Why two keys for a car?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

Why is it necessary to have two different keys for a vehicle--one to open the door, and one to start the engine. Wouldn't a single key would make life much easier?

RAY: I think it's part of the government's farm price support system, Joseph. When you come out of the grocery store loaded up with packages, fumbling to figure out which key opens the door always leads you to drop at least one of the bags. That means you have to buy more food which keeps farm prices up. Clever, isn't it?

TOM: Actually, Joseph, my guess is that you have a GM car, right? As far as I know, they're the only major car company that still does this. And it's probably because they've always done it that way. Everyone else has switched over to a single key system for the door and ignition. And you're right, it does make life a lot easier.

RAY: Some of the high end cars now come with what are called "valet keys." Those are keys that unlock the door and start the car, but won't open the trunk or glove box. They're designed to give you a little extra peace of mind. With a valet key, a sixteen-year-old attendant can go screeching around the hotel parking garage in your $40,000 Infiniti, but at least he won't be able to get into the trunk and steal your Gucci loafers.

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