By on August 2, 2013

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It’s time to devote yet another column to automotive details. The sharp-minded among us may be annoyed by this, since I already covered this subject last week. But this time, things are different. This time, it’s negative. And negative sells. I know that because I live in Atlanta, home of CNN, who drives around in large panel trucks with huge printed signs on each side that say: “HAVE YOU SEEN SOMETHING BLOODY? TWEET US!”

Anyway: negative automotive details. I’ve got a few suggestions and, as always, I’m asking for your help to uncover more. For those of you curious as to why I’ve done so many question-and-answer posts lately, I promise there is a reason, namely that I’m going out of town in two weeks and I want to compile all the answers into a few posts that you can read while I’m gone. But also it’s because I love reading the responses, to the point where I was up last time until 2 a.m. Googling “BMW glovebox flashlight.”

Here are my nominations for some of the worst automotive details, based on a few of the cars I’ve owned. Feel free to share yours.

Range Rover Parking Sensors

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It’s hard for me to believe that any single thing is more infuriating than the parking sensors on my Range Rover. (Re-reading this sentence, it sounds like someone who might say: “I just can’t get the temperature of my spa quite right.”) Seriously, though: I often think that I would gladly come home and discover that a burglar entered my home, stole all of my clothes, then let in a two-year-old child who drew all over the walls in Sharpie, all if it meant I no longer had to deal with my Range Rover parking sensors.

This is the problem. I’m backing into a parking space, so the sensors automatically activate. That’s great. They start beeping. Beep. Beep. Beep. Perfect. Then I get closer. Beep beep. Beep beep. Then I get super close. Beeeeeeeep. Exactly what I want to hear. So I stop parking and place the vehicle in park. And what happens next? You guessed it: Beeeeeeeep! Once the sensor goes on, it does not turn off, even if the vehicle is no longer in gear. So you’re parked and maybe you’re waiting for someone, and you just sit there listening to Beeeeeeep! And yes, you can manually turn off the sensor, but then you must manually turn it back on again when you’re trying to leave.

If you happen to know the person who designed these sensors, kindly provide me with their address so I can dispatch a crew of clothes-stealing burglars and creative, marker-wielding two-year-olds.

Mercedes Next Track Steering Wheel

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Owning a Mercedes is an unusual decision that I strongly recommend you only make if you can stomach a) tremendous depreciation, or b) substantial maintenance costs. In fact, it’s often both of those things, and never neither.

The detail that upset me most about Mercedes ownership, however, was none of that. It was the lack of a steering wheel ‘next track’ button.

Allow me to explain. The steering wheel of most Mercedes models, like any luxury car, is covered with buttons. On my 2007 E-Class, the total number was eight, just to be precise. But this is where the anger comes in: of those eight buttons, not one controlled the next stereo track! Instead, we had volume, phone, and four buttons for the “driver information center,” which you use approximately once a month when people ask: What kinda mileage duzzis thing get?

Gated Automatic Transmissions

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I will never in my life understand why gated automatic transmissions exist. One of you out there in readerland probably has a completely valid explanation that makes perfect sense in your mind, but trust me: you’ve never had to explain it to an elderly person in the hot sun.

I once worked at a large rental car agency, and we had to deliver a car to an elderly driver after her previous rental, a Dodge Avenger, broke down. (Shocking, right?) So we brought her a Suzuki Forenza, which has a gated automatic shifter, and I spent the next 30 minutes attempting to explain how it works. Unfortunately, I was at a loss for words when she asked why it works that way. I still am.

Cadillac CTS Foot-Mounted Parking Brake

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Before I got my current CTS-V Wagon, I had a CTS-V sedan, which was a fairly decent car in many ways – except for one glaring detail. No, I’m not talking about the plastic center stack, which derived its material from a Playskool toy. I am instead referring to the foot-mounted parking brake.

You’re probably thinking: What’s the big deal? A lot of cars have foot-mounted parking brakes! And that’s very true. The difference, however, is that most of those cars don’t have manual transmissions. The CTS-V did. That meant there were four pedals in the driver footwell, and the one you never wanted to press was directly next to the one you had to press each time you changed gear.

So, folks, what are your worst automotive details? It’s Friday night and my girlfriend is out of town, which can only mean one thing: 2 a.m. automotive Googling. Bring it on.

@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars and the operator of PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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373 Comments on “QOTD: What Are The Worst Automotive Details?...”


  • avatar

    Easy: Non-flush head and back lights details

    • 0 avatar

      Also: All black or grey interiors and no options on interior or exterior colors. Humongous wheels. Small side wall tires. Run flat tires. Electric steering.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Low-profile tires may not be ideal on Brazilian roads but they do make sense (within reason) in North America and Europe. Of course designers have resorted to very large wheels to make up for the cars’ inherent design shortcomings now.

        • 0 avatar

          Hey th009!

          I understand that, but monkey see, monkey do thinking is leading Brazilian makers into that world. Higher running costs as bent or broken wheels, slashed tires not to mention more discomfort…All in the name of what exactly? To me, just plain stupidity.

          • 0 avatar
            Volt 230

            A lot of these huge wheels were not accompanied by larger brakes or improved suspension parts, a catastrophe in the making!

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          Depends where in america, northeast metro areas are not in good repair…

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Nor is San Diego, although for reasons of shear government incompetence/corruption. C&D’s Ann Arbor long term tests of German luxobarges are entertaining for their running costs and headaches with bent wheels and toasted run-flats.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            Modern 45-series tires are still OK on most roads. Of course wheel strength matters, too. (I admit to having high-quality aftermarket wheels.)

          • 0 avatar
            Sam P

            NE and Midwest metro areas are horrific because of the annual freeze cycle & hot summers. Pavement can’t last and gets all messed up with frost heaves.

            I live in the Pacific Northwest, the roads are generally in good to great shape here.The Seattle area knows how to do good roads. Our high WA state sales tax is good for *something*

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            Montreal roads come to mind!

      • 0 avatar

        ditto on electric steering

      • 0 avatar
        AlphaWolf

        Amen. When I went car shopping last year I decided no more black interiors. Of course everything I looked at had all black interiors on the more premium models and no other choice. Is TAN too much to ask?

    • 0 avatar
      SlowMyke

      Yes! Times one thousand! Toyota is king of inexplicably bulbous and chunky lights that stick out for no good reason. Not that Toyota is particularly good at exterior design to begin with, but nothing ruins the lines of a car than huge tumors on the four corners.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        Hear Hear !! From just the right angle, the Prius C headlight bubble just about matches the fender/bumper bulge beneath it

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        The new Corolla has LED lights so that the lights were small enough for the designers to not have to buldge them out. Hopefully the Avalon gets them too.

      • 0 avatar

        I admit I was thinking of Toyota when I wrote this. Don’t know why but it does seem the Asian makers are the worst ‘offenders’ in this arena. Of late, the Euro makers have started to copy them somewhat though they do seem to place better, more integrated shapes in their non-flush light appendages. The Brazilian Peugeot 207 being the obvious and horrible exception (headlights, horrible!).

      • 0 avatar
        Brunsworks

        There actually is a functional reason, at least on the Honda Fit: lower wind noise.

    • 0 avatar
      bnolt

      Thread winner on post #1! How often does that happen?

    • 0 avatar

      Infiniti and late model Volvo laser based cruise control. Hate you.

      Audi is worse -top of the line Q5 and Q7 have a K band based cruise control that covers a half mile under the right conditions. Thanks guys.

      Owners tend to turn on all buttons “because they have them” (See-why everyone in europe except Audi removes the “back fog light)

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Wanted the top-line Accord Touring in order to get the ACC, which is in a separate band from police radar. (700MHz, maybe.)

        I actually drove to a dealer 40 miles from me who had one of those models in stock for the express purpose of ensuring that the ACC radar and my V1 would play nice together, as even Valentine Research couldn’t give me an answer!

        Fortunately, all is well, and a Modern Steel Metallic Touring has graced my garage since March! ;-)

  • avatar
    isucorvette

    The exhaust cutouts for non-v8s on the previous generation Dodge Chargers. Every time I see one, my eyes instantly look at the gaping hole and think cheap.

    http://images.thecarconnection.com/lrg/2010-dodge-charger-4-door-sedan-sxt-rwd-rear-exterior-view_100301296_l.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      2013 Accords are the same way. -_-

      • 0 avatar
        andyinatl

        +1. This would seriously detract me from buying a 4 cylinder non-Sport model, if i was in a market for mid-sizer. How much money can they possibly save by not having a unique bumper for 4-cyl vs 6-cyl model?

      • 0 avatar
        SayMyName

        At least the Accord’s unfilled exhaust port doesn’t leap to the eye like the Charger’s did, thanks to the chrome filler strip that masks the effect somewhat.

        When I first saw the V6 Chargers I thought the plastic fill blank had fallen out; I couldn’t believe that they’d been designed like that on purpose.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        New Legacy sedans are the same way as well. A single exhaust model in white is particularly noticeable, as the cut-out collects dirt.

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      2013 Accord LX’s cloth fabric on the interior door pull. It’s going to get dirty very fast.

      • 0 avatar
        Kosher Polack

        2008 Civic driver here – I’ve got the same cloth on the door pulls, and 5 years’ exposure to elbow friction has left it looking like a used-up pencil eraser. The fabric hasn’t tattered yet, but when it does, I’m probably in for a hell of a time finding a cheap replacement.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Prius armrests. The door pull isn’t fabric covered, but the fabric they chose for the armrests in the 2nd gen wore out years ago.

        It’s not a big enough problem that I can dedicate time to grafting on better fabric. So, the interior of the car got old before its time. The hard plastics still look like a showroom-new ST:TNG shuttlecraft after 9 years on the road, though!

    • 0 avatar
      Cubista

      The current generation Charger even in R/T trim has those…and of course, since they’re chrome you’re naturally drawn to them and what do your eyes see when they get there? Pavement, showing clearly between the gap between the actual exhaust pipes and the the chrome “finishers” accenting the would-be diffuser.

      If you want to gussy up a secretary’s special to look like something it’s not, fine…but if you’re stuffing even the 5.7l hemi under that hood, give it a proper exhaust system…if you don’t want to charge for the full cat-back treatment at least free it up from the axle back.

    • 0 avatar
      MeatLock

      Never noticed that one, but not surprised because after I looked at a Venza about 2 months ago, I realized that on non-V6 equipped models, the left rear bumper has a gnarly plug that is present instead of the exhaust.

      For visual reference http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Toyota_Venza_from_Vietnam_in_Savannakhet_Laos.jpg

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    Pop-up headlights so you only get to be aerodynamic from dawn to dusk.

    Automatic locking doors.

    • 0 avatar
      Cubista

      Pop-up headlights have always pissed me off for that exact reason. Thanks for getting that out there.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      What’s wrong with automatic locking doors?

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        If it is when the car is put in gear or reaches a certain speed, I have no problem with them. If they auto lock when you walk away from the car, that would be bad.

        Rather, I absolutely detest the feature where all doors unlock when put in park. My mother has been parked in lots / gas stations where someone tried to open her door on more than one occasion. The whole notion that your car should not be secure if you put it in park is ridiculous.

        • 0 avatar

          A manual transmission solves that problem and adds to your fun quotient. :)

        • 0 avatar
          caltemus

          My grandmother’s Buick has an option deep in the dash computer that changes that off or for only the driver’s door.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          If I lived in an area where I had to worry about whether my cars doors were locked while I was in the car, I would move.

          Annoying detail? Automatic transmissions!

          • 0 avatar
            nrd515

            REALLY annoying detail, a manual on a daily driver. Just let me take the damn bus.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            Depends on where I live. When I lived in rural Appalachia, a manual transmission was way more fun and also let me get more out of small/cheap engines.

            Now I run stop sign gauntlets in a small city in the Midwest. We don’t corner here, so shifting is a chore. It’s stop-and-go traffic, just without all of the other cars. Automatic is the way to go.

            Also, electronically controlled automatics are way better than the automatics from the 1980s that I encountered when I was learning to drive in the 1990s. Three speed automatics which couldn’t choose the right gear most of the time really did punish you for not stepping up and learning to drive a real car. The 5 speed electronically auto in my Sienna, and the CVT in our Prius are both consistently non-offensive.

      • 0 avatar
        philipbarrett

        Get in the car, start it up & back halfway down the driveway. Wife steps out the front door & tries to get into the vehicle, since I’m in D with the foot on the brake the doors are locked.

        I’m OK with locking my own doors when I feel the need.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          Mine only lock when you hit 10 or 12 mph. Your’s lock based on you being in D?

          • 0 avatar
            tuffjuff

            Everybody does it a bit differently. My 2012 Focus didn’t lock until you hit a certain speed – 10 or 20 MPH, I forget. My old 2000 Pontiac Bonneville did it the second you shift into drive, if I recall correctly. My 2013 Equinox’ DIC lets you choose between a variety of options, but in my case being in park unlocks, and any other gear (reverse, drive, neutral, etc) locks.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Amen! This was literally the FIRST thing I disabled on my 2013 Accord, even before driving it off the lot!

          Fortunately, this functionality is controlled through settings buried in a settings menu, which, while a tad cumbersome, is easier than the “twist ignition key five times while pulling e-brake and jamming the service brake in the proper sequence” dance with earlier cars without the menus!

      • 0 avatar
        Bill

        I remember years ago when I was working at a dealership and one of the techs had an engine noise they were trying to pinpoint. He thought it would be a good idea to raise the vehicle on the hoist a foot or so off the ground and rev the engine while in gear to help find the noise. For some reason he left the window rolled up and closed the door as he hopped out after putting it in gear. You can imagine his dismay when the doors locked automatically at 15 mph or so, locking him out of the car with it still running in gear. I think they ended up cutting a new key for him off the VIN number.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      When is the last time you could buy a new car with pop up headlights though? They have been, sadly IMHO, relegated to history.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I know in GM products you can disable automatic locking and/or unlocking, also can specify driver door only or all doors. FWIW

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      Popup headlights literally killed my 96 Miata. I had relatively minor front end damage last year and it was totalled because the adjuster said the cost of repairing the popup headlights pushed it over the top.

  • avatar
    bfisch81

    My pithy answer to this is : the worst details are the ones you notice.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    The lack of a glovebox in the Honda S2000. Instead, Honda included a small cubby on the vertical section between the seats, which requires an akward twist of the body to access while seated in the car. Oh so conveniently, the interior trunk release is located in this cubby…

    BMW’s fuel filler door release, which requires a small amount of pressure to be applied to the trailing edge in order to open. It’s actually a pretty slick, albeit pointless, design when the weather is warm, but has a tendency to freeze in the colder months. When this occurs, the filler door will refuse to release unless you open the trunk, remove a piece of trim, and press a release button. Not fun during a blizzard or sub-zero temps.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris FOM

      What BMW do you have? I’ve got a 2011 E90 and if I push a bit on the rear edge it pops up, sort of like a retractable pen. Or do you mean the pop-up mechanism itself freezes?

      • 0 avatar
        talkstoanimals

        @Chris – I have an E82 135i. And yes, the pop-up mechanism itself freezes. A little silicon spray will fix the problem for a while, but it always comes back eventually.

    • 0 avatar
      Eric M

      What about the secret compartment right above the vertical? It is a passable storage space, just not in the usual place? I keep all the usual glove box stuff in there easily.

  • avatar
    TsarBottomley

    Foot switches for high beams. Try shifting gears in a 1984 f150 inline 6 4 speed while eating a hamburger and foot rubbing the switch for the high beams. Mastery required

    • 0 avatar
      Kosher Polack

      People SHOULD have mastery over high beams though – quite frankly I think they should be more well-hidden so that fewer people turn them on ALL THE TIME

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      My ’71 Plymouth Scamp had a foot operated high beam switch and a bulb that you stepped on to pump washer fluid onto the windshield. In compensation, it had a twist-and-pull hand brake instead of the common foot operated kind.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        1967-68 Mustangs have exactly the same arrangement. They have a small pedal near the left kick panel to pump for washer fluid.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        I liked that foot pump. With enough push, I could shoot the fluid over the car onto the jerk tailgating my college bound 1970 Valiant. The floor vent box doors would allow leaves and other debris flow in during the first Spring use but with the no-draft vent windows they provided superior ventilation at speed. The fuel filler pipe crossing thru part of the trunk was an annoyance.

        That car was the size of a contemporary S class and was virtually indestructible.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          That vent box was awesome. My had one of these and we got it when we became of driving age. The parents did not know about the box and I kept a small bong hidden in there…as for the foot mounted headlight switch, I remember the hi beam indicator was red. My Fury has red as well. I had to change the speedo head in the Scamp when leaking water killed the speedo. Very dissapointed when I saw the hi beam indicator was now blue. I took the old one apart an changed the blue back to red….

  • avatar
    bobntg

    My 2000 Malibu has the STUPIDEST cup holder on the left side of the steering wheel. Learned not to use it after spilling a hot cup of coffee on my way to work one morning when rounding a corner. If you’re going to put a cup holder near the steering wheel PLEASE make sure it’s deep enough to contain the drink in a turn.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill

      I have a 98 malibu with that cupholder. Not only is it not deep enough to be of any use, but I also manage to bump the cup half the time when I am steering or using the turn signal.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Cupholders that only hold the bottom 5% of a drink container. Like BMW’s E39.

      Not content to spill drinks all over the expensive climate control module in the E39, BMW introduced an accessory cupholder that screws onto the storage bin in the bottom of the door card. This cupholder covers maybe the bottom 15% of a drink container. You can imagine what happens when someone closes a door with a half-empty drink. Now all of their models can experience spilled drinks!

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    The guidelines for the backup camera on my F-150 seem to disappear randomly. I always want them on to see where the back of my truck is in relation to the camera view but 5 times out of 10, they aren’t there.

    Apparently this is a common issue to which Ford has no solution. You just need to suck it up and turn them back on through the menu system. It’s infuriating. My Hyundai has a backup camera as well, but has no such issue.

  • avatar
    99GT4.6

    Dodge Challenger is another one with a pedal parking brake on a manual transmission. A problem on the New Edge mustang is the cup holders are literally right behind the shifter so if you have tall drinks in them it is awkward to use the shifter.

    • 0 avatar
      typhoon

      Rangers and S-10s use the parking brake pedals too. They’re set quite a bit higher than the clutch pedal and much nearer to the kick panel, so there’s really no chance of pressing them by accident. Combined with column-shifters (for automatics), this frees up a lot of space in the middle (of course, so do the pull-and-twist parking brake handles the Japanese makes preferred).

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      The S2000 has the cup-holder problem as well.

      The worst feeling to me was when I was between S2000s after wrecking my first one. I was shopping for a replacement and checked out a Miata – It had an actual glove-box, the between-the-seats storage, and 2! cup-holders ahead of the shifter that didn’t interfere with driving at all. Plus a nice waterfall center stack with a double din head unit.

      The S2000 is a much faster and more rewarding car to drive, and I ultimately purchased another one, but Honda certainly could have taken some notes from Mazda on the interior design functionality.

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      I’ve been driving a manual Challenger R/T for 3 years and have never confused the parking brake & clutch pedals. You’d have to have 2 left feet to have a problem. The one situation where a handbrake is, well, handy in a manual-transmission car – holding it in place for a hill start – is addressed through a function in the brake controller that holds the car in place against movement opposite to the selected gear (whether 1st, or reverse) for 3 seconds or until movement is detected through the ABS wheel speed sensors.

  • avatar
    zenofchaos

    How about the fact I can’t disable traction control on my 03 4Runner without modding, or manually pulling the atrac plug from my master cylinder. No smokey 1 wheel peels for me without opening the hood…

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Any hatch/minivan rear seats that don’t fold flat or permit easy removal.

    Any minivan w/o a 4-cyl. option.

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    Keyless starting and remote trunk release.

    Sitting in a Chilis after work, rental car parked outside “Anyone own the white VW? Your trunk’s open!” I’d sat on the key fob, luckily both mine & my co-worker’s computer bags were still in the trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      You must be live in a place with year round perfect weather like SD to not want remote start. Otherwise you’re a fool for discounting the value of having a cold car on a hot summer day or a warm car on a frosty snow covered morning.

      As for remote trunk release..ehhh.. yeah I got nothing. Modern transponders should only allow the trunk to open when in close proximity to the car, not 200 feet away.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Women that live in the snowbelt would like a word with you on remote start.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      On late model Buick remote the second key ring hits the trunk open. Buick will install a relay that makes user double tap with in seconds to avoid returning to an unlocked trunk. But twice I’ve opened mine after relay install.

      I hate puah button start on manual transmissioned cars that makes you apply the brakes to start it when you are already sitting ther with the clutch in.

  • avatar
    Midway1095

    And here I thought the offending detail was the little tab by the gearshift lever to hide the override button for the “press brake to shift from park” lock in case you need to take it out of park with a dead battery. That was the first annoying detail I saw on the lead photo, not the gate shifter!

  • avatar
    Windy

    For me it is general lack of thought when it comes to folks that are over 6’3″ tall. (And I bet the same works in reverse for those less than say 5’5″) this impacts so many things that it would be hard to list them all and of course when you have spent decades of driving folding and adapting yourself to what is on offer some of them you might not even realy notice anymore.
    Near the top of the list steering wheels that A. do not adjust at all ( increasingly rare) B. only either adjust up and down or in and out seldom both C. when the do adjust both ways they do not offer enough adjustment.
    Next up is thigh support and A B and C above apply here as well.

    I understand the need to design to say the 95th percentile range of people from a cost standpoint but offering a larger range of adjustment (perhaps in two option packages to fit both short and tall folks) would I bet bring in quite a few folks. At my hight I have had to strike off of my shopping lists a great many cars on the basis of driving position and a lot of my shopping has been done on European brands from Germany and Sweden for the last 40 years. (Even my current car a MINI 2004 Cooper S is in some respects a German design. And it is just a lot better than most rather than perfect from a comfort standpoint..) cars from those places seem to be designed to perhaps a 96 or 97th percentile human frame limits.

    More later on this topic.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      I know how you feel, seats that dont go back far enough and short bottom cushions are the biggest problems for me. Telescoping steering wheels have helped a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      OliverTwist

      As a very tall but slender man, I do concur with you about the lack of wider range of adjustments, especially in North American Ford vehicles.

      When I lived in the United States, I sometimes hired the cars for the business use. I made it very specific that I would not accept any Ford vehicles at all because of its impossibly short seat tracks (just a few inches of movement).

      The biggest peeve I have about General Motors vehicles is the seat belts integrated into the seats. Unlike Mercedes-Benz design, they didn’t have any shoulder height adjustments. The shoulder anchor was much lower than my shoulder, and it caused so much discomfort for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      I agree being 6′ 4″. I don’t look at a car and wonder if I’ll like it I look at a car and wonder if I’ll fit!

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Well, I’m 6’4″ and own one Swedish and one German car; and I fit fine in both of them (although with no room to spare in the Z3 with the top up). Sunroofs are sometimes a big issue for me. For reasons lost in memory, in 1980 I just had to have a diesel Audi 5000. Unfortunately, those with a sunroof lacked sufficient headroom for me, which is why I ended up buying one that was brown.

      As it turned out, the color was the least of my worries with that car.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Someone posted here a while back that the reason cars have such a limited range of fore-aft adjustment is fed regulations that crash testing be done with the seat in the middle position. They can’t extend the range forward to keep the middle where it is or the dummy will be “killed” by the airbag.

      The best way to deal with limited seat travel and thigh support sized for 5’6 women is to raise the seat up (think bar stool) but that runs into headroom and visibility concerns. Ducking to see traffic lights gets old. The headroom problem is exacerbated by idiotic options bundling that won’t let you get away from the sunroof.

      Irrespective of why they do this, simply not fitting in them has taken a lot of cars off my list. Full size trucks, all 15 mpg of them, are about all that’s left that don’t seem sized for women with accommodation for tall men as a distant afterthought.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        I find tilting the seat bottom rearward takes up leg length, doesnt affect headroom, makes it better actually. Many cars don’t have tilt adjustment, or don’t allow enough tilt though.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          Yeah, this is key. Though you can sometimes end up sitting too far from the center stack controls.

          Even when they’re comfortable on the inside, thick B pillars and low rooflines make getting in and out of today’s cars difficult for tall folk. E.g., the Volkswagen CC is pretty well proportioned once you’re in it, but getting there can be a pain.

          I really lament the loss of coupes in mainstream models for this very reason.

    • 0 avatar
      99GT4.6

      So true! I’m 6’5″ and there are very few cars I fit in comfortably. (1999 Mustang is NOT one of them. I have to practically fold myself in it and I can turn off the left turn signal with my knee when releasing the clutch). Leg room is seldom a problem. It is the lack of headroom in most things that I hate.

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    The majority of hatches/wagons/cuvs where you can’t open the back glass separately. At the same time, all the latches are closed off so you can’t bungee the hatch shut. Makes it impossible to carry anything over 5 feet long, sort of defeating the purpose of the car for 80% of my carrying needs.

    Fixed that problem with a $1500 Ranger.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I can’t complain about hatches not doing this, but I can agree for CUVs to an extent. My family has a couple Escapes with the feature, but I can’t say it’s ever benefitted us. I have a Protege5, which is pretty small, and I can fit my mountain bikes without removing a wheel (has to be at least 5′) in the back & shut the hatch without problem.

      But I can totally agree on the need for hooks, loops, or handles that would let you tie down the hatch if desired.

      • 0 avatar
        hf_auto

        For me it was carrying lumber that was an issue.
        The Range Rover has the ultimate hatch though. The glass/tailgate combo is brilliant, makes an excellent picnic bench.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Fake vents. I’m talking to you, most recent version of the Ford Escape. Not only do you have huge fake vents in the fog light surrounds, you have them under the headlights and on the fenders. It turns an otherwise decent looking at-a-glance CUV to a detail disaster. You are the worst offender. The refreshed GMC Acadia is also guilty of the headlight faux vent. Chevy Cruze rear bumper lower skirt. BRZ fender vent (thankfully this one is easily corrected as I’m a twin-homer). Stahhhp it.

  • avatar

    I used to have a car with gated auto, and while I did not have any particular trouble operating it. However the lack of positive latch did, in fact, lead to a funny incident of which I’m aware.

    Miss A and Mrs O were on a road trip and Miss A was at the wheel with Mrs O as a passenger. I should mention also that Miss A never understood the merit of shifting into park when passengers board. You’d think it were essential, but… Anyhow. Apparently when Mrs O settled in, she bumped the gear from Drive into next lower gear. On a gated shifter it’s just one bump, since there’s no latch. Miss A blissfuly ignored the dash indication (including tach) and continued for 300 miles until she ran out of gas, because the fuel consumption without the top gear was unexpectedly increased.

    BTW, Chrysler changed from a shift-lock to a gated shifter in 2011 Wrangler, which seems like a good excuse to buy a manual and install the 3rd-arm kit. It smells like a cost-cutting move that may explain why gated shifters are so widespread. Note that they are not entirely without an interlock, because the brake interlock still exists (albeit could be made electronic).

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …daytime running lights, in particular the non-overridable variety which relegate one’s light switch to nothing more than dash illumination control, drive me batty…there are any number of situations in which headlights range from undesirable to outright unwelcomed, so anything less than independent control of the headlights, foglights, and dim-dips strikes me as foolhardy automation…

    • 0 avatar

      +1000! Plus I think none of them have had a good looking design yet.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      We have mandatory DRLs in Canada. Regardless of how they look, they help you see oncoming traffic.

      I’ll complain about DRLs that don’t include taillights, though. The number of people who don’t switch their headlights on in the rain or fog is astounding …

      • 0 avatar

        See above th009!

        In places like Canada or Sweden it’s ok. The closer you get to the equator and more awash in sunshine you are, the lesser the safety benefits. In sun drenched places like Brazil they end up being just another source of visual pollution, adding to the already overwhelming glare.

        • 0 avatar
          leshnah

          In Chile it’s an additional source of fiscal income: most cars don’t have DRLs, yet the government still demands you have them on while driving on a freeway or highway.
          Which makes no sense since pretty much all highways have 2-3 lanes and a divider.
          So, people who dont have DRLs forget to turn them on, and that friendly cop around the corner, has to do what’s mandated by the all knowking, all powerful politicians: ticket your ass for driving with your lights off IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!

          • 0 avatar

            Sad, sad continent we live on!

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            In Finland you’re also required to have headlights (or DRLs) on whenever driving outside a city or town. Most people just end up always driving with lights on rather than switching them on or off.

            Now, Punta Arenas does have shorter days in winter than Toronto or Ottawa does …

          • 0 avatar
            ttacgreg

            Seriously, of a driver needs other car’s headlights on in order for then to see them in broad daylight, their licence should be revoked.
            If super normal brightness is really needed, then put the DRL on the roof with 360 illumination. Headlights only increase 25% of of the overall visual presentation of a vehicle, the front.

          • 0 avatar
            ekaftan

            Don’t get me started on Chilean legislators… Most of the auto/bicycle/motorcycle laws are copies verbatim from other countries, only made unusable due to their ‘improvements’.

            In spain cyclists have to use helmets when ever they are using rural roads. In Chile you have to use helmets everywhere, except rural roads. (ie, they copied the law wrong)

            We have one of the strictests MOTs on the world. When I read abouth Japans shaken I find it amusing people trash cars trying to pass that. Down here they test: all lights, all mirrors, all doors and glasses (all need to open and close), shocks, springs, all rubber mounts, all balljoints, exhaust, engine numbers, vin numbers, headlight adjustment, brake proportioning and bias, wheel alignment, and of course, emissions… Problem is, they continually make the emission targets stricter RETROACTIVELY, so older cars no longer pass. What happens is US$50 bribes you the MOT for a year so most older cars are running around with no MOT (a US$100 fine if caught) or just bribe their way through every year. Also, no legal way to drive a car from the MOT testing station after the MOT expires. Only legal way it to tow it on a flatbed. Did I mention towing a car with a rope is also ilegal?

            I could go on days. Child seats are mandatory, but there is no standards. Seatbelts are mandatory and older cars had to be retrofitted with them (no granfathering)… Reverse lights are mandatory, even on 1920s cars. Cars can only be declared classic when over 40 years old and by obtaining a document that states they are historic for some reason… and then you cannot drive them except on nights and weekends….

            Chile: full of crazy automotive laws, copied from other countries, redacted on the middle of the night after somebody dies and made the front page and then largely ignored.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          Yes, I can agree that they are not needed in Brazil. Especially if you don’t get much rain or fog.

        • 0 avatar
          ttacgreg

          That is why the USA allows brighter DRLs.
          The concept is bogus, there little proof that they work, they collective burn a startling amount of fossil fuel, and for me there are situations where their glare makes it harder for me to discern other hazards, primarily pedestrians and bikes.
          The LED ones are a bit better than the rest.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        DRLs help visiblity if the background is darker than the car. If the background is lighter, they actually make them harder to see because it reduces contrast.

        Durring WWII, the military researched putting lights on the bottom of planes so that they would ‘disappear’ in the bright sky background.

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        My Saab’s DRLs are all around, which is all right. I had a series of Volvos before (without DRLs), and always left the lights on (the equivalent of “auto” in a Ford product).

        I do have one complaint, though – whenever the key’s on, even if the car isn’t running or in gear, the DRLs come on. Rolling up the windows in my parked, turned-off car at night is thus an exercise in annoying the neighbours.

        The opposite problem can be found in Hondas (and probably other vehicles) – the lights stay on with the car off! Sort of the anti-Volvo, in that old Volvos can’t have their lights on at all without the key turned on.

        Amusingly, the only makes I’ve found to do all of this somewhat properly are Ford (at least older Fords, with an on/off/auto light switch) and VW (DRLs only on with the car running and in gear). Even VW don’t illuminate the taillights, though, which seems like an oversight.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      Living in Ontario Canada I suppose I’ve grown accustomed to them. For me, it’s not the existence of DRL’s as much as it is their execution.

      I find it extremely irritating when a manufacturer uses the main Lo-beam headlamp as the DRL at almost 100% intensity, just as you mentioned. In my mind, it’s only going to burn your MAIN headlamps out much quicker.

      A better application in my opinion is when a manufacturer uses the separate Hi-beam assembly at perhaps 30% intensity. Better for practicality as your Hi-beams are a secondary function so their longevity is not as crucial.

      But I don’t mind DRL’s when they were specifically designed to be DRL’s to begin with, perhaps incorporating an element of style into it. Examples are the current Audi LED lights which are at an incredibly high intensity during daytime, then reduced to half intensity at night, or even the DRL’s on the current Jettas and Kia Rio.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        In the case of my Toyota, a consequence of DRL by reduced intensity high beams is that the DRLs don’t work when one of the high beam bulbs burns out (the DRLs use the high beams in series through some kind of nifty wiring and relay trickery). The remaining “good” high beam bulb still works when I select the high beams*

        * alas, using a conventional steering column mounted switch, not the old-fashioned floor button under my left foot.

  • avatar
    redav

    Agree with the gated auto shifters. It seems to be to eliminate the button to move out of park or into R, but I prefer the button because I think it works better (and so does that Toyota driver who floored it into her garage, then floored it into the street, and back into her garage, etc.).

    I hate the new Ford Focus’ controls. The base stereo seems to have no ff/rw within songs. I never figured out how to manually tune the radio. When you reset the trip mileage, the trip mpg doesn’t reset. Cycling through the trip info doesn’t take you to from trip A to trip B, etc.–you have to back out of trip A like a menu and dive into trip B. And IIRC, some of the stuff in the trip submenus are the same. That’s a total fail. The dome light controls don’t have an on-auto-off switch. I don’t know how it works, because it never did work right when I rented one (and my mother & sister couldn’t get it to work, either).

    I hate any turn signal that auto-blinksthree times, especially when you can’t cancel it like in a VW I rented. And that leads to my next one which is cruise control on a stalk, which conveniently is confusable with the turn signal, which can’t be cancelled of you accidentally hit it. Some German car company guys said that the cruise-on-stalk design is better, but most of their customers complained, so they switched to the ‘inferior’ design. Sorry dudes, but if most of your customers don’t like it (because it doesn’t work as well), that means it is NOT the better design.

    • 0 avatar

      The three-blink is awful, but you learn to live with it after a while. Just clench your teeth when you activate it accidentially.

      On Jeep Wrangler, aftermarket chips can deactivate the three-blink. Only costs $35 to $50, which is negligeable when compared with the cost of the whole vehicle.

      Oh and when we discussed the three-blink the last time at TTAC, it only took 30 comments for some doofus to jump in with “I LOVE the three-blink! I use it all the time!”

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        I don’t mind the 3 blink, other than I think that re-inforces the belief that you only need 3 blinks for a lane change, sometimes you need 4 or 5, but if it reduces the incidence of 1-blink d-bags fine with me…

        Never had a problem with the activation, I guess I don’t tap the signal lever mistakenly very often. Most of the designs only respond to a quick tap, but don’t activate if you hold down for a blink or two.

      • 0 avatar
        dts187

        I’ll be that doofus. I dig the comfort blinker. It makes for quick signaling on the interstate. I can disable it entirely and can easily cancel it if I mistakenly hit it (which I think has only happened once or twice). You just give the stalk another quick tap in the same direction.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          In just about all driving I do, three blinks doesn’t get the job done, so I’m going to hold it in position anyway, so the auto feature provides no benefit. I don’t accidentally hit the stalk in normal cars (just ones with stalk cruise aparently), but I do often have to quickly ‘unmake’ decisions, e.g., I intend to change lanes until an idiot decides they need that space RIGHT NOW!! So, I prefer that the signal immediately do exactly what I want rather than have to perform another action (which is not std across all makes) or just wait for it to go away.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Jesus, I rented a focus this weekend, on the second day finally got to a station I could bare and just left it there, what the ????

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      To get out of the trip menu you just have to press the left button. And then OK on trip B. To reset the milage, you just hold the OK button down.

      I don’t know about the SE, but my Titanium has an on-auto-off button. They changed the dome lighting from the 2012 to 2013 so it could be different now.

      And I like the 3 blink. I use it only for changing lanes on the freeway.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        For the trip, you point out how it’s a bad design. Normally, if you are in A, you press a button and you’re in B. Then press the button, and you’re back in A. Simple, easy, quick. The Focus makes you press the left button, then press the ok, or press the left button, the up/down button to get to what you want, and then ok. That’s more button presses for no added value.

        I was able to reset mileage just fine. What I noticed was that when mileage was reset, trip mpg was not. I had to hold down ok to reset mileage and then go to mpg and hold down ok *again* to reset it. (Both these were trip A.) I believe most people expect that when you reset trip A, everything in trip A resets, not just what you’re looking at.

        I haven’t driven a ’13, so maybe they have fixed all those things. The dome light used to have buttons with half circles & lines. Pressing the buttons in every conceivable combination & number of times only either left it on all the time or off all the time. There was no manual to check, and no words on the buttons to decipher the hieroglyphics. Also, I’ve tried a couple SELs that supposedly had the ambient lighting that changes with the color pallet button. Neither of those worked.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I must admit that I have figured how some of that stuff operates by trial and error. It is overcomplicated in some respects. Mine resets the whole trip A or B section. The ambient lighting also changes easily.

          I can’t defend the goofy quirks of the Focus though. The quality variance is RIDICULOUS. Especially with the 2012s. I still can’t figure out why it takes Ford a year to get their cars right.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            It’s good to hear that they’ve fixed some of that stuff. I agree about it being strange they can’t get it sorted out before launch.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I like having the auto-blink — once you know it’s there, you learn to take advantage of it.

      Audi, BMW and Mercedes still use cruise control stalks (separate from wiper atalks). I much prefer a stalk, which I can operate blind (without looking at it) to looking at the steering wheel so I can press the right button. The issue with most customers is mostly of familiarity.

      One the other hand, I hate lights on a stalk (please give me a rotary switch!) and wiper controls that require two fingers to operate instead of being up and down.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      Agreed on the cruise control stalk. I’ve flashed my high beams a number of times while trying to set or adjust the cruise. I always worry that the people unlucky enough to be in front of me when I do that must think I’m some road raging jerk trying to get them to move out of my way. For the same reason I dislike high beams activated by a push instead of a pull on the turn signal stalk – too easy to flash the high beams when you’re looking to activate the signal. I’m looking at you on both issues, BMW. (Maybe that’s why so many BMW drivers don’t use their turn signals…)

    • 0 avatar

      Three blink turn signals- never understood them until I rented a car in Germany and drove the autobahn.

      What left an impression wasn’t the speed or the poor highway mileage one gets at those speeds. It was that everyone is weaving in and out of the lanes, as was I, mainly to get out of their way.

      Three blink signals are excellent for this type of activity.
      Having to manually reset a conventional turn signal would get old fast with the amount of lane weaving on the autobahn.

  • avatar
    OliverTwist

    My biggest dislike is the German vehicles in the US with all-red ‘American’ taillamps using the lowest common denominator design for combined turn signal and brake lights.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      You brought up a hideous pet peeve of mine. When automakers CLEARLY cut costs by using a single bulb in the tail lamp to double as the Brake light AND the Turn Indicator. That irritates me to no end, and screams cost cutting cheapness.

      I insist on having a tail lamp cluster that separates the Brake light from the Turn signal.

      On the issue of colour, to me it depends on the overall styling of the car. Depending on that, sometimes I prefer the turn signal to be either red or amber.

    • 0 avatar
      bkmurph

      +1 OliverTwist. Smart does it on the Fortwo (separate red and amber bulbs for European markets, one all-purpose red bulb for North America), and Volkswagen does it on the facelifted Tiguan (keeping the useless amber lens in the taillight assembly, even through the taillight/brake light/turn signal all use the same red bulb). It’s the active dumbing down of a vehicle for the North American market that pisses me off. The active, conscious decision to cut costs at the expense of visibility/safety is why FMVSS need to adapt to overseas standards.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Not sure who is to “blame” here. There are plenty of domestics that use amber/red or all red and many imports of the last 15 years do the same. Way back in the Malaise Era the domestics were almost all red-only but that has not been that way in decades. I think Detroit adopted the bi color lights to emulate the imported makes way back when but today the color choices are just that of the designers…Does the amber light improve safety? I’d think anything that helps differentiate intent would help but without hard evidence I don’t think one can say the Euro standard is better in this regard…

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      These days, tail lamps that are all-red suggest a high-end look. Still, the way Lexus has been incorporating dedicated amber sections into its tail lamps looks just as good to me, if not better.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    Easy answer: daytime running lights (and the corresponding always-lit dashboards) that allow clueless drivers to drive at night without the rest of their running and taillights on!

    A flashing blue or green idiot light (light bulb icon) should illuminate at night (using standard daylight sensor that most cars now have) when this happens. Or just make all of the lights automatic, which seems to becoming more common.

    How can so many different carmakers get this one wrong? It’s a huge safety hazard.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Touch screen interfaces.

    While all bad ergonomics annoy me, this would have to be one of the worst. It distracting, cumbersome and frustrating – particularly when wearing gloves in the winter.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …for what it’s worth, faux diffusers and ridiculously stylised exhaust tips make me wince every time, too, at least as much as fake vents…

    …so many current factory designs have devovled into an absurd array of mock louvers, ground effect flourishes, and cartoonish exhausts as to broach comedic effect…the old butt-of-so-many-jokes supra’s convenient carrying handle now appears positively staid by comparison to modern styling affectations…

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    If you drive behind latest Toyota Camry in neighboring lane on the highway, pay attention to the sides of its rear bumper – they dance and vibrate like crazy. Some engineer somewhere decided to half-a$$ his assignment and didn’t calculate spaces between bumper edge and bumper mount, or thickness of plastic. This and empty cutout on latest Honda Accord are the kind of things you’d never ever see on German/Swedish car, and would automatically eliminate both of these models from my shopping list if i was in market for new car.

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      YESSS!!!!! I noticed that on the very first new Camry I saw, it reeks of incomplete testing. I’d bet money that will be gone in a model year or two. Panel flutter is a common design consideration for all body panels, there’s no excuse for that.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I’ve also noticed that quite a majority of the Camrys and Siennas I see, have a dent dimple in the rear bumper, most often on the driver’s side. Charming addition to any car.

  • avatar
    Power6

    thanks for bringing up the gated shifter, so many cars traded in the button for that crap. The classic style works so much better, I’m guessing the gated shift is cheaper and the Germans did it first so its officially “euro” style.

    While my old Lex has the button shifter, it did have one dumb detail…no “mist” function on the wipers, this has to be a glaring omission, Camry and ES for years had no mist wipe feature. Luckily I discovered an IS300 wiper switch swaps in and has the mist feature.

    The worst detail about our Subaru is the climate (out of) control. Besides the wild temp swings, the “dual” control has no link feature, driving by yourself adjusting the temp of the both sides you have to make two adjustments right and left.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      Toyota was weird about mist features, even in the early days. My 94 Pickup has it, my grandpa’s 95 T100 doesn’t. My 91 Camry does, ’98 Avalon doesn’t. Cressida didn’t have it. Probably different chief engineers preferring different things?

  • avatar
    gsnfan

    I don’t know if this counts, but in India I rode in a Mahindra Verito (rebadged Dacia Logan). When you engaged the turn signals, both the left and right turn signal indicator would light up, as if the hazards were on, no matter if the left or right turn signal was on. In addition, the car would beep at you whenever the signal was engaged. Seems like a pretty weird way to cost-cut. Most cars in India, such as the Maruti Suzuki Swift and Tata Indica, have cheap base options since they eliminate stuff like power windows and tach. This had both, but no turn signal indicator.

    • 0 avatar

      Let me be obnoxious for a minute: Oh what a sheltered life you live!! ;)! Most cars in Brazil are like this. Only “luxury” cars get independent turn light indicators. Such is life.

      The beeping is a Renault feature. All our Renaults had it. In the beginning it’s quite disconcerting and annoying but you do get used to it. So much so that when you drive other cars that don’t have that noise you miss it.

    • 0 avatar
      salguod

      I remember Dad’s ’65 Barracuda had a single indicator for the turn signals that lit up when on or the other was engaged. It was a double headed arrow. If I recall, it had no hazard lights.

  • avatar

    Blank switches. I have a row of buttons on my 2012 Pathfinder LE, and one of them is blank. The thing is that AFAIK I have pretty much every possible option on the truck, and from a quick glance at the manual I don’t see ANTHING that that blank could be. Which means that they intentionally left a blank button on the dash of every vehicle they made, which is cheesy and annoying.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I have no problem with the parking brake foot pedal on my CTS (which is automatic). It’s the fact that the parking brake release is the same size and shape as the hood latch release and is positioned barely 2″ above it and both are below my line of sight. Foot on brake, ready to go, brake release Grumble…

  • avatar
    seth1065

    had to be the 1996 ford taurus redesign arm rest/ power outlet, who ever made it should be shot, the armrest was a cool design that flip open to expand w cup holder … but when you flipped it forward it blocked the ash tray that contained the only power outlet to charge your phone or radar get, so it became useless way to go ford. This was a big fleet car for sale forces and everyone hated the setup.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      BMW got this one even worse – the power outlet on the post 2009 3-series is VERTICAL above the passengers left foot! Straight up into the bottom of the glove box area. Impossible to reach, and loose plugs just fall out.

  • avatar
    Silvy_nonsense

    “Nanny” screens of legalese on navigation systems. We’re being annoyed every time we start the car and we’re paying big bucks for the privilege.

    The fake portholes slapped on modern Buicks. They are an idiotic design conceit that have about 99% less marketing and brand heritage value than GM seems to think. Nobody under the age of 900 cares that Buicks had portholes back in the 1720s. Where’s Lutz when you need him? How did this get past him in the first place?

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll add nanny lists of warnings on sunvisors. You have a nicely-designed color-coordinated interior that you paid a ton for, and you’ve got bright yellow warnings about the airbag, about not going around turns too fast because you can tip over (on my SUV and my old pickup), about the 4wd, ect.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Disagree with gated automatics. I like these a lot. Having ND321 all in a row requires counting clicks and a modicum of dexterity. Executing “diagonal until it stops” can be done drunk and using your elbow.

    1. The panic button. Neither I nor anyone I know has ever had any use for this. We have all repeatedly set them off unintentionally by sitting down on the keys, picking up the fob wrong, etc. Can usually be fixed by disassembling the fob as when changing the battery and snipping off the switch on the PCB inside.

    2. The beeping seatbelt nanny. Whoever thought this was a good idea must not have a driveway. Bad enough it’s there at all, cars where it can’t be turned off without wire cutters are an insult to their buyers.

    3. Climate control that thinks it’s smarter than I am. Don’t turn on the AC for me when I change the vent position. All that gets me is condensation outside instead of inside.

    4. IP Backlights that don’t turn down far enough, and individual gages – like the cruise control light – that are on a different circuit and don’t turn down at all. The range seems to be designed by someone who’s never been out of the street lights. Adjusting the dial should control every light in the dash and the range should start at completely OFF.

    5. 10 amp cigarette lighter circuits. My air compressor is 14 amps. In rental cars these can be upgraded to 15 amps by changing the fuse.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Yep, your days of cutting the wire to the little piezoelectric speaker/bell for the chimes are numbered. Quite a few automakers (Ford, GM, Porsche, Hyundai/Kia, Honda, etc…) are moving or have moved to playing the chimes and the turn-signal “tick-tock” sound through the head unit.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Well, it should still be simple enough to fix the circuit at the *seatbelt* end.

        After all, it’s just a switch; you should be able to fake it into thinking it’s engaged all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Agree on the pros of gated automatics — it’s easy to tell exactly where you are by feel. And Doug — if you have to explain it to another elderly person, tell ‘em it’s like an old fashioned column shift. The original gated automatic shifter!

      On the climate front — you’d think a car that had an external temperature sensor and auto climate control would realize that in chilly exterior conditions, you don’t want cold air blowing on you under any circumstances. But most of them aren’t nearly that smart.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Agree on the lighting. I hate cheap dimmers that don’t have a linear operation so that 90 percent of the dimming takes place in 15 percent of the movement. Also, if dimming the backlights to an appropriate level means the digital displays are unreadable, well that is a fail. Lastly, why don’t the indicator lights dim? If I set the lighting low for rural driving, I don’t need the cruise light at full brightness…

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      I agree climate control doesn’t work when you are constantly fussing with it. I prefer the three dials and a button to turn AC on or off. My Audi A3 has at least a dozen buttons.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      I have found the keyfob panic button to be useful for two related uses, neither of which is the manufacturer’s intent:

      New Year’s Eve at midnight- yayyyyyy, make noise, bring in the new year, yayyyyy!!!

      Messing with curious little kids… messing with them in a friendly or familial way, of course, and in a way that is also amusing to grownups at the same time (“What did you say to the car to make it beep like that?!?”)

    • 0 avatar
      watermeloncup

      I like gated automatics too! I first encountered one on a rental 2010 Corolla that I drove through some mountain roads. It was a pretty awful car overall, but the gated shift pattern (similar to the one in the top picture of the article) made it possible to access all four gears without looking. Once you learned the pattern, you could simply slap the shifter left, right, up, or down and be guaranteed to hit the right gear. In contrast, in a normal straight floor-shifted or even worse, a column-shifted automatic, it is extremely easy to go past the intended gear and do an extra downshift or shift into neutral.

      Because of the gated shift pattern, it was easy to pick the optimal gear for engine braking or going up hills. It was really the next best thing to a manual mode on the transmission.

  • avatar
    rjones

    Vanagon HVAC controls. So damn complicated and nonsensical there’s an article devoted to demystifying them:

    http://www.gowesty.com/library_article.php?id=311

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Fog lights. They should just be stopped. Or people with them on at night not in the fog should be ticketed.

    The navigation entry lockout sucks. Just use the airbag sensor for the passenger already. This is even worse in speech enabled cars because rather than just saying oh-well, you try to speak the directions which elevates the frustration level times 1000. I’ve literally had the speech recognition nav destination thing work once.

    The massive space between the speedo and tach on most cars now is frustrating. I’m going to glance down for speed or rpms a lot more than for the outside temp or the odometer reading. This is better than the center mounted speedometer. That is the worst.

    LATCH anchors that are too small for two clamps on one anchor (e.g., A7, G37)

    Long delay rear view camera start ups. The time I will hit something will be when I’m in a rush. If it takes 2 seconds after I put it in reverse for the screen to come up, then it’s not going to be looked at. Bonus frustration to Toyota for putting a blacked out top 20% of the reverse screen that appears for the first 3 seconds telling you “audio off” or some such unless information instead of letting you see what’s behind you. F’ing lawyers.

    You should do a post on the best “we are the world” car. That could be equally easy to write filler like this post. E.g., BMW does the cruise control, Audi does the HUD, Honda does the transmission, Porsche does the suspension, Toyota QC’s it off the line, Jaguar does the leather, Ford does the Aluminum, GM drops in an engine, Ferrari does the exhaust note, Hyundai prices it and Chrysler does the advertising.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      The fog lights are self perpetuating they are largely weak accessory lights not in danger of doing any useful function, so running them all the time is fairly innocuous.

      It strikes me as a bit of a victimless crime so to speak, what possible reason could one be ticketed, blinding poor squirrels at street level? Or perhaps offending others pedantic sensibilities, contact your state rep to get a bill started on that one good luck!

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        I blame the fog-lamps-on-all-the-time jackwards for depriving us of real driving lamps that actually were there for more than decoration. Anyone remember all the cars/trucks in the ’80s that had quality auxiliary lamps made by Marchal or other good lighting companies?

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Agreed. I don’t see why people are bothered by it either. I guess some add aftermarket “HID” fog lights, then aim them improperly and leave them on all the time. That is certainly annoying. But OEM fog lights are harmless.

      • 0 avatar
        Type57SC

        Fog lights appear brighter than main beams to me when coming the other way at night because even though they are lower powered, they don’t have the cut off line like headlights. Very aggrevating.

        The fact that European cars are both more likely to have a driver with the fog lights permenantly on and have the rear (or one of the rear) brakes lights on a rear fog lights get’s them a special place in hell.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “Honda does the transmission”
      Manual only, no exploding slusboxes or CVTs need apply.

      “…GM drops in an engine, Ferrari does the exhaust note, Hyundai prices it and Chrysler does the advertising.”

      GM is pretty good at marketing, and Chrysler has some great engines (Pentastar, HEMI) but their branding is sort of muddled (‘SRT Viper”, “RAM Pickup” – most people still think of them as Dodges) so maybe these two should be reversed. Maybe GM could also supply the slushboxes for those that don’t want a Honda manual…

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Recent reviews make it sound like Mazda should do the automatic.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          All the bitching I’ve read so far makes me that much more appreciative that 3 of the last 5 cars we’ve purchased have been Mazdas.

          There’s not a single thing I can think of that genuinely annoyed me about those 3 vehicles, although the Mazda 6 was an automatic and did have the gated gear (this didn’t bother me though, and the blind spot monitoring system on the side view mirrors on that car made up for this as they were the best I’ve ever used).

          Either Mazda designs very logical vehicles, relatively speaking, or I’m a total a Mazda fanboy.

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            I’ll join that Mazda fanboy crew if you’re starting one. My wife and I love her 3, I’ve pretty much talked her dad into a CX-5, and our next car will probably be a CX-9. I test drove a new 6 when they came out, and it blew me away as well as far as a midsizer is concerned.

            There is something that company is doing right, most notably in ergonomics and driving feel. I don’t know anyone who owns a post-2000 Mazda whoa hasn’t loved it actually. However, unless they can get some US-based production going, the exchange rates are going to kill their ability to sell profitably in the states.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I’m a Mazda fan as well. They are the only manufacturer to sell me a new car so far (’02 Protege) and I am very interested in the upcoming Mazda 3.

            They aren’t perfect though. One annoying detail on my Protege was the material on the top of the shift knob. You couldn’t touch it on hot, sunny days.

          • 0 avatar
            salguod

            Sign me up too, love my ’05 Mazda3 hatch with the exception of the poor corrosion protection. I’ve not seen a car rust like this since my ’93 (Protege based, natch’) Escort or my ’88 Caravan.

    • 0 avatar
      xantia10000

      Love the We Are the World idea.

      The pessamist in me would also like to see the opposite idea: the world’s worst car.

      Like: The genuises at Honda will provide a “segment-busting” concept catered to Gen Y (who will undoubtedly not buy the car at all); Toyota does the styling (complete with the Pep Boys plastic side skirts); Chrysler will handle the interior plastics (perhaps investigating Saran Wrap solutions for the instrument panel).

      BMW and Audi can team up to do the infotainment menu structure (with a phone book-sized owner’s manual only in German). Let’s not leave out Ford, who will create the button(less) interface nobody can figure out. Jag will handle all the electronics behind the entire system.

      Hyundai & Kia can tune the suspension; Subaru will provide the CVT and hopeless fuel economy.

      GM will create an entirely new brand under which to sell the new car, but after a year on the market kill the brand and close down the dealers. But while the dealers are open for business, we will use Mitsubishi’s network and VW’s “customer service” knowhow.

      Speaking of VW, we will also employ their sales volume delusions, combined with GM’s inventory management.

      We will let Mazda market the car under the same tagline that they have used for over 2 decades, with no apparent lift in sales.

      Finally, we will call up the old finance department from Saab and ask them to help us lose as much money per car as possible.

  • avatar
    ckgs

    Non-functional engine covers, with extra credit (or demerits) for ones that fake a rear wheel drive orientation on a transversely mounted engine.

    • 0 avatar

      Good one!

    • 0 avatar

      The covers are there to improve fuel economy my making the engine warm up quicker.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Can we add horrific-looking engines when they’re not covered? Look at the BMW N20, it’s just hideous, where VW/Audi was able to make their old 1.8Ts look just fine with no cover.

      Also see any Honda B, K, or F-series motor for how to do a valve cover/engine compartment right. They’re all nicely shaped valve covers with a recessed channel for the spark plugs or coil-packs covered by a narrow plastic cover. Some add a small fuel rail cover as well, but for the most part you can look in and see most of the engine and manifolds.

      The 90s Nissan motors looked pretty darn good too, mainly by following the same formula.

  • avatar
    DaveDFW

    Just to insert some brazen flattery, Doug DeMuro has become my favorite TTAC contributor. Thanks for the humorous articles!

  • avatar
    TrenchFoot

    I was just going to post “Ford Sync” and leave it as that. But it’s more than just an annoying touch interface. The voice menus take longer than it’d take to push a button. The Bluetooth connection bugs out if more than one paired phone is in the car. You can customize the wallpaper but not the layout of the audio menu. Updates require you to idle for an hour to apply. And on and on.

    But the most maddening thing on my 2011 Explorer is the 3 screen arrangement. In addition to the main screen in the center stack, there are two screens above the steering wheel, one useful and one pointless. When towing, I customize the left screen to have tach, temp, MPG, current gear (trans in manual), and trip odometer. All that crammed into a 3″ x 5″ screen. The right screen does nothing but tell you what the bigger screen in the center stack could do. That’s it, it doesn’t display anything on its own, and you there’s no menu to change that behavior. Ford might as well replace that screen with a post-it note that says “Look Over There ->”. On the whole, Ford should pay buyers for the frustration, not the other way around.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Doesn’t the right screen show either Nav/Map, radio, or phone information? Its been a month or so since I’ve driven an Explorer. I think the way the C-Max’s screen set up is similar, but graphically functions in a much more user friendly manner.

      I hate the hazard button on the 2011 Explorer. When it turns on, good luck turning it off. Unless they fixed it…

      • 0 avatar
        TrenchFoot

        Without Nav the right screen will show you what the audio/climate system is up to, you just can’t change anything on it.

        And I agree 100% about the hazard button. They put that touch-sensitive button below the main screen where you want to put your thumb to steady your hand. Yet another reason real buttons are better.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The C-Max actually has a usable right screen. The left screen is done well too. It has specific hybrid driving screens you can customize.

          The graphics on the Explorer’s left screen are a mess. There should just be a tach over there and the right side should have customizable options.

          I hate that hazard button so much. For some reason, I haven’t had issues with the 2013 Explorer’s hazard. On the 2011, I’d have the hazards on at least once a day.

          • 0 avatar
            TrenchFoot

            I was wrong, the right screen can be used to change things, it’s just so redundant to the main touchscreen and menu-driven that it’s not worth the bother. Changing the radio station takes 6 button pushes. So, I never use it.

            But there’s too much about the software that’s poorly executed for me to ever recommend someone paying for Sync unless they’re worried about the resale value.

            Overall, I’m glad to hear Ford and others are changing direction and bringing back more buttons and knobs.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Electric. Parking. Brake. The most aasanine piece of automobile hardware ever conceived. Audi pukes will probably tell us though it’s the most brilliant….

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I was adamantly opposed to these at first. But I have come around …

      The electric version enables hill assist for those not initiated into the art of the use of clutch and brake pedals. And you can just drive away to release it.

      On an AWD vehicle (where a hand brake can’t swing the tail out anyway) I’m fully sold on the electric version.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        Meh. Electric parking brake is totally unnecessary for hill assist. My GTI with manual transmission has a perfectly functional hill holder with an old-fashioned handbrake.

        All you need to implement a hill hold system is ABS, some sort of incline sensor (I notice that mine doesn’t engage unless the vehicle is on some sort of incline so the car has to have a way of knowing) and some control logic for the ABS module.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Non-functioning spoilers, shark fin antennas, canvas faux-convertable tops, wire wheel covers, 4X4 emblems on 4X2 vehicles… anything that implies your vehicle is something other then what it is. Like a toupee on a bald man, you’re not fooling anyone

    • 0 avatar

      Shark fin antennas…Yikes!

      In Brazil you’d love some of the false things. One of my favorites is one you apply to the roof of the car making it look like it has a moonroof when it doesn’t. Only works from a distance. A l-o-n-g distance.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Fake sunroof? That’s a new one on me

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          How about the fake convertible treatments on Caddys and Lincolns? We knew someone with an early 1980′s Seville “Roadster”…ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Yeah, hard to believe they’re still doing those “cabriolet” packages, especially horrid on sleeker newer cars…

            http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z256/jimbob1955_2007/Cadillac%20ATS/Cad_zps5e79ba66.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            Marko

            GM and Ford should revoke any such dealer’s privileges.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Those oddball Seville coupes of the late 70s and Eldorados with fake spare wheels and stretched hoods make my head hurt, and I like Cadillac of the period. All I can say is, cocaine is a hell of a drug.

            Generally speaking on some models the half or quarter carriage roof can be done well, but the model needs to have a formal roofline to really pull it off. The last model that sort of came close was the Lincoln LS, and it really didn’t pull off formal roof (maybe half of one). Chrysler 300 falls into the same half formal roof category, you might be able to pull off a quarter carriage roof on it but the full one looks very out of place.

            In the case of the shared image, although I agree the full carriage roof is a definite fail, that car was a design disaster long before the rims, vogues, and roof got there.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “cocaine is a hell of a drug”…

            It had to be to make someone think those cars looked good

  • avatar
    theonlydt

    The Range Rover parking sensors would drive me nuts. I’ve also suffered the pain of a foot parking brake with a manual transmission in a 1997 Mercedes E300 diesel (no turbo!). With no hill-assist or clever gubbins it was pretty tough in hilly areas, especially towns/cities built into hills. It was released by a handle between the steering wheel and the door, so at least you could have your feet somewhere near a bite point, but it was just “on or off”.

    My Mazda 5 has a gated shifter, my wife’s Nissan Sentra SE-R was of interlocking type. My wife isn’t really a a fan, but is very used to it already. The thing I like about the gated shifter is on mine I can shift straight from D (the bottom section), to the left putting it in manual mode. This then shifts the CORRECT way (push forward change down, pull back change up). Unlike any interlocking system that I’ve experienced this manual mode works perfectly, we live in a hilly area and going down a steep hill it takes two moves (pull left, push forward) and I’m using engine braking. No trying to figure out with an interlock if I should be D3, D2, D1, or the “L”. The Sentra was good because it had a button to increase engine braking (O/D off was what they called it, I think it was meant to be for sporty, but it was better used for engine braking…), and this is how to make an interlock shifter work well.

    Having said that – if you don’t like around hills, or you can’t be bothered to use engine braking, then why wouldn’t you just leave it in D the whole time, at which point an interlock probably makes sense…

    Best gated systems have nothing below D.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    350Z exhaust tips. They just pop out from underneath the round bumper with absolutely no effort given in blending the two together.

    Partially-exposed mufflers like on the Trailblazer.

    VW tachometers in x100rpm instead of the nearly ubiquitous x1,000rpm. Now you have your speedometer and tach in double digits. WHY THE REDUNDANT TACH ZERO?

    Any vehicle with a squared-off fender or wheel well. Don’t they realize the tires are, you know, round?

    Vehicles like the GMC Acadia that are “over symmetrical” in the back. From the bottom going up, on both sides, you have this busy column of horizontal elements – dual exhaust tips, bumper reflector, logo and tail light that has dual lamps, making them look like the dual exhaust tips.

    That horrible dividing line in the rear hatch glass of the Crosstour, Prius, etc.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    My sister’s Oldsmobile Alero has a hazard button that falls into the dashboard everytime it is pushed.

  • avatar
    Magnusmaster

    The new Fiat Uno is full of neat details but they screwed up with the doors. There is NO place to rest your left/right arm on the doors. There’s also the blinker button place inconveniently BEHIND the steering wheel, and the low gear ratios on the 1st and 2nd gears forcing you to shift up and down or speed up whenever you are driving through a street.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    GATED SHIFTERS- I’m so freakin’ glad to know I’m not the only one who hates them! I’ve tried for years to figure out what practical of functional purpose they could possible serve. They defy any logical explanation!

    I’ve had to deal with variations of the gated shifter in countless rental cars over the last 10+ years. Some were worse than others, but I never found a single one that felt natural and simple to operate. A lot of them required me to to concentrate on the shift pattern and concentrate on it as I make a deliberate effort to shift into the appropriate position.

    I’ve been driving for 24 years and, until about eight months ago (11/2012) I had never owned a vehicle with an automatic transmission. I learned to drive on a manual (thanks Mom!) and every time I got a new car, I test drove the automatic and manual verisons and always chose the manual.

    That changed back in November when I bought a new 2012 Mazda CX-9 GT. It was the first automatic I’ve ever encountered that actually felt ‘right’ to me. Between the gearing and the tuning of the 3.7L V6, it alwawys has power in reserve and always seems to be in the right gear. I’ve never caught it “flat-footed” which is a rarity!

    BUT it has a gated shifter and it’s a pain in the @ss! Shifting out of P into R is an especially awkward motion. And trying to shift from D into R (after coming to a complete stop, obviously) takes a few attempts usually. The only simple funciton is slipping the shifter from D into the manual-shift gate.

    My dad’s ’05 Accord LX shifter is the model of simplicity and efficiency. It has the release button on the front and the shifter is shaped sort of like a cobra head, for lack of a better description. I first saw this type of shifter on the ’86 Acura Legend. You press the release with your middle three fingers and it’s a straight shot from P to R, N, D, D3, 2, 1. I’ve never understood why Honda has to be different (D3 instead of just 3) but it’s always been that way back to the early 80s. My dad’s ’86 Accord had D4, D3 and 2. D4 was what the rest of world would call “D” an D3 would be “3″. It was odd that they stopped at 2, so there was no way to select and hold it in 1st gear. But the 2 position was rather unique because it actually locked the transmission into 2nd gear, so it could be used like a ‘snow/ice’ mode in other cars to reduce power and wheelspin starting off. Or it could be used to if you’re in D4/D3 and wanted to downshift to 2, it would hold 2nd until you moved the shifter back to D3/D4. Anyway….

    Do all Range Rover backup sensors operate like yours? Or does the Owner’s Manual indicate that they should behave like they do? My first thought was (British + anything electrical = farkakte problems!). If they do the same thing in all Range Rovers, it sounds like a design flaw…I know, it’s shocking! Every other car I’ve ever driven with them stops beeping when you shift into PARK! It’s common sense. Try to think of it as one of those quirks that makes your Range Rover unique…kind of like Saab and that damn key in the center console! =)

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Regarding the RR backup sensors, it’s actually a BMW problem, they do it as well, and late-model Rovers still occasionally betray their Bavarian roots.

      It’s even weirder if you walk around the back of a Bimmer or Rover to get something out of the back, and it starts warning beeping to warn you you’re an obstacle.

    • 0 avatar

      All of the Range Rover backup sensors do indeed operate this way… sadly.

      Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way about gated (automatic) shifters!!

  • avatar
    Audiofyl

    Actually, Doug, the next track function is performed by the up/down arrows on the left once you have set the cluster to display the audio information using the menu scroll buttons directly below the arrows. Nonetheless, probably as much difficulty as getting your spa temperature set just perfectly, but it does, in fact, exist. Otherwise, those arrow buttons are used to scroll through other menu items for different parts of the information center.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I don’t like seeing shiny and photorealistic icons all over car interfaces. This school of design is going out of style (even Apple is abandoning it), and since cars don’t get updated like computers, manufacturers need to get with the program. I like the way the updated UCONNECT looks, for example. Also, cars that place frequently-used buttons (like the HomeLink/garage switches) on the rearview mirror annoy me. Our Murano does this, and it appears to be a thing with other Asian manufacturers. I’d rather see them on the overhead console (a la VW Group) or on the driver’s visor (a la Ford).

    But the number one thing that I think is absolutely pointless is the fact that GM cars light up the reverse lamps when unlocked. I understand the idea: to flood the area with light so that the passengers can enter safely. But it’s still very confusing and the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

  • avatar
    Frankie the Hollywood Scum

    Poor rust protection or designs that trap water causing rust.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    This isn’t exactly a detailing issue, but it is something I would like to see fixed on what is becoming a popular (and perhaps soon-to-be government-madated) option:

    The rear-view video camera requires the car to be in reverse gear for it to activate. It would be a lot cooler (and more fuel-efficient) if the camera was motion-sensitive and was activated by gravity, i.e. the car rolling, whether in reverse gear or in neutral.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ve got to go with under hood presentation.

    Say what you want about the 3400 and U-body, but at least it looked like an engine. Under the plastic cover on the Lambdas is a metal slug.

    Why does a Saturn L300 have a prettier engine compartment than the IS-F, Camaro SS, and Genesis R-spec? Aren’t those enthusiast vehicles?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You don’t buy the GM Lambdas for performance or under-the-hood aesthetics, so I don’t care what the engine cover looks like. But GM is particularly bad about putting dull monolithic engine covers on its performance vehicles, *like* the Camaro SS and CTS. I’m also getting a bit tired of seeing that black-and-gray engine cover on Chrysler Group 5.7L HEMI V8 engines. I’ve not seen the newer Lexus models’ engine bays, but the previous school of design made it a point to blanket almost everything with plastic panels and left things very uninteresting.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    The double pull required on the interior handle of every BMW. What, I wasn’t clear the first time I wanted to get out?

    Second BMW complaint (E90 serires): the non-Comfort Access method of starting the car: 1. put key suppository in receptacle. 2. push start button. 3. wonder why car won’t start. 4. remember you have to push suppository in a *second time* into receptacle. 5. after finally getting the car to start, compose in your head an angry e-mail to BMW customer service that starts with, “Dear Numbskulls…”

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      You can go into the setting on the computer and make the doors one-pull opening.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s most or all BMWs without the “smart-key”. I remember having to start a 2010 BMW X5 (E70) that way.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Volvo has the double pull thing as well. Guess its a safety “feature”. Seems silly, its not like you can accidentally open a door.

      My main gripe is buttons that don’t light up at night. My Dakota’s cruise control buttons on the steering wheel are like this. Over the years I’ve memorized which button does what, but how much would it have cost to put a small LED in there?

      On my 350Z I hate that the dash lights are always ON. I’ve driven home at dusk with the headlights off because I assumed they were actually on since the dash was shinning back at me.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Our 2005 Murano SL has the Nissan three-spoke steering wheel that was also on the Quest, Altima and Maxima…with switches that don’t light up. I’ve driven it enough to know where the cruise and audio buttons are, but it would still be nice to have lit switches.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Don’t lock the doors, and you don’t have to pull twice. The first pull unlocks the door, the second opens it. Seems like the right way to do it to me…

      As I mentioned previously, if I lived somewhere that I needed to worry about the doors being locked while I was in the car, I would move. I didn’t have keys to my house for the first 8 years I lived in it – didn’t come with any!

      Wrong article, but under the heading of clever details, in my Fiat 500 Abarth pushing the inside door handles towards the door locks both doors, and pulling it back out unlocks them. No separate button needed.

      • 0 avatar

        The positive feature you mention on your Abarth is one I’ve appreciated on all my Fiats and most of my Fords and have always maintained should be present in all cars. So simple and effective and no need for knobs on top of the door or extra button. Plus they give you the same functionality as the BMW cars you like as the first pull unlock, further pull open.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Do you just drive your cars in circles in your driveway? Some of us occasionally use our cars to venture out to places other than our homes ;-)

  • avatar
    claytori

    Oh my! This is a long list of gripes and pet peeves. The question is “What is the worst detail?”. Well let me add to the list.

    The foot operated E-brake is useless, as is an electric one. How is one expected to drive the car at any speed in winter? The E-brake is a driving control that must be modulated. Look at the controls of any rally car and you will see that the lever is extended up beside the steering wheel for this reason. Pull the brake, rotate, power…. done. Who needs to steer? A wee twitch does the job. Wouldn’t touch any vehicle without a proper handbrake lever.

    Red turn signals to the rear. Someone hits the brake and the right turn signal simultaneously and what happens- the right signal is extinguished and the left one lights. It looks like they are signaling to the left. You begin to change lanes to the right and SURPRISE! they are going right. Amber solves this, except for the ~1% who always signal opposite to intended.

    Those rear distance sensors do not work well in the winter. With a small amount of snow or slush on them they give a constant signal. Too bad about your LR. I haven’t come across any that don’t cancel once neutral is selected.

    Recently rented an Asian CUV for winter driving in northern Ontario. Sucked. All season tires made it much poorer in snow than my FWD sedan with proper winter tires. Rental agencies don’t supply them. Didn’t even give out a block heater cord. Sheesh. This can get you stranded. This thing also had two LCD screens with bright blue backlighting that wasn’t controlled by the dash light dimmer. Blinding at night. There may have been a way to dim them, but who is going to RTFM at night in a snowstorm. Won’t make this mistake again. I’d rather drive my own properly equipped car.

    Overly raked windshields. This causes the A pillars to effectively increase in width and narrow the field of view. The windshield header is forced closer to your forehead.

    Excessively short and ineffective sunshades. When swung to the side window they don’t shade your eyes. This is also where any cheapo cost cutting will show up first, along with the glove box door.

    Edit – I forgot about the muffler and exhaust system of just about every Toyota vehicle. It seems they design the entire car and say “Ichi-ban! we forgot about the muffler again.” It ends up hanging halfway to the ground under the rear bumper.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    On many Mitsubishi Outlanders, the entire rear undercarriage is exposed. A modest piece of finishing trim would clean them up nicely.

    One nit on my 09 Sedona LX – the temperature controls are knurled thumb rollers you have to turn from left to right. A simple dial would be so much better.

    Incidentally, my 85 LeBaron GTS also had 4 pedals.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    FAKE WOOD- There is nothing uglier than plastic woodgrain trim on the dashboard and often the console and door panels. My aunt has a 2008 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer that stickered for $38k when it was new. In addition to the several unsavory and awful-to-touch surfaces, it has glossy fake plastic trim from the top of the center control stack almost all the to the bottom behind the shifter. All four doors also have a matching plasti-wood surround for the window and lock controls to tie the whole godawful look together.

    Growing up, my mom always had an Olds Cutlass Supreme (’74, ’77 and ’86 models) and they all had fake wood ‘applique’ on the dash. It looked almost painted on and after several years, it wasn’t uncommon to start fading in spots. Nothing says luxury like wood trim that you can rub away in spots with Windex and a paper towel!

    And some real wood is just as hideous, if not worse because it’s ruining a car that costs a lot more! Lexus offered a light maple-looking trim for years that looked like Swiss Cheese to me. I questioned Lexus for offering something that ugly as an option on their cars….but the people who buy it are the ones that baffle me!?!

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Power taps in the very bottom of a jockey box…are you $$$$ing me? Like who keeps a neat and tidy jockey box?

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Pointless sculpted details in sheetmetal.

    The Hyundai Sonata is very guilty of this.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    No oil dipsticks in BMWs.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Parking sensors on the Maserati are worse! They are designed I think, to pick up the parking stopper things so you dont crunch the low front bumper. In practice the thing bongs at all kinds of unseen stuff, i worked out it even picks up the under road sensors at traffic lights.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    I agree gated shifters are silly. What surprised me is how it exploded on the market. All you really saw them on were on a Mercedes or an Audi. Then, it was like every design team in the world thought, “Hey, those are cool! We could do that on our car!”. Then, they were everywhere right down to my former 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara.

    My current detail gripe is on my Chevy Volt. It has proximity sensors front and back. When I get in my car and put it reverse, the front sensors start beeping warning me not to run into my garage cabinets that are in FRONT of me. The car should know which direction it is going and warn me of obstacles in that direction.

  • avatar
    old fart

    My dad had a gated shifter way back in the 70′s on a new pacer wagon , that thing ( shifter gate not the car ) broke numerous times under warranty and replaced , after warranty we managed to rig it enough to stay together till the car was traded due to burning oil at 60,000 (304 V8 )

  • avatar
    carve

    Seatbelt sensors. I can’t leave my backpack on the passenger seat of my E90 without it bitching me to buckle the seatbelt.

    Runflat tires. They’ll leave you stranded if you live in the middle of nowhere.

  • avatar

    1. severely raked windshields, where you have to move your head to see around the A pillar when you’re turning.

    2. slit windows.

    3. anything that beeps repeatedly in a high pitched single tone

  • avatar

    1. severely raked windshields, where you have to move your head to see around the A pillar when you’re turning.

    2. slit windows. I’m thinking of trading the Civic–which I otherwise love–for an old Volvo just so I can see outside the car.

    3. anything that beeps repeatedly in a high pitched single tone

  • avatar

    Push button starts, keyless ignition, headrests that are angled too far forward, DRLs, 6+ speed automatics that HAVE to be in the highest gear by 30mph at light throttle, just skip every other gear or something! automatic turn signals and a dead feeling lever (BMW!) flappy paddles on an automatic transmission, carburetors, automatic door locks, automatic head lights, auto-down windows that can’t be finely controlled, huge wheels with rubber-band profile sidewalls(I want my cushy ride!) no visibility out of the windshield (I’m 6’2″ so not like I’m a freakshly tall) lack of bench seats, consoles that are confining, and quite a few other ‘features’ that I just loathe.

  • avatar
    Christian Gulliksen

    I don’t know if someone already answered this (or even if it’s correct) but my understanding is that those first gated Mercedes-Benz shifters were meant to allow manual shifts without accidentally overshooting the gear a driver wanted.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    My gripe isn’t the details on the car, but the details that are no longer included. I miss the turn signal indicators Chrysler used to put on the fenders. They should bring those back, or at least beef up the signal return mechanism so it’s more durable.

    I also miss the ignition key on the dash. GM has been bringing them back, but they put the ignition key in far too inaccessible places. If they can put a start button on the dash, they can put the ignition key right under it. In my case, they can then take the start button out, since it’s a premium car affectation, an answer to a question nobody needs to ask.

    Most of all, I want the corners of the car back. I have no idea where they are, they’re over the hood horizon or hidden by the high trunk, or obscured by the glare on the raked rear window. Knowing where the car ends can be really handy, but a generation of drivers will never know just how useful that knowledge is.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Oh where do I start?

    1. Interior door handles that’re too short for regular hands and bend my pinky (Chevy Captiva)

    2. Randomly placed grilles that do nothing once so ever other than try to enhance the vehicles appearance (Chevy Captiva)

    3. Grilles with bars so thick that they can’t let air in, thereby making them utterly pointless. (Chevy Volt, most Fords)

    4. Windows that were obviously modeled with style in mind over practicality (roughly everything on the road)

    5. Grilles with a black bar behind them or something else that screams “poor design”, prominent with Mazdas.

    6. Headlights that take up more than 80% of a cars frontal area (Chevy Spark)

    7. Cheaper cars from a manufacter-er that share visuals details with their higher cars (BMW, Aston Martin, ToyotaLexusScion)

    8. Huge wheels with thin tires on non-sports cars.

    9. HybridElectric badges

    10. Lights that let me know if I’m harming rain forests or not, because I can’t just listen to a cars engine noise and figure it out on my own.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      A lot of newer cars take the air in through the bottom grille. The upper one is just for show.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        On some cars the upper grille is through (probably helps turbo charged cars), but if its just there for show I’d rather have it blanked off in most cases, no point in getting peoples attention to a black bar.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          That was a fairly common styling trend in the Bush I era (1992 Crown Vic, Infiniti Q45, Acura Integra, etc), but apparently a lot of people thought a car should have a “grille” above the bumper, so we get the falsies now.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Very agree on points 6 and 2, note to designers if your car’s entire fender is really a headlight you’ve clearly failed and should feel bad about yourself… not to mention it makes the car look incredibly cheap and child-like.

      I would add something to point 2:

      2.5: Grilles just being part of the facia. For some models/brands a grille is a cheap plastic afterthought where you place your logo. But for a prestigious brand, an actual grille should always be present, be impressive, and it should have some percentage of chrome, brass, or gold plating (i.e. Mercedes of most years, Cadillac/Buick through the end of Deville/Park Ave, Lincoln of almost every model prior to 2008, Audi of most years, BMW seems to do well with kidneys only but they are an exception)

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      Many grilles are there as a styling statement now-a-days (like the Volt). It is what people expect the car to have because all (ok, most) cars had them. Smooth front cars (Porches not withstanding) look odd and don’t sell well.

  • avatar
    Ron

    Navigation systems which won’t let the passenger enter an address unless the car is in park.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      True Dat — the Nav system should use the passenger-side airbag activation switch to allow the Nav to be used while in motion – even if the driver is using it, there’s a person in the front seat to yell at them if they’re straying off the road!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Or Nav systems which have voice coaching while turning the control wheel to move through a list of directions, but will only go so far before requiring a voice prompt from the driver to scroll the list further! Try doing that at 70mph with three straight-pipe Harleys beside you in the left lane, and have the system pick it up! (Unfortunately, Honda’s voice-recognition system STILL sucks! :-| )

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Unpadded change holders, door pockets, or small storage that results in rattling that drives you clinically insane if anything is in them.

    Sloppy, cheap, blackout plates over non-installed options.

    Dual exhaust which is really just a single exhaust with an added pipe past the cats to the second outlet that do nothing but add to the cost of replacing the exhaust system.

    Steel wheels and hubcaps, yes even on an A segment econobox. Alloys are reliable, light, and CHEAP.

  • avatar
    davew833

    I drive a 1994 Subaru SVX. Subaru is (or was) quirky by nature, and the SVX particularly so. Some of the details make it unique and and endearing, and some are just maddening. In particular, the designers of the climate control decided that it was OK to have cool/cold air coming out of the dashboard vents, but NOT warm/hot air. Tip the automatic temp control toward the hot end of the scale, and the air output automatically shifts to the foot/floor vents or the defrost. I, for one, like to have warm air blowing on my upper body, especially my left hand for some reason. MOST other cars out there give me that option, but not my SVX.

    And speaking of visors, the SVX, which was Subaru’s most expensive car at about $35,000 during the years from 1992-97, has visors that droop progressively over time until eventually they don’t stay up at all. New replacement visors are expensive and increasingly NLA. In my humble opinion, a sunvisor ought to last the lifetime of the car– they’re a simple item and there’s nothing special about the SVX’s aside from a lighted vanity mirror. It irks me that my el-cheapo Legacy wagon has visors that will probably never fail or malfunction, but my SVX is another story. And no– they’re not interchangeable.

    And speaking of Subaru Legacys, how about the rocker switch on top of the steering column that allows you to turn the park lights on independent of the main light switch or the ignition switch. I can see how this is “necessary” since the Subaru’s lights go out when the ignition switch is turned off (which I love) but I wonder how many times a new Subaru owner has accidentally bumped that switch not knowing what it is and can’t figure out why their lights won’t go off, or not noticing their parking lights are still on, comes out the next day to a dead battery. (Fortunately my SVX doesn’t have that feature)

    Don’t get me started about the uselessness of the “check engine” light, or the low fuel light that comes on when there are still about four gallons in the tank, and, of course the DRLs (which my ’04 Legacy wagon has have been covered ad-infinitum.)

    And let me just say a word about the ill-fated Rover Sterling of the late ’80s and early ’90s, of which I owned a few. When Rover initially imported the 825 series to the US, they apparently didn’t feel the need to move the hood release from the RIGHT side of the car (where it rightfully should be on home-market RHD cars) to the LEFT side of the car. I don’t know how many early Sterlings I’ve seen in the Pick-n-pull junkyards over the years that have had the hoods forklifted open because the workers couldn’t figure out how to open them… Eventually, Sterling moved the hood release, along with correcting a lot of other little details that made the Sterling a pretty good car in later years, but it was too little too late.

  • avatar
    yanges

    i do not get why a gated automatic transmission would be a problem for anyone?

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I don’t either. If my friend’s ’70 Camaro would have had one, I might not make an unfortunate assumption that the shifter wouldn’t allow the car to be shoved into reverse or park without pressing a button, as my car required. Scared the crap out of both of us, and the parking pawl made some interesting noises, but the car seemed to be fine. I told him I would pay if anything broke in the driveline in the next 3 months, and he agreed. He sold the car to his little brother 3 years later, his brother drove it until it rotted out, about 1990, on the original transmission, so no harm no foul.

  • avatar
    Bob

    The worst feature of any car is the Air Conditioner turning on automatically when the windshield defroster is turned on. This is very annoying when its -15F and the car is blowing cool air at your frozen windshield.

    • 0 avatar
      watermeloncup

      Agreed that’s a stupid feature, but the air conditioning compressor won’t turn on if the temperature is below freezing.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      This feature ruined the A/C on my first car (’89 T-bird); this was around the time R12 was pulled from the shelves, but we still had a small stock of it on hand. I developed a leak in the system in mid-September, but didn’t want to potentially waste a charge when I wasn’t going to be using the A/C until the next spring anyway. I figured I’d just leave it off, and that would be that. But of course the defroster was cycling the compressor on when I used the defroster. By the time spring rolled around, the system was too far gone to be worth fixing.

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      I like to use the a/c when defogging (even in cold weather) as it dehumidifies the air thus contributing to quickier defogging (almost instant, most times) and of course the a/c’d air can be heated so it’s not like you’re blasting cold air into the car. But I agree, I’d prefer to have the option to do it manually rather than it being automatic (or at least have it turn on the a/c indicator light; some systems are sneaky in that they’ll automatically turn on the a/c but won’t light the light).

      That said, a/c systems are designed so that the compressor won’t come on if the evaporator (the portion inside the car) gets around freezing temp – this is to keep the evaporator from icing up.

  • avatar
    MLS

    1) The low-hanging exhaust pipe on the 2001-2006 Toyota Camry. This cheap detail made a ridiculously unappealing car even more atrocious. Check it out next time you’re on the highway:
    http://www.carsinamerica.net/toyota/2003-Camry-rear.jpg

    2) Buick portholes. I actually didn’t mind the portholes, even though they weren’t functional, until the Verano came around. Until that point, Buick faithfully applied one porthole for each engine cylinder (e.g., Regal has four), but then they inexplicably went ahead and gave the Verano (and later the Encore) six. [Nancy Kerrigan voice] Whyyyyyyy, whyyyyyyyy, whyyyyyy? [/Nancy Kerrigan voice]

    • 0 avatar
      Numbers_Matching

      ’1) The low-hanging exhaust pipe on the 2001-2006 Toyota Camry. This cheap detail made a ridiculously unappealing car even more atrocious. Check it out next time you’re on the highway:’

      Are you referring to the low hanging, visible Camry kink? I beleive this is a ‘feature’ on previous generation ’96-01 as well. It has the appearance of a failed exhaust hanger. Always wondered how such an unfinished appearing design would be approved – and for at least 2, possibly 3(!) generations of design.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the “kink” on the 1996-2001 Camry, but that could simply be due to my distraction by all of the hideous 2001-2006 models on the road. The former generation was blandly inoffensive, in my eyes, while the latter was an ill-proportioned, lazily-detailed eyesore. To the car crusher with them all!

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      They’ve not been nearly as consistent as you think with the VentiPorts — indeed, the original application was three-per-side on an 8 cylinder. For a long time, four ports only appeared on the Roadmaster, iirc.

      AFAIK the Regal is the only car to have ever had two per side, but I could well be wrong. They look odd to me.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        I can’t speak to the VentiPorts of old, but in the modern era, I believe Buick was consistent in their application until the Verano came along. Lucerne V8 had eight, V6 models six, and so on. Just the way God intended.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      +1 for Nancy Kerrigan voice

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Variable intermittent wipers that don’t wipe immediately after the rate control is increased. Hey, if the driver is asking for an increased wipe rate, he needs a wipe right now. One car I have experienced did respond immediately in this circumstance, kudos VW (European) Golf.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I loved the programmable intermittent wipers on the 90s VWs — you could actually set the exact interval you want. Apparently no one else loved it (or could figure it out), though, and VW went to conventional 4-position switched for intermittent wipers.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        +1!
        I remember that! I actually retrofitted that to an ’81 Vanagon I used to have as it was all in the relay which was a plug & play swap with the original wiper relay in the Vanagon.

    • 0 avatar
      xantia10000

      I totally agree! Speaking of wiper stalk logic: I hate those cars that require you to move the wiper stalk DOWN to increase wiper speed. Everyone knows that UP is the universal direction for on/more/faster. I believe VW wins again in this case.

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      New Focus too.

  • avatar
    izzy

    My 07 Hyundai Santa Fe engine cover.
    The engine itself is transverse mounted. But the engine has fake intakes of an longitudinal-mounted engine. Who are they fooling? Non-car persons couldn’t care less.
    For me it just looks fake. I am insulted. Feel like dealing with an outfit that sells shamwow instead of automobiles.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    VAG products with the power tailgate will open from the door-mounted controls, but won’t close. I had a friend who was driving downtown, leaving a parking lot, when a random pedestrian decides to hit the button in the back to open it. Of course, he has to get out and wander around to the back to close it.

    Also, not a fan of any auto shifter that stops in 3 instead of Drive (I’ve noticed it in Subarus and Hondas).

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Vacuum operated door locks. I mean WTF?

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      Ugh you reminded me of several hours spent with a hand-operated vacuum pump and a vacuum hose routing diagram troubleshooting the vacuum-operated door locks on an old Mercedes 300D. Vacuum leaks caused all sorts of weirdness, like pushing one lock button down makes all the other ones pop up, can’t turn off the engine (vacuum-operated fuel shutoff solenoid!), etc.

      But I did finally get it all working again. Eventually.

  • avatar
    tariqv

    Parking sensors that work up until 25cm from obstacle, where you actually really need it to work!

    Trunks that pop from the keyfob but dont completely open (volvo)!

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Those of you who have owned GM trucks/SUVs with a front bench seat will know this one. The front bench swings down to make a center console with a cutout in the center. The cutout is lined with a material conducive to making objects slide. It is also perfectly sized to hold 1.8 CDs. Put one disk in and it will slide around, two will not fit. I wish the engineers on my old Tahoe had lengthened the thing by 5mm.

    Also the air vent flaps in my Outback are chromed tipped, real metal. Nice touch but they tend to heat up in the winter and burn me.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Plastic. Plastic everywhere.

    Squooshy plastic, hard plastic, pebble-textured dark plastic that never looks clean. Plastic mimicking other materials. Plastic cladding the few metal bits that are still used.

    Plastic latches, hinges, switches, housings. Hollow, flimsy plastic steering column boxes hiding the ignition and stalk-gear wiring. Textured plastic steering wheel airbag covers and spokes that collect indelible mechanics’ fingerprints. Fally-off plastic flaps for fuse covers with lousy snap-in tabs that always break off.

    Grungy, tacky plastic in the bottom of coin trays, cup holders and door pockets that never give up the fused amalgam of chocolate, coffee, trail-mix and crushed candies that gravitate there.

    And miracle of miracles, the soapy-soft, oleaginous surface effect on otherwise hard, cheap-screaming interior hatch panels that develop permanent light streak marks with the gentlest contact against a suitcase, large item box or piece of small furniture. Plastic, an invasive species.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      Would you rather have the chrome and velour interiors of the 70s that wore out after 30,000mi?

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        Dark blue velour, absolutely.

        If you’re childfree and routinely detail those interiors, they look good long time. One of the sweetest and most cosseting aspects of my ’92 New Yorker. The previous owner never toted kids either.

        No experience with those of the ’70′s.

  • avatar
    Broo

    Plastic headlights. What was wrong with glass ? At least glass doesn’t become yellow after a long time in the sun and doesn’t scratch as easily.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    The driver side wiper of my ’95 Taurus that strikes the clamshell driver’s door. An otherwise quiet car, even 18 years later, until I turn the wipers on, then ,,, (doesn’t always hit). Buying a shorter blade helped little.

    Rear defrost wires that invite kids to grab and break them, though at least the glass did open.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I read most of these and I don’t think this has been mentioned but the worst for me are the “exhaust tips” on my 2012 Charger R/T. The are basically some type of metal attached to the bumper and there is no actual connection to the exhaust pipe and the tip itself. If you look at them at the correct angle, you can see right through to the ground.

    Seriously, had I noticed that detail on the lot I may have thought twice about my purchase.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Ridiculously large OEM wheels that do nothing but make the ride harsh and make replacement tires rare and expensive. The Venza and Edge seem to be the worst offenders.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Another vote for ending the ridiculously large “dubs” from the factory. It’s a tired look anyway, stop trying to appeal to ghetto culture. Those that want giant wheels can go buy them from the after market.

    Larger wheels mean a harsher ride, more expensive tires, hurts acceleration and fuel economy (larger wheels are heavier)

    Also, how much extra does it really costs to add more sound deadening? Every car should have a quiet ride, not just premium luxury cars. It’s just foam, you’re talking about less money than the floormats cost.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      The Ford Taurus supposedly comes standard with 17 inch wheels.

      Has anyone EVER seen a Taurus with only 17s? I haven’t.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        It seems just a few years ago, 17-inch wheels would have been standard equipment on entry-luxury sport sedans. Today, they’d seem ridiculously small in the age of compact cars sporting 17s.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          17s were a big factor in me choosing the lowest trim level (over the middle or the upper levels) on my current car- 16s were available only on the base model and the other two levels only offered 17 or larger.

          I have no need for my tires to be rated at 150mph and come tire replacement time I have very little desire to pay for such tires…

          JMHO

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Doug – - –

    Good topic.

    As this large response list was beginning to unfold, it seems that we hit all of the possible “worst details”.

    So, here is a suggestion for perhaps the next “QOTD” on a related topic:
    “What new automotive details would you like to see enacted?”

    Here is one I was always curious about — as to why it hasn’t been done universally:
    1) Headlamps that turn with the steering wheel for better illumination when going around corners!
    This was originally done on the 1948 Tucker (“Tucker 48″), but why was it dropped after that? Shouldn’t be too difficult. ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Tucker_Sedan

    —————-

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      The ’85-’95 Taurus and other cars of era had cornering lamps that worked as well without the moving parts. A feature I did like.

      Also like the way the side marker lights blink opposite to the turn signals; it really caught your eye at a light.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Headlight assemblies that cannot be repaired.

    For example, headlights on later E39 5s are almost impossible to open. Someone on one of the bmw forums allegedly can, but the majority of owners are not reading forums and are probably not willing to ship their headight for repairs. This means when the $8 plastic adjuster screws disintegrate, you need a new $700 headlight assembly. Either that or aftermarket junk for $300.

    Or how about the zkw brand headlights on the e46 3-series that were known to burn the reflector bowls? Some reason why those bowls couldn’t be purchased separately to repair the light?

    I’m guessing BMW is not the only manufacturer with this problem.

    • 0 avatar
      mypoint02

      Tell me about it. I have an E39 with a broken vertical leveler. It still adjusts (fortunately) but I notice it bounce around a little at night. Not willing to shell out $700 for a new assembly though. Supposedly, you’re supposed to bake the headlight assembly at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes (yes, in the oven) to loosen up the glue. I’ll pass…

  • avatar
    dtremit

    OK, a few that haven’t been mentioned yet:

    - Non-mechanical turn signal controls, which Ford is starting to adopt on a lot of models. They return to center immediately. Overcomplicated and removes a source of non-visual feedback.

    - Audio controls on the right side of the steering wheel. If I wanted to use my right hand to change the radio station, I’d reach for the radio. Putting them on the left (and thereby giving a different hand the ability to control the radio) makes so much more sense.

    - Floor mounted gas filler releases. They are almost never actually reachable from the driver’s seat. Is a button so hard?

    - Gas filler releases, in general — when was the last time you heard about anyone actually siphoning gas?

    - Those stupid secondary LCDs in Toyotas. They look cheap and rarely function well.

    - Inscrutable displays and controls in German cars, requiring a course in hieroglyphics to read them.

    - Lock or window buttons mounted anywhere but the door.

    - Mammoth center consoles that intrude on the driver (Taurus, I’m looking at you).

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “- Audio controls on the right side of the steering wheel. If I wanted to use my right hand to change the radio station, I’d reach for the radio. Putting them on the left (and thereby giving a different hand the ability to control the radio) makes so much more sense.”

      Yes! By the time I fumble trying to find the steering wheel audio controls I could easily reach over to the large, well placed knob on the dash

    • 0 avatar
      pb35

      “- Non-mechanical turn signal controls, which Ford is starting to adopt on a lot of models. They return to center immediately. Overcomplicated and removes a source of non-visual feedback…”

      YES to this one. I just returned from vacation where I rented a Taurus Limited. Besides having to re-SYNC my phone every time I got back in the car the turn signals were the second most annoying feature. It took me days to get used to it, I would hit the stalk, it would bounce back, I would hit it again thus turning the signal off.

      Whyyyy?

  • avatar
    wsimon

    The dashboard light on new Mercedes that indicates following too closely. There are two problems with this: 1. It is set to go off at far too long of distances, meaning it is constantly on in rush hour traffic, and more importantly 2. For the light to be useful in that I didn’t notice what distance I was from the car in front, I would have to be NOT LOOKING AHEAD.

  • avatar
    Garak

    For me, the absolutely worst automotive design feature is VW Caddy’s seat height adjustment lever. Your leg hits it every time you get out of the vehicle, which causes the seat to go down. The lever was redesigned at some point, but the problem still stands.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I paid $51 000 for vehicle that doesn’t have an automatic filler cap opener inside the vehicle. That really annoys me for some reason.

    I never checked to see if it had that feature when purchasing, I figured for that kind of money it’s a given.

    But at least I can go to the next music track with my steering mounted controls.

  • avatar
    JD23

    The pointless headlight warning on an A4 that occurs when opening a door with the headlights on and the engine running. Whenever I check my mail in the winter, I’m assaulted by a loud, constant beep. I can understand a warning if headlights are left on with the engine off, but why with it running?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Does the same warning sound when the engine is off? Why would it warn you about the lights, are they not automatic?

      • 0 avatar
        JD23

        No, there is no warning when the engine is off if the headlights are in the automatic position. The warning is only activated when the engine and lights are both running and the door is open. It’s completely illogical.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Maybe it’s warning you that you’re walking away from a running car *and* you left your lights on… those rascally Germans, always with the kidding around

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    DRLs. 20+ years after their introduction, I still despise them. I’ll turn my lights on if interested, thank you.

    Unfortunately both my cars run them and there’s NO SHUT OFF OPTION.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Chromed exhaust tips that only look good when the car is new, then rapidly accumulate a “carbon drip trail” that looks like crap.

    The “dancing” fuel filler door location – I know it’s a “global platform” thing, but if they were always on the driver’s side…

    The Kia Sportage turn signals are low-mounted in the bumper and can’t be seen if a car is behind, while the high-mounted taillights do nothing; in heavy traffic, you can’t see someone signalling a lane-change until they’re cutting in front of you – baaad ju-ju, there.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Driver’s side is different depending on what country you’re in.

      Sometimes it’s on the right.

      The countries that are that way need to join the rest of the world and drive on the left.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    BMW E46 rear cupholder. Only possible to use if the driver armrest is in the up position.

    If the driver and front passenger in my car both get drinks, the driver can’t use the excellent armrest in that car.

    BMW has gotten better with regards to cupholders in the new F30 her, but the E90 cupholders were a disaster too.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      First time I read this I was about to head out to my car and start looking for cupholders for the backseat. Then I realized you meant the rear cupholder in the front pair. So speaking of…

      Cars with a rear seat armrest that don’t bother to put cupholders in said armrest.

      The front armrest is great. Between that and the car’s lack of headroom, my driving position has evolved to slightly lean in toward the sunroof indent, putting a small amount of body weight on that armrest. It makes me very sad when both cupholders are in use.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    While I’m generally very happy with the Mazda 3 I bought last year, it does have a silver, reflective logo in the steering wheel. While most time it does look fairly spiffy, every once in a while the sun will strike it, which then reflects into my eyes. It’s a minor annoyance, but of all the thought that goes into auto design, no one thought reflective plastic placed in line with the driver’s site might be an issue?

  • avatar
    seth1065

    my vw chimes when the temp hits 40 degrees , no idea why and i do not car, I am sure the german engineers can explain it but I still do not care and it can not be turned off

    A close 2 any locking doors that does it it self, that at least I could turn off.

  • avatar

    So many things!

    VW’s “Soft touch” interior coating that flakes off after a year leaving a white plastic blech underneath
    How the shift interlock on most honda automatics works: you put it in “R”, back out, and then pull the shifter downwards into drive. It puts it into D3, bypassing drive and stopping one lower. No idea why. Mom’s CR-V does this, and when I drive it i find myself humming along in 3rd gear.
    That cheesy analog clock in Infinitis. Come on now.
    Hummer H3 power seat control location/door handle location
    Chevy Silverado door handle location
    VW shifters and how you have to push down to enter Reverse
    Mazda CX9 “Key” – shaped like a credit card, incredibly stupid

  • avatar
    JimC2

    My greatest automotive detail pet peeve of all, and this is going back many decades to the malaise era and even pre-malaise era/cretaceous period:

    The electrically heated automatic choke!

    Hmm, let’s see, we’ll put this thermostatic spring on the exhaust manifold and it’ll control the choke… automatically. Wait, let’s make it pull off the choke a lot quicker because that’ll make the EPA/CARB people happier, and we’ll do that by inventing this extra thingy with an electric heater thingy around the spring- to make the spring do its warmup thing before the engine is actually warmed up. Anyone who lives in a place with a real winter will have stalling problems once the car is more than a couple years old, but hey, whatever, screw those people.

    /rant

  • avatar
    salguod

    Taillights on the mid 2000s Chrysler Sebring. Were the trunk and quarter panel lights designed by different people in different continents that were forbidden from communicating with each other?

    http://0.tqn.com/d/cars/1/0/k/c/ag_07sebring_taillight.jpg

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The center info thingy on the Volt, it just seems to have been tacked on to a Cruze dash as an afterthought.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    The floating console gear shift selector that sticks straight out of the dash with no console like on the kia soul and the jeep patriot. I hate that design, it screams cheap and ugly. Why oh why couldn’t they just put in a column mounted shifter.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    The worst thing in the world is those automatic shifters that go in a straight line, with a button that you have to push for some of the shifting but not all of it.

    The initial (static) friction is always greater than the friction it takes to move between detents, so it takes effort to go as far as you wanted to. Since the button isn’t always necessary, the shifter can easily get knocked into the wrong ‘gear’. And the button eventually wears out.

    If only there were an alternative… maybe something gated instead…

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Car designs in general from the upturned C-pillar, AMC Gremlin school of design. (Kia Soul; Nissan Juke and Murano, among others.)

  • avatar
    mklrivpwner

    2005 Nissan Frontier Hand Operated parking brake release. I was working at a local dealership in the detailing garage at the time these were coming in new. Firstly, like the CTS, it was a manual trans with a foot pedal parking brake. That’s fine; I was a college student, so I could count to 4. “Gas, Brake, Clutch, that must be the parking brake”. But the brake release isn’t “clicky pen” style press again to release. No. They tuck a hand release under the dash. What the hell, Nissan.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Fog light inserts. Years ago, cars would come with varying front facias – usually a plain one without cutouts, and another with room for the fog lights.

    These days, most cars only come one way, with cutouts for fog lights. But if you didn’t order fog lights, you get cheap, black plastic panels inserted in there. Are manufacturers trying to shame people into buying a higher trim level? It’s like a scarlet letter that screams “this guy’s so cheap, he bought the most basic model possible.”

  • avatar
    ezeolla

    1. Sunroofs that you have auto open but not auto close (my ’07 Mazda3 had this)
    2. Automatic locking doors that don’t automatically unlock when you put the car in park (my Sister in Law’s Equinox does this)
    3. Cars that have a lock/unlock button. Now, I don’t mean a button for locking all doors and another for unlocking them. Just one button that does both. I DON’T KNOW IF I AM UNLOCKING OR LOCKING THE DOORS! Also, why is it above the radio (at least in my dad’s BMW) and not on the door?????
    4. NON gated auto transmissions. I much prefer the gates. I find it much easier to end up in 2 or 3 rather than D in traditional auto than with a gated one. The gates in my wife’s ’12 Liberty are perfected spaced so that I end up in D without even looking.

    Also, I think there is an issue if you need to have a gated shifter explained to you

  • avatar
    fr88

    What is the genesis of gates shifters? Likely began with the optional Hurst gated automatic shifter in late ’60′s GTO’s and of course, Hurst Oldsmobiles. The gates allowed you to quickly change gears by slamming the shifter into the next gate without looking down at the console. Previously, you had to take your eyes off the road and look down between the seats to see what gear you were selecting. Not a good idea when you were in a drag race with your muscle car!

    Mercedes starting using a gated shifter in the early 70′s, so likely there is a misguided perception thing lingering that this is a deluxe detail.

    Today, gated shifters are pointless affectations in this era of electronic transmission controls and paddle shifters.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    My pet peeve is UNLIT cruise control switches…either stalk-mounted, as in my C-Class, or steering wheel mounted, as in my wife’s Accord.

    Can’t see them at night. Trying to put the cruise on at night in an unlit cabin…..not easy, causes me to take my eyes off the road.

    I liked Toyota’s design on these a few years ago (mid-90′s Celica)….the switch was installed in such a way that it was just below the center hub of the steering wheel, right where a typical driver’s right thumb would be if his hand was in the 2:00 position on the wheel…and it was transparent where the text was on the switch, with a tiny bulb inside the switch, so that at night, at speed, you could see the control easily in your peripheral vision, drop your thumb to it nearly effortlessly, and engage the cruise confidently without having to fuss, take your eyes off the road, or turn on the interior map-light.

    Wonder how many accidents are caused by this? A total lack of ergonomic and safety recognition on the part of the designers.

  • avatar
    fr88

    Worst detail? COLOR!! Or more precisely, the utter lack of it. Is it the grim times we live in, or have manufacturers been restricting color options for so long that the buying public has forgotten how color can enhance an ordinary car.

    Exterior; Once upon a time, 15-20 exterior colors were routinely offered. All greens(from dinner mint- to forest-), turquoises, yellows, most blues (from sky- to navy-) and most dark reds (brick, maroon, eggplant, plum) have all but disappeared from the color palette offered on most cars today. Now, six or seven selections are your only choice. And of those, one is black, one is white, and the rest are shades of dirt (greys & beiges). Only a basic red is thrown in so there is at least one exciting color to put in the ads.

    Interiors? For almost two decades only mouse grey and mouse beige were offered on almost every single make of car on the road. Today there are a few daring manufacturers that offer black. Big deal. Only a Detroit-based company would try to sell a Ford Fusion Titanium in Palm Springs, Miami or Dallas with an interior that ONLY comes in black leather.

    Some manufacturers are offering other colors. You can get red upholstery in a Dodge Charger. At last!!! But like every other manufacturer that offers a hint of color, the red is confined to the seats and door panels – the rest of the interior is black.

    Worse yet are various Fords and GM cars that offer “color accents” on black seats rather than a fully color-coordinated interior. And how absurd is it neither the Camaro nor the Mustang convertible offers a solid white interior? Duh, the strongest convertible sales are in hot climates. Instead, you get. at best, a black interior with a color accent on the seats and armrests. Ouch.

    And speaking of interiors, whatever happened to beautiful leather – thick, glossy leather that aged with a nice patina. Now – thanks to Mercedes starting the trend in the 1990′s – most leather used today is dull and lifeless looking, with all lushness and character of neoprene. Leather in most cars today has a matte finish that looks like it has been baking in the sun for years. Typically, you can’t tell what is leather and what is vinyl or plastic in a new car. But perhaps that has been the plan all along.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Remember when you used to be able to get interiors in colors like red, blue, or green? And I don’t mean just the seats: carpet, headliner, dashboard. There’s something about a Fox-body 5.0 Mustang with an all-red interior that has always appealed to me.


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