My German car is ruining my perfect American Date
May 27, 2008 4:18 PM   Subscribe

I would like to go to the drive in on a date in my Audi. The problem? The persistent beep that happens with the key engaged and the seatbelt unfastened. Help me conquer this inconvenience so I can get lucky in one of the classic American dating pastimes.

So I have a 2006 Audi A4 2.0T. I love it. Especially that sport gear. You drop it into S and you've got the thrust of the space shuttle. In fact there is only one way in one situation that I don't love my car. And this is it.

I want to go to the drive in over in City of Industry. It's great. It's accessible. They even make fresh churros. And, ideally, for my 7 dollar admission price, I'd like to watch the first movie, then, during the second film, I'd like to make the moves on the girl in the passenger seat like George McFly in Back to the Future.

Only one problem

The advanced machine that the Audi is, when you're seated in the car, and the key is engaged (as it will need to be for the stereo system to play the movie sounds) the car can sense it. And when you or your front seat passenger unbuckle with the key engaged you get a beep. An annoying beep that kicks in about once every 30 seconds.

I know. It's a profoundly useful safety feature. But for our purposes, if we are both wearing the belts, that is SERIOUSLY going to cut into my ability to slip her the arm. And NOT wearing the belts, you get the beep. Which, unless I can find some way to profoundly deafen my date, will eventually take her out of the moment I am trying to create.

So how do I hack this **ckblocking german car?

Here's what I have considered so far. None of these are ideal scenarios but I don't want anyone duplicating the effort.

1) Connect the belts and sit on top of them - I did this. It is not comfortable.

2) Sit in the back seat and move the front seats ALL the way forward and tilt the seat tops all the way back - This works, but doing so has made more than one female friend of mine question why I was trying to get her into the back seat when I ran it by her. I'm guessing it might take her more out of the moment than the beep. Plus no access to the cupholders.

3) Take a rental car - No guarantee that the beep won't happen in the new car. Plus, not as comfy as the audi.

4) Take a boombox stereo to play from the back seat - Kind of a clunky solution given that it essentially kills the great audio from the audi. And it rules out the impulse jump to the backseat should that happen entirely on its own.

Right now, #4 is the best solution but it's not a good one. So if anyone has any idea how to kill the bells and whistles on a car with lots of bells and whistles, I'm open to the idea.
posted by rileyray3000 to Technology (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Are you sure you can't turn the radio back on with the key out of the ignition? You can on my 2003 A4 -- unless I'm misremembering?
posted by squid patrol at 4:25 PM on May 27, 2008

"we have to sit in the back to watch the movie, otherwise this crazy car will keep beeping."
posted by duckstab at 4:26 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Most german cars have a button on the stereo to turn it on even when the key isn't in the ignition. Big round power button. Even the cheap VW Polo I drive has that feature.

This shows a huge power button on both models.
posted by stereo at 4:26 PM on May 27, 2008

Perhaps you can go to a wrecker and buy a seatbelt buckle that will fit in the thing, making the car THINK you're belted in?
posted by JMOZ at 4:33 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also have you considered trying to find two extra seatbelt buckles that are compatible with your car? I'm assuming that the sensor is in the receptacle toward the center of the car, so if you could put a replacement buckle in there the car would think you were buckled in. In other contexts I'd jsut recommend using a wire hanger to click the latch shut on the belt, but you really don't want to tamper with your seatbelt system.
posted by frieze at 4:35 PM on May 27, 2008

Seconding JMOZ. You might also try pushing the "release" button all the way down once it starts beeping. On some cars this tells the car "I know, and I don't care, now shut up." In other models it only works for a certain period of time before the beeping comes back.
posted by toomuchpete at 4:36 PM on May 27, 2008

1. Connecting the seatbelts but do it around the back of the chair. The belts should have enough slack to be able to handle this.
posted by fantasticninety at 4:52 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

Just pull the belts out before you get in the car, wrap them behind the seat and buckle them into place. This will be easier to do if you tip the seat back forward. That way you won't have to sit on them but the belt will be buckled.

Also many of the cars I've driven will disable this beep if you have the e-brake set.
posted by Mitheral at 4:53 PM on May 27, 2008

Without wanting to be completely un-useful, I'd figure things might not be so romantic if if you have to ask your date to quickly sit up while you clumsily pull the belt around the back of the seat and get cross because the inertia has kicked in and you can't drag it and then you have to let it go and start pulling it again and oh no there it's happened again, sorry I might have my head in your face, oh, nearly there... click, there done.

In short, I'd avoid the belt around the back of the seat method.
posted by stackhaus23 at 5:06 PM on May 27, 2008

The easiest way I can think of is to find a local shop that has a "VAGCOM" communication cable and software. If I remember correctly, it is a pretty simple fix to disable the seatbelt chime. There is a thread at Audiworld - which may not make too much sense, but a good Audi tech, familiar with the VAGCOM programming codes should be able to help you out. Should only take a few minutes, and is doubtful that the shop will even charge you.
posted by quickasfoxes at 5:17 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Potentially elegant mechanical solution: depending on the car, there may be a relay switch you can pull. Many cars have them controlling this behavior, often under the driver's side dash somewhere near the fuses. They're small boxy things, size of a Zippo (depends on car) and control stuff like the hazard flasher timing or whatnot.

So: if you don't have one, get a hold of a Haynes or a Chilton manual and see if your car has such a relay controlling the seatbelt alarm. If it does, pull it. Viola.

If it doesn't, um, sorry.
posted by dmz at 5:18 PM on May 27, 2008

Nth-ing Stereo and Squid patrol- for every single VW/Audi I know the radio can be turned on with the key removed and the door closed WITHOUT the seatbelt chime ringing, simply by turing it on with the key removed. Even on my neighbor's 2006 Passat, which has the same chassis & primary electronics as the A4 Audi.

More info than you want/need:
The car's Electronic Control Unit (ECU) can be reprogrammed to stop the chime. The dealer may nto do it, for legal reasons. But check the Audi forums here or here as a starting point. Find someone with a VAG-COM unit and they may be glad to help another enthusiast.

On preview- quickasfoxes is quicker than me.
posted by TDIpod at 5:25 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Boy, I did some Google searches, and that VAGCOM thing is annoying. I had the same problem with my '03 Mustang, but it just required a weird series of key on/off + buckle/unbuckle seatbelt.

How about getting a spare "male" part of the buckle?
posted by Liosliath at 6:00 PM on May 27, 2008

Nthing making sure you can't just have the stereo on with the key NOT in the ignition. Turn the car off, take out the key, and press power on the (stock?) stereo. My slightly aged '02 VW works this way, and it's great. (And generally, Audi's are just nicer VWs; they're the same company.) Just make sure your battery is up to snuff. (Not that i'd know anything about that... *sigh*)
posted by cgg at 6:28 PM on May 27, 2008

I can confirm that it is possible in a 2006 Audi A4 2.0T to turn on the radio without having the key in the ignition *unless* you have the integrated satnav system with LCD screen -- through which the radio runs on cars so equipped.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 6:41 PM on May 27, 2008

1. Connecting the seatbelts but do it around the back of the chair. The belts should have enough slack to be able to handle this.
posted by fantasticninety

Seconded. My BMW has the same feature. Unfortunately, my briefcase in the morning is heavy enough to set it off on the passenger side. So, my passenger side seatbelt is always around the back of the seat and plugged in. On the rare occasion when I give someone else a ride, it drives them nuts trying to figure out what's wrong. :-)
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:47 PM on May 27, 2008

two things:

1. there's a relay that controls the beeping. pull it. no beep.
2. the beeping is coming from somewhere. kill the beeper, no beep. mine is located on the plastic cover for the steering column. small indescript white box with a couple of wires disappearing into the dash.
posted by phritosan at 12:20 PM on May 28, 2008

On my car, there's a setting to enable power to the car while not starting it, usually right before "start" on the key's position, if that makes any sense. If the car is on but not started, the seatbelt noise doesn't happen for me.
posted by devlin at 4:28 PM on May 30, 2008

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