Have you ever heard of a car locking itself at the carwash? Read on…

I went to the car wash this morning because the car was filthy after our “Carmageddon” weekend in the Santa Barbara region.

(We had a splendid weekend with our friend Jo, which I will blog about later in the week.)

Mr F and Jo walking in Montecito

Southern half of the bridge is gone (I don't know why it doesn't look straight in this picture.)

I also haven’t mentioned the awful traffic jams we faced in  our commute this week as everyone slowed down to gawk and check out the Mulholland Street Bridge demolition   (the reason for the 405 closure).

It was sliced in such a clean straight line, it looks like a regular fully functioning bridge.

if you look on the left you can see that part of the bridge has been cut off

As I said, I went to the car wash. Usually a boring half hour, but not today. I was surprised to see a Mini Cooper being pushed out of the washing bay.

“I’ve never seen that before,” I said out loud, “Are they trying to save gas?”

The guy next to me laughed, and the woman on the other side of me looked up from her iPhone and said “Hey! That’s my car. Why are the pushing it?”

“Perhaps you didn’t leave your keys in the car?” said the man next to me.

“I did,” she said, but checked in her bag to make sure, “It’s impossible to lock the car from the outside. What on earth …?” she said running over to her car.

Alex Mendoza

The friendly man sitting next to me who introduced himself as Alex Medoza, knew what had happened, and although he tried to explain it, I’m not sure I understand:

“When you switch on your car there are three positions: the first turns the engine just enough to put on the radio, but you have to turn it all the way to start the car. If by mistake the car is left in the first or second position and moved (as it does in the car wash) it automatically locks the doors for safety.” he said

No one knew how to unlock Cynthia's Mini. It sat alone and ignored.

“And when this happens you won’t be able to open the door without a key,” Alex said.

“I have a spare key, but I keep it at home,” said the woman, whose name was Cynthia.

The AAA can sometimes break into a car… depends on the make though…” Alex said looking at her Mini Cooper without much enthusiasm.

Fortunately for Cynthia she lived a couple of blocks away. After hearing Alex’s explanation she went home to fetch the key. I was still waiting for my car when she returned with the spare key, which without any drama or setting off car alarms, simply opened the door, and the people at the car wash cleaned the inside as if nothing had stopped them.

The spare key unlocked the Mini Cooper.

Alex told me he knows all this car lore because he’s a fireman (in Thousand Oaks), his brother’s a fireman (in L.A), and his cousin works for the AAA [American Automobile Association for those of you who don’t know], and he added, “Believe me, I’ve heard thousands of stories about people stuck in cars.”

I didn’t know how hard it is to get a job as a fireman. It took Alex three years. They work twenty-four hour shifts in three-day segments, and after working six day shifts without a break for a year Alex is now enjoying a two month vacation.  For his Carmageddon weekend away he went to Sycamore Springs – which he highly recommended – and is going to Hawaii next week. Nice.

Mr F and I are always ready to visit places in this beautiful state of ours, so of course I checked it out. The Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort looks wonderful. 118 acres. Massages. Stay tuned.


  I don’t really understand what happened to Cynthia’s car. I hope someone can explain it to me.  If I see a car rolling along without a driver, will I be able to save the kids inside or will the doors lock themselves?

About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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13 Responses to Have you ever heard of a car locking itself at the carwash? Read on…

  1. Cindy says:

    Alex is not only friendly, he’s also rather easy on the eye, isn’t he?
    I don’t even want to think about a car rolling down a hill with kids inside … eeeeek!

    • dearrosie says:

      As you noticed Alex is very fit. Firemen can’t be couch potatoes or they wouldn’t be able to run in and out of burning buildings.

      I do hope Alex reads this and can explain what happens if kids are in a car rolling down the hill…

  2. souldipper says:

    Good to know, Rosie! I know what he’s talking about, but I’m surprised the car wash wouldn’t warn people. You know how to pick the right person to talk to, Rosie, for all kinds of reasons. 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Amy I’ve never seen a warning about this at any car wash I’ve been to. Do you think it was Cynthia who left her key in the wrong position or the carwash driver?

      It doesn’t take much to get a person to “chat”. I’ve found that each and every person has a story and they love telling it. You just have to listen.

      • Reggie says:

        I agree with that last bit – and from what I’ve read about your interactions with people at your work, it’s so like you to start up conversations with ‘strangers’ and hear the most amazing tales!

  3. Priya says:

    I agree with Amy. You do know the art of conversation really well.

    I didn’t know about this self-locking feature. Is it possible that it is there in only the cars with remote locking systems as well? Ours is not, so perhaps it is safe that way. * I hope * It is a rather scary sounding feature. 😛

  4. dearrosie says:

    Hi Priya,
    You raise an interesting point about the remote locking system. But I donm’t believe it’s the remote system that locked the car here. As I understood it, it’s the 3 stages to turn the key which switches the engine on. The key was turned all the way to the off position. I’ll ask Mr F…

  5. Coincidentally, I just took my car in for a wash this morning! Glad to know this tip about the self-locking system. I’ll bet that feature is only available on newer cars. Those of us with cars more than 10 years old are in luck! As for leaving kids unattended in a car, isn’t that against the law?

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Dinah,
      Mr F thinks the self-locking system is only available on fancy cars like BMW’s and Mini Coopers. I know that when you ride in a BMW you have to lift the handle twice to open the door.

      It is against the law to do many things but that doesn’t stop people from doing it. We’ve all heard this: “I left the children in the car for just one minute when I ran into the corner store for a pack of cigarettes….”

      Do you remember wondering why there were policemen walking around the museum a couple of weeks ago? They’d come to give someone a ticket for leaving their dog in the car, but two weekends ago in the little town of Los Olivos (north of Santa Barbara) we saw a dog locked in a car. (I took a photo but don’t know how to post photos in the comments.)

  6. Barbara Rodgers says:

    I have never heard of a car locking itself – but then again my “youngest” car is eleven years old so I imagine there are all kinds of new gimmicks on newer cars that will baffle me completely if we decide to buy a new one!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Barbara,
      What make is your car? We have a 10-year-old Subaru that has cost us an awful lot in repairs in the last year. Once they get to the 120,000 mile mark everything needs changing…

      • It’s a 2000 Toyota Echo with about 270,000 miles on it. It hasn’t cost much in repairs until this December so we’re finally thinking about relegating it to the spare car and buying a new car. Tim’s talking about a Honda Fit. We also have a spare car, a 1997 Toyota Tercel. Our daughter banged on it through college and it still runs. We’ll probably donate it to charity when the Echo becomes the spare. 🙂

        Will you be getting a new car? We rented a Nissan Versa for our day trip to NYC – the car locked itself every time we went over 15 mph. 🙂

  7. dearrosie says:

    A 2000 car with 270,000 miles that hasn’t cost anything in repairs is unbelievable. What a good advert for a Toyota.

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