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From the "WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY THINKING?" category....
In a classic ADD moment, I left my car keys at the hotel in Tampa this morning, and didn't discover the loss until I was at my car in Boston. Given that the spare key is at home home in Maine about two hours away, I thought that I'd try out that AAA membership that I've had for years and have used for nothing other than a discount on hotel bills.
The call to AAA was quick, and they called a locksmith who assured them and me that it would be no problem to come out and create a new key for me. It wasn't going to be cheap, because these keys have a chip in them and whatnot, but they could absolutely code it right there on the spot.
They were wrong. It can't be done. While GM has gone and built out their onStar network to such an extent that they can unlock the car from Detroit and then have the air bag system in-fellate you on the way home, Chrysler has gone the other way. If you have two valid keys, you can code another one. If not, the dealer has to do it.
Here's what happens.
1. Locksmith uses the car's Vehicle Identification Number and a special phone number to get the right information to cut a new blank key. This won't work for starting you car yet, because the car has to be programmed to accept it. It will, however, allow you to open the door.
2. Use the new key to open the door. This sets off the alarm.
3. The anti-theft system now locks the fuel system so the car won't drive AND disables the onboard computer port.
4. The locksmith attempts to plug in to the computer and program it to accept the new key.
5. The computer tells the locksmith to...well....it uses the computer equivalent to a phrase now part of the congressional record having been made famous by Dick Cheney.
6. The owner of the car now calls Chrysler, only to find out the car can only be re-enabled by finding a valid key or having it towed to a dealership. Oh, and the dealership is now closed for the day.
So, thanks to some engineer somewhere spending too much of his overly high salary on Peruvian Marching Powder, I had to rent a car from Avis and drive home. I've got the spare key now, and will waste six hours tomorrow in a round trip drive to Boston.
Ah, and it gets better. When I get there, I'll need to charge the battery because the alarm going off has almost totally drained it. I'm charging up the rescue boost kit tonight, and when I go down tomorrow I'll swing by the garage and plug that into the cigarette lighter outlet to slowly charge back the system while I drop off the rental. If that doesn't do it, I'll have to ask security at Logan for a jump start.
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