New Car “Standard Features” That Ought to be Optional

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No one likes a nag.old 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 back-up 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 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?LCD 1

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 –brake pic

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 in to 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.bag on seat

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.”

* Ray Charles Edition A, B and C Pillars –Ray Charles

New cars are designed – per Uncle’s mandate – to have roofs strong enough to support the weight of the car if you roll the thing onto its roof. The downside is you’re more likely to roll the car because of the girder-like (and so view-obstructing) roof supports.

These are the A, B and C pillars; the A pillars being at either side of the windshield, the B pillars at the car’s “waist” – about where the front and rear doors meet – and the C pillars being on either side of the rear glass. The thickness of these pillars is now often two-three times what it typically was back in the Terribly Unsafe ’70s, when a car’s roof might not hold up if the car rolled, but the car was likely to roll because its driver could see where he was going.

And what was coming at him.

* No part-way power windows –

It’s either up – or down.

No in-between.

At least, not without some

Which of course is super annoying.

Blame the people too lazy to hold the switch down for the 5 seconds or so it takes to roll the window up or down who demanded a system that would enable them to just touch the switch and have the window roll up or down all the way all by itself.

Voila – the “one touch” power window, which most modern cars now come standard with.

Great. Except now if you’re wanting half-way up (or down) the “one touch” system doesn’t want to oblige. You get it close to where you’d like it to stop, but it keeps on going. So you tap it again – and it goes down just a bit farther than you wanted.


Many times.

* Side-fill gas caps –

One of the things I love about my ’70s-era Pontiac is that the fuel door is both hidden – and convenient. Two things you can’t say about modern car fuel doors.rear gas cap

The old Pontiac’s gas cap is tucked behind the rear license plate holder – which is mounted in between the tail/brake lights – which means it doesn’t matter which side of the gas pump you pull up to. Either left or right works just as well. In a modern car, the fuel door is almost always either on the left – or right – side of the car. You’ve got 50 percent fewer options. You have to line up your car with the pump – and if someone else is using the side you need, you get to wait.

Or drive around.

The side-fill fuel doors are also visible – and ugly. They break up the lines of the car. Inevitably, you’ll spill fuel while filling.

On the paint.

So how come centrally mounted fuel caps hidden behind the rear license plate bracket were thrown in the woods? Chiefly, it’s because of the relocation of the fuel tank – ahead of the rear axle center line rather than behind it. For “safety,” of course.

This, in turn, pretty much dictated that the filler neck be located off to one side of the car.

Your car’s fuel tank is less likely to rupture if the car is hit from behind. But you’re more likely to spill gas on the paint when you fill up.

And it’s more of a hassle to fill up.

Now wonder half the country is on blood pressure medicine… and the other half chewing Ambien and Prozac like Pez. depends on you to keep the wheels turning! The control freaks (Clovers) hate us. Goo-guhl blackballed us.

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  1. Much blame has been cast at consumers and the public during my adulthood by manufacturers, peers, parents, and the state for our ever-changing dilemmas.
    I strongly suspect that all of this blame is unfounded and is being used by the oligarchy to control us all.
    I will use my own past dilemmas as examples here… I began to distrust Microsoft in less than a year after I bought my first computer which had Win98 preinstalled on it, but I lacked knowledge of operating system design and security. A few years later, I discovered Linux, and I purchased the Mandrake OS. I spent considerable time learning about dual-booting and how to use the OS, but I lacked the time to become a full blown Linux nerd. I spent many hours on-line trying to find a way to get my specially-purchased for Linux hardware modem to work using the terminal (practically all computers had a proprietary Windows software modem). I finally succeeded, but I could not get the computer to memorize the settings that I had entered. I had to use the terminal every time I wanted to get on-line. I gave up on Linux and returned to Windows, which now had XP, back then, but I liked Linux enough to plan on returning to it in a few years when it became more user-friendly.
    Did my choices mean that I was a typical lemming Windows user? If I had filled out a survey back then, then the apparent answer would have been yes unless a great many more questions were asked. Linux geeks were pretty elitist back then, and wouldn’t have thought much about me either Guess what. I have been a solid user of almost exclusively the Linux OS for nearly a decade now. I still can’t write programs, but I am comfortable using the terminal once I find out what to enter; and Linux has matured greatly since my first time!
    So what is my point? The points are these:
    How do you know what the masses desire to purchase? Perhaps our buying choices are being driven by manufacturers and the state. Eric, you have properly laid the blame where it belongs to some extent, but you blame consumers a great deal as well. The questions below are aimed at everyone.
    Please show me the car dealer survey where most buyers (young and old) of new cars requested having smart screens or 12 airbags in their cars for an additional cost, for example.
    Please show me the manufacturer survey that indicates people desire to buy crap products that will break in a week or year for less money? It is true that a large number of people will buy cheaper items: but they aim to buy good things for less money and have little way to tell how long the thing will last unless they are nerdish like myself and seek customer reviews on-line first. Reading customer reviews is no guarantee of getting quality products either. Sometimes the reviewers are frauds. I have purchased a couple of things from Amazon and had the non-Amazon source try to bribe me into leaving a favorable review even before I got the product. And even Amazon cares not how long things last. I have been their customer for over a decade, and they have never asked me how my past purchases have held up. Most of the merchants desire for us to buy their crap and have it hauled off to a land fill within a year or three when we once again to to guess what replacement item will be the best value for us to buy.
    During my genuine transformation to Linux, my dual boot Linux/Windows XP laptop died. I still needed to use Windows software for some tasks and I had no way to research on-line the best laptop for dual-booting Linux on, so I had no choice in my rural area but to go to Wal-mart and buy another one. There was no XPs available, so I had to get Win8. I recalled reading that HP had a good number of laptops that also worked with Linux, so I bought one. The one I ended up purchasing was not very compatible at all, so I suffered with having a buggy laptop with a crappy Win OS for several years until it died. This time; I bought a Linux laptop before my old one died. Was my prior choice really free market driven? We all know the answer to that question.
    I remember hearing as a child the older folks denigrating the choices that teenagers and young adults were making, and I remember wondering if this was a generational occurrence. I now know the answer to that question.
    I do blame the masses for their uneducated philosophical choices however! From the dictionary:
    phi·los·o·phy. noun: the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.
    What could be more important for anyone to learn than attempting to gain knowledge about reality and existence?

  2. Hey Eric, does anyone actually read this site for the new car reviews? I mean, I come here for articles like this/libertarian content, but I’ve never read one of your reviews because I hate the newer cars and find them completely antithetical to Libertarianism, with all of their government-mandated BS, proprietary crippleware, and planned obsolescence. They’re to driving what Microsoft is to computers (I use Linux!). Just wondering, because I look at it as quite a contrast. The people who are looking for new car reviews, probably don’t give a hoot about libertarianism, and vise-versa.

    • Lot of classic car stuff here too, man. Speaking only for myself, I have been a car nerd for more than 40 years. As much as I detest all the fed nonsense, there is still plenty of cool stuff going on in the automotive world.

      I probably won’t buy one of these toasters (or that sweet M2), but I’ll always enjoy reading about them.It’s no different, really, than when I was a kid and would read C&D religiously – even though I couldn’t drive.

    • Hi Nunzio,

      Yes – if comments/posts are any indication. I try to write the reviews to include Libertarian-political stuff, too. Maybe take a look at the last couple (BMW M2, the Honda Ridgeline)… let me know what you think!

      • Hi Eric,

        Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to read the car reviews. I’m just so utterly disinterested. I don’t doubt that you include libertarian principles in your reviews, as you seem to be a person of integrity. It just seems an odd mix, -new car reviews and libertarianism- kinda like if I were to write a blog and review smart phones 🙂 (Ain’t gonna happen!).

        But I am SO glad that there is a site such as this, which is not just about political philosophy/ideology, but which does incorporate the principles of our ideology into another aspect of our lives, i.e. driving and an interest in cars.

        I mean libertarianism and OLD cars, now THAT is a natural! I wish there were a site like this for EVERY interest! And THANK YOU so much for this site! THIS is the way it should be.

        • This was the niche of Car & Driver back in the 1980s and early 90s (and I assume the 1970s as well). They would have all the standard car reviews and tests and such but the editorials and articles had a very pro-liberty bent to them. Thus I don’t consider it an odd mix at all having read C&D cover to cover, every issue from about 1985 to 1995.

          It’s actually a very natural mix because cars used to be about freedom before Naderism and Claybrookianism took hold. Before the test it until we make it fail mentality of Consumer Reports, and the distortions of Mother Jones, 60 Minutes, and Dateline NBC, became the accepted standards.

          • I had a sub to C&D from day one till early 90’s and then AutoWeek to the final for me edition of Auto everyother Week. Their issues had been getting really thin for a long time. They claimed it was the economy and it probably was but I paid for AutoWeek, which had become BarelyAutoWeek even before it became bi-weekly.

            I haven’t subscribed to a car mag since. C&D lost a lot of people like me not long after they did such as put a new white Caddy, a de Ville, on the cover with it’s debut Northstar engine. They raved about how great it was while letters to the editor raved about what a piece of shit it was since the bump strips on the side didn’t align with each other from door to door and fender to door, a really sorry example of workmanship. They were covered in letters to the editor and people jumped ship left and right. I did soon thereafter.

            They had been a bastion of freedom and called a spade a spade to that point. Just the whole buyoff thing with other POS’s getting good reviews. So long C&D.

            • Hi Eight,

              I have some “inside baseball” on this – as a car journalist:

              C&D management joined the Safety Cult and came to love Big Momma. Writers like Yates and the rest became personas non grata. This happened at newspapers, too. What was wanted was sloppy wet blowjobs for the manufacturers to help sell ads. Car coverage became recycled press kit scheisse.

              Most of the people writing about cars today don’t particularly like cars; many don’t know much about how they work. But they are very much concerned about saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety. You ought to see what a “ride and drive” is like today. Buncha accountant types and also the now-usual “cute” girls… because they are cute girls and everyone likes to have a cute girl’s point-of-view about whatever’s on the table…

              • Wait – how cute are we talking here?

                Which car sites/magazines do you like, if any? I gave up on Jalop and TTAC years ago. I haven’t read any of the rags for even longer.

                Anyone else doing decent car work?

              • Yep eric, when Yates big the big one it rapidly went away. I used to love the way out there shit they used to do. Not only entertaining but informative.

                I recall they once gathered the best 4 WD vehicles around at the time. They just drove around and made a course in some rough stuff. They had a Gelunwagen and all sorts of stuff. I recall the supposedly great Merc as doing about 15 mph on the course and the rest would do even less or wouldn’t even make some of the hard stuff. They ended up riding around taking turns with a K5 Blazer with all the amenities, a/c on, stereo turned up loud, probably smoking pot and drinking booze(they hinted at that) and were doing about 60 in the Blazer. Then they had a not so bright driver going about 65 mph off one really hard drop and killed it and it wouldn’t start. They’d hit so hard it broke the starter off. I just loved when they did off-the-wall bs like that.

                They got some of the best race drivers and put them in their cars, got a baseline of their fastest times and then started giving them a shot of booze or a beer every 15 minutes or so and send them back out. Nearly all kept getting faster and faster, some up to about 6 shots. They didn’t publish the story for a few months and finally came clean. Turns out the MADD bunch was on the scene and they were going to use that ever-worsening performance to show not even the best drivers in the world could drive under the influence.

                MADD stomped off, well, madd and troopers left with them. Then they all got blasted on some good old Colombo and it all went to shit. Yep, I coulda told them that.

                My wife and I went to a 20 year HS reunion(our only)and the party that night was out on a guy’s ranch in the middle of nowhere with nowhere in between there and home. I had taken a homegrown J and gave half to an old friend when she left. We left about dawn, not really drunk and got about half a mile away at a good pissing spot. I took a hit or two and another half a mile later stopped and told the wife she could drive or we could just sleep a while. She drove home. It just made it a better trip for me. Nobody had to rock us to sleep that night. I wish I could still do that. They didn’t have piss tests back then.

              • Hi Eric,

                Bicycle magazines are just as bad, mostly just press releases masquerading as reviews. Years ago an outside sports magazine hired me to build a bunch of bikes for their annual bike “review” issue. I quoted them a price and they agreed. After I built a few bikes the contact guy asked me if I could build them for less money. I said no, that I did meticulous work and that I was already giving them a break because of quantity. He said: “but, we don’t need them to work, we just need to take pictures of them.” I said: “but, aren’t you test riding these bikes?” He said: “no, we just take pictures of them and write a little blurb based on what the manufacturer gives us.”

                I said: “sorry, I won’t build them to lower standards.” They found someone else who would.


                • So, do you build frames and all? The whole schmear so to speak? I was once a big bike freak and had a couple semi-expensive ones. I was half the person I am now….well, nearly.

                  • Hi Eight,

                    I built custom bikes by working with a few really good custom frame builders. I would do a complete fit and consult for riding style, optimal material, specific needs, etc… for each customer. Then I would design the geometry accordingly and order a custom frame to those specs. I would also spec a custom parts group which always included custom hand built (by me) wheels.

                    My job for the magazine was completing partially assembled bikes from the major manufacturers (how most bikes are done). Still, I applied the same standards to the “in the box” bikes. Properly tensioning and truing the wheels, trimming and grinding brake and gear cable housing, lubricating all bolts and tightening to the correct torque, etc.. Needless to say, the magazine did not need such work if they weren’t even going to ride the bikes they were “testing”.

                    I have welded one titanium frame from scratch as a Christmas present to my wife years ago. Nowadays, I build custom wheels and I design, and have manufactured, hubs and tools for use by other custom wheel builders.


  3. I will not have any of this. EVER. I don’t care if they would give me the car for free. No! This is technology, bureaucracy, and consumer idiocy(They’re the ones who ultimately vote for the pols, pay the taxes, and buy the cars) gone mad.

    Why don’t they just get it over with and have every new car come with a phallus sticking up out of the seat, since we’re already taking it up the ass anyway?

    • Hi Nunzio,

      I’m with you!

      Part of what’s driving this is the “gadget generation” – which includes not just the Millennials but also everyone else who has become a slave to sail fawns, iPads and so on. It seems most people can’t do without them. Including in their cars.

      I don’t get it.

      And I’m not a Luddite. I am typing this on a computer. But I also don’t feel the need to bring a computer with me everywhere I go. Or be on the phone constantly. I gather the average person sends/receives something like 20 texts/calls per day; madness! I often go an entire day without making a single call – and I never text.


      • Same here, Eric. All this technology and all these gadgets; it’s not that it’s improving people’s lives and adding convenience. It seems more like it’s ruling people’s lives and just distracting them from the ability to enjoy their surroundings or just think. Not to even mention that the lives, communications and every movement of people who use these gadgets are being recorded and tracked by corporations and government. But that doesn’t seem to scare anyone. People seem utterly unconcerned with their privacy.

        I’m dumbfounded. I mean, I don’t want to be reachable 24/7, everywhere I go. Even when I’m home, by the landline, chances are 50-50, when the phone rings, it’ll just be a telemarketer or some BS. If I get 2 or 3 calls a day from someone I actually care about and want to talk to, or concerning actual business, it’s a lot.

        People are frittering their lives away with their heads buried in a screen constantly. Gonna be interesting to see what happens when everything stops working one day. People will be utterly helpless.

        Seriously, it’s as if all this crap is sucking the humanity out of people.

        • Smart phones are mandatory at some jobs. It was like wearing a damn leash since I could get called at any time of the day! My previous frack sand hauling company required having one, and most of the time the dispatchers would not answer phone calls because they wanted text messages instead. I think they wanted records of conversations in case disputes arose. Every load of sand I got assigned to get would come in 3 or more text messages. That means I would sometimes get 10 or 15 incoming assignment texts per day. They wanted a verification text for each load. Once loaded, I had to text them the Bill of Lading number, Field ticket number, weight, and arrival/depart times, and they would acknowledge receiving it. Once unloaded, I had to take pictures of my paperwork and send them to dispatch via smart phone, and they would acknowledge receiving them. I am glad that I quit that job.

          • Brian, don’t know how you could give up those great haybalers though.
            I’m negotiating with a guy who says they’re getting 5 new Freightliner daycabs ready to pull new air ride end dumps with everything electric. Those would be nice for day to day use. They’re going to go ahead and comply with 2017 mandatory e logs. I just see that as a plus….not having to carry around a bunch of paperwork. They have GPS with e log, don’t know about that though. I like all that stuff NOT communicating.

            I looked into my crystal ball as saw me OTR soon. The other guy I had on the line called and wanted me to start, $12/hr. and drive 50 miles to get there and that much going home in my vehicle. Not too hot about that.

            • Sorry 8, but I have no idea what you mean by saying that I am giving up on those great haybalers, and I grew up working for farmers and hauling hay for spending money. I do not see how driving a truck pulling a pneumatic frac sand-hauling trailer could be labeled as haybaling. I certainly am not Captain Obvious in this area.

          • I also have a job that requires a smart phone. I went full pager a year ago. It was suggested I not do that anymore. It was glorious while it lasted. There is a difference in how your mind works when you know you aren’t being tracked at all times.

            It used to be millennials that would sit there on them in public. Now it’s everyone. I’ve been called a luddite because I don’t use my phone except for work or bare minimum phone calls. And now people can’t handle it if you don’t get back to them immediately. No one can wait like they used to, or plan. Shit, if you don’t have facebook these days people lose their minds.

            The gods must be crazy.

            • Hi LysergicFacit,
              For all I know you might well be older than I am; but I now intend to describe how having phone service used to be for the benefit of the youngsters here.
              I have always hated phones for the most part. I guess that I am somehow a luddite nerd. I love having conversations with rational friends even though I am an introvert, and using computers, the Internet, Linux, & TOR.
              The rotary dial land-line phone was my first childhood hands on experience with electronic communications waaaaayyyyy back in the last century, but one of my aunts still had one of those wooden wall phones, and she had to have the operator manually connect her with the person she wished to speak to. The telephone as it existed back then was the perfect device once answering machines became easy to get IMO. The phone companies really sucked back then just as they still do today, but with different excuses. Back then you could see your neighbors house through the non-Microsoft window and get a really expensive phone bill if he happened to be in another county. Back then: being away from the phone was to be almost expected for common people, unlike now.
              I am too tired to continue on. I may pick this reply back up tomorrow.

              • I’m in my 30s, so I grew up with just enough sanity to know better these days. For whatever reason, my first experiences with phones were rotary and non dial tone equipment.

                It really was perfect. If I wanted to be left alone, I would unplug the phone and the answering machine would take the call. And that was OK. Even if it took a few days, that was OK.

                It was also the time when people just showed up at someone’s house to say hi. Now it requires a logistical system rivaling the invasion or Normandy to get anyone to go outside.

                • Sorry, I used pulse dialing phones – not DTMF like today. Although GTE didn’t always have a dial tone. You know, monopolies being The Best and all.

                  Do you recall going to wait in line to replace / repair a phone? Because you didn’t own it?

                  • I lived in D/FW in the early 80s. A couple of the suburbs had GTE phone ‘service’ (before Sprint bought them). Folks used to say it was a weather service. You picked up the phone, and if there was a dial tone, it was not raining.

                • Hi Lysergic,

                  911 was a historical catalyst, like the passage of the income tax and adoption of the “federal” reserve system. It was one of those moments in time when things speed up after a period of relative normalcy. Since 911 – which is very interestingly named and very, very interestingly placed in time, so as to be named that particular thing – we’ve lived in an overt police state, one that has instilled fear and paranoia in everyone, along with a (to me) sickening deference toward armed government workers, whom we are expected to regard as “heroes.”

                  The America of today is like the East Germany of yesterday – and not like the America I knew growing up in the ’80s. When cops were just cops and while most people didn’t hate them, most people didn’t worship them, either. Same with soldiers (as opposed to “troops”).

                  The kow-towing to cammo – “thank you for your service!” – makes me want to chuck…

                  • Lately in other forums I have been getting the “you must be fun at parties” response when I go against these new cultural norms. No critical reply, just that jab of ‘you need to go along to get along’. If people didn’t go along to get along it wouldn’t be like this. Resist what TV says. Turn the thing off. Don’t watch TV news.

                    In the interview of the Dilbert creator I recently watched he mentioned feeling like an alien sent here to gather intelligence and take it back to his home world. I feel the same way. The human race is simply alien to me.

                    • Brent, I’ve been feeling like a time traveling anthropologist at times. It helps me to find ways to laugh about these things. Gotta find ways to laugh…right? If you find that video, link it here for everyone. As LBJ said to Forrest Gump, “I’d kinda like to see that.”

                      Eric, while I remember a lot from before 9-11, It gets more and more difficult for me to think that things really WERE that way once. It seems like a dream. A good dream, but a dream nonetheless. I remember flying out of DCA less than a month before “when everything changed”. Looking down on the monuments from the sky and flying away, maybe I landed in an alternate universe.

        • All this technology and all these gadgets; it’s not that it’s improving people’s lives and adding convenience. It seems more like it’s ruling people’s lives and just distracting them from the ability to enjoy their surroundings or just think.

          That, of course, being the whole point and goal.

          • I used to think that was hooey. After meeting a number of people in various “circles” on both coasts, it’s absolutely the goal. They want you in the matrix.

    • “I will not have any of this. EVER. I don’t care if they would give me the car for free.”

      But it is NEW and IMPROVED!!!!!! How can you possibly do without?

      • I know what you mean by NEW and IMPROVED – that’s code for more expensive and a much bigger pain in the ass. I see it happening all the time with computers, cellphones, printers, cars, everything! They get something working pretty good, then, since they have to give people a paycheck to keep working on their product, keep improving it until it is a worthless POS. I think Windows has gone downhill since XP, and my HP 1200 printer worked well until I got a newer one that is a much bigger pain in the ass to clear errors. My new cellphone has so much internet error checking going on that I get a message every few minutes that I have to clear. I guess everything will eventually be “improved” until it is totally worthless, as the perfect examples: Norton and McAfee.

    • I will not have any of this. EVER. I don’t care if they would give me the car for free.

      Hold that thought: it wouldn’t surprise me if in the future “they” will either assign you a car (no option to refuse, much like being assigned a SSN) or they’ll refuse to allow you to drive at all unless you can justify to their satisfaction why you need to (in which case they’ll assign you a car of their choice, much like in the old Soviet Bloc countries).

      I know, I know … stop giving them ideas! (I’m sure it’s already on their agenda).


      • Much like a lot of people sitting around having a conversation and somebody stands up on a podium and screams. It’s rude. I’m a big Duntov fan myself but don’t feel the need to beat everybody over the head with it.

  5. You’ll get my ’06 Corolla with 5spd, crank windows and no central/remote locking when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

  6. I recently have bought an electric Nissan Leaf. This is an excellent car, but every time I start (energize) the car, I have to accept Nissan’s terms for using the map, GPS, music system etc. I.e. Nissan collects information about where I drive, how fast I drive and about my energy economy.

    I do not like it one bit that I have to agree to Nissan’s terms in order to use GPS etc. For now I, nonetheless, just agree to their terms every time I use the car.

      • If for some reason I am not allowed to move to the mountains and ride horses when they somehow force me to give up driving my own car without all that shit, I will take apart the computer and hammer a flathead into the etched antenna on the board. Or just faraday cage the damn thing with some HVAC tape and call it a day and play dumb.

        Odds are, I will just end up riding horses in the hinterlands. At least horses are loyal.

  7. What an utterly dismaying list of electro-crap new cars have. I don’t understand the need for any of it, but as usual the consumer has chosen for me, or at least happily goes along with Big Meddler’s regulations. Funny how the free market keeps hemming me in and crushing my choices.

    Oh well. Cars will be driverless soon enough, and we won’t have to worry about anything. See the sci-fi short story “With Folded Hands” for one nightmare vision of the future.

  8. Gas filler behind license plate let gasoline leak out when the tank was filled. Every time you accelerated or drove, stopped, or parked on an incline – the top few gallons went missing. Convenient at the station, yet not so much on the road.

      • I miss behind the plate gas fillers. It was so handy back when they built cars for the customers instead of building to government regs. And mine had the flap too, it didn’t lose any gas.

        • I don’t miss them, I always found it more convenient to be able to stand up while pumping. And that was before my knees gave out.

        • Once upon a time before EPA, it was commonplace to see gas leaking from license plates as the drivers left filling stations and all over parking lots on hot summer days. EPA required unvented caps upon the mandate for the activated carbon gas fume filters, that is what stopped the leakers.

          The flap is a device first installed when catalytic converters were becoming fashionable and required only unleaded gas. First, it prevented the larger leaded gas nozzles from being inserted into an unleaded tank. Second, it minimized the once ubiquitous splash back when nozzle cut off. Third, it stopped honest people from easily inserting anything other than the solid metal gas nozzle into their own car as that spring loaded flap snagged and trapped almost anything else.

          It was sold to the public as a way to discourage scofflaws from siphoning gas from your tank so gas thieves retaliated by hunching a hole in the tank instead.

          • I never noticed that. Never had a cap that leaked either and would have replaced it immediately if it had. Those little flaps are hell when you live a long way from gasoline and have run out in all your cans. When the tank is low you can always remove the entire assembly and do away with that flap. I used to use a skinny screw driver and vinyl tubing and it worked fine…..just put the screwdriver between the flap and the hose and it came right out.

            You don’t even have to buy a gas cap or at least didn’t 20 years ago. Go to any gas station, esp. truck stops and say “i left my cap here this morning. They’ll show you a couple box fulls and ask if you see yours. You will. Thanks a bunch.

  9. IMO the WORST now almost standard feature is the requirement to resort to a touch screen to control heating, air conditioning, audio, and way too many other functions.

    These controls are usually not intuitive, much slower to operate, divert your sightline from the road, and extremely distracting. This last problem makes using them while driving At Least as dangerous as texting. Yet the fedgov is just fine with them. Hmmmm.

      • It depends on the distraction! Like everything else involving government (and Clovers) “safe” is situational and subjective… and determined by their arbitrary feeeeeeeeelings.

        • I think I was less distracted back in the day, driving a manual car, girlfriend slid over nice and close (bench seats, ftw!), and rolling a joint at the same time.

          Not a fan of the big screen.

        • Of course, because it were up for vote, watching out for pheroes would likely be distraction #1. But we can’t do w/o them, LOL

    • I hate and I mean hate touch screens. Touch screens are the devil. They require far too much attention to operate and have no tactile feel. Did I press too hard or too light? I find them best to tap with knuckle. But for an automobile who was so stupid to think that controls should be on a screen that requires one’s full attention to operate? Look at it, see where the icon is you want…. go through the menus…. why?

      I’ll pay extra for knobs and buttons. I know they’re saving $10 a car or more with all them gone wrapped into a screen that has to be there anyway because fedgov but this inhuman detachment from machine is becoming intolerable.

      Friggin’ video game generation doesn’t know how it is to actually feel through a machine. tap touch screen wait… oh there’s the fan kicking in … tap screen there’s the vents changing. My newest car still has buttons and knobs but they aren’t attached to anything. All digital. Goes through a computer. They send a command to a computer which then commands a motor or whatever to do the action. Yeah it’s clever. It’s a fun high school science project and I understand how it means using the same system on every car in the line up because it breaks the bonds of physical geometry dictating different parts for every car. I get why it’s done. But it’s not for the better. It’s really hard to have a bond with a machine with that kind of separation. Can’t feel anything behind the controls. And it’s getting worse.

  10. The U-Connect “infotainment” system on Chryslers cannot be turned off, only muted. If you were using the iPod connection earlier but don’t reconnect the next time you get in the vehicle it defaults to the first preset on the AM radio at whatever volume you had set for the source before. Nothing like getting blasted with white noise when you start your vehicle to make you feel like you’re in a high-tech wonderland…

  11. Yet with all 50 states (probably) ticketing you for not having headlights on when it is raining, most cars do not turn on the lights when you have determined it is raining enough to have the wipers on. I’m not talking about auto-sensing the rain, but when I decide it is raining, and the law therefore decides I need my lights on. (We can talk about the law itself another time.)

    We all know those wipers are turned on and off by the computer after the switch tells it you asked for them. So are the headlights. How much would it cost to make them talk to each other….. Oh, wait, it is an extra-cost option. And most have (the detested) DRLs anyway, right?

    Actually this one is a revenue source for our Humble and Obedient Servants, so maybe that is why they let it can slide. Not enough safety impact to cut into the revenue impact.

      • I guess the first nanny thing I had to deal with was the headlight on my 1980 GS 1000. The dealer said the switch was the same, just had a little boss that wouldn’t let it go to the previously off position. Take the cover off, grind the little plastic boss off the back of the switch and it was just like the ones before.

    • I think headlamp switches still tend to be real because it’s cheaper than adding the relays required for a computer to do it. Then again I may be wrong. With the LEDs perhaps the relay isn’t such a big deal. (current is the reason for the relays in the first place and LED headlamps would still need a relay for a computer to control but at the lower current that relay may be cheaper than the physical switch)

  12. “Chiefly, it’s because of the relocation of the fuel tank – ahead of the rear axle center line rather than behind it. For “safety,” of course … Your car’s fuel tank is less likely to rupture if the car is hit from behind. But you’re more likely to spill gas on the paint when you fill up.”

    Umm … this one makes sense to me. Isn’t this the Exploding Pinto Gas Tank problem?

    Course, I used to own one of those Pintos, and the exploding gas tank was the least of the problems with that car. Terrible handling and brakes, and owning it was wildly effective inadvertent birth control when I was a single guy.

  13. Drive by wire! I don’t care about “smoother more immediate throttle response”, give me my mechanical linkages back!

    I would also like transmission fluid dipsticks back, they seem to be MIA recently.

    • Hi AJ,

      I miss throttle cables, too. Glad my Trans-Am still has that… Also a dipstick for the transmission. Once upon a time, those came with drain plugs, too!

  14. Seat airbag sensor is stupid. Just tie it in with the seatbelt. Seatbelt on = airbag on. Not rocket science.

    I hate the thick pillars. I hate the infotainment warning.

    I like the blind spot monitoring.

  15. How about “theft related parts” like control units and ignition switches which are “married” to the car so you can’t install a used unit when your 13 year old beater car needs an ECU? Can’t use a used one so you need a $2000 new unit that isn’t plug and play anyhow. All this to render the car theft proof (repair proof in reality).
    Like anyone is going to steal your 2004 E320 hooptie anyway..

  16. Another thing that’s becoming more and more a ‘standard feature’ that I’d rather not have at all are these ‘keyless ignition systems’. I have never understood the so-called fascination with these things. So you don’t put the key in the ignition, and instead have a transponder in your coat pocket just press a ‘start’ button, ‘well…. big fffffff deal’. Just more electronics that will eventually go wrong. Better yet, forget about all these ‘smart keys’ altogether, I really do miss the days of when I could go to the hardware store and duplicate my ignition key for a mere $0.99. Better, yet, I missed the days when I could go to the beach, lock all the stuff up in the trunk and then take my car keys with me (pinned inside my swim trunks) into the water and not worry about frying some silly electronics in it then then being stranded.

    Oh sure, some will argue that these new keys cut down on auto theft, but, please… come on… I’d trade that unlikely risk with the damn near certainty of having to shell out $400+ on replacement keys every 2-3 years because the battery goes dead in the fob, or the buttons on the fob wear out (allowing moisture in and thus screwing up the electronics), etc. And worse all this so called ‘anti-theft’ key systems for now the most base models of cars. $400 for a duplicate key for a $13K (when new) car. I wish I was making that up.

    • Yeah, they cut down on theft when you’re not around at the expense of making car-jackings more frequent. Good trade off, thanks Uncle!

    • “Another thing that’s becoming more and more a ‘standard feature’ that I’d rather not have at all are these ‘keyless ignition systems’.”

      Yeah, I have that keyless start button. Which seemed cool — until I accidentally washed one of the two keys that came with the car, trashing the electronic motherboard inside the key thing. And then the Toyota dealer said it would cost about $600 to replace it, and I told them no way. So now I’m down to just one key, hoping I don’t wreck that accidentally.

      Oh, and the battery on the key goes out every year or two, so gotta keep a spare in the glove box or I can wind up stranded somewhere.

      Give me a mechanical key I can insert — I’ll take that “works ever’ damn time” technology over this complicated clusterfuck.

      • Here, here. I can’t stand the damned things. Real men don’t want to drive around with the damned keys in their pocket or have them flailing on the center console as they corner the car harder than a soccer mom in her crossover.

        I can’t stand the damned things. They are a disgrace and I won’t buy a car with them.

        • Those damned Dodge company trucks……put the key FOB into the hole, turn it and nothing happens so I’m always in the act of turning it off when the engine fires. What’s with all the lag anyway?

          I guess it’s as much of where I grew up and when I grew up but I recall years would pass between car thefts. And it was rarely one of those things the car wasn’t found right away, often with somebody seeing the thief, either in the car or leaving and mostly it was a youngster with some family problem or someone with Alzheimer’s. I have seen people get into the wrong car and their key worked just fine. They were mostly older folk who didn’t carry anything in their car or just clutzes who didn’t pay attention. It’s sorta funny to have someone pull up to a house and tell the owner they’re going to “trade” their cars back since they took the wrong one. Embarrassment follows. I sorta liked the fact that the ’55 Chevy pickup with a floor starter and the ’64 Biscayne used the same key. It gave you spares if you lost one.

          Nobody back then took their keys out when they left the vehicle, at least few did. A good prank in those days was to move somebody’s car around to behind their house or to the neighbor’s. You’d get your butt chewed if somebody had to go looking for the key.

          • Remember those old Chevys where you could turn the ignition off and remove the key, but restart it w/o the key because of the way the switch was made?

            • Seems like it was a lot of brands that had the steering column key that would get so worn that if you didn’t go all the way back it would still go forward again and the key would come out so you could just leave it and if somebody wanted to use it they could without the key but were screwed if they went all the way back when turning it off.

              • Back in my uni days, I had a 64 Studebakeer Commander that I could start, pull the key out, leave the car and lock the door, and go inside till the car warmed up, then open the car and put the key back in the cylinder and drive off in a heated and defrosted car.

  17. So glad my Ford Ranger is an honest truck. Manual crank windows, manual mirrors and manual locks. It does have the belt minder of course, but at least that is the only annoyance (and I think it says in the owners manual how to disable it). I am grateful that the truck squawks at me if I forget to turn the headlights off. But yeah, all these other distractions that cars come with now is ridiculous. Welcome to the Nanny State, where Uncle is looking out for you…all in the name of saaaaaaaffffffttttteeeeeeyyyyyyyy.

    • Hi Lance,

      Agreed! My 2002 Dakota has manual window cranks, manual door locks, manual mirrors and a manual transmission with the 4.7 V8. It also doesn’t scold me about the seat belts (just a light on the dashboard, no sound). I want to keep it running forever, as no new truck even comes close to what I want.


  18. You missed the most ancient and most evil.
    The windshield washer that triggers the wiper.
    So after a few drops hit the windshield, like when you are driving through a swarm and can barely see anyway, the wipers come on and turn it into a uniform opaque sticky screen that is going to be there for several seconds at least even if you have the bug-away windshield washer fluid.
    On my old Subaru I hacked in a separate washer switch.
    I use RainX anyway so the wipers were usually redundant, a little wash did enough.
    But with the switch, I could lay down enough wash so that when I triggered the wipers it actually moved the goop out of the way.

  19. My god, do you remember the Chrysler shitheaps that talked to you? The dinging is awful, but having a woman’s voice admonish you to buckle up was worse. And not a sexy voice, either. She sounded like a gym teacher or something.

    You know, I think I figured you out, eric. I don’t think you want me to buy a new car! Between this shit and the excellent ancient car thread, I’m ready to go primitive across the fleet.

  20. You might want to also throw in with that whole ‘hand brake’ thing the now near impossibility to find an actual manual version of such. Every car I’ve rented as of late (and also test driven, and this would be mainly ‘performance cars’) seems to have replaced the good old hand brake with this asinine electronic brake. They’re horribly slow, have even less clamping power (so there goes those neat whip turns once and for all I guess) and overall seem useless for any ’emergency brake’ purposes (remember when they were called ’emergency brakes’ instead of ‘parking brakes’?)

    • How are you supposed to hobble the car home on residential side streets at 25mph when brake line gives out with that?

      Oh I know… call someone. Be dependent. Be a child which is the whole point. This permanent childhood with the government as parent.

      I had a brake line give out on me leaving work last year. Rust in a spot where dirt built up on the line and the low spot of the line I couldn’t flush properly because the bleeder was rusted. Anyway…. I only had front brakes because of this and the pedal was of course mush. Had enough brake fluid in the car to keep the system wet, but by using the hand brake and the pedal I working brakes at all four wheels. I took side streets home where I didn’t have to go over 25mph. Got home before I would have even been done with the phone call to the motor club.

    • The e-brake (electronic) in my vehicle is actually quite strong. If I put it in drive, it will not budge for anything. It will make a horrible buzzing sound though from the dash if I try and drive though.

      • Mine too. Near as I can tell it merely applies the foot break, hard. I can actually feel the pedal go down. But it also has a bit of a nag built in. It auto-releases (kinda nice) unless …. seatbelt not snapped or door open. You can override in those cases, but someone, somewhere, is nagging me to buckle up and close my door.

        I was demonstrating how safe it kept me to a neighbor in his driveway. Problem was enough applied power overcame the friction in the front wheels and I left 2 three-foot-long, nasty, black marks on his clean concrete by dragging the locked rear wheels. So far I haven’t felt the flat spots. As a computer type, I ought to have remembered that demos never go well.


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