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Monday, September 12, 2011

How do I program a Subaru keyless fob?

photo: Dot, a.k.a. Tom Schmidt
Thanks to the voraciousness of the Black Rock Desert, or the inebriation or maybe malice of someone who found them under the stage at Distrikt last week, my folks' car keys did not return home with me from Burning Man. Mom to the rescue, as usual, and after picking up the spare in Gerlach Wednesday after the burn I left Black Rock City on schedule, and with a chore ahead of me: programming the keyless entry system.

The instructions for how to do this are in the Owner's Manual and involve a Kabuki routine involving getting in and out of the car, shutting and opening doors, turning the key 10 times in 15 seconds, and other automotive witchcraft. Results were about typical for witchcraft, at least in my experience, so you have to consult an oracle, in this case Google, which reveals that plenty of people are similarly challenged, and nobody has a clue how to help them.

When the oracle fails you, resort to prayer: I called the Subaru dealership. My plea could be considered Thursday and at a base rate of $100, thank you very much. I called Luscious Garage, where we take our Honda Civic Hybrid. It's the only garage capable of making you look forward to having your car serviced. I love Luscious Garage! But Subaru keyless fobs were outside their ken, so they referred me to Pat's Garage in Dogpatch where the guy on the phone cringed audibly when I described the problem and discouraged me from bringing the car in. Some poor geezer had come in having driven himself into fits trying to do this on his own, following the instructions in the owner's manual (how does that make you feel, sadist asshole Subaru?). Pat was only able to make it work by luck, he said, he just kept trying it and has no idea what made it finally convinced the car to cooperate.

That caught my attention: an irrational failure of computer technology to conform with predicted behavior? I know that shit. I made what almost passes for a film career out of that particular brand of shit. I chroma-keyed the Glitter Emergency boat sequence (recently deemed by Irving Rosenthal "a pinnacle of cinema") with my bare hands. No keyless fob was going to cause me to give sadist asshole Subaru - nay, sadist asshole Subaru's dealer - $100 of my hard-owed money. So I girded up my loins like a geek and went out there and did Kabuki with the Subaru. I opened and closed the doors, the hood, varied the speed and rhythm of my key turns. I pretended I was back at Distrikt and rocked out to the beat of the seatbelt chime. After about five minutes of this I had the feeling the neighbors were going to call for help or perform an intervention and was on the verge of giving up and paying the $100 when the car honked twice--the sound of a Subaru entering that state of grace known as transmitter programming mode. The rest of it proceeded as advertised in the Owner's Manual.

I originally set out to write this post because threads on the subject were locked and I thought I might be able to improve Google results for fellow Subaru drivers and help them save their C-notes for the other, more deserving dealers in their lives. Folks, go out there and give it your all. Put on your dancing shoes. The manual says at the end of the dance of the ten key turns to leave it in LOCK position. Do it the other way twenty times, then do it the way they say. That's what I did, with the hood up and my fist pumping in the air to the beat of the seatbelt chime, and it worked! Remember the old adage: to err is human, but to really fuck things up you need a computer. For the human, I recommend a double-espresso and a touch of ADD.

This blog is useless.

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