Hooniverse Asks: Have You Ever Gotten Into The Wrong Car Thinking It Was Yours?

Okay, so this happened to a work friend of my wife’s years ago when she was cashiering at a grocery store. Her friend walked out to his car after having finished his shift. It was dark by then and he was a bit beat from having put in his daily eight. He got in his Mazda RX7 and as he was preparing to buckle the seat belt he noticed belongings in the passenger seat that weren’t there when he left the car that morning. Checking out the rest of the car he started noticing other discrepancies—a tape in the cassette deck that he didn’t use, a parking sticker on the windscreen, etc.—and realized this wasn’t his car.
He got out and looked around. To his surprise, he discovered that his car was in fact parked directly behind the car he had just been in, and that miraculously they were virtual twins. The wildest part of this story? The cars were both locked and, owing the wear on the locks, his key fit them both.
So, has anything like that ever happened to you?
Image: Kate Goodwin, Daily Mail

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33 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Have You Ever Gotten Into The Wrong Car Thinking It Was Yours?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    Walked up to, but never actually gotten in the wrong car. My dad did have a similar thing with worn locks. He broke the door handle on his Audi 5000S, got a new handle from the junkyard. The handle assembly included the lock. His key worked in the junkyard handle.

    1. Wayne Moyer Avatar
      Wayne Moyer

      I own a 2012 black Dodge Grand Caravan and my wife has a black 2013 Mazda CX-9. We both have had a lot of occasions to walk up to our “own” vehicles and try to unlock them with the keyfobs. While standing there trying to figure out what the heck is going wrong. All of the sudden having one of our kids saying “Wrong car Dad, ours is over there”. Kids have this magic minivan radar sense.

  2. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    The closest I’ve come was yesterday. My work group was assigned Ford Expeditions as company cars. A few of us got white but the majority got black. You really have to try to remember your license plate number if you don’t want to be embarrassed. Clicking the remote start or unlock button doesn’t work when you all do it at the same time.

  3. Alff Avatar

    Umm, no.

  4. JayP Avatar

    Not intentionally. If I see a car anywhere near the same as the car we’re looking for, I walk up to it and see if the person I’m with will try to get in. I’d do it all the same to my wife. Hell, she tried to get into a Tahoe when we had driven the Expedition Eddie Bauer. They weren’t event the same color!
    I’m not married anymore. Not for that though…

    1. Alff Avatar

      Evil. I like it.

  5. crank_case Avatar

    I haven’t got into the wrong car, but it reminded me of a story a 2CV owning friend of mine told me. He was from Germany and originally bought the car over there. One of his neighbours also had a 2CV and he discovered that 2CV keys tend to often work in other 2CVs, so he decided to have a little fun with it..
    One morning, when it had been snowing, he got up very early in the morning, unlocked her car, and then built a perfect little snowman in the drivers footwell, then locked the car again. Of course, with a 2CV basically being a tin and canvas box, it’s going to be as cold inside as it is outside, so the little snow dude was still there when she opened her door. You can imagine her suprise at how it got inside a locked car..

  6. P161911 Avatar

    Fun fact, most construction equipment from the same manufacturer uses the same key. ALL the equipment is keyed alike, unless a customer makes a special request otherwise.

    1. ptschett Avatar

      IIRC there are a few situations where brand A and brand B happened to choose the same key code, too.

    2. caltemus Avatar

      Almost all lawn tractors use the same key as well

  7. GTXcellent Avatar

    We’ve never, ever, owned vehicles that aren’t unique – even the pickups have had some telling characteristic (interior, graphics, big tires, etc).

  8. 0A5599 Avatar

    No. It’s rare that another car of the same make and model will be in the same parking lot. My cars are too antique and unique.

  9. mdharrell Avatar

    I’ve been told my cars are wrong while getting in them, but that’s not quite the same thing.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      You are probably most at risk for accidentally sleeping in the racing Saab.

  10. Mason Avatar

    My Aunt drove a Ford Galaxie just like hers home and did not realize it until the next day.

  11. Batshitbox Avatar

    Three folks I worked with. Jon asked to borrow Mike’s car. Went out to the parking lot and hopped in Sara’s black Honda Civic. Ran all his errands not knowing he was in the wrong car. Didn’t figure it out ’till Sara went to get her car and found it across the lot from where she left it.
    Although I call my truck Steve the Unremarkable White Pickup, the fact is it sticks out like a sore thumb, with it’s non-king/crew cab, single sealed beams and a gen-yoo-wine cargo light where the third brake light is on modern trucks.

  12. Sjalabais Avatar

    Never happened to me, but when I had my white ’93 Volvo 245 there was a very similar one in the village. It looked scruffier though, and I keep my interiors tidy. That alone is very much a telltale sign for family cars; the goo found in wagons and vans around here is sometimes spectacularly gross.
    My Honda is about as rare as owning a Ferrari, so when I see a similar one, I like to make note to whoever I’m with. They instantly think I’ve crossed the line to nutsy boredom, getting excited over inevitably silver-greyish utility blobs from Japan.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      It’s weird how people do that with cars they own. My brother in law is not a “car guy”, but when he had a low spec 1.6 Passat he would note the spec/engine/trim level of every other Passat we say, which he seemed to know off hand. Maybe it’s sort of like that weird 90s documentary about the mentality of UK company car culture and how these guys were obsessed with spec because it reflected status.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Jeez, I remember that one. Makes me wonder if I should strike the “nutsy” above, because that’s certainly a level or two worse. Also, any rare car is a pleasure to see, really, no matter if “the general public” deems it noteworthy. But I have some colleagues who honestly thought I was done for when I was happy to see another Honda Stream.

  13. Jofes2 Avatar

    I haven’t, but my dad has this anecdote about when he and his friend had borrowed my grandfather’s 1986 Volkswagen Passat estate for some outing.
    They park it and walk away. A little later, my dad’s friend takes the key to go get something from the glove box. Unfortunately, he doesn’t manage to unlock the door. Every other keyhole is tried and nothing works until he gets to the boot, which opens perfectly. Then, he tries to climb over to the front seat from there but is stopped by a dog guard. He proceeds to dismantle it.
    Several minutes later, the passage is free and my dad’s friend can slide in to the rear seat. Finally, he tries to reach for the glove box but is hindered by a rear-facing child seat. Just before starting to fiddle with it, the thought strikes him:
    “We don’t have a child seat,” and then “We don’t have a dog guard either.”

    1. Vairship Avatar

      Just then a large, angry guard dog hopped in through the now open hatch… 😉

  14. I_Borgward Avatar

    A few years ago, I was on a trip out of town and had been invited to a large, all-day warehouse party with my friends. I’d parked my tan ’82 Volvo a block or two away from the festivities. I finally decided to call it a night and went to find my car. A few blocks later, I spotted a tan Volvo. Problem was, the trunk and doors were all open and it was surrounded by piles of stuff. For several seconds, I was convinced that I’d caught the couple standing in front of it in the process of looting.
    “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?”
    The couple stared at me, wide-eyed, mouths agape.
    Wait a sec… those hubcaps are different…
    A dim bulb flickered in my skull and finally illuminated.
    Not my car.
    I made my apologies and backed away. It was bad enough that these folks were living out on the street without some random cranky guy giving them a hard time.

  15. Citric Avatar

    My grandmother had macular degeneration, though she did not admit this and as someone who was 97 at the time nobody was going to tell her what to do. I drove her to town in my silver ’84 Civic in order to get groceries and prescriptions and the like. After she went to the pharmacy, she tried to get into the passenger seat of another silver car from the ’80s – a Ford Taurus – and the terrified old woman in the passenger seat had no idea what was going on. I quickly pointed out that my car was in a different spot. I diplomatically did not point out that she was the first person in history to confuse a Honda Civic and a Ford Taurus.

  16. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I’ve walked up to a car and put my key in but never had it work. I remember an article a few years ago about this being a big problem with some generations of Toyota Camry, because there were a huge number of Camrys, a less huge number of possible key combinations and very few colors, so a lot of cars had non-unique keys and identical or near identical colors and there were several incidents of people actually able to start and drive somebody else’s car.

  17. sunbeammadd Avatar

    My dad got into the wrong car once. His key worked perfectly. Two identical Sunbeam Rapiers.

  18. AlexG55 Avatar

    Not into the driver’s seat. I was once expecting my dad to meet me at the station in his silver Prius. I came out of the Tube and there was a silver Prius- I had my hand on the door handle before I realised it was the wrong one.
    There are a *lot* of silver Priuses in London- although his now has a roof rack which makes it easier to recognise.

  19. TheIrvMan Avatar

    I was leaving work and tried unlocking the door (didn’t get in) of an identical Saturn SL, it was dark and I didn’t notice my Saturn parked a few spots over. The owner saw me and yelled at me, I explained and drove away feeling rather embarrassed.

  20. kogashiwa Avatar

    I’ve gotten into the correct car but the wrong side*, does that count?
    *new to RHD

  21. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    I’ve never had that issue with my own cars, they’re all fairly unique, but I have had this problem with my mom’s car (a red Chevy Equinox). It was at my sister’s graduation party, and the suv had been parked next to the front door of the hall we were renting so we could bring in all the party supplies into the building. She wound up leaving to pick up more food or something, and while she was away, one of my cousins parked her red Chevy Equinox were my mom’s car had been.
    When my mom got back she asked me to help bring the stuff in, so I was a little confused to find that the doors were locked. I went back inside, got the keys from her, and tried unsuccessfully to unlock the door with the fob. At this time mom came out and saw what I was doing and explained that her car was around the corner.

  22. spotarama Avatar

    once came out of a shop, walked across the road and went to put the key in the door of ‘my’ white falcon ute and experienced confusion that the key hole had changed from a flat blade to a more modern semi-circular sort of hole, by the time i’d worked out my car was parked right behind this otherwise identical (if somewhat cleaner) white falcon ute, its owner was charging across the road ready to accuse me of trying to steal his car
    I also take note of every other holden rodeo (clown car) that I see and in the 10 years I’ve had mine I’ve never seen another one the same, loads of range of aftermarket gear got applied to them, canopies, hard lids, bullbars, roofbars, wheels

  23. Elliott Avatar


  24. 12345 Avatar

    Yes! I was absolutely mortified. I was at a car dealership getting work done on my car. I asked for a loaner, and the service rep gave me the key and said it’s the white SUV over there. As I am walking over to the white SUV, I hit the “unlock” button from a distance, walk up to it, open the door (it was unlocked), and get in. I’m hitting the ignition button, and the car won’t start. I keep trying, and it’s not working! I think to myself, “Well that’s great, the loaner is defective”. I go back to the dealership and tell the lady that the loaner won’t start. She goes out to the parking lot with me. As we are walking towards the car, I realize that there is another white SUV with the same make and model right next to the one I was sitting in. As I get closer, I realize the one I was sitting in has out of state tags…omg I was sitting in someone else’s personal vehicle! I try to play it cool when the lady and I walk up the right white SUV and when it does successfully start, I say, “Hmmm, that’s so weird!” As she walks away, I realize that I left my water bottle and loaner service agreement in the other car. I try to open the passenger side door so no one sees me, but it’s locked. Only the driver’s side door is unlocked. I quickly go around to the driver’s side door, open it, get my things out, and get into the right white SUV. I wonder how many people saw me, considering the dealership is all glass. I will never show my face at that dealership again!

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