Woman died inside burning SUV that started 'going crazy'; doors wouldn't unlock

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Feb 4, 2009
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Midwest
Woman phoned her fiancé to report that her 2009 Dodge Journey was "acting up" again, an occasional electrical problem with the vehicle she'd owned the past four years. This time, though, she couldn't unlock the doors, even with her key fob, and the windows wouldn't roll down, according to a Dane County sheriff's report.
En route to help her, the fiancé got another call, this one more urgent. Smoke was now seeping out of the dashboard, and she could smell burning, the report stated. By the time first responders had arrived at the scene, flames had engulfed the vehicle.
https://madison.com/news/local/woma...cle_b6ec9bff-c160-5132-bcdf-91ed21766008.html
 
I think most of them do unlock, but if you have power doors some require power to send the unlock trigger. So if your electrical system is shorting out (judging by the smoke), chances are windows aren't working and neither are power unlock etc.

What an awful story.
 
I'd be tempted to dismiss the story, but I know my Toyota's, I think all of them, if the door is locked, the inside door pull will *not* unlock it. I consider that a major oversight, major major design fail. My prior VW, first pull wouldn't do anything, second pull would unlock and open the door--I thought that was wisely designed. When seconds count, rational thinking is the first thing to quit.

I think both my Honda and Toyota's do that, come to think of it. Not sure how they've gotten away with it. One more thing we "need" a law for, door pulls that do their job. Yeah if I manually flip the lock lever all is well--but see comment about thinking above.
 
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Invest in a combo seatbeltcutter glassbreaker too. Smash the door window and crawl out. Inhalation is a terrible way to die.

Practice. Pop hood, lock yourself in the car, and have someone disconnect battery. See how big of a trap your car becomes.
Playing devils advocate--I like your idea--but where do you store that item? Anything unsecured is a missile in the event of a crash. But in the event a crash, if the vehicle is anything other than right side up, will you be of the mind to find it? And how often will you train to instinctively reach for (glovebox? dash cubbyhole? center console?) so it's first nature? And what if you borrow someone else's car for the day--or worse, they borrow yours?

[Full disclosure--my car is a death trap, everything's a missile in it, lots of loose items, I don't take my own advice, so don't make too much of it.]
 
Without paywall


Even if my door is locked, I can pull the inside door handle and it will open. I thought all cars were like that.
They are supposed to be, I believe. That said, I had a 94 cavalier years ago that actually locked me INSIDE the car. The car had an auto lock feature that locked the doors when put into gear.

The car had tons of glitches. One day the lock/unlock buttons wouldn't work for me but the auto lock feature had locked the doors. The manual slide/tab for the door lock just flat wouldn't budge for me. I started to panic as I realized I was trapped in the car. I had to crawl in the back seat and exit via the passenger side rear door as that door didn't ever auto lock. (A fortunate glitch!)

With an 09 dodge journey i could totally believe this story. Those things are rife with electrical issues.
 
I recall doing something in my old '95 BMW 540i that locked me inside. I had to roll down the window, remove the key from the ignition and insert it in the door lock to open the driver's door. Fortunately, the car was not burning.
 
I was going to mention the TIPM but I see that has already been brought up.

First thing that came to mind. Routans (same car) came in with TIPM issues all the time.
 
I recall doing something in my old '95 BMW 540i that locked me inside. I had to roll down the window, remove the key from the ignition and insert it in the door lock to open the driver's door. Fortunately, the car was not burning.
How odd. My ‘94 530i had a mechanical linkage at each door for both the handle and the lock button. You could open the door with a complete electrical failure.

And how did you roll down the window?
 
How odd. My ‘94 530i had a mechanical linkage at each door for both the handle and the lock button. You could open the door with a complete electrical failure.

And how did you roll down the window?
Was that before or after "pull once to unlock, once more to open the door"

Maybe my '87 did it, i think my '92 did it. I can't remember.
 
My 92 cutlass ciera would lock when put into drive but not unlock when put in to park. Drove me crazy so I cut the wire.

If full power was going to the lock solenoid from, say, a stuck relay, I can see that being a single point of failure that can't be overcome by mechanical means. It would take window smashing to get out. Power locks and windows often share circuitry, because they engineer both to run on circuit breakers and both are controlled by the same BCM.

The emergency window smasher/ seat belt cutters I've gotten are branded promotional items from various entities, including my own state turnpike authority. They have a little bit of velcro and double sided tape. I would keep mine in the center console where it won't become a projectile. They should make them glow in the dark, though mine wouldn't get "charged" in there.
 
Without paywall


Even if my door is locked, I can pull the inside door handle and it will open. I thought all cars were like that.
There are older cars where the opposite is true because of the belief your child could fall out while driving. 1998 s10 owner's manual.

1673826677862.jpg
 
I'd be tempted to dismiss the story, but I know my Toyota's, I think all of them, if the door is locked, the inside door pull will *not* unlock it. I consider that a major oversight, major major design fail. My prior VW, first pull wouldn't do anything, second pull would unlock and open the door--I thought that was wisely designed. When seconds count, rational thinking is the first thing to quit.

I think both my Honda and Toyota's do that, come to think of it. Not sure how they've gotten away with it. One more thing we "need" a law for, door pulls that do their job. Yeah if I manually flip the lock lever all is well--but see comment about thinking above.
Yup, that's the way my Jeep is, and you can feel the 2nd pull physically move the lock in the handle.
 
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