New Car “Standard Features” That Ought to be Optional

No one likes a nag.

Especially one that comes along for the ride.

Here are some I wish were optional.

I’m betting you do, too:

*The lawyered-up infotainment screen – 

Most (and soon, all) new cars have an LCD infotainment screen, including a government-mandated backup camera. At start-up, the LCD screen will hit you with a warning screen whose cautions and advisories you usually have to “agree” to every single time before anything controlled by the screen can be accessed. It’s like being forced to read the label on a bottle of aspirins every single time you have a headache, then (somehow) acknowledging to Bayer that you know not to eat the entire contents of the bottle – and won’t sue them if you do – before the bottle allows you to have an aspirin.

You are also admonished to “check the surrounding  area for safety.”

Where is he? Do you see him?

It gives me a headache.

These systems also do another annoying thing. Put the gear selector in Reverse and the volume of the stereo goes down.

Or even off.

Also for “safety,” of course.

Presumptive (and illiterate) idiot-proofing.

Conjured by the lawyers who now work side-by-side with the engineers who built your car.

The DRL-enabling/barely works parking brake –

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Until about five years ago, it was possible to defeat the stupid always-on Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs) most new cars come with (it’s stupid to burn headlights when there’s no reason to, like the lack of daylight… or a funeral) by moving the parking brake handle up just one notch, which would kill the lights but not engage the brakes. Now – redesigned for “safety” – a pushy buzzer comes on if you try this, making it useless as a DRL defeat.

And the brake itself has been designed to have the feeblest of clamping power.

They build just enough tension into allow the brake to hold the car in place if the car is not moving at all. But not enough to lock up the rear wheels while the car’s moving – so no more Hollywood-style parking brake 180s.

Also for “safety.”

* The Curse of the Phantom Passenger –

New cars have “smart” air bags … with very dumb sensors.

They are built into the seat cushions and – supposedly – detect the presence of an occupant and (if he’s not buckled up for “safety”) trigger the seat belt buzzer to remind (hassle) them to do so. But the “smart” air bag sensors often can’t tell the difference between a human passenger and a bag of fast food burgers.

You have to buckle-up your double cheeseburger and fries – or figure out some other way to defeat the electronic imbecile.

Either that or put up with the endless ding! ding! ding! of the buckle-up buzzer.

Which, when you think about it, is distracting and so not very “safe.”

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