Fobbed Off: Remembering Car Keys


I once owned a 75 Pacer much like this. It had two keys!
I once owned a 75 Pacer much like this. It had two keys!

We changed cars a week or so ago. After two Hyundai vehicles we changed manufacturer but not country by getting another Korean car, a Kia Soul. So far we are very pleased. I am especially pleased with the new key fob.

The two Hyundai cars were fine, we only changed to Kia because we liked the Soul and Hyundai does not yet have a similar model. But if there was a problem with the Hyundais it was minor but annoying.

I recall a time when a car had two keys. A square one that got you in and started the car, and a round one that opened the trunk. These keys were only slightly larger than regular house and office keys which allowed them to be put on a ring and carried in a pocket. To protect against loss, you could have as many copies made as you wanted simply by going to your local hardware store and having them cut for a few bucks each.

Capture_FobTo open your car door you had to actually insert the key and turn it; no button pressing from afar. A simple procedure unless of course the locks froze. This was a common occurrence the day after a car wash. A cruel winter reality was the need to often wash off accumulated road salt that ate away at cars like termites in a log cabin, only to find the locks frozen the next morning. Of course there were several lock de-icer products, small cans along the lines of butane lighter fillers, the nozzle of which you stuck into the keyhole and squirted the alcohol-based liquid into the lock workings. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not. However more often than not it was not put to the test because it was left in the glove compartment, locked inside the car!

If the liquid failed to allow the key to function, there were several home remedies that could be used, including holding your key under a match or lighter to heat it. Inserting a hot key was supposed to melt the ice. It goes without saying that to try this method too soon after injecting the alcohol de-icer could have disastrous results. Hair dryers attached to several extension cords were also popular tools to gain access to a lock-frozen vehicle.

But those days are long gone. No longer do we have a pair of keys, now we have one key on a fob. The fob has several buttons that open and lock the doors, even if frozen, open the trunk and a useful red button that makes your car honk and flash madly so you can find it in a crowded parking lot.

Capture_DeIcerAll fine and dandy except for a couple of things. The fob is relatively large, it will not fit on a key ring. Worse, on literally countless occasions I, with fob in pocket, sat down to dinner and  inadvertently set off the horn and lights on the car parked outside our building three floors down. While that was annoying, it could be dealt with from the window by pointing the fob and pressing the lock button. More irksome was unknowingly opening the trunk. Family members and neighbors would often tell me they had closed my car trunk yet again as they walked by and noticed it gaping open.  Sometimes I hit the jackpot and not only tripped the car finder cacophony, but upon looking out the window to silence it I noticed the trunk wide open. This required me to traipse down three stories and shut the trunk before it filled with snow or thieving hands.

The Kia fob has not yet caused me any trouble. Perhaps it is just a wee bit less sensitive. But I do foresee a problem. On the new fob the key retracts and is released by a button. Something akin to a switch blade. As I tend to carry the fob in my front pants pocket I suspect at some point in the future I will suffer a shot to the choir buttons as the key flips out into position.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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5 thoughts on “Fobbed Off: Remembering Car Keys

  1. I enjoyed this. I have two Pacers – a ’79 Limited woody wagon [driver] and a non-driving, as yet, ’77 coupe . And each has ONE key for everything.

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