The doors won’t lock from the outside if the fob is still inside. It possible for me to lock myself out but it would take a deliberate effort. Locking and unlocking have been automatic on the dealer’s newest loaners. If they were mine, I would disable automatic unlocking.

    I don’t understand this business of locking automatically just because the engine has been running for a while. Is it supposed to protect dumb asses who leave their cars unlocked and running in the driveway? For a car that still use a key, I take it with me when filling its gas tank.

  • avatar

    I happen to like automatic locks. I never leave the car running when I’m not in it, so that’s not an issue. My Jetta SportWagen TDI would lock the doors at 10 MPH, which was fine, and would unlock them when you pulled the door handle to get out. But I traded that in yesterday for a 2015 Golf SportWagen TDI SEL, which includes a smart key…so theoretically it shouldn’t let you lock your keys in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      Congrat’s on the new ride, and as long as your smart key has a manual override (like an actual old school key hidden inside), you won’t have to worry if the battery dies!

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks! There is a cap covering the keyhole on the door, and the smart key is still switchblade-style, so you can open the door with that. And then there’s an induction sensor in place of the ignition slot, which allows you to start the car if the key fob’s battery is dead…

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      Didn’t you get the Jetta just last year? Why the change? Lure of MQB?

      • 0 avatar

        Really, my Golf SportWagen came with features that simply weren’t available with the Jetta SportWagen, like HID/bi-xenon headlamps, CarNet, full power seat, dual-zone auto climare control, smart key, et all. And yes, that MQB platform is so solid.

        A reader review is forthcoming.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Nice! I look forward to hearing how you get on with it.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      The only possible way for me to lock myself out of my ’12 Golf is if I were to unlock only the rear hatch, set my key down inside, and close the hatch – it then re-locks automatically (it only does this if the rest of the doors are already/still locked). Needless to say I’m careful not to do that.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh yes. The hatch in the JSW would lock automatically, as does the one in the GSW. And I don’t believe the car has proximity sensors in that area that would detect the key and keep the hatch from locking, as you wouldn’t leave your keys back there when driving the car. Likewise, sedans and coupes don’t have proximity sensors in their trunks, so it’s the same all-around.

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    The reason for automatic locks is so that during a collision the door can’t open.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      Having the door “locked” does not make it any less likely to open in an accident. It does not secure the door in any way that “latched but unlocked” does not.

      It can, however, potentially impair the ability of first responders to get access to unconscious occupants of the car, after a collision.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Most of the Volvos and all of Mercedes I have owned have specified in the owner’s manual not to lock the doors while driving for this exact reason. Modern cars unlock all the doors in the event of a collision anyway. At least European ones anyway. BMW does it just before the pyrotechnic charge that disconnects the battery power goes off, a split second after the airbags deploy.

        There are VERY few cars where the lock does anything more than disable the handles. Old BMWs had the ability to deadbolt the doors, but only with the key from the outside of the car.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          Our Volvo requires you to pull TWICE on the door to open it. Pull number one is unlock. Seems dangerous to me. If I want the door open I want it open NOW for a reason. Also when the doors automatically (I believe as soon as the car is started) it locks the hatch as well. So I actually BROKE the handle off the hatch during an airport drop off. Wife pulled up at the curb, I got out and went to get luggage from the hatch but the darn thing was LOCKED and can only be opened by the key FOB which was in the ignition. The whole situation was frustrating.

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      That’s not true.

      The locks don’t do anything to secure the doors. The latches do that. The only thing the lock does is keep the handle from being operated from the outside (and sometimes from the inside if your car manufacturer is dumb).

  • avatar
    dal20402

    There’s a consistent theme in all these DeMuro posts: “When I don’t understand a feature, I whine first instead of figuring it out how it actually works.”

    The automatic locks in my G8 are clear as day, and the manual explains them. They lock when the car exceeds 5 mph and unlock when you turn the ignition away from Run. It means I have to manually hit the unlock button when I drop someone off, but I still like the feature because people can’t just open my doors without some effort. The feature can be disabled from the DIC menu, but I leave it on.

    My Forester doesn’t have auto locks and I miss them in that car.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Agreed.

      More than auto locks, what I find annoying is people’s use of the word “automatic” when they mean “powered”. Example, people saying their car has “automatic windows”. Maybe it does have an “auto down” or “auto up” feature, but most people simply mean power windows when they refer to them as “automatic”.

      If windows were truly automatic, theyd know exactly when someone lights a cigar or cigarette, when the A/C isnt working and the interior is intolerably warm, when the vehicle pulls up to a mail box or drive-thu resturant/bank/pharmacy and respond “automaticly”. If I must activate the feature by doing something (pressing and/or holding a button), its not automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      “There’s a consistent theme in all these DeMuro posts: “When I don’t understand a feature, I whine first instead of figuring it out how it actually works.”

      So it wasn’t just me thinking that…

  • avatar
    sintekk

    They’re annoying. Every J-body beater I’ve had would automatically lock when shifting out of “Park”. To make matters worse the nylon actuator linkages would sometimes get stuck between lock/unlock so the door would open and then lock itself when closed.

    Only totally automatic locking system that made sense was on my ’90 Camry. If a key was in the ignition (regardless of position) it was impossible to lock a door when open — even if you pushed the button down by hand. It would pop right back up!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      My parent’s Mercury Sable was similar. If the key was in the ignition, it wouldnt allow you to lock the driver’s door. If you pressed “L”, all doors would lock but the driver’s would immideately unlock. As you said, even pushing down the lock wouldnt work because it would pop itself back up. If you managed to lock the door and get it shut, it would still unlock itself. This was if the car was off, so if you wanted to lock your door to prevent a carjacking, it was still possible. I suppose that means you couldve locked the keys in it if it were running.

      Another innovative feature it had was when using the key to unlock one of the front doors, if you turned the key twice, it would unlock all the doors. That was a neat feature we used many, many times. So, your passenger(s) could gain entry at the same time you did instead of waiting for you to let yourself in and then remembering to hit the unlock button for them.

      I doubt newer cars would do it since most have keyless entry nowadays.

      • 0 avatar

        No, a lot of newer cars will unlock all of the doors if you turn the key twice in the door lock. Moreover, newer cars have auto-open/close procedures for the windows and sunroof. If you turn the key to the lock position in the door and hold it there, any open windows and the sunroof will close, and if you turn the key to the unlock position and hold it there, the windows will open and the sunroof will open or vent.

        • 0 avatar
          never_follow

          One of my favourite features ever. Nothing like getting out of your car, seeing your sunroof in vent position and clouds in the distance.

          Or getting to a car that was left in the sun all afternoon – turn the key, drop the windows and enjoy a cooler interior.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s just every GM car since at least the early eighties.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    No automatic door locks on my 2010 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport. But I have a lock annoyance from the other side. If I manually lock my doors using the door-mounted switch inside the car, I must unlock them the same way. That is to say, I cannot simply pull the door-release handle while inside the vehicle with the door locked and have it open for me. I must press the manual lock-unlock button on the door and then pull the door-release handle.

    In many (most?) cars, one can unlock and open the door with one action using the release handle unless one has, say, a child safety lock activated. It was the same way on my previous Subaru. I always thought that could be a real safety issue in that the extra step could cost valuable time if attempting to get out of the car in an emergency situation. It doesn’t help that Subaru has a few nearly-identical buttons next to each other on the door. If the person inside the car was panicked and confused while trying to escape, it could make matters even worse.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Interesting .

    I guess ‘ Chevy Locking ‘ is now a forgotten term .

    Most of our old Mercedes Daily Drivers have the vacuum operated central locking ~ I am of mixed feelings about it as I don’t normally lock my driver’s door but I also live in The Ghetto so random folks opening the Passenger side door (with or without guns/knives) is always on my mind .

    Therefore , I always use the Central Locking on her Sedan and the Wagon too .

    Once when I was visiting Down East my hated batsh*t crazy older sister waited until I unlocked the rental car for SWMBO then ran up and jumped in the back seat….

    My Mercedes Coupe’s Central locking doesn’t work and so far I’ve declined to fix it although having something , _anything_ on MY PERSONAL CAR not working , also nags at me constantly……

    I just leave the Passenger side locked trunk double locked , if I need to open either , it’s easy enough .

    I’m enjoying the comments and learning too ~ I have never once known any one who owned one of those Fords with the keypad above the door handle , know how to make it work .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    VCplayer

    Some of you clearly live in wonderful places where carjackings aren’t a thing and an idled running car isn’t going to be driven off by the nearest guy walking down the street.

    I love my automatic locks, but I live 15 minutes from a couple of the most violent zip codes in America, so the feature is pretty awesome for me. If I need to warm up the car in winter I just use a spare set of keys. No fuss, and if I forget to hit the lock button on my way to work I don’t have to worry (well, as much).

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Actually the overwhelming majority of us live in places where carjacking is only seen on TV, and if I left a car running in my driveway for a long time one of my neighbors would turn it off for me. You really should just move, life is better where people are human.

      Ultimately, I am perfectly OK with automatic locking as long as I can turn it off with minimal effort. Which has been the case with the three cars I have owned that had it.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Your odds are better, but not zero. I live a couple miles and a few decades from not having to worry. All you need are people getting paid by governments to live in your town, and it’s all over.

        It’s amazing all the refugees we took into Houston over the years, but the only ones to be real trouble makers as a group came on a government paid ticket. In the eighties, there were northern states paying chronically unemployed to move here and get off their books. Several prison systems dump inmates here. Then there were the Katrina refugees.

        Just wait until your town is the target.

      • 0 avatar
        hybridkiller

        “Actually the overwhelming majority of us live in places where carjacking is only seen on TV, and if I left a car running in my driveway for a long time one of my neighbors would turn it off for me. You really should just move, life is better where people are human.”

        I’m not sure who you mean by “us”, but in the US and Canada, 81% of the human population lives in urban areas. I’ve never met an urban cop who thought it was a good idea to leave your keys in your unoccupied vehicle, running or not.

        I’m glad for you that you evidently haven’t been the victim of an auto-related crime, but many of “us” have – and it doesn’t just happen in bad areas/neighborhoods.

        And do I really need to point out that not everyone has the luxury of just packing up and moving to a low crime area?

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    There are pro’s and con’s to just about every automated feature:

    My recall my mother hating early automatic blinkers which would cancel their signal prematurely

    Automatic lights can become a hazard when some well meaning valet turns them off – this can prove deadly to older folks who have difficulty with night driving anyway. Whether or not they should be driving is secondary to the fact that they do …

    For folks who want to leave their car running AND locked at the same time (think dogs + summer time) modern auto locks / smart key systems are a step forward

    Automatic wipers … now, there’s a solution in search of a problem! Really? I can’t be trusted to turn on the wipers when it rains?

    Lastly – automatic seat belts. Remember those? I doubt anyone misses them!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Automatic seatbelts were a stop-gap compliance solution to the government requirement of a “passive restraint system”. Nobody wanted them, not automakers, not customers, noone, but for a car about to be replaced or redesigned, it was there to fill the requirement until airbags could take their place.

      Also, at the time, airbags were very expensive, so cars that sold mostly on price (Nissan Sentra, Ford Tempo, etc) used auto belts to keep the MSRP low until the cars were replaced or redesigned (which included the introduction of airbags).

      If you dont believe me, find a 1988+ Ford Tempo with an optional driver’s side airbag, itll have manual belts (and horn activation on the turn signal stalk! Lol). So will Canadian and Mexican market cars, as their governments didnt require passive restraints at the time.

      The exception was the 1996 and older (as far back as 94ish) Ford Escort, which had airbags and auto belts at the same time. I have no idea why that was the case.

      • 0 avatar
        Lack Thereof

        Dual air bags weren’t standard on the Escort until ’95, but it did retain the automatic seatbelts until the end of ’96, even though they were no longer necessary.

        Some potential reasons I can think of for retaining them, are that IIHS was putting a spotlight on compact car safety in the mid ’90s, so Ford might wanted to have avoided appearing to remove something marketed as a safety feature mid-generation.

        Alternately, they may have entered into a contract with a supplier for X number of units back in ’91, under the assumption that they would be needed for the entire generation through 1996. Then when dual airbags became standard equipment in ’95, it may have been cheaper to Ford to buy as many auto seat-belt units as needed to satisfy the contract, rather than deal with whatever financial penalty was associated with breaking it.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Auto wipers are actually pretty awesome in a number of circumstances. My favorite being when the road is wet but it is only lightly raining or not raining at all. You get occasional wipes for the light rain, but if you come up behind another car or you get splashed the wipers speed up. I thought they were kind of useless too until I bought my first car that had them.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Auto wipers are great for intermittent rain, pointless in steady rain, is my experience.

      In the latter case, normal wipers are just as good, and often better (since my automatics run “really fast” in anything but the lightest rain, which I find more annoying than the rain).

      In the former case, you can leave them on indefinitely and never have to manually pulse the wipers OR adjust speeds to avoid a wet windshield OR an overzealous wiper causing horrible noise.

  • avatar

    You’ll appreciate Automatic door locks when someone tries to car jack you and you realize that you never actually had to manually lock the doors – and they get locked out.

    STOP BEING LAZY.

    Just reach down and unlock the doors for Christ Sakes…

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      Couldn’t the reverse be said –

      “STOP BEING LAZY

      Just reach down and lock the doors for Christ Sakes…”

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        If you cant see the difference in the two, why even comment?

        The auto lock feature is activated as a passive system on purpose. Unlocking the doors (with engine running, in gear, etc) cannot be passive because how is the car going to know that you’ve pulled up to a curb to pick little Jimmy up from elementry schoor v.s. if youve simply come to a stop at a stop sign, redlight, or because traffic in front of you forces the stop. Its the latter situations when having the doors locked can be a good thing to deture car jacking, child abduction, etc.

        If youre a pedophile walking down an urban street and you see a kid to your liking sitting behind an unlocked door with nothing but a seatbelt stopping you from grabbing him/her, the parent has 0 time to react before youve already made your move and dissapeared into an alley, another vehicle, a building, etc.

        If youre the same pedo who happens to pick a kid out whos in a car with auto locks, you try the door handle unsuccessfully, causing the parent to be alerted to what youre attempting to do, the child to scream and/or crawl away to another area of the vehicle to get away from you, etc. Your abduction attempt is foiled because it takes a lot more time and effort to break into a locked car, unbucle the child, and make your escape. Even busting a window takes more time and effort, because its unlikely youre going to be able to pull an unwilling child through the window, and youd have to reach in, find the door handle or door lock, and then open the door.

        The difference might only be 5-10 seconds, but thats 5-10 seconds more reaction time the parent has and it can make a world of difference.

        • 0 avatar
          See 7 up

          Hey, what if little Jimmy goes to open the door while you are picking him up, and its locked since you forgot to unlock it. And you fumbled to unlock it and in those 5 seconds, little Jimmy was stolen by a pedophile.

          You scenarios are hilarious. You must live in your own fear prison.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Not at all, Im just not stupid enough to think “it couldnt happen to me/my family”, because it can and does. There was a child abducted in the exact mannor I described near where I grew up, which is how I came up with the “hillarious scenario”. Im not sure he or his mother found it hillarious.

            If you want doors locks that can tell the difference between someone who is supposed to gain entry vs. someone who is not, go ahead and write some automakers and Im sure theyll get right on it, right after they finish George Jetson’s car.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            The guy thought he was clever and has backed himself into a corner. He should stop digging as he isn’t saving his position, but he is losing credibility.

            I’ll show some respect to the law enforcement and security guys who this guy seems to think are all ninnies. Even when I was young, dumb, and a paratrooper I had more sense than to act like such an arse. Of course, I knew some of those guys in the security world had passed and even taught courses I wasn’t qualified to attend so maybe I had more info than he does.

    • 0 avatar

      This. Besides, all of my cars with auto locks would unlock either one of the front doors as soon as its handle was pulled.

  • avatar
    rsfeller

    Someone has to be the voice of reason here…so I’ll say it. WTF is wrong wit your people!?!!?

    I see comments on here about hating ACC!?!? You big dummies know it’s fully manual if you want it to be, no? Of course you do…your car people so why are you complaining. I live with one of you…my wife hasn’t left a climate control do it’s job on one of the 15 european cars we’ve owned in the last 20+ years. Every time I get in a car it’s on manual.

    Also…very car I’ve ever owned that locks your doors at speed can easily turn this off in the programming…especially new quality cars…on the display. Also…I want to know the make and model the author claimed he uncle had. I’m calling shenanigans on that one. Maybe and I mean maybe he turned the car off and back on to initiate the sequence but no car would lock the car automatically just by exiting the vehicle. Nope…don’t believe it.

    Never locked myself out of car once in 30 years. Don’t fear any of my modern cars and they auto entry/locks and wireless fobs. Nope.

    I know. We need content to write and rant about!

    OK…back shooting up C4 vetts at the viper club meeting…or should I say “meating”!

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    BTW, I’ve heard of this thing calles ‘Automatic climate control’ and even owned two cars that supposedly had it, but neither of these car knew what temperature I wanted to have in the car, how much fan noise I can endure, where I want the cold air (face or feet) or tell if my GF or me was correct about what temperature we wanted…(two zones in the ’07 CR-V helped a bit, but there is only so much difference you can achieve with less than a foot of air between you)

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Buy a BMW. Only car I have ever owned where the auto HVAC is perfect. I only ever touch that little wheel that causes Doug to have conniption fits. And it is capable of side to side temp extremes that make me wonder if an in-car thunderstorm might be a possibility. You can also adjust the relative fan speed to taste.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      In a GM car the climate control turns down the fan when you take a bluetooth call. I thought that was a nice touch.

      You know the “temperature i want to have in the car” that is the part YOU set with climate control it does the rest. What i like to do, and most people including yourself don’t seem to know, is use the in between modes, auto climate is not all or nothing, every unit i have ever used lets you selectively take control. Fan too loud? Turn it down, the brain will try to meet your temp with the fan speed you command. Want heat on your feet? No problem take over just the air direction. Manual climate control is fussy i could go weeks without having to even touch the climate buttons in my Lexus try that with manual controls.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    So your uncle hates automatic locks because he wants to go into a building and leave the car running? He should also leave a couple of cases of beer on the front seat to make it more enticing.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Somewhere in a box in the house is a video tape of me shot by a friend back in 1990.

    We are at an autocross event and the massive RCA fullsize camcorder (which was about the size of a professional field unit used today) was jerry rigged up to be able to record performance. We would watch on the tiny black and white screen – and we would also record debrief sessions of each other on each course while it was fresh in our heads of turns we missed, who do you think you hit that cone, etc. etc.

    We would also video where the tires were rubbing on the sidewalls – I was whacky into autocross at the time.

    So here I am after, a really crappy run where I thought I did well, and I already have fuss face. It was a frustrating day and I didn’t want to talk into a camera as it was. As the tape is running, you hear the telltale sound of the power locks engaging on the car – with the keys still inside.

    The WTF look on my face captured on tape is priceless. I don’t think we filmed for the rest of the day.

  • avatar
    pheanix

    …first world problems. I dunno, I like the auto locks. As others have said, there is a simple override in most cases, and with the older cars you can just get an EVTM and cut some wire somewhere to disable it permanently. Personally, I don’t see the little bit of added security as a bad thing, and the trade-off where I have to push a button to let somebody in is just… well… I can’t believe we’re discussing this.

    The only downside is if you leave your car parked and running and the door locks itself. In general not a good idea. But that’s why at least Fords (which is the only make with the auto locks that I’ve left parked and the engine running) have an external keypad, that’s how you let yourself back in.

    So, no complaints from me.

  • avatar
    boxermojo

    It boggles my mind that people are still thinking that automatic locking has anything to do with security or carjackers or—what on earth are y’all going on about?

    Automatic locks are a safety feature. In an accident, impact or inertial forces can move the parts in your doors that let the door open, and, if you’re in a rolling vehicle with an open door, you’re pretty much going to lose limbs or smash your head in. With the doors latched by the automatic locks, this is less likely. Simple.

    Spent a while working contracts for the NTSB back in the eighties, and you really, really don’t want to roll a car with a door open—it’s like an inside-out blender.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      That’s a really interesting fact, I would have guessed it was done as a child safety feature.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Most deactivate (unlock) when the interior door handle is pulled, so I dont see how that would help child safety, unless keeping the child out of the car in the first place is the goal.

        Besides, every vehicle with rear doors built in the last, say, 20+ years has child safety locks on it which prevent the door opening from the inside when activated (usually by a tiny lever in the door jamb). This includes models with manual door locks.

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          “Most deactivate (unlock) when the interior door handle is pulled,”
          Are you sure? I’ve never seen that. My cars auto unlock when you put it in park, but if you’re stopped and still in D pulling the handle will not unlock the door. Not sure what my 3-pedal Honda does, I’ll have to check.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Youre right that some are that way. Thats why I said “most”. Yes, Ive been in a vehicle where pulling the door handle inside did nothing if the doors were locked. I cant remember the make/model, but the vast majority of cars Ive been in allowed the interior door handle to open the otherwise locked door.

            My point is, child safety locks are already included in every modern vehicle with rear doors just for that reason, so having auto locks would be redundant if that was the reasoning behind them as he seemed to suggest. Also, why would the front doors, including the drivers, lock as well since children small enough to be stupid enough to open the door of a moving vehicle would likely be in the back, and certainly wouldnt be in the driver’s seat.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            You know, after posting that, I realized that I have been in a modern car that did not allow rear locked doors to be opened from the inside, so maybe Im wrong on that point.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m sure there a variety of locking combinations if we want to go back twenty five years, but I am referring too what Russycle describes, auto locks in reverse and drive, auto unlocks in park. If it didn’t lock automatically in drive then a child conceivably could pull the handle and open the door in motion.

          • 0 avatar
            Lack Thereof

            Pull the interior door handle while locked on my 2004 Chevrolet, and the door both opens and unlocks in one step.

            If you’re worried that children will pull the handle, there are child locks for that. I, however, suggest teaching your children that pulling levers may have consequences. It’s not like they’re actually going to be able to force the door open against the wind at highway speeds anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Except it doesn’t explain on systems that unlock the doors when the airbags and seat belt pretensioners deploy.

    • 0 avatar
      JK43123

      I understand, but I don’t agree with the execution. For example, in our Grand Marquis they lock after the car is put in drive. So if we are backing out of the garage or a parking space, where it would be easy for someone bad to open a door, it’s unlocked. But then when we start moving forward to go fast where it is hard for someone to grab the door, they lock. I would think, PARK=unlocked no park=locked.

      John

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      As people said up-stream … the locks and the LATCHES aren’t the same mechanism.

      Locks keep the handle from working the latch; the door is latched when it’s closed properly even if it’s unlocked.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    On a related note, the NY Times published an entertaining story about an owner coping with manual door locks on her Jeep.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/automobiles/manual-locks-a-love-story.html?_r=0

  • avatar
    klossfam

    The benefits FAR outweigh any inconvenience (and the fact you can also disable if you are ‘easily inconvenienced’ as it appears Mr. DeMuro is).

    VW/Audi as all kinds of lock or unlocked scenarios via VAG-COM as one example. Toyota has a bunch of sequencing of the lock switch hacks you can do if no menu options.

    Even my Honda Ridgeline has a couple options with no CAN interface required. Definitely a feature I require in cars I buy.

    • 0 avatar

      These make me nuts. A first responder I know told me that the door lock does not make you safer in a crash, “it only protects you from other humans”, and worse, they have to shower you with glass when they break a window.

      In my Acura, you can set them by the in car computer…no big deal to turn them off.
      In my BMW, they ask your programming on delivery, but you can’t DIY the setting.
      In my VW, the damn things lock at 20 mph every time. Doing the school run can be annoying unless you remember to unlock them at pickup, or three kids have just yanked your door handles off….three or four times.

      At the dealer, I’m told they won’t change the setting. I have to chase down a VAG COM for this and “jailbreak” my car ? crazy.

      It should be a requirement that the settings are user accessible.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        Your VW will automatically ublock all the doors when the airbag is deployed. No glass shower necessary, although I think a lot of those first responder types just like smashing windows.

  • avatar
    CreepyMayne

    I disagree with this one, this is a life saving feature if you live in a big city, especially Chicago. Before this was made the norm, you would hear about people getting carjacked or killed because someone snuck up at a traffic light and invited themselves in.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    This scenario of having your car automatically lock you out because you left the keys in it, isn’t real. Cars that have this feature also have proximity keys and not only will they not lock if the key is in the car, they won’t let you lock the doors from the outside if the key is in the car. A friend of mine has a Merc with this feature, one day he couldn’t close his trunk. Every time he closed it, it would pop back open. He thought WTF, it’s broken, time to go to the dealer…. umm, oops, the key was in the trunk. Once he took it out… trunk closed.

    But this is annoying if you and your wife go somewhere together and she wants to leave her keys in the car because she knows you have yours.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      Incorrect. I managed a Quick-Lube oil change place for a number of years. I know that at a bare minimum, more than one generation of Dodge Caravan has the ability to auto-lock with the keys in the ignition. I don’t know what circumstances are required to make it happen. I don’t know if it’s the factory configuration or if that’s a setting the owner has to turn on, but it happens.

      Our franchise’s policy was that all cars in our care would have the drivers window fully rolled down, all 4 doors unlocked, and the keys in the ignition until we were done servicing it.

      Nevertheless, it was not uncommon to try to get in a vehicle, at least once a shift, and find it had locked itself for some reason. Sometimes even when the vehicle had been left idling for a service. That was why we always left the driver’s window down. It was usually Dodge Caravans that did it to us, but that’s just because we serviced a lot of them, not because they were the only ones that did it.

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      Unfortunately, you are wrong. While some newer cars do have proximity keys, there are a lot out there that don’t.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    This whole thread has been hilarious.

    I don’t even know how some of you people drive to a destination. What if there is someone behind the bush, just waiting for you to unlock your secure vault like car! Or someone behind a parked car just waiting for you!

    And ironically, those expressing the most fear are apparently so petrified, they can’t even remember to lock their own doors and need it to automated. Maybe their hands are shaking so badly they know pushing the lock button is futile, they may double bump it, accidentally unlocking the car and opening the gates of hell, likely never to be seen again.

    And yeah, I really don’t care if people like auto door locks and if my car has them I’ll live (eh, get it…), but the fear some express here is frankly funny.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    OK Andy Rooney.

    What’s next: “…and what’s up with these darn power seats…”

  • avatar
    wmba

    Never thought much about this “feature” of door-locking when in Drive or moving away, which Subaru doesn’t have anyway. The main lock/unlock switch is all by itself on the driver’s door, and is super easy to operate if the doors need to be locked/unlocked. Not many carjackings around these parts I guess, don’t even know anyone who has been subject to it either. Thus it operates the way DeMuro wishes was standard.

    Another wishy-washy complaint from the author. My real complaint is the typical second class treatment front seat passengers get when it comes to seat adjustability. Some cars even feature manual adjustment when the driver’s seat is powered, but the usual default is just powered fore-aft and recline. Cheap, cheap, cheap. The real powered passenger seat in the CLA when it first came out was the only luxury feature I could find in the car. I wonder if it still has it two years on.

    And I regard tiny windows and giant A-pillars as the opposite of luxury as well. Oh well, society got around that by employing people to design parking sensors and cameras as another add-on to further distance the driver from the physical prowess of actual driving a vehicle.

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    As the great Paula Abdul said, “opposites attract “. He could be completely aware of his surroundings all the time and his wife could be completely not aware of her surroundings at any point. It’s complete believable for each of the sexes and if her auto locks helps keep her safe when she has no idea if she has to be then it’s a win win. It’s not as sexist as your comment implies it to be.

  • avatar
    craiger

    My E39 had auto locking. It was maddening. I asked the dealer to disable it (it’s a simple change) but was told that BMW NA doesn’t allow it for liability reasons.

  • avatar
    drsparky

    I was driving a company Chevy Silverado I pulled over to the side of the road, got out to verify my snowmobile trailer was completely off the road and heard the horn “beep” and all the locks “clunk”. It was snowing and all I had on was a hoodie and sneakers. My coat, boots, hat and gloves were inside the truck. A 10 minuet walk up a hill got me cell coverage so I could call the office and have a set of keys brought to me. I huddled near the grill for an hour to get some residual heat off the radiator. Is this a safely feature so I don’t get car jacked by a moose? I work in the boonies and getting locked out is far more dangerous than a mad squirrel trying to open one of my doors. Sad thing is their is not a “I don’t live in the ghetto” setting on the stupid truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I personally always wear pants while driving.

      But that’s just me.

      (But, then, I never leave a car running with a key in it without popping a window.

      Because I’m paranoid about being locked out even by my own habit of always locking the door.

      But … that means I NEVER GET LOCKED OUT.)

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Modern Hondas and Fords back to 2010, for two, let you control this stuff without the “twist key to ‘Run’ and ‘Off’ a number of times while ‘planking’ across the center console” nonsense; it’s a simple menu setting.

    First thing I disabled on my Accord when I took delivery–I can control my own locks!

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Ford autolocking has been programmable since it was available with the first of the keyless (not remote) entry systems. On my 92 Crown Vic it was through the key pad. On our 03 Mountaineer it is done via the driver’s info center buttons on the dash. On my wife’s 10 Fusion it is done via the info center but with the steering wheel buttons.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Roger that on Fords — had a couple Focus loaners from the 2010 timeframe (and no remote pad), so didn’t know.

        Back when I was a 10-y/o kid in 1980, I remember my eyes bugging out when I saw the TV commercial of the Fox-body T-Bird with the woman pushing the buttons, then pulling the door handle! No other automaker, AFAIK, has implemented this!

  • avatar
    Luke42

    My Sienna gets this right. It locks the doors when you put it in drive, and unloks them again when you put it in park.

    By you insist on picking up passengers without putting the vehicle in park first, you’re probably not responsible enough to own a minivan in the first place.

    P.S. My dad had a late 1990s Sable that got the doorlock thing very wrong, with auto-locking the doors at 8mph. The was especially annoying because we had a long driveway, and it locked in in before we got to the barn, which was much closer than the road. We were able to use some sort of incantation out of the owners manual to disable it, but mont people probabny wouldn’t have even bothered to look…

  • avatar
    gzuckier

    “So what you do is, you either leave it running with a window down, or you turn it of off and bring the keys with you. ”
    You know cars have electric starters now, right? You’re not still turning the crank in the front, are you?
    Locks that lock when the car moves aren’t that much of a problem; you’re probably inside the car, in that case.
    Locks that lock when they decide to, when the car is NOT moving are definitely a problem, however. I have also experienced that with a rentacar, in the middle of an intersection, at rush hour, after a fender bender. Fun fact: rent a car agencies do not have a spare key for the vehicle. Who would guess that?

  • avatar
    redav

    Left the keys in the car when picking up dry cleaning? Idiot.
    Left the keys in the car when pulling over to take a photo? Idiot.

    Auto door locks are a trifle compared to real acts of stupidity, like rental companies giving you two keys–permanently cabled together.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Redav, you win the internets!

      I keep meaning to ask if they really charge you for two sets if you lose them that way. If so, the class action suit will end up costing them more than they saved.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    I don’t understand the fuss either:

    On the Kia when you select drive the doors lock. Select park, the doors unlock. When I pick up a passenger, I put the car in park.

    Keys in the ignition, running or not? You can’t lock the doors either with the button on either door, or manually trying all the locks themselves, they will flip back to unlock. Want to use the key in the door? Twist once to open the drivers door, twice for all the doors.

    The other thing I like is that during the day when unlocking the car doesn’t turn on the lights, at night the lights come on. Unlike GM’s which turn into an X-mas tree every second they can.

    • 0 avatar

      I do not like the doors automatically unlocking when you shift into park. Our 2012 Sonata does this.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Back in the 90s, thieves were on the lookout for cars with this behavior. Somewhere in Times Square,, my future wife pulled over to wait for a friend. Said friend had left her pocket book in the front passenger seat. It was snatched because the door was automatically unlocked.

        They were upset but not as much as I thought they’d be. She told me the pocketbook had little of value: some cash and a feminine hygiene product.

        Park should let you configure It to only unlock the driver door, or be disabled altogether.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    I largely agree with Doug, but only for me.

    eg. I drive a car with central locking and electric windows and most of the conveniences.

    The car does not have auto locking, nor does it have stuff like proximity access or things like needing to start the car with the brake on or in park brake.

    I would love it if modern cars have all these things but allow you to set up the car via the center lcd to suit it to how you want the car to be just like a new phone or tablet.

    I’ve driven a few cars that needed to have footbrake on, park brake on to start. These sorts of ‘lawsuit friendly’ things really get me just like the inability to program a GPS when the car is in motion.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “[…] or things like needing to start the car with the brake on or in park brake.”

      How old is it that it doesn’t have a brake-interlock for starting?

      (NHTSA mandated it from 2006 or so, but it was, IIRC, damn near universal before then anyway.

      My ’94 Toyota pickup demanded a foot on the brake to start.)

      But then I’ve never seen it as an annoyance; I’d prefer to not put extra stress on the park pawl in the transmission anyway, or have any possible unwanted movement when shifting to R or D, so I … have my foot on the brake.

      “Car on and stopped? Foot on brake.”

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Depending on how it is implemented I think automatic locks are a good idea. I think DLR and push/stop buttons are a dumb idea but auto door locks are not bad. In my truck, as soon as I reach a certain low speed ( 5-10 mph) they lock. When I stop and place the vehicle in park, they unlock. Nice and easy. If I stop and don’t place it in park ( stop light for example) they will not. There are worst things in life than having to press “unlock” once in a blue moon. In my case, the way the vehicle has it programmed this happens about twice per year when I do a quick stop for someone to hop out and I don’t place the vehicle in “Park”.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I hAte most automatic things. With auto locks, passengers often get confused in one of my cars because the unlock button is on the dash, not the door. When I go to get something out of the hatch (with the key in the cylinder), I fear the thing will lock on me as I walk to the back of the car. (Must be due to the fact that an older car used to have a lock delay, forcing you to run to the back before the doors locked after 10 seconds or so.). My Japanese car locks make a gentle sound, while the German car sounds like a rifle shot. I can reverse at 20 mph and they won’t lock, but get up to 5 mph in drive and they lock. I’m sure there is a logic there, but it escapes me.

    Auto lights are okay I guess, but if I sit in the car with the radio on I must turn them off manually. Then I must remember to turn them back on when I leave. (I can actually listen to the radio with the key out, as long as I don’t open a door, but then the ceiling light will come on for a while, before eventually dimming. I can’t imagine all the meeting engineers must have to determine this protocol.)

    Auto windows seem useful for most, but it does make me feel extremely lazy that I need a motor just to open a window. And again, one of my cars allows the motor to work with the key out or in off position, while the other does not.

    I guess power mirrors are accepted by most, but I set the mirrors once during the life of my car ownership, and carry the weight of the motor for a decade. Doesn’t really make sense in my situation.

    Auto wipers usually annoy me – going at a crazy speed too often. Auto temp control the same – I rarely see the need to but the fan speed at max, but the computer brain regularly differs.

    Lastly, I’ve never had power seats – and I do get a great sense of satisfaction with the infinite control offered by the large round knob often found on German cars – even if you have to contort your arm to use it.

  • avatar
    fiasco

    One my top five worst days at work was due to automatic locks.

    I was on a photo shoot in upstate NY in February. The 200k mile studio 300TE wagon (loaded to the roof with lighting gear) decides to eat its neutral safety switch for breakfast and refuses to start in any gear, so we get it towed to a garage and have two choices of rental: Altima or Roadmaster.

    I go with Roadmaster. Which had the most useless trunk ever, so I had to contort myself over camera bags to sit in the car.

    Our first shot is (inexplicably) outside, in 0 degree weather, and we have to fake some sun with lights, and shuttle freezing cameras and hands in and out of the Buick to keep things going.

    So I leave it running.

    Click.

    Cue two wasted hours waiting for the shop to show up with the other keys.

    Ever since that morning, I ALWAYS roll down a window on ANY car I leave idling. Even if it’s -20 outside.

    Auto locks suck.

  • avatar
    Jgwag1985

    In my mom’s 2010 Equinox, doors automatically lock when gear selector is moved out of park. When gear selector put into park, ALL doors automatically unlock. I love it, great feature.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Automatic locks are mostly an annoyance for me. I had a Dakota that had them but I got used to them. The main reason was that the door unlocked when you pulled the interior handle.

    The wife’s Bimmer does this too, however there is one main difference. One pull unlocks the door, two pulls opens the door. WHAT THE HELL!? It makes me irrationally angry every time I have to do it. Come to think of it, I’m not sure it locks automatically or if she does it herself. Either way though, anger.

    The Cobalt I had at work had auto locks that locked when you put it into a gear and automatically unlocked only after you turn the car off. We used the car for storm response which meant getting in and out of the car dozens of times a day. You’d think that after the 40th time you’d remember you have to physically unlock the doors to allow the passenger (or driver) to get out but you’d be wrong. Everyone forgot every single time and it drives you crazy.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I think every (modern) BMW does that.

      My Volvo also does it.

      First pull unlocks, second pull opens.

      It’s rumored to somehow be a child-safety-related feature, somehow.

  • avatar
    epsilonkore

    I will tell you why I LOVE auto locking doors. Ever been in a bad neighborhood, say at a fast food restaurant/gas station etc. You walk back to your car, unlock it, get in and see some seedy folks looking at you? I will tell you the LEAST offensive way to lock your doors in their presence is to have your hands in plain sight, on the wheel as you reach 5mph when the auto lock kicks in. The door lock thunk can be heard by most people on the outside, if they see your hands, they know you didnt do it “because of them”, and are not stirred to charge your car. I can remember locking my old Pontiac 6000 back in the mid 90s in a bad neighborhood. The homeless guy I locked the doors for, yelled at me “Oh you gonna lock me out are you?” and beat his hands across my windows. In later years I had a similar experience when my auto locks kicked in. My hands were on the wheel, and this guy knew I didnt do it intentionally ( but boy was I happy when it did). No window banging and threats. Just security.

  • avatar

    While I’m indifferent about auto-locking doors, your uncle is an idiot. He’s lucky the car was still there.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    I love auto-door locks. I wouldn’t own a vehicle without them. Can you hear me Subaru?

  • avatar
    alcaponed

    Lockout problems can be solved by having intelligent keys. I used to install remote starters on my old cars but 3 of my cars now have intelligent keys. I go in, start the car, then lock the car from outside while the key is still in my pocket. I can get ready to go and by the time I’m done my climate control will have made the car bearable to drive. Before the smart keys I would just carry a spare in the back pocket in case I locked myself out, which has saved me in the past.

  • avatar
    somebody

    My wife and I are shopping for a new car and automatic door locks is one of the top requirements. The OP’s reasons against automatic door locks puzzle me. Having to unlock the door when you pick someone up hardly seems to be the great inconvenience, especially when weighed against the locked door preventing a homeless person from trying to gain access to the vehicle when stopped at a traffic light – which is what happened to my wife, fortunately her doors were locked. The story about his uncle equally puzzles me as it makes little sense to me to leave a car running with the keys in it. However, I can agree that the automatic door locks should be based on the activity of the car and not a timer.

    One thing that I do NOT like is automatic door UNLOCKING. I find this to be very dangerous, especially when stopping at a drive up ATM and putting the car in park, only to have the doors unlock – while you are getting cash. Doors should never unlock automatically, IMHO.

    A good compromise is for the owner to program the car for their preference. I would disable unlocking, and have the doors lock when the car is put into gear or achieves a set speed. The safety of always having the doors locked while driving far out-weighs the minor inconvenience of “reaching over to press a button”.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • dal20402: Never going back. Once you’ve spent some time with an EV, ICEs start to feel slow-witted, clumsy, and...
  • B-BodyBuick84: This might sound like an absurd suggestion coming from a man with a username such as mine, but...
  • gstewartbxl: I remember the Rambler Hornet, growing up in South Africa. American branded cars were very popular up...
  • 28-Cars-Later: @Arthur I’m still skeptical long term but I don’t think the CVT is the death sentence it...
  • 28-Cars-Later: I don’t particularly believe J.D. Power without knowing whose been writing them checks of late....

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber