Automotive Q&A: Why does my skylight open by itself?

Question: On three occasions, we have come back to our 2012 Lincoln MKX and the skylight and windows were open. When we left the car, everything was closed up tight. We were lucky the weather was good. We checked with our dealership and they said it happens a lot to this type of car. Is there a way to avoid this problem? Two of these times we were away from home and the third time it was in the garage. The car has 42,000 miles on it. Please advise and help us figure out what can be happening?

R.D.

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Answer: You are one of many who have encountered this odd situation. Your Lincoln is equipped with a “Global Open and Close feature.” Pressing the key fob unlock button for longer than three seconds while nearby/outside instructs the vehicle to lower windows and open the sunroof as a pre-entry cool-down feature during hot weather (they can also be closed by pressing and holding the lock button). Perhaps the fob button is accidentally being operated while in a pocket, similar to butt-dialing someone on a mobile phone? You might try employing the feature and see if you encounter identical behaviour. If desired, the Global Open and Close feature can be disabled with a pro-grade scan tool such as the dealer’s VCM/IDS.

Q: I cannot get an explanation from the techs at my Toyota service dealership about the inside automatic rear view mirror on our 2009 Avalon at night when bright headlights approach the car from behind. I have followed the directions in the manual and turned the system “off” and back “on.” The indicator light goes off and on — so that part works. If this system is working, I don’t see the improvement. All of the sensors are not obstructed. The LED light on the mirror says that the system is on. Would Toyota create a system that is so (subtle) insufficient that it is not noticeable? Can I test it somehow? The old technology was dramatic. You flipped a switch and the mirror adjusted significantly. If this Toyota system is working, I cannot tell that there is an improvement in the dimming the nighttime reflection.

D.D.

A: Try deliberately obstructing the front-facing sensor with a finger tip and shining a flashlight toward the rear-facing sensor at various angles (key-on). If there’s no change it’s truly not working. Since the switch indicators light up, odds are any fault is within the mirror and not the car. Some folks report issues with added rear window tinting, centre headrests and rear spoilers interfering with consistent mirror response. Repositioning the mirror as high as possible on its double mounting pivot can help.

If the mirror is inoperative, a new replacement is crazy expensive — $800 US. These Gentex mirrors are universal between Camry, Solara, Matrix and others over many years, so swapping in a wrecking yard replacement might be an option, as is an old-school manual mirror. Here’s a wonderful YouTube on how these mirrors work, and some testing ideas: https://goo.gl/uHV2DR

Brad Bergholdt is an automotive technology instructor at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, California. Readers can email him at bradbergholdt@gmail.com; unfortunately, he cannot make personal replies.

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