Do you know which button is which in your car? It could save your life… 22



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Mollieanne and Brian were just going for a drive when they had a near-death experience in their car. No, they weren’t driving it, and no it wasn’t a car accident. The New Zealand couple, in their 60s, were locked in their car.

Their new Mazda 3 hatchback had keyless entry, a common feature of modern cars, and their terrifying incident serves as a reminder to us all to check our car’s manual.

The couple left their manual in the house, as well as their transponder, and became trapped in the car. At 7pm on November 5 last year, they panicked and tried to smash their windows and sounded the horn. It was Guy Fawkes night, so no one heard their horn.

Found 13 hours later by neighbours, Mollieanne, 65, was unconscious and Brian, 68, was struggling to breathe. Mrs Smith said that if they had been in the car another half an hour, they could have died.

Mr Smith, who considered himself ”very methodical”, said he could not find the unlocking mechanism.

”Once I found out how simple it was to unlock it I kicked myself that I did not find the way out … I had this mind-set that I did not have the transponder [so I could not get out]”.

The car salesperson had made it seem the car would not work without the transponder, he told the Otago Daily Times.

He now knew the manual lock was the same as the inside door handle on many other vehicles.

His message for owners of modern cars was to check their car’s manual before using it.



A new survey of US drivers has also shown that an increasing number of new car owners do not know how to use the sophisticated technology, which could lead to similar terrifying incidents – or even death.

Keyless entry is just one feature of a long list of new features in modern vehicles, include remote car unlocking, self-parking, rear cameras and Bluetooth capabilities.

The most underused feature, according to 43 per cent survey respondents, was in-vehicle concierge systems that can recommend nearby restaurants or gas stations.

Automatic parking systems were unused by 35 per cent of those surveyed, and the 2015 Drive Report from market research company JD Power found that 20 per cent of new car owners had still not used approximately half of the technology features available in their vehicles after three months of purchase.

Some argue that the new technology doesn’t make it easier but not using a rear camera could put you in danger of running over someone. It’s best to familiarise yourself with all features in your car so you can focus on driving and getting to your destination safely.



Tell us, will you be reading your car’s manual ASAP? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Have had a similiar experience. I put my 9 year old Toyota in for a service and then when the courtesy car dropped me back to pick up the car the driver got out and before I could get out the car locked. I must admit I panicked (not being used to cars that seem to have a mind of their own). I sat on the horn and the guy turned around and realised I was still in the car. He let me out and then explained how I could have unlocked the car myself. I think there can be too much technology on new cars.

  2. Always when I get a new car I like to take time to check how things work, however I leave the manual in the driver door because my car locks it’s self when you get to 15 kilometres, then unlocks when you put the car into park which I fortunately did have explained to me, there are so many features you need to read about when you first use that function which you could not be expected to know about.

  3. My car is ten years old and I only consult the manual when something goes wrong or strange lights come on. Hate the thought of keyless start.

  4. Have keyless entey on our car. We can not lock the car without the key on the outside of the car and within one metre of the door. This can be a pain as my wife can not leave her bag with key inside in the car. We can not open the car unless the key is within one metre of the door.

  5. There is probably more to this story than is mentioned in the article, but on the face of it –
    1. The instruction manual belongs nowhere else, but in the glovebox of the car. Taking it out and leaving it somewhere else is stupidity.
    2. Even if you were trapped – what’s wrong with opening a window? Power windows? Turn the ignition on and they will work. Likewise the interior door locks – and if you don’t know how to work those, more stupidity.
    3. And to get more air inside, what’s wrong with starting the engine and turning on the air-con?
    4. Why not drive somewhere for help?
    Unless there are good answers to these, as to why none could be done, it seems like these customers should be catching the bus.

    1 REPLY
    • Dennis, sorry to have to disagree, mate, point 1 is pretty right but 2., 3. and 4. won’t work without the transponder/electronic key in your pocket or purse

  6. Modern technology, I just want to be able stick the key in the ignition and start the motor when I want to, forget all this crap about keyless entry and starting the motor. I seem to recall an incident awhile back where the battery went flat and the old couple could not open a door or window. Then we have the problem of when the car stops (dies”), you lift the bonnet and there is sweet F A that you can do without a computer. Another problem, I borrowed a commodore vacationer, you can not lock the drivers door from the inside, now that is really great when my wife is driving by herself at night. Two weeks back when I tried to unlock the car at night the interior light came on but no door lock released, had to open the tailgate and climb through drive the car home and exit via the tailgate, seems the lock in the drives door malfunctioned The lock poked and prodded it for a while and then it released so far no more problems. Oh for the days when all you need was a key to unlock your car.

  7. Heard of someone who went to the supermarket. He stayed in the car but when she walked away with the key he was locked in. Then when he moved, the burglar alarm went off.

  8. Our car is still way smarter than us and we’ve had it for 3 1/2 years now. Hubby drove son and grandkids to Sizzler. No close park so he stopped and I ran around to the drivers side he jumped out and I jumped in. I drove to our suburb and stopped at the local Post Office. When I stopped I saw words flash saying “key not located” That’s when I knew the keys were in Sizzlers having a great time and I was in a car that wouldn’t start again. So I hoofed it home, dug around for the spare house keys let myself in and got the spare keys. Drove his ute back to the post office, left it there and drove the sedan home. When they rang to be picked up I retrieved them back to the post office, dropped him off to drive his car home and we were back to normal. We’ve been paranoid about who has the key ever since.

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