Drive-in Movie Theater (Nightmare on Elm Street)

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BigBriDogGuy

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I had this fantasy. As with most fantasies, it turned into a nightmare. It involved taking my "new to me" 2011 LR4 to the drive-in and treating the family (wife, girls, and dog) to a fun-filled night of viewing outdoor movies snuggled up with blankets and pillows in the back of the vehicle while watching through the open hatch and tailgate. Yeah. Right. Sure.

The majority of the problems came down to having a "smart" car that's too smart for its own good.

On the hour plus drive out to the movie theater I asked my wife, acting as co-pilot, to grab the owner's manual out of the glove box to figure out how to bypass the pre-set stations on the radio and tune in the frequency needed to listen to the movie inside the truck. She likes tech stuff and dutifully applied herself to the task. Even then, she had to fumble through layers of clunky 2011-era touch screens to finally luck upon the manual tuning feature for the radio. I had messed around with the radio previously and anticipated this wouldn't be as easy as turning a dial to get to the desired station. Problem solved. An early win for the home team.

We got to the drive-in without breaking down on the side of the road (another win for the home team) and I pulled the LR4 into a slot near the middle along one of the back rows. I had overloaded the back with a ton of provisions - wire dog crate (w/dog), sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, folding camp chairs, unauthorized snacks and sodas, the works. It all fit (kind of) when heaped up along one side of the 36-inch crate. I opened up the back, pulled out the crate, and placed it under the tailgate with the dog while I reorganized the rest of the stuff and folded the middle seats down to the lowered flat positions. So far, so good.

Then the fun started.

Yes, I was able to open up the back to enhance the family's viewing pleasure, but what I couldn't manage was to get the interior lighting to turn off. As long as the tailgate was open, those lights were going to remain on. My family was illuminated in pools of light instead of wrapped in darkness, like museum exhibits under spotlight in a glass case. I poured through the owner's manual once again and couldn't find any apparent work around. The next thing I knew, the radio turned off. Apparently, you can't just sit in the vehicle with the radio on and the truck not running. It assumes you did something wrong and attempts to fix your mistake. So then I have to start up the truck. Fair enough, I guess, but now the dog in the crate is getting blasted with exhaust fumes. Not to mention the fumes wafting up through the open tailgate to my family inside.

Fine. Whatever. It's just a test run anyhow to get the kinks worked out. I'll deal with it.

I throw the dog into the back with the kids (which is a good thing since she is barking at everyone that is passing by our vehicle) but the downside is that instead of snuggling with the girls she wants to eat all their popcorn and nachos. (She is a 6-month old Irish Setter pup the girls got for Christmas.) So that doesn't work. I decide to turn the engine off and see if I can figure out a way to keep the radio going. Seems like it doesn't like the smart key being outside of the unit. I place it on the dash and then decide to take the dog for a walk. I wasn't going to watch the movie anyway. At this point, I'm just trying to avert a total disaster.

On my dog walk, I work out another strategy. What if I close the tailgate and let them watch out the large rear window? That might work. Upon my return, I try that and it seems better. No interior lights at least. Plus, there won't be fumes wafting into the vehicle if I need to turn it back on again. Which, by the way, doesn't seem like a bad idea. I'm not too sure how long this battery can handle blaring out music with dome lights running non-stop. I suppose if it does go dead I could get one of those jumper units that drive-ins always seem to carry, but then will it even be obvious which is the negative and positive terminals on this whacky beast? Will jumping it without permission from an authorized dealer cause the ECU to explode and fry the wiring harness? Better not to risk it. Start the sucker up and hope that it can charge the battery running at idle. It's the best I can do.

The rest of the movie was pretty much the same. Dog walks with breaks for starting and stopping the vehicle.

Finally, the movie was over and I was able to reload everything to get the heck out of there. The middle row seats didn't want to go back up from their lowered positions as easily as I had hoped but, compared to the rest, that wasn't much. I was ready to quietly slink out of the parking lot with my tail between my legs when the "smart" car gave me one last parting shot. No matter what position I put the lights on (or off) as long as the vehicle was moving and it was dark out, it was going to make sure my headlights were on. So I blinded several of my fellow movie goer during the start of the second feature with my HID headlights as I made my way off the property (barking dog, and all). It's like they say, "Everyone brings happiness when they walk through the door. Some as they enter. Others as they leave."
 
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ftillier

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Press and hold the center front dome light button for like 10 seconds (it will blink) to disable them. Same procedure to re-enable.

I don't know that you can stop the ratio from turning off, even the 12v sockets turn off after a few minutes. There are ways to get the power sockets to remain live, but I don't think that applies to the radio.

Regarding the lights, are you sure the DRL weren't the source of the light when the switch was in the off position? You can disable those with an IID tool.
 

f1racer328

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If your ignition is off, you can press the power button on the radio and it will run for a bit longer than it would if the cars ignition was on.

Car is too smart to let you deplete the battery in my experience. It'll just keep shutting the radio off and eventually not let you turn it back on.

Same with the interior lights, I've left them on by accident before and have never returned to a dead battery.

ftillier is correct about the interior lights too. I think they used to call it hunting mode or something similiar to that.
 

BigBriDogGuy

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Thanks ftiller and f1racer328! Those are handy tips. Like I said, it was a trial run. Next time, I'll use those suggestions. Thanks again, Brian
 

CRYA

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The dome light trick works. I learned the opposite way. When I bought my truck, someone had already enabled hunting mode. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why the lights never worked. Eventually I found the trick to reenable.

On a side note, sometimes the simplest solution works best. In the case of going to a drive-in, rather than messing with the truck radio, why not find a reasonable quality battery-powered FM radio and just use that? Easy peasy.

Oh and leave the dog at home. I don't know when we turned into a society where everyone feels compelled to bring their dog everywhere, including food establishments. Gross... (and I'm a dog owner so.)
 

BigBriDogGuy

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Yeah, the dog is definitely a healthy scratch next time around. The radio isn't a bad idea either. They actually rent them out at the drive-in as well and my wife suggested it for next time. Seems like a shame not to be able to use the surround sound in the truck (pretty nice stereo) but I'd rather run the battery out on a cheap portable radio (or rented one) than to do so on the LR4.

I'm starting to appreciate the fact that just because the vehicle tries to be all things to all people doesn't mean you can't make prudent choices on what features you use. For instance, none of the 12v ports work for some reason. It may be fuses or a relay or something else. Apparently, they only work for a few minutes after the truck is shut off in any event. I don't really need or use them since I have the USB charging port for my android phone. I could make a big deal about it, running around changing fuses, hot-wiring relays, or adding a second battery under the hood, but to what end? I would be happy to do it if I knew it was going to work and was confident there wouldn't be any unintended consequences. It would be nice to know you could charge or run multiple devices from the front, middle, and third row seats (or out the back of the tailgate) but, for me, is it really necessary? You'd almost be better off bringing a gas-powered generator out camping rather than trying to turn your vehicle into a portable electric power plant. It's a feature, not a core function.
 

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