Saturday, March 24, 2018

Your car as a nanny


Eric Peters points out that most modern vehicles have become nannies - and we can't switch them off.

One of the reasons for liking old cars is they don’t try to parent you. The new stuff won’t quit trying to.

The 2018 VW Golf GTI I am reviewing this week, for instance. When you put the transmission in Reverse, the radio’s volume’s is peremptorily turned down – apparently because someone decided it wasn’t saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe to back up while listening to the radio.

. . .

Speaking of door locks . . . .

They are just as peremptory. Some can be programmed not to be – but the default is uber peremptory. As soon as you get in and close the door, it locks. All locks. Some cars are incredibly aggressive about allowing access to the car, denying the owner access to the trunk or rear cargo area unless he very deliberately unlocks the locks, which the car slammed shut without him having asked it to.

Again, for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety.

. . .

It’s one thing – an acceptable thing – for a car company to include a feature it thinks may be helpful. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s another thing when the feature isn’t wanted – and you can’t countermand the “help.”

This is, however, the new Nudge way of doing things. The mother-in-law you can’t make shut up or kick to the curb.

Busybody-ism.

. . .

Old cars – those made prior to early 2000s – are largely free of all this stuff. Those made prior to the ’90s are completely free of this stuff. Driving one of those cars is an almost startling experience, if you only have experience with newer cars. You are in charge – of everything. The car simply does as it’s told.

There's more at the link.

I can't help but agree with him.  When I started driving, way back when, many cars still had lap belts only - no shoulder seatbelts.  There were no warning gongs, bings, bangs or booms at all, unless your engine happened to blow up (which was definitely an attention-getter!)  I suppose busybody regulators and lawsuits by the "Someone's gotta pay!" crowd are to blame for the change.  Miss D.'s and my present vehicles, dating from 2006 and 2005 respectively, are annoying in their noisy insistence that we buckle up RIGHT NOW when we turn the key.  However, they're mild in comparison to some modern contraptions, which I'm informed won't let you start up at all unless you first buckle up.  I haven't come across such a vehicle myself, and I hope I never do!  You can rest assured I won't be buying one.

Perhaps it's time to consider keeping my 13-year-old truck running at almost any cost, just to be free of all the "nannyisms" inflicted on their drivers by later-generation cars . . .




Peter

26 comments:

Rev. Paul said...

Many of the busybody features on our various Ford SUVs/pickup (vintages 2006, 2014 & 2015, respectively), can be turned on or off via the computer menu. But you have to look for those settings, and they're not always easy to find.

Dad29 said...

My '05 Ford Taurus had a seatbelt reminder chime, too. By and by it wore out and stopped.

Wait until you get into the new GM vehicles and get banged-on by the "LOOK IN THE BACK SEAT DID YOU FORGET YOUR CHILD!!!!???" chime.

Anonymous said...

Amen on keeping older vehicle running. My present pick=up (GMC 2000 1500 extended cab) has just enough conveniences to keep me happy. The newer trucks Ive driven or been a passenger in leave me cold.

Anonymous said...

That's one reason I miss my late, lamented 2011 Tacoma. No bells, no back-up camera taking up the entire dashboard, no GPS that I cannot turn off (I'm not a good enough electrician to find the wire to clip). No gazillion warnings, other than the "you might want to turn off the anti-skid traction".

LittleRed1

Phssthpok said...

There's a REASON I refuse to give up my 1984(!) Toyota longbed. Carburetor, distributor, manual transmission, >200k on the odo, and STILL I get nigh 30 MPG on the freeway (if I keep the speed to no more than 65).

I bet I could top that 30 MPG mark if I gave it a basic tune up, fixed the weeping carb bowl, tracked down some minor vacuum leaks that I suspect exist, and get some slightly taller tires and that front end alignment I've been putting off.

Rick T said...

a few years ago we rented a GMC Arcadia that was set up so taking the car out of Park auto-locked the doors, which is acceptable. Problem was, putting it back in Park auto-UNLOCKED the doors which drove me crazy...

Huge personal safety issue, but new cars are very programmable which makes it a bit better.

WL Emery said...

When I learned to drive, we didn't have seat belts. We had a clutch and a gear shift, and if you rode the clutch or ground the gears the owner of the car would explain that you were destroying the car, and you should stop doing that. If you repeated the behavior, you got a brief but effective ass chewing.

On the dashboard, we had the speedometer, engine temperature, oil pressure, alternator, and gas gauges. Idiot lights were a feature of luxury cars and the future.

We had rear view and side view mirrors, and you learned to look where you were going while backing up - or else.

The way modern cars are set up, the drivers will begin to rely on the modern, AI safety devices. They'll be slow on panic stops, casual on steering, and they for damned sure won't watch were they're going. Most don't now.

And the auto door locks. In Ohio, in 5 below zero weather, I fired up the car and went back inside to let the car warm up. The doors automatically locked. Now I'm locked out of a running car. Great job, Toyota. You guys are geniuses, trust me.

A while back I saw a 1940-something pickup pass me while I was walking the dog. The exhaust smelled good to me; raw fuel, a little oil, some pollution. The truck had an unsynchronized transmission - I heard the driver double clutch from first to second.

I want a nice old pickup to drive. All I need is a heater; I'll do without the AM radio, the power brakes, the power steering, the power windows, all the electronic crap that reminds me you-know-who is watching.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter;

That is why I like my 1999 F150, all I have is the auto lock on the door and I don't mind that. We built the cars, we should be in charge of the car, not have it tell us what to do. It makes me wonder what society will be like with more and more safety features...Will we get smarter or lazier and quit paying attention.

Eck! said...

Ya'll for got the one feature of the computer....

That is to record all of your brake usage and any operation deemed outside the acceptable limits programmed into the computer. Sooner or later that black box will be used tor accident reconstruction and setting your insurance rates... Remember that fun trip at 100+ on some deserted highway? Your insurance just bumped up 500$.

And your worried about door locks!

Eck!

Anonymous said...

The doors lock because design changes had the doors flying open in rollover crashes, and then the unibody would fold up. Ditto for the "nader pin" which is why now rescuers have to cut the front hinge on a door and pry it toward the rear of the vehicle.

The main reason cars keep getting more expensive is legislated safety and eco features.

All this stuff follows the Prog progression -- first make it acceptable, then desirable, then unavoidable (mandatory).

n

added- when the auto door locks came out, my youngish friends and I called them "pedophile locks." Only someone who meant you harm would power lock the doors after you got into the car. It was even a movie trope with a sinister vibe, camera shot showing the door locks suck down...

Most of the stuff can be turned off with some really convoluted rigamarole. Look in the manual. Like the seat belt reminder, it takes plugging and unplugging the drivers seat belt, turning lights off and on, and some other stuff too (slightly older fords.)

Robert the Biker said...

Of course, it doesn't help when some shithead does something stupid ( switch on cruise control then go to the back of the vehicle to make a coffee because " it's driving itself now")and then sue the maker because YOU are a dumb fuck who was driving something you're barely qualified to LOOK at. Someone drives an SUV too fast round a bend? Must be someone elses fault right? Stop lawyers getting rich off human stupidity and misery and a lot of this crap would vanish.

Old NFO said...

Lawyers are partly responsible... And idiot drivers... sigh I'm with Bill, manual transmission, no power, no air, no cruise. You actually had to DRIVE the vehicle...

stencil said...

I'm considering burial in my 2004 Tacoma.
In the meantime, this looks like a wonderful career opportunity for a handynerd: showing folks how to overcome the more egregious nannyisms, and - more importantly - how to restore them for the times when the Checker For The State calls you in for blessing.

TheOtherSean said...

Did the car companies decide to take lessons from Microsoft? Heck, I'm not sure that Clippy wouldn't be an improvement upon some of what these cars and their electronics do these days.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention none of these are EMP proof.
Houston

raven said...

The unintentional consequence of safer cars, is that people drive worse.

Mike_C said...

Eck! is on to them. Similar thing with those handy RF toll transponders, in terms of speeding. But then again, I also carry a cell phone. (Incidentally, I flew across a time zone today. En route the phone reset from Central to Eastern time, despite being in "airplane mode" the whole time. How did it know to reset the clock?)

As to cars, I hate getting a rental programmed to UNlock all doors as soon as you put it in park.

Dave said...

As a night shift cop, I see one effect of this almost every night - automatic headlights.

I usually stop a couple/three cars a night for driving with their lights off. Almost invariably, the driver tells me one of two things:

1) It's not their car, or it's new (to them) and doesn't have auto lights, and they're used to auto lights and thus forgot;

2) The car has auto lights, but somebody else drove it and moved the swith out of the auto position.

I will say the feature that automatically lights up the instrument panel contributes to this as well. On my truck (2001 Dodge), if I don't turn on the lights, I can't see the instruments, because they don't light up. Most newer cars light up at least the main cluster (speedo, tach, etc), and if you're driving somewhere with lots of street lights, it's easy not to notice your lights are off.

I'm going to keep my 2001 Dodge Dakota until the wheels fall off. And when when my dad gets too old to drive, I'll have his 1965 Beetle.

paladin3001 said...

Ah, only if I could get an older car. Most vehicles in my area tend to rust out after 10 or more years due to the amount of salt on the roads in the winter. I don't own a vehicle currently and I depend on rentals when I really need a car for special trips. Getting used to all the new bells and whistles is a challenge in itself. I just want the basics and nothing more. Unfortunately what's now standard used to be luxurious options.

Aesop said...

I hear you can get a great deal on '59 Chevys from Cuba...

harp1034 said...

The 1974 cars had that no seatbelt, no start thing. I got mine disconnected. It was mandated by the gov't. Nobody liked it. There were many complaints about it. It only lasted one year.

TheOtherSean said...

@harp1034: That would be awesome in a horror movie. The teenagers make it to the old beater one of them is driving, goes to start it, and it won't start because the seatbelt sensor's broken. The monster or chainsaw/knife-wielding weirdo catches up to them as they're trying to get the darn thing to start, and they flee out the other side of the car, back into the dark forest.

Anonymous said...

My 2013 Honda Accord has a reasonably discreet seatbelt chime. Likewise a chime when I leave the key in the ignition and open the door. As I’m Not in a hurry to die, my seatbelt chime is redundant. The Accord also has a back-up camera. I think it’s a pleasant convenience, but then, I know how to back up a car. In another 30 years, no one will remember how.

I could have afforded heated seats but that model also talked, in the annoying voice of That Woman. Bitch be everywhere.

JK Brown said...

I like to watch the auto diag/repair youtube channels. Today's mechanic has to be a skilled industrial controls tech/diagnostician in many cases.

This video here by a guy who does repairs as a side job has some irony. Ford rightfully informs the driver that there will be no B.L.I.S. for you. Instead your driving experience will be total distraction and hellish. And what rendered this "fine" auto into hell on wheels? For all the fancy screens and all the fancy bells and all the fancy sensors, the car went into distract the driver mode over a phantom trailer it thought it was towing. Why, for the lack of a decent 50 cent weatherproof connector cover.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DXFttWH7Bw

Joseph Bridges said...

I don't even let my plug-in-when-I-need-it GPS tell me what I may or may not do, even advisably - it's permanently muted, and has been since I got it -

Same reason why I refuse to even contemplate owning a "smart" phone - all I want a cell-phone for is to make and receive (at MY behest) calls; I don't even need to be able to "text" - I'm not a mute, nor am I deaf (not yet, anyhow); I can talk to people - or leave a message, if needed - and I trust they can do the same.

My vehicle damn-sure ain't gonna decide for me what's going to get done as we start-up and/or travel from place to place.

If I have occasion to look into a new vehicle - or even a "new pre-owned" one - I will take great care to avoid anything that has any of these "helpful features", unless I can be certain that I can immediately disable such - permanently - should I desire to do so...

If I'm payin' for it - it's gonna do what I WANT DONE - nothin' else.

That just the way I roll...

Steve Sky said...

Hi Peter,
Here is another perspective on the discussion, and when I read it, I thought about your post.
Why dashboards suck