Until the tech boom of the mid-2000s, which can be traced to the introduction of the first smartphone, most cars operated the same way – whether it was an American vehicle produced by one of the Big Three auto manufacturers or an import, like Toyota, Honda, or Subaru.
Sure, the luxury brands of Lexus, Audi and BMW were always ahead of the curve in terms of bells and whistles to appeal to the tech-savvy buyer.
But we’ve gotten to a point in the auto industry where even the most basic models are coming equipped with so many touch-screen and hands-free options that it makes it difficult to know how to tune a radio, or simply turn on the air conditioning.
We’re not saying that every new car feature is an annoyance that will never become mainstream. In fact, look at how power windows/locks are now commonplace in virtually every vehicle. But some things – like those on our list – are better left unchanged.
As smartphone users, we may love a new car’s slick infotainment feature since its jam packed with everything a person could ever need to get from point A to point B – and then some. However, is a simple tuning and/or volume knob for a radio too much to ask for?
The steering wheel-mounted controls may get the job done. But there is no substitute for a good, old-fashioned radio knob, one that allows the driver to configure the music selection without taking his or her eyes off the road.
And the worst part is that the standard “seek” button takes way too long to toggle between stations. If you’re receiver is tuned to 94.5 FM and you want to quickly switch to 105.9, good luck. It’ll seem like an eternity without the simplicity of something that can allow you to make the same jump with two or three full turns of a knob.
Turn-knob Gear Selector
The auto industry took a major leap forward in the late-1980s when fuel injected engines hit the market. Essentially, what was once a job reserved exclusively for a mechanical device was replaced by a computer. And now, seemingly everything in a car is becoming computerized – including the standard gear shift.
Most drivers are accustomed to having a mechanical gear selector slotted in either the center console or steering column. But now, a lot of auto makers are ditching this classic design in favor of an electronic gear shift that communicates with the transmission via electrical signals.
This type of knob may look better in your car’s interior than a lever, and will inevitably give you more center console room to store other items. However, because it’s electronic, it’s bound to stop working eventually, whether because of a blown fuse, broken wire, or electrical short. And only time will tell how much it’ll cost to get fixed.
That, coupled with the fact that some drivers have had their vehicles roll away by incorrectly placing the vehicle in park, means that there’s more bad than good with these type of shifters.
Don’t get us wrong; being able to push a button to start an engine – instead of cranking the ignition using a worn-out key – is one of the coolest features on new cars. But the annoyance is that it’s difficult to go from using a key for everything to simply having to carry around a fob.
If, for example, you remember to keep it in your pocket or purse the entire time, the keyless fob works wonders. But if you who place it in the cupholder while driving and then forget to remove it when exiting the vehicle, locking the metaphorical keys in the car can be an all-too common occurrence.
And, by the off-chance that the fob battery dies, starting the vehicle – or even unlocking it, for that matter – can be a hassle, one that requires you to dial the auto maker’s call center to have a representative do it remotely.
If any of these features annoy you, it’s likely that you drive a relatively new car. However, when it’s time to get that vehicle serviced, give Andy’s Auto a call at 412-478-9304.