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Running Around: Cracking car-radio code proves to be no easy task

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By Joanne Barron

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

It seems as if this is the year for car trouble in my household.

Now that repairs are mostly finished on my husband's car, which broke down on the day of his birthday celebration, I accidentally left one of the lights on in my car overnight. The next morning, on Valentine's Day, the battery was dead and needed to be replaced.

As I was writing out a large check to the auto-club representative, I thought, “Happy Valentine's Day to me.”

But it wasn't over.

Apparently, when the battery goes dead, a secret code must be punched in to get the radio and clock working again. Unfortunately, I can't find the code anywhere in the car manuals, and the dealership doesn't have it, either.

There's a website that says it can give you the code if you have your VIN, the vehicle identification number, which I have, and serial number, which is nowhere to be found.

Even if I did have the code, apparently, there is another complicated procedure to get it to work.

If I do find the code, I am determined not to pay the dealership to do it for me as others have done.

I've already tried to figure it out on my own and got 11 code-error messages. I'm expecting the next message to be, “There have been too many failed attempts. You now will be forever without a clock and radio.”

It seems as if now I have to go on a long quest in search of a hidden code to unlock the mysteries of time and music.

Why does it have to be so hard?

I am prepared to use a little wind-up clock I just happened to find in my car the other day and my husband's transistor radio for the next six years until I trade the car in.

I guess I also could buy a watch or use my cellphone, if, by some miracle, I can find it deep down in my pocket hiding with my gloves and headband or lost in the black hole of my purse.

The clock and radio are small things most of us take for granted. I didn't think I would miss them so much.

Maybe I should do what Dick Van Dyke and his crew did in the movie, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” — sing loudly as they chugged along.

Or, maybe my husband and I could trade in both our cars and get a couple of bikes.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or



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