Earlier this week, after reading this post by Melanie Shankle, I realized it had been far too long since I’d posted an interesting life anecdote here. My car, as per all of the times, saw the gleaming door of opportunity and charged straight through it.
So, my headlight went out earlier this week. No big deal. I called my mechanic and he told me to bring it in anytime. Fantastic.
When I went back to pick it up, I couldn’t get my automatic locks to work. I thought that was odd but not entirely out of the ordinary, because me and vehicles. But then I went to start my car, and that wasn’t happening, either. It was then that the lights went on and I realized the lights were probably literally on this whole time and my battery was dead.
Again: no big deal. They hooked my battery up to some magical restarting booster thing and in no time, I was back up and running.
As I drove away, I turned the radio on so I could have a small party in my car on the way back to work. (And by that I mean listen to NPR. Wild.) Except when I turned the radio on, it asked me for a CODE in the numeric lettering way for which only the late 90s and early 2000s can take credit.
I immediately channeled Emily Gilmore and tried the only code that came to mind: 11111.
It didn’t work for Emily and it didn’t work for me.
I tried other easy codes. I tried other random codes. And I noticed that with each incorrect try, my error numbers jumped: ERR 1, ERR 2, ERR so on and so forth until I stopped at 6, which is when I noticed there was an anti-theft light blinking at me.
This prompted a slight concern over whether or not Honda was tracking me at that very moment using 14-year-old technology to halt me in my attempt to steal my own car.
When I got back to work, I pulled the manual out of the glovebox and looked up the anti-theft light and, apparently, it’s tied directly into the audio system, as it was listed under “Anti-Theft Audio System.” And I wondered, what in the actual heck? Are you going to give the car thief the silent treatment while blinking The Red Eye Of Judgment until they can’t bear the weight of their guilt a moment longer? What even is this? “You can steal the car, but you can’t do a happy dance to Taylor Swift as you drive away. Your punishment is quiet time.”
The answers to all of these questions and so many more would be found on page 178.
(Notably, it was in the “Comfort and Convenience Features” section, of which I was feeling neither.)
I learned that my 2003 Honda CRV comes equipped with theft protection… for the built-in audio system, which features a CD player, 10 preset AM/FM stations, and, wait for it, a cassette player. To keep it safe, all vehicles come with a five-digit code that must be entered any time it’s disconnected from power. I found this part especially encouraging: “Because there are hundreds of number combinations possible from five digits, making the system work without knowing the exact code is nearly impossible.”
Let’s state the obvious: I had no clue what the code was. My options, as stated to me in the manual, were to find the code information card given to me at the time of purchase or to contact the dealer. Since I purchased this car two and a half years ago from a man whose name I don’t remember but do know was either moving to Chicago or Turkey, I felt less than optimistic about my chances of successfully retrieving any of this information.
So I consulted Google, because that’s what we do in 2017.
I eventually found a Code Retrieval page from Honda on a message board. Bless all of the things. This page asked me for a variety of information, including my VIN and the serial number of my radio. Surely, we all remembered what happened the last time I was asked for my VIN. Good times. I assumed the radio’s serial number would also be hidden in some obscure location that required a pencil tracing, but lo and behold, it’s actually on a sticker inside the glovebox. As NBC would say, “The more you know.”
After gathering all of the necessary information, I entered it into the Code Retrieval page, which resulted in two consecutive error messages. This, as you can imagine, inspired lots of confidence that the situation was on its way to a happy end.
But the third time really was the charm! The code I received actually worked and I was free to use my audio system again at will without wondering whether or not I might be arrested for Grand Theft Auto.
However, if you do want to steal my car and/or the audio system (I know the cassette player is money), the code is on a post-it note in the glovebox. Because whatever. If you’re going to put that much effort into stealing things, you might as well let Taylor congratulate you as you roll out.