Customizing Your Vehicle Settings

Natalie Josef
January 25, 2011

When I first got my car, I loved everything about it except for the automatic door locks. When I reached 9 mph, all of the doors would lock. I had to press the unlock button on the keyless remote three times to get the doors to unlock. When I shifted into “Park” and shut off the engine, the doors remained locked so all of my passengers would frantically pull on their door handles while I tried to find the unlock button on the driver’s side door.

I began to worry. What if my car fell off the Golden Gate Bridge and I had to make a watery escape? Would I be able to unlock the doors in time for everyone to swim away? What if I was in an accident and the locked doors prevented me from exiting the vehicle? This “safety” feature was starting to me make feel … unsafe.

One night, I was waiting in the car while my partner was having our dog’s nails trimmed at a groomer (before you judge me, the dog’s nails are pitch black and we have cut them to the quick too many times, so now we go to a groomer). I was thinking about these overly zealous locking doors when I decided to open the owner’s manual and see if there was someway to override the insanity.

And guess what? There was! A few minutes later, I had completely customized when the doors lock, when they don’t, and how the keyless remote functioned. And on top of that, I was then able to brag to my partner about how smart I was to be able to program something as sophisticated as a vehicle’s auto lock settings. And all of it only took a few minutes.

I have never been a read-the-manual sort of person, so this was a huge step for me—and one that was quite rewarding. We rarely take the time to sit down and fully explore the incredible technology that comes with the things that we buy, but there are some customizable settings on vehicles that warrant a little time out of our busy schedules. Many cars—from Fords to Ferraris—come with optional personalized settings. Here are some of them:

Standard Features

We have come a long way from saving our favorite radio stations. Now, you can program everything from mirrors to the tilt of the steering wheel on most vehicles. Some vehicles take the basics to a new level, like automatically moving the seat away from the steering wheel once you turn off the ignition.

If you want your car to be a cool 68 degrees when you drive, go ahead and program that in. And when your significant other is shivering while driving, she can customize the climate settings to her preferences. These climate preferences are tied to your personal keys and activate when you get into the vehicle.

Head lights
Always forgetting to turn off your head lights? Why not program them to go off ten minutes after you turn off the ignition? Do you want your lights to come on as soon as it turns dark or should they wait for you to turn them on? Do you want daytime running lights?

Auto Lock/Unlock
Like I mentioned above, configuring how your doors lock and unlock is a very personal thing and most vehicles come with standard settings that rival Fort Knox. You can get as fussy as you want here. If the engine is running and the vehicle is put into “Park,” do you want the doors to unlock or lock? If you use the key to unlock the driver’s side door, do you want all of the doors to unlock? What about the trunk? Should the doors lock automatically once you reach a certain speed?

Of course, the more expensive the vehicle, the more features you can customize (adjustable pedals and night vision anyone?), but many newer cars come standard with many of these customizable features. Just open that manual and find out!


Natalie Josef

About the Author

Natalie Josef is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

1 User Comment

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By , January 26, 2011
On my 2010 Nissan Xterra, I was able to configure the auto lock settings and prevent the horn from honking every time I locked the doors. They're little things, but I like the driving experience much more now.