Janet's husband: Car locks, and his A.T.S. ailment.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

This may be a trivial problem compared to some of the others, but my husband insists on opening our car doors manually instead of using the automatic feature. He uses the key on his side and then reaches over to unlock my side. He believes that using the automatic feature too much will wear out the locks, and that they are expensive to repair. Please let me whether or not harm could be done using the automatic locks all the time.

TOM: Gee, Janet, this question may be better addressed to his therapist than a couple of mechanics. He seems to be suffering from A.T.S. (Acute Tightwad Syndrome). Does he avoid putting gas in the car too, because eventually it will wear out the gas gauge?

RAY: For the record, the locks themselves will not get worn out by the automatic openers. The locks are mechanical, and couldn't care less whether a hand opens them or a machine opens them. The switches and solenoids that actually push open the locks could possibly wear out after many years, but even if that happens, you'd just have to open the locks by hand, which is what he's doing now anyway.

TOM: Unfortunately, I'll bet your husband is not the kind who surrenders easily. I happen to know something about how sensitive the male ego is--especially when it comes to knowledge about cars (ask my wife). And I suspect that telling him he's wrong might only make him more obstinate.

RAY: So the trick is to out-cheapskate the cheapskate. Tell him you're concerned about him reaching over to unlock your door every day. Tell him that not only is he wearing out the inner edge of his seat prematurely, but if he ever strains himself and pulls a muscle, the bills for Ben-Gay alone will far exceed the cost of fixing the door locks. Good luck, Janet.

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