What you found: Inflatable dolls, loaded guns

Penny Gusner

By

Consumer Analyst

Handing over car keys for borrowed vehicleOn Sept. 30, we revealed the results of a recent CarInsurance.com survey that found 63 percent of drivers who borrowed cars admitted snooping around once they had the keys. (See "A borrowed car is a license to snoop.")

Usually snoopers found mundane items like cellphones or expired registration or insurance cards. But a lot of them also ran across guns, booze, drugs and what we cautiously referred to as "surprising photos."

Readers had a lot to say about the survey results. Some of our favorites:

  • I rarely borrow a car, or loan out my own, but the results of what people found almost justify it. It seems like the proper thing to do is at least verify [that the car has] valid registration and insurance before you drive off.  Imagine you get pulled over and there's a gun or drugs in the car?  The phrase "honest, officer, I was borrowing my friend's car" doesn't sound so funny anymore.
  • Family can almost be expected [to snoop]. Love interests I can sort of understand. But no one else would really have any real reason to snoop.
  • I have a cousin who kept an inflatable "doll" under his front passenger seat. I saw it by accident and had to ask him about it. He explained he kept it there so he could inflate it (with a car power outlet/cigarette lighter powered air pump) and prop it up in order to use the carpool lane.
  • I borrowed a friend’s Explorer one time. While I was driving down the road, I heard something rattling in the sunglasses compartment.  When I hit the button to see what it was, a loaded pistol fell into my lap.   Being an individual who is not allowed to possess firearms, I wish I would have snooped before I left with the vehicle.

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Clearly, some people take the process more seriously than others do:

  • I have lent my vehicle to my best friend. I write a letter of authorization with copies of her and her husband's driver's license and all of my contact info. I put the letter, my registration and insurance info in an envelope and clip it to the back of the visor.
  • I clean everything out of the car that I might need in my other vehicle. I lend the vehicle with a full tank of gas and expect to get it back with a full tank of gas. I show her the fuel log and expect to find new entries when it comes home. If the vehicle has any hiccups, I point them out, and I expect her to let me know if new issues pop up.

Others, not so much:

  • If I knew someone was snooping, I'd fill my car with all kinds of stuff that'd freak them out.
  • Reminds me of that old joke: Herb, how long have you been wearing nylons? Ever since my wife found that pair in my car. 

The snoopers data simply reconfirmed some readers' notion that lending a vehicle to anyone is a bad idea:

  • Borrow my car? I don't think so. If you need transportation, I will: 1. Take you there myself. 2. Let you use my phone to call a cab or a friend, or 3. Tell you to take a hike!
  • Why would you lend your car to people?  It's one thing to give people a ride, but lending; no way.

"There are two things you don't loan out." many readers proclaimed. "Your wife and your car.”

We should point out that you are also loaning out your car insurance if the borrower crashes.

The snoopers you don't know

Lastly, some of your responses exposed a whole category of snoopers we missed: Those we don't know at all but allow access to our vehicles anyway:

  • Let me tell you this as a person who used to work on cars a lot. Mechanics, aftermarket installers, window tinters, glass replacement people, car wash people, anybody and everybody WILL look, just to look. They WILL look through your iPod, your music AND photos. I have found stashed panties (obviously not the girlfriend’s) guns, drugs, stolen license plates, some very good pictures ... porn, booze, rolled up $100's, spent shells casings. ... you name it. I could go on for hours. Sometimes you find things legitimately, sometimes you were snooping. I promise you.
  • I worked in the auto repair industry for many years as a mechanic, service writer, and service manager. Let me tell you when you take your car to the shop, independent or the dealer, your car is going to be snooped in. It's unbelievable what people leave in their car. I have found guns, large sums of cash, personal information that would be all anyone needed to steal your I.D. It’s been many years since I have worked in that industry, and yes, I always turned in anything that I thought may get stolen by someone else in the shop. It’s also rampant in the valet services. Be very careful folks, we all seem to think our vehicle is an extension of our home and don’t realize how much info and personal items we leave in them.

Ever find anything suspicious or downright odd in a borrowed car? Or do the results of this survey just give you another reason not to lend out your car? We want to hear what you have to say.


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