Friday, June 22, 2012

Car Keys

This is how configuring a Volvo ignition key looks like.

When we bought the ambulance, it came with exactly one (1!) set of keys. We might be looking for adventure, but embarking on a journey around ⅓ of the world without a single spare key would be more like looking for disaster from my point-of-view.

Just because the laws of the universe stipulate that absolutely nothing is allowed to be really easy when one has far too many things that need to be done, it turns out that also getting more keys for a Volvo 965 ambulance really isn’t that simple. Remember that we chose this particular model to as much as possible avoid unnecessarily complicated electronics, and relish the fact that it nevertheless is modern and complicated enough to have an ignition key in which there is a microchip, that authenticates with the on-board electronics. If the chip isn’t authorized by the car, then the engine can’t be started.

Time to get professional help. One of the larger Volvo dealerships in town is the Häusermann Automobile AG, and they were ready to help out:

– Do you have the Vehicle Identification Number?
– Sure, it’s YV1
– Hm, that’s a strange one. It’s not in our system. I’ll have to call Sweden.

A great start! But eventually the vehicle was properly identified and keys appeared, so today I drove the ambulance to them to get keys and car configured to learn to know and like each other. I’m getting increasingly fond of driving the ambulance around town, it never fails to attract attention, and even today at a larger Volvo dealership some guys felt compelled to walk out to take a closer look.

– I hope it is a normal Volvo under the hood!

Yes, it is, the data port was right where it was supposed to be, and the keys were properly configured in a few minutes.

That was the ignition keys, that. Now, this being an ambulance, it also has a full-length sliding ambulance cabin door for which there (of course!) is an entirely different key, and such keys turned out to be something with which the larger Volvo dealership had no possibility to help out at all:

– Full-length sliding ambulance cabin doors are not a standard Volvo accessory!
– Really?
– Really.
(… dramatic pause …)
– But it says Volvo on the key. Where else can I get spare keys?
(… requesting assistance from colleagues …)
– This is actually an absolutely normal key. Mister Minit can make a copy of it!

Wonderful! There even is a Mister Minit just next to the garage where we keep the ambulance parked. He does, however, turn out to be quite puzzled when I show him the key:

– This is a special Volvo key. You must talk with Volvo about it. I can’t help you.
– The guys at Volvo sent me here. They said it was a normal key. They said you could copy it.
(… dramatic pause …)
– Hm, let me have a closer look.
(… rummages around an immense collection of key blanks …)
– No, that’s a special key. I don’t have a blank for such a key. Talk to Volvo.
(… desperate pause …)
– I talked to Volvo. They can’t help me. They were certain that you’d be able to help me.
(… desperate pause …)
– Hm, let me have a closer look.
(… rummages around the immense collection of key blanks …)
– Aha! Look here! It’ll take 20 minutes and cost 98 CHF.

Today’s adventures took a little more than 3½ hours in total and cost 383 CHF, but for that we now have a total of three (ie. one each) full sets of keys to the ambulance. Hopefully the magic rule (that stipulates that if you’ve prepared for something, then it won’t happen) works also this time, for then all three sets of keys will arrive with us in Mongolia for the benefit of the recipient of the ambulance.

Now there only are 999 problems left to solve before we leave. Good Night!

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