Bloody Chips

Get in car. Turn on ignition. Engine turns over but doesn’t fire. Try a few times. Get out spare charger battery. Same thing.. Call the rescue guy.

Rescue guy baffled. Fails for 40 minutes, Gets out the trailer bar on his van and drags my car to the nearest gage.

Car is hooked up to computer which says the key is wrong. The garage owner says the chip in the key can malfunction and sends a signal to the car’s computer not to start up the engine.

Cost of diagnosis: £86.

My spare key works fine. I go to the garage where I bought the car and am told: “Sometimes the programming slips off the chip”.

Mental image of all those 0s and 1s sliding away in a trail to oblivion,.

Can you please slip the programming back on the chip?

Yes – it usually costs about £150.

For £86 + £150 I could have bought a half-decent case of Bordeaux.

Bloody chips.



  1. Lefty Goldblatt

    there is a bad habit nowadays of using too much technology to solve a problem. or to “re-solve” a problem using technology.

  2. To connect car keys with the class war is an impressive piece of lateral linkage, FTM. I just hope those b.s with top-of-the-range cars have the same problem.

  3. Being a software guy, am I glad that for once, it is not software?
    But, in defense of the chip munks, let me remind all (understandably annoyed) car owners that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. In other words, the cost pressure on the chip makers and equally important, the time pressure – implies there is little room for quality control.
    The car makers could be held responsible for quality control too. But I can’t imagine them running a test of (for example) 10000 times car entry on each batch of components they use, before launching their model.
    Enough said. Democratization of products does result in lowering standards than the bourgeois would like. We the nouveau-proletariat have no choice.

  4. That’s interesting Mike. I don’t think my car has any kind of keypad where i could key in a PIN. As to karaoke – I don’t do it and as for Maxwell, I think you and George are right – Maxwell should have included. Apologies for that.

  5. On my Subaru if the key won’t send its ID I can type in a 5 digit PIN. An RAC guy showed me this by wrapping the key in tin-foil. Sure enough the car wouldn’t start until the PIN was entered. Subaru even supply a non-electronic version of the key as a spare.

  6. That must have been grim, Andy. Thanks for sending it in. It makes one wonder just how widespread this problem is, and whether the car manufacturers are doing anything about it.

  7. Been there, only worse….
    Back in 2007, with a 15 month old car, driving back from the UK to my home in Austria, I called in at a service station just south of Bonn on a Sunday morning. Went back to the car and it wouldn’t start. Phoned the warranty hotline and got towed to a small town on the Rhine.
    It took till the Wednesday for the dealer to get hold of a replacement key, which then took him 10 minutes to programme. Apparently Citroen keep all their keys in Holland….
    At least the warranty paid for the hotel, but I still had to take 3 extra days holiday and buy some more clothes for the family as we were on our last clean set for the journey home.
    The bitter irony is, I work in automotive chip development, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t one of ours 🙂

  8. Bloody hell. Torben, that’s outrageous

  9. The only people who have an advantage of these electronic keys are the insurance companies, as they can claim that it is impossible to start the car without an authorised key, so if your car is reported stolen and you still have your keys, then it must obviously be you who attempted insurance fraud, so they won’t pay.
    I’m not kidding. Some people have actually been sued by their insurance company after their car got stolen and was found burnt out in a field. The reasoning was that both keys were accounted for, so nobody else could possibly have driven the car.


    At least with the starting handle you stood a chance, Dick


    It surprises me Mike that car manufacturers, of all people, are using shitty technology

  12. Bring back the starting handle.

  13. Must have been some dodgy Chinese Flash memory – they should have used Samsung 🙂

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