Most Annoying New Car Feature?

  • October 7, 2023

The title of this article begs an interesting question, for openers. If a feature is annoying, why would anyone choose to pay for it?

The answer, of course, is that they have no choice – assuming they want the car – because these annoying features are standard features, many of them being things few (if any) buyers would choose to pay extra for, if they were optional.

Where to start? It is almost like using a shotgun to blast a chicken from two feet away in that it’s not a hard target to miss.

How about ASS – the for-once rightly named feature that automatically stops and starts the engine constantly? Roll to a stop at a red light and the engine turns itself off (and long with it, the engine-powered accessories, such as the AC). The light goes green and you press the gas to go but it takes a long second – chuff! – for the engine to restart itself. When you get to where you were headed and park, the engine shuts itself off again – leading you to believe you turned it off. You push the ignition On/Off button – because you’re parked and intend to leave the car parked – and the engine restarts. Turn it off, again – yourself – using the On/Off button. Meanwhile, all this stop-starting is taxing your car’s starter – and the battery that is powering all of this re-starting. And wearing out the alternator that is constantly struggling to keep the battery powered up so it has the power to do all of that re-starting.

How about the LCD touchscreen you’re forced to use to control many of the car’s features that won’t allow you to control them when the vehicle is moving? For your safety – in your own car, the one you paid for with your money – certain features cannot be used while the vehicle is in motion. Thereby rendering features such as the GPS system useless features. It is a feature like having your annoying mother-in-law riding shotgun with you every time you drive.

How about an audio system that automatically turns down the volume so you can’t hear what you were listening to when you put the gear selector in Reverse? This also triggers the back-up camera you probably wouldn’t have paid extra for that the government makes everyone pay extra for – by making it a required “safety” feature in every new car. The back-up cameras having been mandated by the government after a handful of people backed-up over kids they could see were behind them because of government mandates that have made it hard to see what’s behind a modern vehicle, thereby necessitating (so says the government) the back-up cameras.

Does anyone want “advanced driver assistance technology”? There are probably some people who need such assistance, just as there are some people who need the assistance of a wheelchair or cane. But there is something insufferable about the premise of all this “assistance” – as regards cars. That being the assumption that everyone needs it. Of course, if that were true, those who did would buy it – just as people who need a wheelchair or a cane buy them without being forced to buy them. But here we are dealing with everyone being forced to buy the “assistance” – as to keep the car in its travel lan, as to brake when there is a need to slow  or stop –  whether they need such assistance or not.

Then there is pre-emption, the inevitable elaboration of assistance. One such feature being an automatic transmission that automatically shifts itself into Neutral or Park when the driver tries to Reverse with the door cracked open, as to see the curb (or what’s behind) with his eyes rather than the camera. This will inevitably elaborate to the transmission putting itself in Park when the car decides it’s no longer “safe” to move forward as well as backward. Perhaps because there is snow – or moisture – on the road. If you don’t think it’ll go that far, just wait until it does.

And that will happen less than two years from now.

The same federal government that is responsible for all of the above features you’re forced to buy – if you want to buy a new vehicle – has already decreed that by 2026 (the model year, not the calendar year) all new vehicles must be equipped with another feature – one that you used to have to first convicted of drunk driving to be obliged to have in your vehicle: A system that detects impairment – and prevents you from driving the car if it thinks you are.

But here’s the feature about that: “Impairment” will be defined so as to encompass any driver behavior that deviates from the legal – and the “safe,” as defined by the government. Thus, the car will consider you “impaired” if you change lanes quickly, especially if you do it without signaling first and waiting one-two-three-four count before actually changing lanes (irrespective of whether there’s any traffic nearby). The same for not coming to a complete stop – and then waiting one-two-three-four before (gently) proceeding. Driving any faster than whatever the speed limit happens to be will be deemed “unsafe” – and (effectively) the same as “impaired.

It’ll make the features we’re already forced to buy seem like deals on wheels.

. . .

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