By on January 21, 2011

Beep.

Whooosh. I couldn’t take it any more. “Why, why, WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? STOP TOUCHING THE SCREEN!”

Having determined that the next step in Vodka McBigbra’s transformation from hairdresser to autojourno would involve learning how to review press loaners, I bribed her into making a four-hundred-mile round trip to Indianapolis in the 2011 Ford Explorer. The purpose of the journey would be to pick up a thirty-two-year-old Electra “X420 Custom Pro” jazz guitar, and during the next six or seven hours I planned to share my top-secret methods of press-car evaluation with her.

I knew this trip would be successful for a couple of reasons. The first reason was that I had just received the two-disc edition of John Mayall’s
“A Hard Road”, featuring some of Peter Green’s finest work. Not only is Vodka a blues fan from way back, I thought it might justify my recent purpose of a Gibson “Melvyn Franks” Peter Green ’59 Reissue and thus ease a little of the tension in the house about that particular transaction.

The second reason was the 2011 Explorer’s dual-zone front climate control. In the course of my thirty-nine years, I’ve learned that women are actually cold-blooded creatures, much like the Komodo Dragon, and they require that the temperature in homes and automobiles be kept at temperature and humidity levels closely resembling what one might find in the Brazilian rainforest. I, on the other hand, grew up in old East Coast homes and am most comfortable when the temperature is set to sixty-four degrees or so. When Vodka and I are in my Porsches, I keep the window down a bit on my side, but the Town Car effortlessly maintains a fifteen-degree temperature variance from the left seat to the right and we never have to touch the Casio-watch-style seven-segment LED HVAC display. I expected that the Explorer would be even more capable in that regard.

As we left the house, I noticed that the external thermometer was indicating seventeen degrees F. Vodka was wearing thongs. I don’t mean she was wearing a thong, although she does happen to be a sworn enemy of the syndrome known as “VPL — Visible Panty Line”; I mean she was wearing flip-flops. I was wearing Allen-Edmonds Fairgate captoes in shell cordovan (horsehide, in other words) over very thick American-made Gold Toes. The stage was set for perhaps the greatest confrontation since the Six-Day War.

I set the dual-zone climate control in myFordTouch for 65 degrees left, 75 right. She’d seen the capitance-touch controls in an Edge a few months ago and promptly poked her side up to 82 degrees. A horrible roar began under the dashboard, drowning out everything but the overmixed harmonica from the Mayall record, as the Explorer struggled to balance the conflicting demands from the Martian and Venusian sides of the cabin.

Immediately, Vodka reached out and started poking the fan button. “It’s way too loud. I’ll fix it.”

“You aren’t fixing it.”

“Yes, I am. See how quiet it is now?”

“Yes, but you aren’t going to get the heat you want.”

“Yes I will,” she said, poking the temperature on her side up to 85 degrees. The illogical nature of this action hammered away at my subconscious like a beating heart in a Poe story.

“YOU. AREN’T. FIXING. IT. The system can’t meet that demand. You’re ASKING for 85 degrees but turning the fan down to almost nothing. How can the system give you the heat?”

“On my Hyundai I turn the heat all the way up and the fan down. It works fine.”

“That’s…” Grrrrrr… “…a simple system. Manual. There are no parameters for the system to attain. This is an advanced climate control setup.”

“If it was really advanced, it would work as well as my Hyundai. That must be the most super-advanced system of all, because it does just what I want it to.”

“If. You. Left. The. Buttons. Alone. It. Would. Get. The. Temperature. Right. Eventually. And. Then. The. Fan. Would. Calm. Down.”

“It’s too loud now, though.”

“OF COURSE IT’S TOO LOUD! You’ve asked for a state change, and it has to apply the maximum delta possible to adjust the temprature as quickly as possible!”

“It should do it without being loud. Then it would be almost as good as the knob things on the Hyundai. Are the knob things an option on this car?”

THIS IS THE OPTION!”

“The option sucks.” And so we rolled along, until she started poking at the screen again.

“What, pray tell, are you doing now?” We were twenty-seven minutes into a seven-hour trip.

“My feet are cold. I’m making them hot.”

“But… but… the system can’t maintain the temperature differential with only floor heat. You are roasting my feet.” And, indeed, I was starting to feel like a victim of medieval torture.

“Why did you wear those big shoes?”

“Because it’s TEN DEGREES OUTSIDE!”

“No, it’s not. The screen clearly shows that it is seventeen degrees outside. Did you know that it shows that?” Time to give up. I rolled down the window. Except I couldn’t, because the window was frosted on the inside and frozen on the outside. All the heat had been going to the floor. I needed to unfreeze the window. I pressed the “Front Defrost” button. Immediately the dashboard roared and Vodka attacked the screen with two extended index fingers, poking, prodding.

Two and a half extraordinarily awkward hours later, we arrived at the home of my next guitar’s current owner. Vodka elected to stay in the Explorer because “I think he will be creepy, based on the fact that he lives alone in a downtown apartment and owns a lot of guitars like you do.” I completed the transaction and returned to find her sitting in the running Ford with the window down. “What are you doing???” I moaned.

“It was hot.” Aaaaarrrrrrgggggh.

As we pulled away, Vodka punched in for maximum heat and minimum fan. I entered our home address. The navigation system crashed and the screen went dark. It was silent across the wide expanse of the Explorer’s restrained black-and-silver interior. Vodka looked at me thoughtfully.

“I realized something about cars that maybe you don’t know.”

“What’s that?”

“They’re getting worse.”

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90 Comments on “My Fair Lady Pt 2: Three Knobs And A Cloud Of Dust...”


  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    ““They’re getting worse.”

    We”
     
    We too.
     
    In other news, I would like to point out that my Saab 9-5 handles these situations perfectly. It’s not silent at max thrust, but it’s pretty quiet – and differentials are no problem, no matter the target vent. When I go get pizza, I’ll put the pizza in the passenger foot well, set it to ‘floor’, and crank the passenger side to “HI” (it’s the one beyond 82) and the driver’s side to 70. Works perfectly. Unless I stick my hand over to the passenger side, I don’t even know it’s doing anything, aside from the slightly louder fan noise as it keeps the differential going.
     
    I haven’t tried telling it to turn the fan down while doing this, though. Might be interesting to try.
     
    You should update the post with the rest of the story, though. I’d really like to

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I write TTAC articles differently than the rest of the staff; I just sit down and type them into the system, instead of cutting and pasting from elsewhere. As a result, I find that the system will punish me by mis-saving things over several revisions.

      The extraneous “we” was an example of this.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Saab’s ACC really was very smart: you could set the fan speed such that it would engage the blower at full bore if, eg, you wanted to defrost the windows or quickly change temperature.  I found it nearly telepathic.
       
      Yet somehow that engineering know-how never extended to, eg, finding a way to prevent it from blowing head- and taillight bulbs with regularity.

    • 0 avatar
      Jan Andersson

      After 20 years in SAABs (2), BMWs (2) and Volvos (2) the ACC is a non-issue. I set it on normal room temperature (20 °C, 68 °F) the delivery day and never touch it anymore, summer or winter. Never failed once.

    • 0 avatar

      i personally preferred manual everything until i got my 2002 volvo. i set my side to 70, my wife’s side to 74 and turn her heated seats on high. i also leave the fresh air button on and the fan setting on one or two. occasionally, my wife goes crazy on her side knobs as described in the article. i just wait until she is invariably distracted by our daughter in the back seat and quietly adjust everything back to normal. no issues…

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    In the course of my thirty-nine years, I’ve learned that women are actually cold-blooded creatures, much like the Komodo Dragon, and they require that the temperature in homes and automobiles be kept at temperature and humidity levels closely resembling what one might find in the Brazilian rainforest. I, on the other hand, grew up in old East Coast homes and am most comfortable when the temperature is set to sixty-four degrees or so.
     
    Yup.  70 degrees in our living room when we actually occupy it and my fiance is under three blankets, two of the fleece and one a quilt.  I’m simply wearing lounge pants, a t-shirt, and a pair of slippers.  Although she at least has the excuse of ancestors who came from warmer more humid climates while mine came from the Alps for the most part.
     
    “I realized something about cars that maybe you don’t know.”
    “What’s that?”
    “They’re getting worse.”
     
    I’m starting to get that sneaking suspicion too.  Operator (Vodka) error based on the system basically being to smart for it’s own good.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Seconded.

      Tho one thing I don’t get – why do women need to leave the lights on everywhere?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Lucky for me mine doesn’t but then no joint bank accounts means that we truly “split the bills” and thank god she’s not only thrifty but a “conservationist.”  My first wife on the other hand…

    • 0 avatar

      Between my parents it was the opposite. My father couldn’t stand the cold; my mother, in her youth, before MS crippled her, could surf in Oregon (the ocean there is frigid). For their bed, they had an electric blanket which allowed different settings.

    • 0 avatar

      Lights on…complaining that it’s cold inside the house while wearing no shoes and a T-shirt…highest utility bills of anyone I’ve surveyed (on this matter)…turning the heat to 85 to make it heat up faster…BTDT.

    • 0 avatar
      Wally Vance

      I think my wife and MK’s wife must be twins.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      Michael – you apparently married my wife. If the house is cold, why, just turn up the temperature to the maximum, because it will warm up faster. I eventually installed a computerized thermostat that has her flummoxed. Now she has to ask me to turn up the heat.

      Most women have liazrd-like metabolisms. I have the house set at 60F for the nighttime, and I have the bedroom window cracked, even in -30F temps. I sleep in shorts and just one blanket. She, on the other hand has a second blanket, sometimes her woobie, and also has two layers of clothing on under the covers. Guess who’s cold in the morning. Not me.

  • avatar
    twotone

    What I miss the most with these new fangled, automatic multi zone climate control systems — flow through ventilation. I have yet to see a decent new car (BMW, Mercedes, Audi, etc.) that allowed outside air to flow freely though the heating system without the fan on.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      +1000!  Why can’t we get fresh air in that is not blown by the fan!  But if it has to be blown by the fan, at least give us a heater control valve that will shut off the hot water.  There is nothing more useless than a “vent” system that blows 125 degree because the 70 degree outside air picks up radiant heat from a hot heater core (even though the blend door is keeping the hottest air out). 

      I have not owned a car made since the early 70s that had a decent fresh air ventilation system.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      +1001. I wish the ACC in my 330i had this option.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      I really love that feature on my 77 Chevelle, the system stays off, yet, you can temper the air flowing through the system, even my 86 Pontiac 6000 did that. My ’95 Explorer? If you want temperate air, the system has to be in heater or vent and fan on low speed.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Jan Andersson

      Oh yes, I had one! The Borgward Isabella 1959 had no fan at all in the ventilation system! Just two wide, straigth air channels from the grille. If you wanted heat, you had to keep up the speed!

    • 0 avatar
      straightsix

      My 74 260Z handled fresh air flow with no fan beautifully.  Just the occasional adjustment to the heater control to regulate the temp.  All subsequent cars have been progressively worse.

  • avatar
    MRL325i

    She’s good looking (and more), I hope.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “If it was really advanced, it would work as well as my Hyundai. That must be the most super-advanced system of all, because it does just what I want it to.”

    I actually felt physically ill when I read this because I’ve heard versions of it so very many times in my profession.

    I also have to give my wife credit for figuring out the “it’ll get it right eventually” aspect of our old Saab’s ACC system.

  • avatar
    aspade

    I bought a Hyundai with knob things.  Temperature, fan speed, vent position.  Three knob things.  Simplicity itself.
     
    Except they put the ‘FAN OFF’ setting on the vent position knob.  Instead of on the fan speed knob .
     
    After watching the short track speed skating that year, I was relieved to see the Koreans could be beaten after all.

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      +1. Same with G4 Taurus, regarding ‘Fan Off’ mode location.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Yeah, this was popular on many fords including my 95 Ranger.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      The mind-numbingly stupid HVAC controls are one of the few things I really dislike about my Contour. In addition to the “fan off” setting being on the wrong knob, it’s also in the #4 of 8 possible positions of the knob. So you have to look at it to run the system off.
       
      The setup in my Sidekick is far more rational. I have 4 sliders for  fresh/recirculate, “which vents to send it to”, “cold/hot”, fan on/off/speed, and a separate button to turn the AC on or off.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      that’s a domestic trick. Even my most ancient 77 Chevelle, the fan off switch is the system off on the mode select lever. Of course at some point the 4 speed fan has dropped the lowest speed and only has the upper 3 speeds, so if you run on lowest speed, it turns off the fan.
       
      My Explorer, & my Contour does the same thing. Though the Contour I’d leave the fan on one of the lower speeds.
       
      It doesn’t really bother me. I’m used to it after 20 years of pretty much the same systems.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    I think the three-knob system (driver temp, fan speed, passenger temp) is fantastic – why are OEMs insistent upon changing it?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Heh! I’ve had a similar conversation with my SO regarding the automatic climate control in our Pilot.  From a cold start the fan runs very slow or not at all, because the system knows there’s little heat to be had.  Nevertheless, the SO insists on punching up the fan speed . . . to blow cold air around.  Then, once the heat is available, the automatic system blows hard . . . so the SO punches the fan speed down to minimum.
    However, in fairness to my SO, the Honda system grossly overshoots the programmed temperature.  Even with the temperature set on, say, 68, it continues to blast hot air . . . to the point of discomfort . . . before it realizes that the cabin is plenty warm and it calms down.  Eventually, it achieves the correct cabin temperature, but not before roasting the occupants for a while first.
    Vodka is right: the 3-knob (fan, temperature, vent selection) setup on my Z3 is both simpler and works better.  Somehow, by the time the engine is generating heat, the “ram effect” and the slowest fan speed heats the cabin to a comfortable temperature, with the temperature control on max.  In more moderate temperatures, I do have to dial back the temp control.
    That said, the automatic climate control on my ’92 SHO worked perfectly: never blew cold air at you (unless that’s what you wanted) and never overshot the programmed temperature setting.

    • 0 avatar
      xyzzy

      From a cold start the fan runs very slow or not at all, because the system knows there’s little heat to be had.  Nevertheless, the SO insists on punching up the fan speed . . . to blow cold air around.

      You just described the beginning of just about every ride with my wife in a car with ACC

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    It sounds to me like the system thinks maximum fan is going to help things despite the fact that the heater core is still more or less a block of ice. Blowing more cold air isn’t warming you up any more and it also slows the heater core from coming up to temperature.
     
    But it does annoy me that people set automatic thermostats to temperatures other than what you actually want the temperature. Did she really want it to be 85? No. She’s just got a bad mental model of how the controls work based on years of experience with manual controls. And furthermore she’s upset that the new climate controls don’t work like she’s used to, regardless of whether the new paradigm is better than the old method. It’s at least a lot less work for her. With old school climate controls you manually slide the dial to all hot or all cold and adjust it as needed. Automatic climate controls DO THAT FOR YOU. Just set the damn thing to the actual temperature you’d actually like it to be and leave the damn thing alone and let the car fiddle with the knobs and levers.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      “It sounds to me like the system thinks maximum fan is going to help things despite the fact that the heater core is still more or less a block of ice.”
       
      I haven’t yet encountered an automatic climate control system that turns on the fan before the engine is warm enough to offer any heat. The complaint was the noise of the fan, not the warmth of the air, right?
       
      As far as the “set it to 85” thing, its not about manual vs. automatic climate control in cars. People do the same dumb stuff with their home thermostats. “Its cold, so I’m going to set the thermostat to 85 so it will warm up quickly, then turn it down later.” I don’t know what’s going on in their heads, but they obviously don’t understand that the maximum BTU output of a heating system doesn’t magically go up because they set the thermostat to a high temperature.
       

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Before the first Mrs. Nonce disappeared under suspicious circumstances, this is how she would set the heat in the house.  Thermostat at 71 + “I’m cold” -> set the thermostat to 77.
       
      Then, a half-hour later, “I’m hot.”
       
      Hey, anyone want to buy a chest freezer?

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      nonce,
       
      is meat included with the chest freezer? ;)

  • avatar
    Silvy_nonsense

    Was the root cause of this problem that the fan is too loud on its maximum setting or is the root cause that Jack noticed that Booze-name McWoman was wearing sandals in winter and didn’t insist that she put on some shoes?

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      If Vodka is anything like my wife… and it sounds like shes exactly like my wife… you dont INSIST on anything fashion related.  I am sure she had a damn good reason for her shoe choice and arguing about it is just going to make things worse.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      So what you are saying is that you and Jack can’t control your women?
       
      Relax, only kidding! (sort of) Punctuation smiley face thing.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      Pointed-toe, stiletto-heeled boots always work for me.  Set the temp then keep your hands off it (or you’re staying in the bat cave).

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Another great article Jack… and I seriously think Vodka is related to my wife…

  • avatar
    william442

    I am a Johnston and Murphy man, but some of my Gold Toes are 30 years old.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    People manually manipulating automatic climate controls make me completely insane.
     
    I have a friend with a current ES350 and she digs through 87 different menu structures to change the fan one notch.  I’ve tried to show her that the system will just maintain a given temperature but the concept won’t stick.
     
    My 2004 Prius had the best climate control I’ve ever experienced.  It had a little resistance heater so that warmth started almost immediately and the A/C compressor was electrically-driven so it could spin much faster than the engine’s idle speed, making cold air pour out very quickly.  The system also did a great job at maintaining a given temperature without drawing any attention to itself; often on road trips I’d stop for gas or something to discover that it was freezing or boiling outside and I had never noticed the change.
     
    The worst I’ve seen is an ’80s Supra.  That sucker would blow the fan full tilt long before the car could provide any heat or cooling.  Horrible.
     
    Didn’t Chrysler come up with some system in the Grand Cherokee that took an infrared map of the front passengers’ bodies to determine what they actually wanted despite what they were telling the system?  I’ve heard that works very well and I presume it has spread through the lineup.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The worst I’ve seen is an ’80s Supra.  That sucker would blow the fan full tilt long before the car could provide any heat or cooling.  Horrible.

      This was another nice aspect of Saab’s system: unless you expressly told it to this (eg, if you were desperate to defog the windshield) it would never run the fan at full bore until doing so would achieve useful results.

  • avatar

    busted the NIST/DARPA experimental titanium laughmeter!!!

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Tho one thing I don’t get – why do women need to leave the lights on everywhere?
     
    I stopped worrying about this when I realized both that we use lights mostly during the part of the year that we use the house’s heating system (because the sun provides both warmth and light at the same time), and that the so-called “waste” heat from the bulbs actually helps heat the house.  So any apparent loss is only a small fraction of what it may appear.  Outside lights, or interior lights while using air conditioning are a different story.
     
    Our ’06 Grand Vitara’s automatic system is so dumb I don’t use it.  Another instance of blowing cold air full blast when the engine is still cold.  It sounds like the Pilot has a far more intelligent system.
     
    Another problem with the automatic systems is that if you are at a cold altitude, such as living on a mountain or departing a ski hill, and driving downhill for a long time, the automatic system will flail away failing to defrost the windows while you can set the controls manually to do a better job.  This is because it takes even longer for the engine to heat up when going downhill.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    One word:  Menopause.  Just when you start to figure after 30 years you know someone, hah!

  • avatar
    cdotson

    I’m glad someone else noticed a failure of automatic climate control’s ability to defrost well.  I haven’t noticed this yet in our 06 Ody, but in our 00 Ody driving at 65mph at night in a high-20s humid wet snow I couldn’t keep the windshield clear short of putting the blazes of hell to shame.  The temperature setting made no difference with mode set to defrost even with the compressor forced on.  It was full hot or full cold.  I’d rather fiddle with settings that actually do what they’re supposed to than let it figure out for me.
     
    Hondas also put their solar sensor that drives the ACC to lower the temp setpoint during sunny weather in a bad location for VA drivers.  Virginia’s state inspection sticker has to be centered at the bottom of the windshield, casting a heavy shadow on the solar sensor 99.99% of the time, eliminating effectiveness of the ACC almost completely in daytime.

    • 0 avatar
      ivyinvestor

      CD
      I lived in NoVA for about 6yrs and recall that you can put the inspection sticker offset by a few inches. I don’t recall for sure, but at least 3″.
      We had a TSX which also had a thermal sensor in that position, but a rushing inspector once put our sticker at least 4″ off-center – to the right. No issues with the law; improved performance of the ACC, at least during certain orientations. Also, place the sticker as low as is possible without going below your blackout rim. That will minimize the period in which the sun isn’t “monitored”. ;)

  • avatar
    JMII

    I miss my old Civic’s system: it had the classic 3 knob (temp, air speed, location) plus a 4th slider. The slider selected between outside and inside air. Thus a setting of temp cool, fan off, mix between body & feet, caused cool outside air to flow into the car as if the windows were rolled down, except without all noise and hair related mess.
     
    My current Dakota, no such luck, you get NO outside fresh air and must have the fan on low in order to get any airflow at all. But then you have to listen to the fan running – constantly. Even worst the temp control -despite being a huge dial- only generates hot or cold, nothing in between. There seems to be a magical tipping point where the change over occurs, yet the location of this secret setting changes during your drive! Thus what was original acceptable levels of coolness quickly turn into feeling like a heat lamp is overhead. However adjusting the dial two notches towards the blue (cold) area results in frostbite. Drives me nuts. I’ve had the truck serviced twice, no dice – you either get snow drifts or jet exhaust coming from the vents… but nothing in between.

    • 0 avatar
      ivyinvestor

      JM,
      I also miss that our old Civic used to have that air flow-through vent on the left side – in our 1991. If you flipped the slider – under the vent – in one direction, the vent was coupled with the HVAC; sliding in the opposite direction opened it to whatever was outside, which was oft revealing.
       
      When I was learning to drive, I did so on that car and told whoever was in there with me that it was like “two zones of climate”. Guess I beat Honda! :P

  • avatar
    pauldun170

    “OF COURSE IT’S TOO LOUD! You’ve asked for a state change, and it has to apply the maximum delta possible to adjust the temprature as quickly as possible!”
     
    Well known fact that this line is the best way into a woman’s pants.
     
     

  • avatar

    Nice writeup, “progress” indeed.

    The auto climate control in our basic Mazda 5 does a pretty good job overall.  I believe it could be a bit more “assertive” with the fan when trying to make up large deltas in temp requested and outside temp; it appears to be programmed to never call attention to itself, so will never exceed about 2/3’rds max fan on its own.  That eliminates much of the “fan roaring” issues, but it likely takes longer than it could (on warm-up, in particular).

    It can get caught out if ambient pretty much equals programmed temp, doing pretty much nothing although a flow of fresh air might be nice for those first few miles.  Or, say, a nice oddly-cool summer morning, when it triggers some definitely unwanted defrost and floor heat for a while to get the ambient 63 temp up to the 70 called for.  And it rarely issues enough fan speed to keep the windows fog-free when our 3 GSDs are along for a winter ride.

    I do prefer automated control overall; I hate futzing with the controls up/down whatever as the car warms up, the sun comes out, etc.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    In the automatic climate control area, cars are getting worse. I would prefer a completely manually operated passive system, ie no vacuum or motors for anything, no electronics, nothing trying to outsmart me at every turn. I have muscles and hands to move levers and knobs myself without weighing down my car with electric motors. Power windows, similar issue. Plus I just know it’s going to cost hundreds to fix when it goes on the fritz. Can’t get away from it though….

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      No kidding.  What problem are we solving here?  In a house, sure, a thermostat makes sense, who wants to get up and walk through the house to turn down the furnace?  But in a car?  The dang controls are 15 inches from your hands!  Turning a knob to adjust the heat is too much work?  Sheesh!

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Dear TTAC:

    Plese remit a check or PayPal payment for the replacement cost of a Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 7000.  This will be hard to achieve as Microsoft no longer makes my beloved keyboard.

    It is now covered in a sticky mess of the Diet Dr. Pepper I blew all over it when I laughed out loud reading this story.

    Love and Kisses,

    HoldenSSVSE

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Jack, you are describing a common phenomenon.  It is an offshoot of “it’s cold outside so I turned the house thermostat up.”  If someone does not understand that the thermostat in your house doesn’t care what the temperature is outside, Heaven help you dealing with automatic climate control in the car.

    Actually, I hate these things.  I have yet to own an automatic climate control system that 1) works right or 2) didn’t cost me a lot of money.  In fairness, I have only owned them on older cars (8-12 year range) but I have had enough experience that I live by the rule that simple is better.  My Honda Fit has a nice basic cable-controlled system that will never fail as long as the car is still running.  The systems with little electric motors that operate the various system functions are better than full automatic systems, but there is still more to go wrong.  My Town & Country has dual temp zones but is still a manual system.  This is probably the best compromise, although I wish it used cables instead of motors.  Whenever I see the touch screens, all I can wonder is “Good Lord, how much is one of those to replace?”

    • 0 avatar
      xyzzy

      I’m starting to experience what you’re talking about in my 1998 LS400.  the automatic climate control is starting to get wonky, it works fine at start but once the cabin warms up it starts blowing cold air instead of slowing down the fan and I have to punch the on/off button a few times to reset it.  Starting to wish it had levers, knobs and cables…

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      The dual zone climate control in my 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GT2 was a marvel.  Set and forget.  Had my nice bubble of cold air on my side, the girlfriend roasting herself on her side and the two did not meet.  If she really set her side on “roast” (over 80 degrees) I would have to dial my side down a little bit from 70 to 68 or 66 – that’s it.  However it never required adjustments up and/or down unlike every other climate control vehicle I’ve owned prior or after.

      In the summer I ran 68 to 70, in the winter I ran 74 to 76.  Set, and forget.  Nice.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      My Mk5 VW Jetta has a pretty good system. Three knobs (temperature, fan speed, and defrost/floor/vent selection), but rather than simply turning coolant valves, the temperature selection is actually automatic. To someone who is used to how the old fashioned HVAC controls work, it’s intuitive … the only difference is that you don’t have to turn it up or down for more or less heat anywhere near as much. And with rotary dials, you don’t have to look at a digital display and poke buttons, taking attention away from the road.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Don’t Touch Me There
    The Tubes
     
    Oh baby,
    You give me the chills…

    The smell of burning leather
    as we hold each other tight
    As our rivets rub together
    flashing sparks into the night
    At this moment of surrender darling
    if you really care
    Don’t touch me there

    http://www.thetubes.com/lyrics/touch.htm
     
    Momentous flash of insight when I realized the typical USA female simply reverses the seasons at often an incredibly high economic cost.
     
    Summer time in California’s interior valleys.
    Near desert-like climate as the female sets the wall-mounted thermostat to the low 60-degree to high 50-degree range and revels in the 50 degree or so differential between interior and exterior temperature.
     
    Yet….
    Winter arrives and the female entity turns the thermostat UP to 80-90 degrees….. far above the outside ambient temperature that was striven for in summer!!!!!!!!
    All the daffy dames basically accomplished was to reverse the seasons!!!!!
     
    What that indicates to me is that those season-altering wacky wimmen’ accomplished was meeting some bizarre mental need to be in control. Or sumpthin’.
     
    And to think….. in 1920 We, the People, allowed the daffy dames voting PRIVILEGES!!!!!
    A sad day for USA society and the commencement of the decline of the USA in my shanty-bound opinion.
    There is likely little wonderment as to why my shanty is female-free.
    And, no. Not replaced by males…. who are just as dingy, on the whole as females!!!!
    Just not QUITE as illogical and ruled by their emotions.
    Repeal the 19th amendment and get those paws off the thermostat!!!!
    “But, I’m COLD!!!! (or “HOT!!!!!”) seasonally dependent.
    Before ousting the past resident female entity who was, admittedly, quite soft, warm and delicious, I would just toss her a blanket.
    How did those dames ever survive the last ice age in those European caves?
    Those cave men must have had to procure copious cave bear pelts to silence their cave wimmen’.
     

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Jack:  Buy her a pair of Costco Uggs knock-offs and call it good.

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    I can’t remember the last time I was in a vehicle with automatic temperature control that the occupant hadn’t buggered the settings.  People, leave the fan alone!  You bought a car that will run the fan and the temperature at the optimum settings to achieve your stated interior temperature.  Blowing cold air before the engine warms up does nothing but move cold air.  The only time you need to touch the controls is when more air should go on the window, as in defrost/defog.  The system, while very smart, cannot tell when your windshield or side window is fogged or frosted.
    Dual temperature control is great but it will be loud if the temperature differential varies too much.  You can’t keep people sitting a foot away from each other significantly different temperatures without blowing some hot (or cold) air in large quantities.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    It also sounds like the fan in the ’11 Explorer is loud.  That is an engineering problem, probably caused by cost cutting.

  • avatar
    rwb

    Just buy a Travis Bean and be done with all of this.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Sounds like Ford just reinvented the wheel.  Of course, the wheel we had before was round, not it’s square.
     
    This whole My touchy thingy from Ford is technology for the sake of technology.  Never mind that it’s terribly counterintuitive to use and takes things that require zero thought at all (like changing the temperature) and make them horribly complex.  How is this safe?
     
    Ford is the only automaker I know of that is actually encouraging distracted driving with these half-assed systems.  SYNC and MyTouchy will cause crashes.  People shouldn’t have to pull their eyes off the road to change the temperature or radio station.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Actually, and as anyone who reads your bleats should know, the truth is just the opposite. Sync means you never have to take your eyes off the road to adjust climate and entertainment settings.
       
       

    • 0 avatar

      Z71_Silvy, your hate for Ford is obscuring your vision. Sync & MyFord Touch allow you change temperature or the radio station with voice commands. As I’ve said before, I’ve spoken to Mullaly and some of the engineers working on the system and the goal is to allow the driver to concentrate on driving.
      From Ford:
      You can use voice commands to control most aspects of Climate in SYNC® with MyFord Touch™/MyLincoln Touch™. These commands are as simple as asking for “Max A/C” on a hot summer day, or “Temperature 75 degrees” on a cold winter night.1
       

  • avatar
    Syke

    Decades ago I came to the conclusion that women inherently believe that the 98.6 degrees that they were used to before birth is the natural temperature for everything: homes, outdoors, etc.  They came out of mama freezing, and have never warmed up since.
     
    My wife is another example of all those instances mentioned above:  Never discovered that a light switch has an ‘off’ position, is always cold . . . . . . and . . . . . . . has the belief that windows are not to be opened, a house is not comfortable unless the moving air has been processed by the heat pump (in either heating or cooling mode, depending on season) and the electric meter is spinning like the Griswold’s when the Christmas lights are turned on.
     
    A few months ago, I had to move her to a nursing home for health reasons (hers, not mine).  Since then I’ve been living alone.  The money saved on groceries and utilities has me gleefully saving up for my 924’s successor.

  • avatar
    daviel

    That is a real bad looking Explorer control panel.  You’d need a flight engineer.  Great essay

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Ah clothes, an evolutionary thing that comes to mind to handle any microclimate. Jack should strip and Vodka wear the parka.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    My sister is one of those women who is cold all the time. She would also sleep so soundly that two LOUD alarm clocks wouldn’t wake her up enough to ensure she would get out of bed, so I had to go into her room to get her up, usually by pissing her off to the point she would start yelling at me to get out, or to the point she would attack me. Her bedroom was a huge room, the entire second floor of our house, which had been a huge bedroom for the previous owner’s triplet daughters. It was never less than 80 degrees winter or summer, the A/C just didn’t work all that great, and the heat worked way too well. When she moved out, I passed on moving in there because it was just too hot. She has slept her entire life with the following, no matter what season it is outside, it was always 85 and miserable in her room:
    1. Knee length nightgown and socks. Very attractive!
    2. Two sheets.
    3. Two blankets. One a fleece type and one a thermal.
    4. An amazingly hot down comforter. I borrowed it once when the heat was out due to a gas main break, and just it alone in the 50 degree house was too much.
    5. Another sheet on top of the comforter. I have no idea why.
    When I would go in there to wake her up, one of the things I would often do is pull the covers off of her, releasing a blast of heat that was almost scary. One time, she was about 22, and her boyfriend had come over and they had gotten drunk and it turned out that when she drinks, she gets very flushed and it’s the only time she’s actually warm. I didn’t know that. Her boyfriend had left to go to work earlier, and we were going someplace and my mom sent me to get her up. I pulled the covers back, and she was naked! I started laughing, and she just laid there, blinking at me. I said, “Hey, where’s your nightgown at?”. She closed her eyes for about 10 seconds and screamed “OH GOD, GET THE F&*( OUT OF HERE!”. I just stood there, and laughed at her, and she got out of bed and chased me down the stairs, jiggling all the way, and caught me at the bottom of them. She was punching away and I was still laughing when our dad came around the corner, and she screamed and ran up the stairs. He just shook his head, and said, “I don’t want to know what that was all about!”. Of course, about an hour later, when we were in the car, he asks my sister, “So what was that all about!”. When she told him, he just shook his head, and said, “I had no idea you looked like that under all those clothes you wear all the time! Very impressive!”. She was mortified.
    She’s been married for almost 36 years now, and I have said to her poor husband, “How the hell can you take all that heat in the bed when you sleep?”. He just sighed and says something like, “Well, I’ve gotten used to it, but when we stay at a motel, it really is a vacation. That second bed is like a miracle!”. I have to admire him just for staying in the same bed with her all those years. I have enough trouble sleeping when I pick the temp!

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    All Hail the Knob Things! I dislike auto air for the same reasons Jack’s girl ran into. I like a constant flow of air on me when I drive. Not the giant blast of cold/hot followed by stuffiness you get with an auto system.
    The best system ever was GM’s in the 90’s (probably the only thing they did right in that decade) it had a manual dual-zone with two simple hot/cold sliders in the top middle of the dash one for driver, one for passenger – perfection.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    A couple of notes on any “Automatic” HVAC system. When you select the max or min temp it puts the system in manual mode giving you max or min temp, high fan and will get the vehicle way above or below the temp on the display, doesn’t matter who made it. So in the future tell her to leave it at 84 and the fan will come off of high. On dual systems the greater the difference in temps the higher the minimum fan speed, the system can’t defy the laws of physics, if you want different temps w/o a physical barrier between the zones you have to keep putting air of the desired temp into the cabin, otherwise the air will mix and reach an equilibrium. The noise is also another case where you can’t defy the laws of physics, moving air creates noise when it flows through the obstructions know as the ducts and outlets. If the system doesn’t create noise then it isn’t moving much air, it is not the fan motor that is causing the noise, it’s the air moving through the system.

  • avatar
    iNeon

     
    The Dodge neon and original PT have the best climate controls ever. 4 knobs. Infinitely-adjustable venting with 5 detents between all available selections. I prefer most air to my feet, with about 2 notches on panel-vents.
     
     
    In the 3-knob system, you can sit it between vent settings and get a nice approximation, but it is not the same. I also hate recirculate and a/c buttons. I want them with their own knobs. Apparently, I’m the only one.

  • avatar
    thebeelzebubtrigger

    “…women are actually cold-blooded creatures, much like the Komodo Dragon, and they require that the temperature in homes and automobiles be kept at temperature and humidity levels closely resembling what one might find in the Brazilian rainforest.”
     
    Until we get to be 50 or so, then you’ll spend the rest of your life complaining about us using the AC when it’s only 50 degrees (F) outside.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    This is what you get for using logic and reason mixed with technical facts with her.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    Heated seats… Vodka may be better chilled but in this case I’m 99% sure if you had turned hers on low/med she wouldn’t have fiddled with the HVAC as much to warm the entire cabin.
     
    I absolutely refuse to buy a car without heated seats now – it’s the only feature that every woman will appreciate.  If it’s SoCal and it hits 65 degrees – those things will have a reason to be activated.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I’m considering that feature too but I also worry about one more thing in the car to go wrong as it ages.  I’m a “keep the car to 200,000 miles+” sort of guy, not a “trade every 3 years” sort of guy. 

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      We leave the seats on in every car I own. My Audi S5 had the right side permanently rolled up to max. Doesn’t matter if it’s August.

  • avatar
    BigDuke6

    It’s been written about many times before…………we’re from different planets. Men will ALWAYS be warmer in a given situation than wimmens………accept it or get use to wasting energy………..

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I am somewhat blessed in that my wife is afraid of the dual climate control on the car and doesn’t understand the computerized thermostat in the house.  Other than that though, she completely fits the pattern. She loves her some ‘lectric seat heaters. 

    My mom was a classic case though – The house I grew up in, in Pennsylvania, didn’t have air condistioning. Being that far north, (in the paradigm of the time) we didn’t really need it. However, it could get a bit muggy in the summer and so my dad installed a big exhaust fan system in the attic to pull outside air through the house. Open the dining room window and it would pull air through the house, up the stair well to the second floor and out through the attic. Simple, right?

    However, my mom insisted on opening the window closest to the stairway instead. This meant that the fan couldn’t pull any air through the ground floor of the house, and the system did nothing to cool it.  She complained.

    I tried to explain how the air flow worked.  I came up with what I thought was a great visualization for her. “Imagine a ping pong ball floating on water. Imagine that the fan is a pump”.
      I tracked that ball for her all the way from the dining room, up the stairs, and out through the fan. Pop!   I was very pleased with myself for the vividness of the explanation.

    My mom’s impatient response?  ” My house isnt filled with water!”  

    That was an important early  life lesson for me that has served me well.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I hate to ever jump to sexual stereotypes, but women seem to have issues with even manual car climate control.  Consider the car ride to lunch with three copworkers in a Honda Accord.  Four people in a car in winter makes for foggy windows.  “I can’t believe that Honda has such a lousy defrosting/heating system”…I look and see recirc on, def on, A/C off.  Let me set it for you.   So, recirc off, floor/def on, A/C on, ” I don’t want it cold!!”  Relax.  I move up the heater mixing valve “why use heat with A/C?”  Uh, why not?  Rear defroster on.   A few minutes later, the windows are clear.  “wow, that worked great”.   Next lunch ride, same thing all over <sigh>  Maybe automatic is better…

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Or at least the manual systems with AC on American cars. Going back as far as the early 70’s US automakers turned on the AC compressor when the system was put in Def mode. But the design of the system prevented the AC engagement in freezing temps. Unfortunately many didn’t run the compressor in the Def/Floor mode until much later. In modern Ford manual systems the only position the compressor isn’t active is floor only or face only, and of course off. Since recirculating the air in the cabin only really needed in AC mode they also set the system up so that the recirc door was only activated in MAX A/C mode. It was/is automatic with out being “Automatic”. Granted with a undersized or partially plugged heater core being able to recirc the air in the cabin is nice in extreme cold temps. Climate control systems are where the Americans have always ruled. There was a reason so many European cars destined for America used Harrison A/C.
       
      I do agree though that it is amazing that people do just as in your example. Living in western Wa I see so many people that keep that recirc door closed and won’t run the A/C. Of course if people would read their manual…..

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    With such helpful articles as this — and such illuminating comments — it’s a total mystery to me as to why so few women frequent this site.

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