By on December 23, 2008

Jerry Garrett of The New York Times has “driven dozens of new cars each year for nearly 30 years.” Who knew? Even though I’m not familiar with Garrett’s car canon, it’s clear the writer’s time was well spent, in an Andy Rooney “Have you ever looked at a doorknob?” kinda way. “‘Does this bother you?'” Garrett’s rant begins. “Well, actually, shining a bright light in my eyes from out of the darkness does bother me; when I’m behind the wheel, it drives me nuts. It reminds me of an interrogation technique. This bright light in question is actually the map light. It is positioned above my rearview mirror. Of course, it renders the rearview mirror useless, but more than that, it blinds me when I drive. It is a real safety issue, but my passenger wants to read while I drive. Who would design such a thing?” Damn his eyes! Why doesn’t Garrett doesn’t name names? Anyway, the rest of his “Five Things I Hate About New Cars”? Too small sun visors, the lack of fish-eyed rear view mirrors, chimes that won’t shut up after ten dings and cars that don’t have a little arrow to show you upon which side of the car the fuel filler cap resides. And now, it’s your turn, overly-loud and cheap-sounding clicking noise or “how the Hell do I cancel these damn things” BMW signals included.

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58 Comments on “Nitpicking Anal Retentive OCD Pistonheads Unite! Your Times Is At Hand!...”


  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    Amen on those goddamn Bavarian turn signal stalks.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    There is a very interesting answer on the NYT article that I think is worth re-posting here.

    From Donald Weiser:
    …If you look closely at your dash you’ll notice the gas pump’s hose/nozzle is on the left of the gas pump icon if that vehicle has its filler on the (outside) left side and likewise the gas icon will have the hose/nozzle on the right side if the filler is on the (outside) right side of that vehicle.

    I never noticed this before. Can readers of this post verify this fact by checking their own cars the next time they get in it?

  • avatar
    miked

    On the topic of blinding (or really just irritating). I hate it when some of the interior lights don’t dim properly. I like to drive with the dash barely lit, but the high beam indicator and the A/C indicator do not dim with the rest of the dash. It drives me nuts!

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    @yankinwaoz: Hmmm, never noticed. I’m going to check tonight.

    Anyway, now that i think about it, what is described is counterintuitive: If your gas filler cap is on the right side of your car, you’d need to pull up to a pump with the nozzle onthe left, and vice versa. So the icons described, while possibly indicating where the filler is, show the exact opposite image of the pump you should be looking for…

    It’s inane debates like this one that lead me to believe no manufacturer would ever take the trouble to coordinate the location of the filler with the department designing two different gas pump icons…

  • avatar

    @ yankinwaoz: I dunno about that one… seems to me the gas pump icon is an “international standard.” Differentiating the side of the car based on that nearly illegible little icon seems too subtle.

    My gripes:
    – Form over function when it comes to outside rearview mirrors.
    – Proprods for hoods (they’re a goddamn liability on a windy day). Spend a few cents more and use a strut, or a spring like the old days.
    – “Check Engine” lights for loose gas caps – can’t we get a dedicated light so we don’t have to mess around with the dealer clearing the stupid codes?
    – Glove boxes that can’t hold more than twelve cubic inches… why bother?

  • avatar
    KeithBates

    @ yankinwaoz

    Yep, Ford has been doing that for 20+ years…

    SteveL

  • avatar

    Is this guy an idiot?

    Cars that don’t have an arrow showing you which side the gas tank is on?

    Its pretty easy – there’s a universal symbol on the gas gauge with a pump and a handle. Whichever side the handle is on is the side the gas tank is on.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    yankinwaoz – little thing I’ve noticed while out driving is the fuel door is usually on the opposite side from where the exhuast is. Heard that German cars always have it on the passenger side so the driver doesn’t knock his door into the gas pump. Most Japanese cars have it on the driver side. I hate to admit I kinda miss having it behind the license plate.

    One thing I hate is how these days the climate control and radio are all integrated into one confusing mess. Maybe ok on a personal car, but not a rental car.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    I hear you, miked. The high beam warning light in my VW is so bright that it cancels out much of the benefit of high beams. I’ve covered all but a small bit of it with black electrical tape, and that helps. But it’s about the only thing that makes me miss SAAB- that “black panel” instrument lighting (darkening?) might have been their last really great idea.

    As for hood props vs. pistons- I just replaced the tailgate pistons in a six year old car. It cost $70, which was worth it, because I’m in there every day. But when the hood pistons lose pressure and need replacement too, I’ll appreciate the cheap, durable prop used on my Subaru.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    ..of course all this gas filler talk begs the question why they can’t standardize this? It makes no sense for everyone to drive on the right side of the road then swerve to the left as they come to a gas pump..
    (and yes, I know, the real reason is the lawyers)

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Regarding the fuel filler indicator, yes, either a pump icon or an arrow on the fuel gauge is used to indicate on which side of the car the fuel filler door is located. I actually just read an article by Dan Neil discussing why fuel filler doors are located where they are that mentions this tid bit as well.

    I can’t think of a general annoyance with cars unless its the prolifiration of warning labels and the decontenting of usefull infromation from the Owner’s Manual while increasing the page count over the years. The Owner’s Manual for my 58 Chevy is less than 1/4 the size of the Owner’s Manual for my Mazda6s and it has much more useful information, including changing tires (actually patching and installing them on the rim), fluid specs, lube locations, etc.

    One big pet peeve I had with an Impala rental from March 07, in addition to its general crappiness, was its floor mounted shifter. There was the usual strip of plastic along side the gear selector, but it had none of the usual PRNDL2 markings to indicate which function you had selected. All fine and dandy fro a car you own and drive daily, not the greatest if it is a rental you have never driven before. Along these lines, it is also never a good thing if you make the driver hunt around for the headlight and dimmer switches.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Sparks: How the hell are lawyers responsible for which side of the car you pump on? I’d like to hear that one.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    RetardedSparks :
    December 23rd, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    ..of course all this gas filler talk begs the question why they can’t standardize this? It makes no sense for everyone to drive on the right side of the road then swerve to the left as they come to a gas pump..
    (and yes, I know, the real reason is the lawyers)

    Actually, it serves a real purpose, even though unintended, of providing a better distribution of people pulling in on either side of the pump island. The Dan Neil article I mentioned above has a good explanation of why the filler cap is located in various locations. I read it in VIA (AAA’s magazine), but the article might be available through other outlets.

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    I hate that huge yellow and white label on the visor warning something about the airbag and seatbelts. Could they find another place to put it so you don’t have to look at it all the time? A nice, finely crafted Audi interior can be totally marred by those things.

  • avatar

    Wheatridger : As for hood props vs. pistons- I just replaced the tailgate pistons in a six year old car. It cost $70, which was worth it, because I’m in there every day. But when the hood pistons lose pressure and need replacement too, I’ll appreciate the cheap, durable prop used on my Subaru.

    If you’ve ever had the hood blown off the proprod by the wind and skull you – you’d know the nature of my hatred for them.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    What I hate about car interiors is that some cars’ air vents don’t close manually so you can keep cold air out before the heater comes on.

  • avatar
    bleach

    jgh,

    Yes on the check engine light for the fuel cap. I was surprised to find in my GTI that there is a separate indicator to check your fuel cap. Nice touch.

    My gripes are the lack of a proper rain gutter along the top of the windows (GTI). Absolutely hate coming to a stop and lowering the windows at a drive though or toll booth when the roof is wet.

    No obvious way to defeat traction control when you need to without looking at a manual.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    Well, the reason I heard from a friend who works in the auto industry was that “right side” fillers were a response to lawsuits resulting from people being hit while filling up cars from a can by the side of the road.
    The fact that this is completely stupid only PROVES that lawyers would have thought it up!
    I’ll have to track down that Dan Neil article to find out the real reasons… (found it: http://www.viamagazine.com/top_stories/articles/your_aaa_jan09.asp#Neil )

    @Lumbergh21: I can’t say I buy the “distribution” argument – people turning around and backing up to get the filler facing the pump create a far larger hazard and congestion than people going around the island to all pull up to the left side of the pump… The hoses used to be long enough to go over the car, but apparently now that nothing will fit over the top of an SUV (especially since they are often driven by people barely 5′ tall) I guess they just shortened the hose…

  • avatar
    Lokki

    1. Most Japanese cars have it on the driver side. Uhm, most Japanese cars have it on the American driver side.

    2. Snopes says that the gas filler indicator thing isn’t true. Of course they are wrong about vampires and ghosts,and red-haired women, so I’m not saying they’re right here, but….

    http://www.snopes.com/autos/techno/icon.asp

  • avatar
    carguy622

    All of these complaints are worthwhile

    However, the most annoying car design is the windshield washer sprayers that just squirt out a stream of water instead of a spray, what good is that?

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    OK, I read the article, and I’m still not convinced.

    Here’s a quote:
    “Yet given the engineering demands on each car model on the road, it would be impossible to standardize fuel filler position.”

    Now substitute “steering wheel” for “fuel filler” in the above sentence and explain to me how one is possible but the other is impossible?

  • avatar
    Aeroelastic

    Germans must have giant torsos or something, because the sun visors on GTIs (MK IV and V) are too short. They only block the top 6 inches of the windshield.

    And like Wheatridger said, the high beam indicator is way too bright, and won’t dim with the rest of the lights. It totally kills your night vision.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    1. I don’t know anybody who reads in a car at night. Most of the time, those map lights are only marginally better than dome lights. Total annoyance factor: 0

    2. The best sun visor I’ve ever came across was in my parents’ old Sable. It had the main visor that could swivel to the side, the backup visor that swung down, and a pull-out on the main visor so it could get behind the rearview mirror, so you can’t be blinded when the sun comes in at that one specific angle. Worst visor was in my old Galant, mainly because it was dirty and the material they used looked moldy. maybe it was moldy. Total annoyance factor: 0

    3. Personally, I prefer the fender mounted mirrors that you see on old Japanese cars, an unfortunate neat trick that never made its way to our shores. Extra wide mirrors give you that much space to smack a bicyclist, so I don’t think that’s too cool, and I’ve never had a problem with mirrors that are too small. Maybe it’s because I make sure to change my viewing angle so I can see everything. Total annoyance factor: 0

    4. I want the audible chime to annoy the shit out of me until I turn off my headlights or pull the keys out. My Honda CRX did no such thing and if I wasn’t accidentally locking myself out, I was killing my battery from leaving the lights on (a problem made worse during the twilight hours when you don’t immediately notice they’re still on) Total annoyance factor: 10 (for doing what it’s supposed to do)

    5. That arrow by the fuel gauge is quite useful, especially when the fuel door on my personal car is on the driver’s side, and the fuel door on my work truck is on the passenger side, and I spend an equal amount of time in both vehicles. It’s very embarrassing to pull up to the gas pump and realize you’ve parked the car on the wrong side of the island. Total annoyance factor (for not having the arrow: 0 (adjusts to 10 when you embarrass yourself by pulling up on the wrong side of the pump)

    So out of those five annoying things, one is annoying by design, and the other one is annoying only if you have a mental lapse when you pull in for a fill-up. I guess I’m not down with O.C.D.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    All of these things fall under the heading of proper design and attention to detail. I agree with the points he brings up. To some, this is nitpicking. To others, to offer a finished product with these deficiencies is inexcusable. I fall into the latter camp.

    99 out of 100 people are going to have no clue about the gas pump nozzle orientation signifying which side of the vehicle needs to be next to the pump. I agree with having a little arrow. Many of us drive rentals or other cars in addition to our primary ride. Hell, what’s that little bit of unobtrusive paint cost for the arrow anyhow? If you have the same car for 10 years and know yours without thinking, good for you. I could care less if there is a standard. There are advantages and disadvantages to each side of the vehicle for the fuel door. Right/left-hand drive, how you pull into the gas station, gauging the distance from the passenger side to the pump versus gauging the distance of your own door from the concrete pump guards, etc. Just put an arrow there and be done with it.

    The map light dilemma is a sore issue for me as well. The cost-cutting here that manufacturers seem to do is disappointing. Give us some airplane-type reading lights originating from the proper location/angle so as to pinpoint the light and minimize driving distraction. There should be a general, flood-type light above for the door opening/unlock illumination. There should be airplane-type lights for reading. These are two distinct requirements that some manufacturers try to cover with one light. Doesn’t work.

    A similar gripe is with visor/vanity lights. Take a look at most and you’ll see that the light shines right in your face when you pull the visor down. Look at VW/Audi, for example, and you’ll find the light source from above so that you aren’t blinded. Some say these are little things – don’t worry so much. I’ll guarantee you that enough of these will have you loving or hating a vehicle after a period of time. The example of the wife cutting her hand on the Chrysler POS is a good one. This was a gross example of attention to detail left in the mop bucket. Blinding lights, cutting trim, flimsy knobs, etc. all come together to make that impression.

    My 08 Accord has trunk hinges like monkey legs that exist solely to crush the most fragile packages I can place back there. Do I subtly cuss Honda every time I look at these hinges? Yes. Same as when I hear those cheap sounding pie plates close that Honda calls doors.

    Do I abhor the dings/rings/buzzes/pings that scream at me from my otherwise exquisite A8? With a passion. I just need to spend a couple hundred on a VAG-COM and cursor down to line 17… I understand that in our litigious US that we have to be given these “warnings”. What I don’t understand is why Audi, unlike some manufacturers, doesn’t program them to stop after a few. Like Jerry, I’m pretty sure that if I haven’t picked up the hint after the first few, I’m not going to learn. I mean, c’mon, I KNOW that my *[email protected]&* door is open. I OPENED IT. And the bloody car is SITTING STILL. IN PARK.

    I could write for ten minutes straight on the garish, blue, much-too-bright instrumentation from my Passat days. But you get the point. It’s the little things. And in some cases, not so little things.

    I could fill an entire website with these things. If we could only get the manufacturers to listen and implement.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    carguy622 said: However, the most annoying car design is the windshield washer sprayers that just squirt out a stream of water instead of a spray, what good is that?

    Or how about the washers that squirt the water OVER the windshield instead of on it?

  • avatar
    noreserve

    Rev Junkie :
    December 23rd, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    What I hate about car interiors is that some cars’ air vents don’t close manually so you can keep cold air out before the heater comes on.

    Or if they do close, they don’t close completely. Or if the car has auto climate control, it’s not smart enough to keep the airflow at bay until it is either warm (in winter) or cool (in summer). Simple programming people.

    On a positive note, I do appreciate Honda’s apparently standard touch of having a low stream of warm air directed out of the upper side vents in the winter. Keeps the niblets from turning blue until things get warmed up.

  • avatar
    jaydez

    My map light in my Fusion (no sunroof) is fine. its above my head on the dome light. I still dont let anyone use it though it makes too much light and makes it difficult to see out the windows.

    I also can’t stand the position of “dead pedals” they are usually angled to steeply to be comfortable.

    And the rear window defrost on a delay. Some times if its really cold out or snowing and I’m moving slowly I need it on the whole trip, not just the first 10 min.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Whey do they call them “power windows”? They don’t add anything to your car’s power. And why do cars have so much power these days anyway? What are people going to do with all that power when they’re just going to get stuck in traffic. Speaking of traffic, whatever happened to the flying car?

    That’s the best I can do, it’s hard to compete with the master: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/11/60minutes/rooney/main4009238.shtml

  • avatar
    noreserve

    I forgot to mention that I’m a believer in the driver’s-side convex mirror – even the stick-ons. I know, I know, tacky. But extremely practical. I use one on most vehicles I’ve owned. Even with a properly adjusted center and side mirror, I still find it much more relaxing to drive in heavy Atlanta traffic with one. A glance at my little convex friend is all I need to know the lane is clear. World of difference in years of changing lanes.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Yes, casual observer, you nailed it! Those obnoxious black and yellow warning labels may serve a purpose on the first day you buy your first car with an airbag, but after that, they’re a distracting nuisance. Personally I can’t abide any distracting dashboard decor, but this is the worst. I taped over my warning labels with vinyl electrical tape in the closest matching color I could find- haven’t you?

  • avatar
    NickR

    Its pretty easy – there’s a universal symbol on the gas gauge with a pump and a handle. Whichever side the handle is on is the side the gas tank is on.

    Wrong. I heard this long ago and checked.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    My pet peeve is people consulting the NYTimes for info about cars. Everybody knows that New York City has more people per capita who don’t drive than any other American city. Also, those in New York City who do drive don’t use their cars like the rest of us.

    That being said, I miss my Saab’s night vision setting on the dashboard.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Agreed on the convex mirrors, once you get used them it’s scary thinking that you were driving around in heavy traffic without them. Especially at night, one glance and you know for sure if someone is in the blind spot. Incredibly weird to me that they aren’t mandated.

    The ultimate…my girlfriend’s Saab and it’s godawful “shift up” light. Any on-throttle activity near or above 3k rpm and this baby glows orange in the middle of the instrument cluster. Whenever I see it I get this perverse urge to put it down into 2nd and just drop the clutch. Teach that bastard a proper lesson. The worst part, her family has 3 Saabs, all equipped with the light…they all drive manual and are somehow able to blissfully ignore the thing while I sit there turning purple, even as a passenger.

    And seatbelt chimes…I read somewhere that manufacturers met and agreed to make them indefinite and standard on all models (no idea if this is true), which they had to do b/c they knew if one company offered so much as a delete option for this annoyance we’d all flock to their dealerships. I am waiting, cash in hand, for a car company to fix this.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Lokki – nice catch as Japan is left hand traffic, along with the UK and several of their old commonweaths (roughly 30% of the globe).

    Though not a auto pet peeve, this is a big one of mine. Why on earth can’t we all assimilate and drive on the same side of the road? Several years back a Brit almost hit me when he forget we drive on the right side in N. America. On a vacation in Ireland I realized how easy it is to want to drive on the side that is natural to you. This is a major hazard. If air traffic controllers can agree on language and altitude standards globally, why can’t we do the same here?

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    When my 70lb dog sits in the passenger seat of my Ford Fusion, the seatbelt warning chimes constantly. It won’t stop. It is my DOG!!! I can’t buckle him in!!!! The chime is maddening!!!

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I modified the circuit in my HVAC control unit so A/C only comes on when I want it to. I also modified my door lock wiring so they all open with only one push of the keyless entry button (not programmable on a Mazda3).

    My visors are too short, so I bought a visor-mounted CD holder with a built in visor extension that I use whenever the sun is to my left while on the highway. Don’t they consider that someone may be over 5’6″ tall when designing those things?

    The high beam warning light in my VW is so bright that it cancels out much of the benefit of high beams. I’ve covered all but a small bit of it with black electrical tape, and that helps.

    I use window tint film (the darkest shade). Sometimes you have to take the dash apart to install it directly on the gauge face. But while you’re at it . . .

    And seatbelt chimes…I read somewhere that manufacturers met and agreed to make them indefinite and standard on all models (no idea if this is true), which they had to do b/c they knew if one company offered so much as a delete option for this annoyance we’d all flock to their dealerships. I am waiting, cash in hand, for a car company to fix this.

    I rip out the beeping thing with pliers. It’s really not very difficult, but you generally have to remove and disassemble the gauge cluster to get to it.

    Yes, casual observer, you nailed it! Those obnoxious black and yellow warning labels may serve a purpose on the first day you buy your first car with an airbag, but after that, they’re a distracting nuisance. Personally I can’t abide any distracting dashboard decor, but this is the worst. I taped over my warning labels with vinyl electrical tape in the closest matching color I could find- haven’t you?

    I mask off and spray the fabric visors with a few thin coats of flat black spray paint. Seems to work well. If the visor is all plastic, you can just cover the warning with a large black sticker.

  • avatar
    factotum

    If you (Americans) live near a Costco with a gas station, the fuel filler door location is irrelevant. The hoses are long enough to reach either side. If you drive a truck or SUV, just pull forward a bit to wrap the hose around the rear.

    It isn’t rocket science, yet every time I go there is a free pump whilst another has a line of cars six deep waiting for that pump on the side of their filler doors. I just zip up to the free one, whip that hose around and—thanks to the 360 degree swiveling nozzle—have no troubles.

  • avatar
    strangeo

    to remove the warning labels on the inside of the windshield visor: get a can of lacquer remover from a hardware store. Takes a little elbow grease, but removes the warning and you don’t have to look at your spray-paint job for the next 5 years.

  • avatar
    gcmustanglx

    I have 2 gripes. First my sunvisors, while a decent size, are too think to clip on my garage door opener. So it has to take up space in teh center console and a search ensues everytime I get home. Second, can anyone make a car where the rearview mirror does not create a huge blind spot for a 6′ tall driver. Personally I don’t want to lay down when I drive but that is about the only way to see around that mirror mounted in the middle of teh windshield.

  • avatar
    ktm

    One of my biggest pet peeves is the various bolt patterns for a given lug number. Why do we need different bolt patterns for 4 and 5 lug cars? For instance:

    5×100
    5×114.3
    5×120

    4×100
    4×108
    4×114.3

    Why do we need so many different patterns? Offsets I can understand, but bolt patterns? Give me a break.

  • avatar
    1169hp

    Matthew Danda:

    Reference your omnipresent seatbelt chime:

    Can’t you hook/attach the passenger side seatbelt. The belt should then lay (mosty) flat against the seat-back. Your 70LB prized hairless poodle can then sit in the passenger seat w/out the annoying chime.

    But you’ve probably thought of that….or not

  • avatar
    zenith

    Remember back when you could use the windshield washer independently from the wipers?

    I haven’t seen that one since the 1972 Ford F-series and I really miss it in cold weather.

    If you hit the washer button and nothing came out due to freeze-up, you didn’t drag the blades 4 cycles across dry, gritty glass.

    Also, if you had a lot of bugs on the windshield, you could lean out the driver’s window with sponge in hand and get it good and sopping wet for a hand-wash of the windshield. When wipers come on with the fluid, the fluid gets smeared all over the glass but your sponge gets nothing.

    Another feature I’d like to see back is the cable-operated side mirror. These mirrors had a wider range of motion than any power mirror I’ve experienced and they work faster, too. Also, with a separate actuator for each mirror, you’re not forgetting to flip a switch and thus screwing-up the “good” mirror while wondering why the one you need to adjust isn’t moving.

  • avatar
    Nicodemus

    A few comments:

    Bonnet (hood) stay. Can’t agree on philisophical grounds that this should be supported on elaborate struts. A modern car requires access to the engine compartment very rarely. Between services it is really only the windscreen washer reservoir that needs checking. I like most people, subcontract the service of my new vehicle out to a professional mechanic thereby maintaining the warranty. So the method of holding the bonnet open is purely of concern to the service personnel, whose comfort I frankly couldn’t give a hoot about. Older cars out of warranty are often serviced by the owner, which I agree might be thankful of a nice gas strut protecting their noggin. But here’s the rub – I don’t buy a new car with altruism toward the second, third, fourth…owners as even a slighted consideration. I would much rather the money for the struts be put toward a decent sound system or an ipod connection. Hell i’d rather the car company cut costs in bonnet stays than areas that i might give a damn about.

    Fuel filler icon:

    I can’t agree with snopes on this one. I pretty sure they are not privvy to manufacturer design meetings so how can they surmise with such certainty that some manufacturer do not apply such a convention? I happen to believe that what may have once have been random, may indeed become an accepted norm related to the fuel filler side. It’s how things like pedal layout, steering wheel position, indicator colour etc have all been decided upon.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Regarding the fuel filler indicator, while admittedly a small sample size of 8, both modern cars that I and my wife own, the three work vehicles and all rental cars that I’ve driven in the past three years have had a fuel pump on the gas guage indicating on which side the fuel filler door was located.

    While were at it, I’ll put in my vote to put all fuel filler doors on the driver’s side of the car. This way, I can easily glance in my rear view mirrior and see if it is open, and a simple cable actuated release could be used to open it from the inside of the car. I prefer the cable to a more expensive, more complex, button driven electric actuator like my wife’s Mustang has (just one more thing to go wrong). And, lot’s of gas stations have hoses long enough to reach the other side of my car, but I don’t like dragging a hose across my (pick one) roof/trunk.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    When you put gas in my old man’s 1950 Packard it had a whistle that would quit when the gas tank was almost full. This was back in the day before the click-off nozzle, of course. It also had a straight pipe from the gas cap to the tank so we could “stick” it after the gauge quit working.

    On the other side, my 76 Cheyenne pickup: little gas tank so I was in the gas station again every 150 miles or so. And then I’d have to stoop to hold the nozzle just right so it wouldn’t shut off every half gallon.

    I think the arrow to point to the correct side for the gas cap is a great idea, at least for people who are driving several different cars regularly. In fact, why not make one yourself with a thin-line marker?

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    What bugs me the most is car interiors with no places to put things. And I’m not talking about cupholders or glovecompartments. No, I’m talking of shelves to put maps, newspapers, hamburgers, when you are runnig out of hands to hold them with. In previous eras, the dashboard was just that, a flat board, with gauges on the side and and a shelve on top of it. Nowadays, there’s no straight lines to be found anywhere at all in the interior of cars, the dash is one giant slope. What do you do in the drive-in, with hamburgers, fries, and so on, when you simultaneously need to put on the seat belt, changer gear, and hold all the stuff? I don’t understand…

  • avatar
    dougjp

    I have to break ranks and agree with the guy:

    ” my passenger wants to read while I drive. Who would design such a thing? ”

    Who indeed. Except he was probably the one that allowed her to get in…

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    – “Check Engine” lights for loose gas caps – can’t we get a dedicated light so we don’t have to mess around with the dealer clearing the stupid codes?…

    Some generations of Ford Explorers have just that setup. Evaporation failure codes illuminate a “gas cap” icon instead of the generic check engine light. Since the vast majority of evaporation control “leaks” are gas caps, checking the cap and resetting usually takes care of the problem. For those of you who may be selling a vehicle that repeatedly sets codes for evaporation problems, make sure you keep the tank full or mostly empty. The system doesn’t go into test mode under these conditions…

  • avatar
    James2

    Mazda wants to mess with your brain. On my 6s there is an arrow pointing to the driver’s left, but the icon nozzle is on the right side. Best of both worlds?

    My old POS 1980 Mustang had the best windshield fluid thingie: it sprayed the whole windshield at once vs. nozzles that inevitably point everywhere but at the windshield. Of course, the cheapskate bean counters told the engineers to specify wiper blades at least two inches shorter than necessary for full glass coverage.

    Toyota did one thing right: moving the ignition key cylinder from the steering column to the dashboard, so you don’t have to crank your neck. A nice, illuminated ring helps, too.

    I don’t know if anyone does this anymore, but my 1986 Mazda 323 used to illuminate the outside door lock. A small touch that helps prevent nicking the door with your key.

    What I hate is the fuel filler cap on my Mazda 6. It keeps turning, but I can’t tell if it is actually “tightening”… the CE light hasn’t lit up, though.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    My pet peeves are…
    1) Weak lowbeam headlights. Driving at 110km/h or 70mph, cars like the Ford Windstar or Lexus ES300 have about 5 to 6 seconds of forward visibility. Most of the cars I’ve owned are less than half of that.
    2) Weak door checks. If I’m parking on an incline, I expect my doors to stay open at a certain angle.
    3) Noise. I find most cars have some ways to go for noise reduction. My LS430 registers 60dBA at 70mph on my Radio Shack sound meter, or about 6dB less than my 98 Camry at the same speed. I have to drive the Camry at less than 20mph to match that noise reading.
    4)Battery terminals. I can’t see a reason why the battery terminals can’t be located on both the front and back of the car if you need a boost.
    5) Floormats. Most cars have a left foot deadpedal, but I never see a floormat that will cover it and channel water and slush to the main mat.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    Some more gripes:

    How come they put the fuse box by the driver and the glove box on the passanger side, so you always find yourself stretching ridiculously to use it. Passengers hardly ever use the glove box.

    Why is the bottom of the car never covered so that water mud and stones can’t get into the suspension and engine?

    How is it you can still run out of gas because the fuel quantity indicator is so vague and imprecise?

    Why would a car have an automatic transmission and then put the controler in the middle of the cabin where it blocks up the floor and cabin from every direction? Whereas to operate the door, you have to bend your wrist and forearm awkwardly.

    Why do you always have to squat like an ape to inflate the tires? Couldn’t some car at least have tubing to the rim and a central filling stem at waist height?

    Why do auto designers think people want “bumpers” of foam filled rigid plastic which are so easily damaged and so hard to fix?

    Why aren’t car seats taller so you don’t have to put your feet so far forward?

  • avatar
    NickR

    My older car has two levers on the floor beside the drivers seat. One to open the gas cap, one to open the trunk. I replaced it with the same model, two years ‘fresher’ and they had done away with the trunk lever. AND the open trunk button doesn’t work while the key is in the ignition. So, if you find yourself in the car and need to get something out of the trunk you have to turn the car off, remove the keys, and press the damn button.

    This is just an example, I would say my general pet peeve is manufacturers removing useful features while adding googaws.

  • avatar

    The early-90s Taurus/Sables with map lights solved the problem of driver glare elegantly, there was a piece of polarizing film in each one so it only shined in one direction. If the passenger one was one the driver could stare straight at it with almost no light/glare. I can’t believe no one (including Ford) has continued that design.

    Tiny sunvisors drive me nuts too, again those taurus/sable had a two-piece visor with a slide-out extension. You could have a visor that ran from the back edge of the side window around to the rearview mirror, it was awesome. My current xB has the most useless visor ever, ot the point where come spring I’m goign to hunt through every Toyota at the scrapyard to see if I can find a better replacement.

  • avatar
    rmwill

    Danda:

    Read your owners manual, and turn off the belt-minder feature.

  • avatar
    rottenbob

    Some of the first cars I ever owned (early 70s Mopars) had the gas tank fill behind the rear license plate, so I could just pull up to whichever pump was available. Why don’t they make cars like that anymore?

    I also remember when automatics had the shifter tucked behind the steering wheel. This frees up floor space in the front.

    I also miss bench seats. I could probably carry two passengers (instead of one) with me in my X-90 if it had a bench seat and the gear shifter behind the steering wheel.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Eighty years ago Ford had the perfect location for the gas filler cap: center of the cowl, right in front of the windshield where the driver can see it. No need for a little arrow to tell you which side the filler cap is on, and if you weren’t sure of the gas guage’s accuracy, you could just peer closely at the gauge window and see if gas was sloshing around in the tank. Now, what could possibly go wrong?

    Oh, a few nervous nellies expressed some doubt about the wisdom of having the gas tank right in the laps of the driver and front passenger. But hey, would you rather drive a Pinto Fireball? There was an old joke that bad luck was having an Audi 5000 behind you and a Pinto in front.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I’m not going to read all the way through this endless thread to find out if somebody already answered this, but the fuel-pump icon has nothing to do with which side the gas door is on. If the pump handle and door are on the same side on your car, it’s coincidence. On many cars, the door and pump handle are on opposite sides.

    The fuel-pump icon is defined as to size, shape and exact symbology by the International Bureau of Standards, I think it’s called. Nobody is allowed to put the pump handle on the–uh, left side? Can’t remember.

    Anyway, if you don’t believe me, go to snopes.com, the great debunker of this and many other urban legends.

  • avatar
    i6

    I dislike the thick, steeply raked A pillars that are so common.

    And I really, really, really hate that the instrument panel lights can be turned on while headlights and/or taillights remain off. No, REALLY.

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