Unlocking car via cellphone and other myths busted

There are a number of urban legends going around related to your car, such as being able to remotely unlock it with a cellphone or making a car’s engine seize by putting sugar in the petrol tank. The thing is, while there is a certain degree of inconvenience, not all of this is true or proven to work.

Here are five automotive urban legends that have not been proved right. Five automotive myths busted. So the next time you get one of those email forwards asking you to try one of these things, you would know that they don’t work. Also read: Beware of common road scams in cities 

Automotive urban legends busted

Unlock car via cellphone

The most common urban legend doing the rounds is that of being able to unlock a locked car using a cellphone and a spare remote control at home (in case you have locked your keys in the car). The legend goes that you can call someone at home and then hold your cellphone close to the car door, while the other person presses the unlock button on the remote and it will unlock your car.

Does this work? No!

The reason this will not work is because car remote controls use radio frequencies that are different from that used by a cellular network. It is not possible to broadcast those frequencies over a cellular phone network.

Egg on the windshield

Another urban legend is that there are gangs of robbers who attack cars with eggs. A viral email on the Internet says that if you have eggs thrown at your car’s windshield, do not operate the washer and wipers, as it will spread the egg mixture and make the windshield opaque, forcing you to stop the car.

Does this work? No!

In reality, the robbers would need a series of well-aimed eggs to cover an entire windshield – or perhaps they would have to work with really large eggs, like ostrich eggs to get enough goo on the glass. Even then, the wipers will do a fairly good job of giving you reasonable vision to get out of trouble.

Sugar in the petrol tank

Another sinister email that has been circulating is that you could completely ruin a car or bike’s engine by putting sugar in the petrol tank. The email says that the sugar or sugar syrup reacts with the petrol to make the pistons glue up as if they’ve been smeared with concrete and the engine will seize.

Does this work? Not really!

It is not likely that the car will be rendered completely useless, but it will stall in due course due to the sugar granules fouling up the fuel filter. It will not react with the petrol as stated, so the only thing you would need to do is to clean out the tank and the fuel filter.

Reflective sun shades can crack your windshield

There have been some warning mails sent around telling people not to use reflective sunshades behind the windscreen of a parked car. The mail claims the heat reflected from the reflective sun shade heats up the glass from the inside and shatters the windshield

Is this true? Not really.

Reflective sun shades in fact, will keep the interiors of your car cooler, by reflecting the UV rays and heat that would otherwise enter through the windshield and heat up the interiors. The UV rays and heat will not affect the glass. What can happen though, is if the windshield already has a crack in it due to a stone chip, the crack can expand due to the sun’s heat – irrespective of the reflective sun shade.

Duplicate keys from VIN number

A scare-mongering email that has gone viral warns car owners to cover up the VIN number of their vehicle (many cars now have the VIN number displayed near the edge of the windscreen) as potential car thieves can copy down this VIN number and get duplicate keys made for the car from a car dealer.

Is this true? Not really.

Most car dealers and manufacturers will require the car owner to show adequate proof of ownership of a car (and would most often want the car to be physically present) to issue a duplicate set of keys for the car. Just submitting the VIN number to a car dealer is not likely to get you a duplicate set of keys – especially since RFID equipped keys these days need to be programmed to the car even after they have been made.

Share any more such hoax mails you may have received and we’ll tell you whether there’s an element of truth in them or not.

Also read: Common petrol pump scams in India