In a nutshell, a central locking system is one that unlocks all doors on a car when one door – usually the driver’s door – is unlocked. And the reverse is also true – if you lock the driver’s door, central locking will lock all the doors.
In practical use, a centre locking system is an absolute must for a family car. In the days when central locking wasn’t so common, getting the family into the car was a lengthy business: unlock the driver’s door, reach through and unlock the front passenger door, turn around, reach through and unlock the back doors. And then go around and unlock the boot to put the luggage in. And, if you’re in a supermarket car park, stop the grumpy or restless kids from running off under the wheels of someone else’s car while they’re waiting. Central locking makes this process easy. Unlock the driver’s door and in all the kids go. No more kids scratching the paintwork going “Hurry up! Open the door!”
Central locking these days gets even better and simpler with remote or keyless entry. This form of central locking doesn’t even require you to physically put the key in the lock. Press the button and the doors will unlock, usually with a “plip” sound. Some sophisticated remote center locking systems can also be incorporated with a garage door opener, making getting in and out even smoother and hassle-free. Some centre-lock systems also lock and unlock the fuel cap.
The latest version of remote central locking work by unlocking the doors when the fob is within a certain radius of the lock. This way, you don’t even have to press a button to unlock the doors. Modern central locking systems can also have safety features that lock the doors when the vehicle is moving at a certain speed, unlocking automatically in an accident or a panic button that triggers the alarm if you feel threatened and want to draw attention to yourself.
You may already have spotted one potential problem with central locking. Does central locking make it easier for you to lock the keys in the car? With the old non-central locking, there was always the chance that one of the other doors was unlocked –or at least the boot. Yes, it happens. If you’ve left the keys in the car and locked the door(s) manually, then you’re stuck, although various ingenious ways for getting back in exist, which range from the old coathanger/packing tape trick to bashing the front wheel with a sledgehammer to simulate an accident. The most frightening version of locking the keys into the car with central locking is if a child has managed to lock him/herself into the car by playing with the remote central locking key fob. Never let a child play with car keys when you’re not in the car with him/her (e.g. putting groceries in the boot) if you have remote central locking.
To avoid this problem, cars with a central locking system often have ways of reminding you of your keys. Some cars only trigger the central locking system when the key is out of the ignition (no good if you left the key on the seat). Others don’t trigger the central locking system unless the door is locked with the key rather than manually. And still others simply beep briefly at you if you have left the keys in the ignition. All the same, if you have central locking, don’t be absent-minded any more than you’d be absent-minded and careless while driving.
We hope that helps answer the question ‘What is What is Central Locking?’!
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