That door chime you hate isn't just for keys in the ignition.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have been through the same process with dealers many times. Currently, I own a Ford Explorer. The dealership advises me that it is against federal law to disconnect the "chime" feature that drives me crazy every time I open the door and the keys are in the ignition. I understand the reason for this "feature," but I am perfectly willing to take the chance on my own of not locking my keys in the car. It has to be fairly simple to disconnect, but I get a song and dance every time I ask. Please advise.

TOM: The reason you're getting a run around, Richard, is because the "chime" is also part of the seat belt warning system.

RAY: Federal law does require that when the key is in the ignition and the seatbelt is NOT latched, an audible warning be sounded. And it IS against federal law for the dealership to disconnect that.

TOM: The problem is, they don't want to take the time to disconnect just the part of the system that sounds when you open the door. It's possible to do that, but you'd have to study the wiring diagrams and spend some time with it.

RAY: The other option, although we don't suggest it, is to disconnect the chime yourself. While it's against federal law for a dealership or repair shop to disconnect a federally mandated safety feature, it's not against the law for an individual to do it on his or her own car. It is, however, kind of stupid. Know what I mean?

TOM: And it may violate state law as well, so make sure you check before getting out your wire cutters. Personally, I don't understand why this is such a big deal, Richard. I mean, how many times do you open the door with the key in the ignition? But since the constitution does guarantee you the right to the pursuit of happiness, you're perfectly entitled to pursue a solution.

RAY: And our strong recommendation is that you find a mechanic willing to spend the time figuring out how to disconnect JUST the door portion of this system.

TOM: That'll leave the seat belt warning chime intact. So if you ever do leave your keys in your car, it'll be because you locked yourself out, and not because you were suddenly tossed out through the windshield in an accident.

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