Ghost in the Machine - Kia locks/unlocks itself randomly



My boyfriend has a 2008 Kia Spectra that appears to have developed a mind of its own! The doors randomly lock and unlock at very odd times - usually when we are trying to enter the vehicle. We click the key fob “unlock” and the car unlocks and then immediately locks again. It has become a game of “how fast can we get the doors open”! Sometimes it goes into what we call “fits” and will click click click click - open/close open/close, etc. This will go on for nearly 10 to 15 seconds as we just sit in the car. He has taken it to the dealership on two different occasions, but OF COURSE it never does any of the things I’ve just mentioned! I think the dealership thinks he is crazy. HELP! What could be causing this weird “ghost”???


When you think it is doing the lock/unlock thing? I have seen this and to the casual observer, it looks like it is unlocking then locking in rapid succession, but what appears to be an unlock is just a bounce of the lock knob, it is really just lock, lock. lock… If that is the case, it is the master controller in the drivers door.

If it is actually unlocking, the problem might be in the FOB itself and not in the vehicle. Try leaving the FOB in the house and just use the key only.


One of the door lock actuators may be bad.
The body control module may not be receiving the successful unlock signal from one of the lock actuators.
Then it keeps trying again.
Hook up a scanner and look for fault codes in the body control module.


My first guess is that this is a problem with the fob, not the car. Do you have another fob to try? If so, try to narrow it down if it is the fob or the car. If you don’t have an extra, maybe the dealer has another fob to try, if you don’t. If not, maybe the dealer has another car on their lot you can try your fob with. Sometimes the key on the fob will stick, and it confuses the electronics in the car, as it doesn’t know what you want, to lock, or unlock, when the fob key sticks.


Does it always happen when parked in the same spot? This could be some sort of RF or infrared hot spot that saturates the cars system with conflicting signals…Our planet is becoming overwhelmed with wireless signals…


This is a known problem(I have a 2007 with the same issue), not the result of too many wireless signals. My mechanic said it needed to be fixed (reset?) by the dealer, that regular shops not associated with the dealer can’t handle this. (BTW, while it could be related to some people’s fob, it happens when I just use the lock/unlock button and with both of our fobs.)


Well, it isn’t the FOB. Lindie - what did the Kia dealer finally call this problem? It happens everywhere - not just because we park it in the same spot. Thanks for all of the answers - we will head off to the dealer…AGAIN!!!


I have a Kia Spectra 2007 ( with 207,000mi :wink: ) I have this exact problem. At first I thought it may be a short, but now that I think about it I relized that the problem came up while i had the key in the ignition and was trying to unlock the trunk. On a totally unrelated issue I read that I may have activated the “automatic lock” feature of the car by pressing the unlock button three times in a row trying to get it to unlock. According to the site:

  1. put the key in the ignition
  2. press the unlock button three times
  3. turn off the ignition.
  4. press the unlock three more times.
  5. turn the ignition back on.

The horn should beep once. to let you know you’re in programming mode.

  1. press the unlock button then press lock again. Horn will beep to let you know auto-lock is deactivated.

I have no idea if this will work ( after disconnecting the battery the problem went away too. )

If it works let me know. I’m gonna try doing this fix tonight. :slight_smile:



I tried some combination of this but didn’t hear a beep. Instead I went rogue, on the key fob I tried pressing successions of 3 on either unlock or lock. Just pressing buttons semi-randomly solved the issue.