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Donkin's World: Radio ga ga

Richard Donkin likes his 13-year-old Chrysler Jeep but is frustrated by the security protection deemed necessary for its radio.

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I have just been given a Chrysler Jeep. Since it's 13 years old it's not worth much, a few hundred pounds perhaps, yet it's a really good car - leather seats, electronic everything, air conditioning, new tyres, great bodywork and only 51,000 miles on the clock. It belonged to my father-in-law who didn't use it very much. The only catch is that it's thirsty on fuel. It does about 20 miles per gallon.

Third party insurance is pretty cheap, so the running costs are the fuel costs and some servicing. The only other annoyance is the radio. It works but at some stage it has been disconnected and needs a security code to reactivate it. The code seems to have been lost.

I called the Chrysler main dealership for help but they were really no help at all. They said I would need to contact my nearest dealer in Epsom. I asked why the codes could not be held centrally and they said that was not their policy.

I called the Epsom dealer and finally got through to someone in a workshop who said I would need to give him a number on the back of the radio.

"But it's in the car," I said.

"Yes, you'll have to remove it," he said.

"But I don't know how."

"Then you'll have to bring it in but there'll be a charge. Once we have the number on the radio I can get you the code straight away."

It occurred to me that the radio disabled itself in order to deter car radio thieves. But if a thief had ripped out the radio, presumably he would be able to see its number and then he could call up the main dealer as I was doing.

I looked at the radio but to get at it any thief would have had to demolish the fascia board. The radio looks as safe as houses. Chrysler believes it's so valuable it needs to be protected like a bank vault. The whole car is barely worth anything yet it runs and works like a dream - except for the radio. Something doesn't seem quite right here but I'm blowed if I know what it is.

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