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Car remotes stymied by dead zone in downtown Mitchell

Cars parked in certain areas of downtown Mitchell are routinely being afflicted by a mysterious, albeit short-lived, problem.

The Daily Republic has received many reports recently of drivers unable to lock, unlock or start their vehicles with remote systems while parked downtown. Earlier this week, the issue came up at a Mitchell City Council meeting. By all accounts, the problem seems to disappear once the vehicle is moved out of the area.

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But, despite widespread awareness of the issue, it seems no one has been able to pinpoint what exactly is causing the remotes to stop working.

Kurt Chenoweth, a shop foreman at the Iverson automotive dealership in Mitchell, has heard about the phenomenon and even experienced it with his own vehicle.

“I didn’t think too much about it until it happened twice in a few weeks,” he said.

Typically, remotes communicate with vehicles using radio frequencies. Any malfunction is most likely caused by something interfering with those frequencies, Chenoweth said.

“There must a certain signal that it doesn’t like there,” he said.

Tyler Appel, a service adviser at Vern Eide’s dealership in Mitchell, agrees the issue is probably caused by radio interference.

“There is something that’s in just the right frequency that’s causing them to spaz out, basically,” Appel said.

Though Vern Eide had at least one customer complain about such a problem about a year ago, since mid-December the issue seems to have become more widespread, Appel said.

“That’s when the calls really started flooding in,” he said.

Employees at Vern Eide have contacted businesses in the problem areas, Appel said, but still have not been able to determine an exact cause.

“We just don’t have a good answer because we don’t know,” he said.