Car door automatically locks... with the keys inside!

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Dec 24, 2017
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#1
This was a Budget rental, but it could be with any company.

Upon arriving at the airport, I picked up a Nissan Versa rental and drove to my destination. The next morning it is below freezing and snowing like crazy. I start the car, put the heater on High, and step out to clean the snow off the windows. Mission accomplished, but then when I tried to get back in the car... the doors were locked. The car key, my phone, wallet, and rental papers were locked inside the car with NO WAY to access them, and the engine was running, of course.

I finally managed to find a phone to call Budget. The call center agents were somewhat sympathetic to my situation but said that was a "safety feature" of the car. WHAT? Why would a car rental company rent you a car and NOT warn you that the doors will lock automatically on you??

Long story short, an hour later and $69 later, a friendly wrecker summoned by Budget had opened my now-toasty warm car. The fact that I had missed an important meeting was lost on everyone but me.

So... do I have any hope of Budget reimbursing my $69 for a situation that was NOT my fault, and happened because they did not tell me about this "safety feature"?? If so, who should I talk to and what should I say?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,772
12,753
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
We have company contacts on top of our page. Write to the customer service email address.

Give them a week to reply. If they don't respond or refuse to help, write to the first executive shown. Tell him/her that Customer Service wasn't able to help or didn't reply. Give the executive a week to reply. If necessary, repeat weekly going up the chain of Executives one at a time. If you get all the Executives with no help, come back here and let us know and we'll
Tell you the next step. Make sure you keep all the emails as you'll need to forward them to the writers if they need to get involved.

Good luck and let us know what happens.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,672
6,666
113
San Francisco
#3
This was a Budget rental, but it could be with any company.

Upon arriving at the airport, I picked up a Nissan Versa rental and drove to my destination. The next morning it is below freezing and snowing like crazy. I start the car, put the heater on High, and step out to clean the snow off the windows. Mission accomplished, but then when I tried to get back in the car... the doors were locked. The car key, my phone, wallet, and rental papers were locked inside the car with NO WAY to access them, and the engine was running, of course.

I finally managed to find a phone to call Budget. The call center agents were somewhat sympathetic to my situation but said that was a "safety feature" of the car. WHAT? Why would a car rental company rent you a car and NOT warn you that the doors will lock automatically on you??

Long story short, an hour later and $69 later, a friendly wrecker summoned by Budget had opened my now-toasty warm car. The fact that I had missed an important meeting was lost on everyone but me.

So... do I have any hope of Budget reimbursing my $69 for a situation that was NOT my fault, and happened because they did not tell me about this "safety feature"?? If so, who should I talk to and what should I say?
This happened to my husband once at the side of a busy highway. He waited 2.5 hours for AAA to come and get him back into the rental. We now have a saying when we travel: car keys belong in your pocket or your hand ... nowhere else ... ever. I literally roll down a window if I exit the car while it's running; it's just not worth taking the chance.

Neil has given you good guidance. Be polite, be patient and be persistent. I agree with you, this is definitely NOT a safety issue, it's a baloney issue. You "got off easy" but I think that Budget should reimburse your locksmith cost.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#4
is it a safety feature of the car? did you verify that?

I ask because I once had a toyota supra, a late 80s model. I bought it off my uncle, a mechanic. Great car, sporty, fun to drive, power windows and door locks.

I noticed that the doors would automatically lock. It seemed to occur after I started driving so I thought it was a safety feature of the car. Then, one day, I unlocked the doors to get out and they automatically re locked themselves. I re unlocked, the car re locked itself. It was as if my car was possessed. Then my battery went dead. I jumped it and all was well, then it went dead again. I got a new battery and that one wound up needing to be jumped as well.

Finally my brain connected the dots and I realized the door lock mechanism was actually malfunctioning and constantly trying to lock the doors. We disabled the power door lock mechanism and all was well.

Is it really a safety feature of that car that the vehicle would lock itself with the keys in the car?! Did you call the dealer and verify this? I have a 2014 Mitsubishi outlander with a push button start. From my experience, the car will not allow me to lock it when the key is in the vehicle.

Verify what Budget is telling you
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,672
6,666
113
San Francisco
#5
is it a safety feature of the car? did you verify that?

I ask because I once had a toyota supra, a late 80s model. I bought it off my uncle, a mechanic. Great car, sporty, fun to drive, power windows and door locks.

I noticed that the doors would automatically lock. It seemed to occur after I started driving so I thought it was a safety feature of the car. Then, one day, I unlocked the doors to get out and they automatically re locked themselves. I re unlocked, the car re locked itself. It was as if my car was possessed. Then my battery went dead. I jumped it and all was well, then it went dead again. I got a new battery and that one wound up needing to be jumped as well.

Finally my brain connected the dots and I realized the door lock mechanism was actually malfunctioning and constantly trying to lock the doors. We disabled the power door lock mechanism and all was well.

Is it really a safety feature of that car that the vehicle would lock itself with the keys in the car?! Did you call the dealer and verify this? I have a 2014 Mitsubishi outlander with a push button start. From my experience, the car will not allow me to lock it when the key is in the vehicle.

Verify what Budget is telling you
Agreed ... my last two vehicles (at least) automatically lock the doors when the truck hits a certain speed, like 20mph. THAT is a safety feature. I would be unable to lock either vehicle with the keys inside, the lock button would not function, the truck would not lock. My 4yr old truck even makes some strange noise if I try to lock him with the keys inside. Fortunately, I only tried this once.

I would get confirmation from the manufacturer of that model that auto-locking in cases such as yours is a safety feature ... I agree with SAS, it's a malfunction. Just from a common sense viewpoint, I grew up in snow country and if vehicles locked themselves as we were outside cleaning them off, I sure would have heard about it before now.
 
Feb 9, 2016
2,449
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#6
If you can get confirmation from the manufacturer that this is not a safety feature, eventually you can do a charge back on the fee if budget won't refund.

My guess is that the relay is bad on the auto door locks.
 
Dec 26, 2014
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#7
I have had that with a car from hertz, fortunately it was while I was returning the car. I got out to get my luggage out of the back and the doors all locked. I had to wait while the hertz guy with the slim jim came and opened up the car so I could get my purse out of the front. It is a 'feature" of some cars, and now I roll down the window as I drive up to the rental return. If I am anywhere else (hotel, restaurant, job site, etc) I hold the keys in my hand or have them in my purse which is in my hand.
 
Apr 10, 2017
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#8
Something similar just happened to my husband and me in November. We had a Ford Focus rental car and had stopped at a gas station near the airport to fill up before the return flight. My husband swears all he did was turn off the car and put the keys aside without pressing any buttons. All 4 doors locked with all of our stuff inside and we had a flight to catch. Of course it didn't happen during our trip when we didn't have anywhere to be. I was glad I had my purse with me and he had his wallet and phone on him. It was quite stressful and fortunately Alamo sent someone out to open the car in time for us to make our flight (barely!). There was a $75 charge and I did consider disputing it with Alamo. But after reading the horror stories on here about bogus rental car damages (and no time to take any pics when we returned the car) I decided to leave it alone.
 

John Galbraith

Staff Member
Director
Jan 22, 2017
336
530
93
Poole
#9
Hi Roger,

I had a quick look for the car specs. According to the user manual (this is for a 2012 model but I doubt it makes a difference) "All doors lock automatically when the vehicle speed reaches 15 MPH (24 km/h)."

I did however find this bug report from someone else who had it with the Versa. I also found bug reports on the same issue for other model Nissan's.

It certainly isn't a safety feature as far as I can see.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,772
12,753
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
Hi Roger,

I had a quick look for the car specs. According to the user manual (this is for a 2012 model but I doubt it makes a difference) "All doors lock automatically when the vehicle speed reaches 15 MPH (24 km/h)."

I did however find this bug report from someone else who had it with the Versa. I also found bug reports on the same issue for other model Nissan's.

It certainly isn't a safety feature as far as I can see.
I think the writer should approach it as a malfunction of the car and push further to be reimbursed using our company contacts.
 
Dec 7, 2017
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172
43
SoCal - EAST
#11
It's funny that everything there is a defect in a rental, the first words out their mouths are that its a feature or its the drivers fault.

Literally every single vehicle I have owned is designed to NOT lock with the keys in the vehicle unless there is a weight in the drivers seat and / or the vehicle exceeds a certain speed.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,772
12,753
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#12
It's funny that everything there is a defect in a rental, the first words out their mouths are that its a feature or its the drivers fault.

Literally every single vehicle I have owned is designed to NOT lock with the keys in the vehicle unless there is a weight in the drivers seat and / or the vehicle exceeds a certain speed.
That is so true. And unfortunately the burden is on the consumer really prove it didn’t happen.

We rented a car in Charleston in Sept. and as we drove out of the airport, my wife notified an engine light on. She pulled over and we pulled the car book to see what it meant and then turned right back around and brought it back to the car rental place. The rental guy marked the car windows up that the car needed to be serviced and told us to go back and get another car.

It was obvious that the engine light had been on when it was returned previously. If we didn’t turn right around and bring it back, we probably would have received one of those nice letters too. Of course we did have pictures of EVERYTHING including the mileage with the light on to show we didn’t even put a mile on it when we returned.
 
Likes: sas80
May 17, 2016
401
402
63
#13
Hi Roger,

I had a quick look for the car specs. According to the user manual (this is for a 2012 model but I doubt it makes a difference) "All doors lock automatically when the vehicle speed reaches 15 MPH (24 km/h)."

I did however find this bug report from someone else who had it with the Versa. I also found bug reports on the same issue for other model Nissan's.

It certainly isn't a safety feature as far as I can see.
My car (Toyota Avalon) locks the doors when I put it in gear. Doors locking when the car is stationary and in P or N is anything but a "safety feature," and certainly makes no sense (as if that mattered). Can you imagine if you put your kids in the car and the doors locked???
 
Feb 9, 2016
2,449
2,797
113
#15
My car (Toyota Avalon) locks the doors when I put it in gear. Doors locking when the car is stationary and in P or N is anything but a "safety feature," and certainly makes no sense (as if that mattered). Can you imagine if you put your kids in the car and the doors locked???
if your infant is in the car and the doors get locked!!!
 
Sep 22, 2015
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#16
This was a Budget rental, but it could be with any company.

Upon arriving at the airport, I picked up a Nissan Versa rental and drove to my destination. The next morning it is below freezing and snowing like crazy. I start the car, put the heater on High, and step out to clean the snow off the windows. Mission accomplished, but then when I tried to get back in the car... the doors were locked. The car key, my phone, wallet, and rental papers were locked inside the car with NO WAY to access them, and the engine was running, of course.

I finally managed to find a phone to call Budget. The call center agents were somewhat sympathetic to my situation but said that was a "safety feature" of the car. WHAT? Why would a car rental company rent you a car and NOT warn you that the doors will lock automatically on you??

Long story short, an hour later and $69 later, a friendly wrecker summoned by Budget had opened my now-toasty warm car. The fact that I had missed an important meeting was lost on everyone but me.

So... do I have any hope of Budget reimbursing my $69 for a situation that was NOT my fault, and happened because they did not tell me about this "safety feature"?? If so, who should I talk to and what should I say?
I would recommend AAA to anyone who travels. Between the roadside assistance which covers rental cars, or any car you are RIDING in, plus lockout or locksmith service and hotel discounts, it is well worth it