By on July 31, 2015

2004 Chrysler Crossfire Rear Retractable Spoiler

I think it’s time to discuss something that we should’ve brought up a long time ago: the stupidest automotive feature.

Oh, sure, we’ve discussed the worst automotive feature, and the best automotive feature, and the automotive feature you wish you had, like spiked tires that could cut through ice and offending road users.

But what about the stupidest feature?

I ask this because I think there are a lot of unnecessary automotive features out there in today’s world; items that have no basis or bearing for real life use, or customer desire, brought to us by automakers who are hellbent on coming out with a vehicle that offers the highest possible level of gadgets and equipment so they can use the phrase “BEST IN CLASS” over and over in their ads.

Interestingly, however, I don’t believe the stupidest feature is one of these newfangled ideas that seems to exist for the sheer sake of existing. I believe the stupidest feature is actually an oldie. And it is: a retractable spoiler.

For those of you who don’t know what a retractable spoiler is, allow me to explain. You’re cruising along in your Porsche, or your Bugatti Veyron, or your Volkswagen Corrado, and you hit a certain speed, which is usually something inexplicable like 47 miles per hour or 87 kilometers per hour. And then the spoiler shoots out for no apparent reason other than to alert drivers on the road that you’re in a sporty car.

I’ve never really understood the purpose of this retractable spoiler. Ninety-nine percent of the time, when you see it sticking out on a Porsche 911, the driver is just cruising down the interstate. That’s because the spoiler is designed to deploy based on speed, not driving style, apparently in some bizarre effort to keep your car on the road should you begin to experience the effects of a massive windstorm.

The funny thing is these spoilers are never adequately sized to actually do anything. They’re just there to be spoilers, so you can tell your friends you have a cool spoiler that extends out at speed as if you’re in a race car, when in reality the spoiler is the size of a license plate and it wouldn’t have any effect on any vehicle larger than a Hot Wheels.

So why does this spoiler exist? I really do think it’s for bragging rights. But that’s not the worst part.

2010 Porsche Panamera Turbo Adaptive Motion Rear Spoiler

Oh, no. The worst part is that the retractable spoiler in most modern Porsche models actually can be extended at the push of a button. I want you to consider this. If you decide you need a spoiler on the back of your car, Porsche actually lets you push a button in order to extend it and get you ready for all that serious track use.

Except, of course, this isn’t how anyone uses the spoiler. The only people who actually push that spoiler extender button are the same type of people who drive around wealthy shopping areas looking around to ensure people are looking at them. These are the worst people in the world. The spoiler button is not a spoiler button. It is an asshole button.

So what people do, when they push the asshole button, is they cruise around — not on the race track, or even a drag strip — but just around town, driving like normal, making sure everyone sees how cool their car is because they have a spoiler. Nothing makes a Panamera V6 look cooler, they think, than if you extend the rear spoiler.

But surely, the retractable spoiler is not the single stupidest feature in the world. There are a wide range of stupid features, and I’m sure I can count on you to inform everyone of your personal favorites. However, I must warn you: it’s going to be hard to top the asshole button.

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192 Comments on “QOTD: What’s the Stupidest Automotive Feature?...”


  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    on the 911 it was introduced so you could have that sleek classic ‘no spoiler look’ when you’re at low speed and parked but you have the alleged aerodynamic benefits at speed

    on a 911 i think its fine.. you’re driving a porsche 911… of course people are gonna think you’re an asshole, which is expected, its a part of the cachet

    as for silly features:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDk6hKw5__o

    never used it, not even sure if the current ones have it

    it replaces something you buy for $10 at walmart

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      911s just don’t look right without big rear wings.

      They slope down too much at the back and thus violate a cardinal design principle – that the tail of the car should always be higher than the nose.

      Same for second-gen F-bodies and Fox Mustang hatchbacks. I’ve often thought that the sloping tail of the Fox hatchback was Ford’s attempt to force people to buy the extra-cost spoiler, because the car just didn’t look right without it.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      My 1998 BMW 328i has a “feature” I just don’t get. Just in front of the shifter is a toggle switch to decrease the stereo’s bass. The stereo itself has bass and treble controls. Why is this stupid, and redundant, switch located here?

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        My ’99 323is had that too and it took me a while to figure out what it was for. It cuts the speakers in the back which makes conversing with you backseat passengers much easier while music is playing.

        Clearly it wasn’t a hit as it was gone by the time the E46 coupe arrived.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      The picnic table in the CRV is brilliant. I never thought I would ever use it when I first bought my CRV , but it was used several times all the time we owned it, and was one of the reasons we sold out 3rd gen and bought another 2nd gen CRV again.
      As for it being replaced by something for 10 bucks at walmrt, I doubt it. It’s a pretty sturdy table, and it fits perfectly in the floor of the CRV (off course, thats what it was made for) being completely out of the way for the 300 or something days you don’t need it.

      • 0 avatar

        The dumbest part about that table is that it’s also a load floor. So you have to unload all the stuff that needs to go onto that table first and put it in the dirt, instead of pulling the table first and putting the things on it. Plus it’s gimmiky as all get-out. At least the built-in vacuum does something. The table was a big reason why I passed upon the 2006 CR-V and bought a RAV4 instead.

  • avatar
    Wade.Moeller

    DRLs, ESC, auto braking, ABS, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring, auto parking.

    Pretty much anything added to the car in the last 20 years or so to make it “safer”. They were added in lieu of bothering to train the driver how to do anything. In most cases, they are technological marvels. A very fancy little gadget that replaces what any sufficiently trained driver can do.

    Except DRLs. They only help in a very small number of cases, but some ding dongs wanting to extend their time in “government service” came around looking for something, anything to take the credit and get themselves a boost in votes in the next election.

    • 0 avatar

      Living on Canada’s Atlantic coast, DRLs are a fantastic feature. Same with automatic headlights. Nothing infuriates me more than people who don’t have their lights on in the morning fog we typically get out here, or having their lights turned off during twilight hours.

      I remember when I first drove through New Jersey seeing signs that said if your wipers are on you need to turn on your headlights. If DRLs were mandated in the United States, then you wouldn’t have stupid laws like this. And America will never adopt it — just like they haven’t adopted the Robertson screwdriver, even though it’s far superior than the stupid Phillips screwdriver — because they weren’t the ones to invent it.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        Well, you’ve gone and set me off, Mark.

        “Oh man, this snow storm is blinding! Good thing I’m in my white car without my headlights on on the highway!”

        “Wow, this rain is really coming down! Thankfully with my headlights off my grey car blends right in with everything so I can sneak up on people.”

        “I sure do love my neutral colored Prius. It’s so smooth and quiet as I drive around at dawn and dusk without my headlights on.”

        Seriously, do Prius drivers not turn their lights on at night because they think it shortens their range? Because 75% of the cars I see driving without lights when necessary seem to be Priuses.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          It’s absolutely shocking that people don’t realize on WHY other drivers don’t turn their lights on:

          Look at the instrument clusters on these vehicles. They’re backlit 100% of the time. People assume that the lights are on because they can see the gauges at night. On all my previous cars if the lights were off you couldn’t see the gauges, now in order to see them they light up—even during the day.

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            In my Jetta the gauge backlighting goes off when the light sensor detects low light conditions. Of course that makes one wonder why they don’t just include automatic headlights if they already have an ambient light sensor, but obviously they decided to make that a premium feature.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Lexus models and 7th-Gen Accords (2003-2007) are prime examples of this. Only way to prevent the behavior, maybe, is to keep the “daytime” IP brightness all the way up (which I do).

            Fortunately, lots of cars nowadays have automatic lights. And some cars even switch the lights on with the wipers if the lights are in “AUTO” mode. (While hopefully using a well-designed light-sensor to ensure that the IP stays at “daytime” level until it actually gets dark!)

      • 0 avatar
        ...m...

        …as an amateur astronomer, let me be the first in this thread to say f*ck your DRLs, canada…

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        I should chime in. Headlights are not equal to DRLS! My biggest annoyance is people who don’t turn there headlights on because there car has DRLs.

        Now if Canada didn’t let the automakers lobby for such a horrible DRL implementation ( turn signal bright function on low voltage, or high beams on low voltage ) we wouldn’t have this problem.

        Thankfully with Europe adopting sane DRL regulations that don’t allow the use of high beams on low voltage, or turn signals on low voltage we are seeing some decent drl’s for once in the form of LEDs.

        On a side note I have converted my dad to the Robertson works a million times better.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I have always wished the DRL switch on my car was actually a DLR switch that would play Van Halen II super loud, make the headlights Frankenstrat colored, and let me do spinning jump kicks while driving. But that’s just me.

      • 0 avatar
        Easton

        Agreed 100%!

      • 0 avatar
        TDIGuy

        The problem with DRLs is that people forget to turn on their headlights. If DRLs are so great why not mandate all lights on all the time? Really if they are supposed to be so safe, why would Chyrsler products and Audis (and maybe others, those are just the ones I noticed) be allowed to compromised that safety and turn off a headlight when the turn signal is on? What is the point in that?

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Some VAG products, including emm-kay-four Jettas and Golfs, had the full headlights on all the time for DRLs. My Mom was always forgetting to turn on the light switch, which controlled the parking and IP lights, and wondering why *** SHE COULDN’T READ THE SPEEDO! *** ::Facepalm!::

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        “just like they haven’t adopted the Robertson screwdriver, even though it’s far superior than the stupid Phillips screwdriver”

        ‘dems fightin’ words Canuck!

        (don’t tell my American friends that all the screws I use in my house are Robertson.)

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        That is a clever design, but it did not become widespread in the U.S. because Mr. Robertson refused to license his design. From our good friends at Wikipedia:

        Robertson had licensed the screw design to a maker in England, but the party that he was dealing with intentionally drove the company into bankruptcy and purchased the rights from the trustee, thus circumventing Robertson.[citation needed] He spent a small fortune buying back the rights. Subsequently, he refused to allow anyone to make the screws under license. When Henry Ford tried out the Robertson screws he found they saved considerable time in Model T production, but when Robertson refused to license the screws to Ford, Ford realized that the supply of screws would not be guaranteed and chose to limit their use in production to Ford’s Canadian division.[24][25][26] Robertson’s refusal to license his screws prevented their widespread adoption in the United States, where the more widely licensed Phillips head has gained acceptance. The restriction of licensing of Robertson’s internal-wrenching square may have sped the development of the internal-wrenching hexagon, although documentation of this is limited.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      It sounds like you’d also vote against airbags and seat belts, because real men can just hold on tight in the event of a crash, right?

      • 0 avatar
        Wade.Moeller

        Those are legitimate safety devices. They do nothing to avoid a crash, but exist solely to lessen the injuries sustained during a crash.

        The other systems I mentioned exist to make up for deficiencies in driver training and thus driver skill.

        And DRLs have as more of a negative effect then positive effect.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-illumination

        DRLs, as well as headlights when not needed for driver visibility, overpower the visibility of anything near them in a driver’s field of vision. This is why cars with halos or DRLs have a cutout that activates with the turn signal indicator. If they didn’t then you wouldn’t see the dimmer light of the indicator.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      People talk about how DRLs make it easier to see other drivers, but rolling around in the daylight with your headlights on not only looks stupid, it facilitates laziness on the part of other motorists.

      If you can’t be troubled to pay attention to the road, you shouldn’t be driving in the first place.

      I know DRLs are just one thing, but when you combine them with active cruise control, lane departure warning systems, back up cameras and all the other technologies that exist to essentially facilitate scraping by with a lesser skill level, you create an environment that tells people that paying attention and being proficient are the least important aspects of driving.

    • 0 avatar
      MPAVictoria

      Dear Mr. President,
      Cars today have too many safety features. Please eliminate 3.

      Sincerely
      Wade.Moeller

      PS I am not a crank

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        *crack pot

        I’ll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize automatic wipers!

      • 0 avatar
        Wade.Moeller

        Or, alternatively, make acquiring a driver’s license more difficult then getting that one prize you really want at a carnival. Remember, the roads are currently full of people who managed to guess 7 out of 10 trivia questions, all found in a thin pamphlet, and can read a couple letters of that road sign they just passed at 80 MPH in their 3 ton semi-guided missile, during daylight hours. And an honest safety inspection wouldn’t hurt either. The current inspection of lackadaisical visual emissions check and a quick glance at the lights is a complete farce. At least in Texas it’s only $14 split halfsies between the inspection place and your county of residence.

        • 0 avatar
          wstarvingteacher

          Depends on where you are. Major metropolitan areas are almost $40 because smog inspection is also required. Many good cars have been grounded because of that.

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      Disagree on ABS – should be able to turn it off for snow when you might want to lock your wheels, but for 99.9% of the population it is needed – I actually miss it in my car (broken). Pumping the brakes takes much longer to stop the vehicle, especially in the rain…

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Agreed on lane departure warnings and blind spot monitoring.

      However, you are dead wrong about ESC. Statistically speaking, having stability control cuts your chances of being in a fatal crash by nearly half. It’s the technology that made SUVs safe from roll-over crashes. Along with laminated windscreens and seat belts, it is one of the most important safety developments in automotive history.

    • 0 avatar
      ChichiriMuyo

      DRLs – not stupid, good for distracted people, especially mothers more concerned with their kids than their lights.

      ESC – a wash. it’s mostly so auto makers can wash their hands of speed based accidents. and it’s not like we can’t break it if we want to.

      auto braking – yep, stupid. it allows the worst drivers to get along and even endangers better drivers. outside of backup cams, which the best drivers can’t fully compensate for, this is garbage.

      ABS – the vast majority of drivers dont know how to use locked brakes properly, and that’s always been true. not a stupid feature.

      lane departure warnings – stupid because it also fosters poor drivers staying on the road, but it’s an extra layer of defense for the rest of us against drunk or tired drivers, so slightly better than zero sum.

      blind spot monitoring – i think my comments on backup cams speaks to this… its a good addition since you cant always account for everything even if you are a good driver.

      auto parking – stupid. only for bad or lazy drivers. I’d 100% ban this feature if it was up you me. so, so stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I’ve wondered what the protocol is for driver’s tests in cars with all the tech! Taping a piece of paper over the infotainment screen will eliminate the backup camera, cross-traffic monitors, etc., but for example, can the parking-proximity beepers be defeated fully on all cars? How does the average drone doing the testing know that the car’s autobrake and lane-keep assist are off?

        Not that it matters anyway, with our “driver education” system, and test protocols that my Kozy Koupe-rockin’ four-year-old nephew could likely pass!

    • 0 avatar
      kadajawi

      DRLs are great. On cars without I drive with the headlights on.

      Even with plenty of training ABS and ESC can get you out of situations that even professionally trained drivers/racing drivers can’t get out of. Let alone normal people who aren’t used to driving their car on the limit. Proper training can only do so much, that won’t give you enough training in emergency situations.

      What training has to do with lane departure warnings is beyond me. Can I normally stick to the lane? Yes, absolutely. But on longer drives, especially dreadful low speed ones, I get tired. And suddenly I get really, really tired and nap away. Lane departure warning helps. Sure, I’ll try to take the next possible car park to sleep for a while, but what if it’s quite a distance before I reach that place? My next car will absolutely have that system.

      Auto parking is useless though, it usually only works in situations where it’s trivial to get into. If you rely on auto parking in those situations you don’t get the required practice to get into harder spots.

  • avatar
    Dave W

    I think it was VW that changed the programming on their spoiler to deploy at something inexplicable like 47MPH. The original programing speed was something like 68MPH, but owners didn’t like getting pulled over because their cars announced they were speeding.

    Touch screen anything in a car gets my vote for stupidest.

    • 0 avatar
      tbp0701

      The touch screen was my first thought, especially anything that requires a driver to take his/her eyes off the road to adjust the audio system’s volume. In this case I think a good ol’ fashioned knob works well. I don’t quite understand how, in an environment where legislators have decided people can’t be trusted to check the air in their tires, devices that require looking away from the road have become common. Maybe that’s why we need lane departure warnings now.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        IIRC, most spoilers deploy at a certain speed, but don’t retract until a much lower speed is reached. Thus, it may deploy at extra-legal speeds, but it being deployed does not mean the driver is speeding at that time.

        All the extra nanny systems are means of treating symptoms rather than curing the underlying problem. I great example is when I lived in an apartment with some messed up plumbing. The shower dumped crazy large flow rates, so much that I couldn’t put my face in the stream without injuring my eyes. It was like a fire hose or pressure washer. It also meant that taking a shower depleted the water heater (which was a small unit) in only a couple minutes. To provide enough hot water for a normal shower, they turned the temperature on the water heater to ~160 deg. That of course led to accidental scalding when washing hands or doing dishes. I’m sure they could have put some safety switch that limited the amount of hot water going into the fixtures or some other nanny feature, but really, every problem was the result of the bad shower fixture. I installed a valve between the shower head & wall, turned down the flow rate, turned down the water heater, and everything was fixed.

        Cars have bad visibility, so they add cameras and sensors, and auto brakes, etc., when they could just improve visibility. Customers love smart phones and so they think a smart phone in their car is great (touch screens), but they don’t work as well, are harder to use, and so nanny systems get installed instead of just dumping the touch screen.

        I can’t blame all of it on bad design–customers genuinely buy cars for the touch screen because they are fools, and car companies would be fools to not sell them what they want, even if it’s dumb. We have bad legislation that drives poor visibility.

        • 0 avatar
          SunnyvaleCA

          Redav: couldn’t have said it better myself. Right on.

        • 0 avatar
          Slow_Joe_Crow

          Don’t forget the bad visibility in cars is the result of other safety standards which result in thicker roof pillars which create blind spots. Still more ironically the thick pillars are the result of SUV rollover driven roof crush standards, which had the further unintended consequence of making SUVs more top heavy and rollover prone, which drove the mandate to install ESC. A lovely chain of escalating stupid.

  • avatar
    SELECTIVE_KNOWLEDGE_MAN

    How is this use of spoilers any worse than people rolling down the windows and blasting loud music? The article makes it sound like overuse of retractable spoilers is any worse.

    If people have fun playing with their gadgets, then let them have their fun.

    “QOTD: What’s the Stupidest Automotive Feature?”

    How about splash screens on the rear view monitor which prevents you from using the rear view camera until the splash screen is done telling you the brand of the car? You know, a feature that is actually stupid?

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “How about splash screens on the rear view monitor which prevents you from using the rear view camera until the splash screen is done telling you the brand of the car? You know, a feature that is actually stupid?”

      Hah, that would suck indeed. My Sonata will switch to the rearview instantly when you put the car in reverse, even if the “DON’T KILL YOURSELF OKAY?” splash screen is up.

      It does occasionally freeze for just a moment, giving me a tiny heart attack, though.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        At least those legal-eagle nag screens will eventually go away. My last Accord’s navigation screen would freeze all radio and some HVAC functions until you pressed the control-button (not the touch-screen) to dismiss it!

        Of course, the 9th-Gen Accords trade that for sucktastic functionality which requires you to register a voice command to call up the next page of a list of items — directions, traffic alerts, etc. — while the car is moving! Try doing that at 70mph with the A/C blasting and straight-pipe Harleys to your left! (I can’t even tell the voice-command system to summon the trip computer without turning off the stereo!)

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        Lol I’m not sure which is worse. Mazda is pretty quick with their logo silliness and at least doesn’t have a warning. It’s impossible to connect a new device to bluetooth while moving though, cause you know, those other 4 seats are for the technophobic.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Horn that honks when you lock the doors. Don’t folks know how to mute that?

    • 0 avatar

      The Sierra tester I have this week doesn’t honk when you lock it and it’s driving me crazy. I like the auditory confirmation that my belongings are safe and secure provided by the honk.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        On my car, there’s a small LED where the physical doorlock button used to be, it turns red when the car locks. Also, since I’m locking the car by touching the door handle, I’m close enough to her the lock mechanism operate.

      • 0 avatar
        ...m...

        …my mazda 2 flashes on the first click, honks on the second: best of both worlds…

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        You can’t hear the kerchunk when the doors lock?? I can not begin to imagine that a GM vehicle locks silently. The only vehicles I have encountered that don’t make plenty of noise are the older Germans with vacuum locks. Few things irritate me more than a door lock chirp/honk that can’t be disabled. It’s just obnoxious.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          The emm-kay-four VW products were THE WORST!!! Not even a full toot, just a tiny little “boop!” LOL funny!

          Hated it when Honda went to the TOYota-esque shrill beep instead of the horn toot upon locking — I wish I could choose one or the other for touch-locking and remote locking with the fob.

      • 0 avatar
        kjb911

        Mark. Go into your settings on the screen and find the tab called vehicle. There is a power locks option that will let you change it either to flash lights, horn, or both.

    • 0 avatar
      Jezza819

      If I’m by myself I always lock my car by hitting the lock switch on the door. I only use the remote when I have other people with me.

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        “If I’m by myself I always lock my car by hitting the lock switch on the door. I only use the remote when I have other people with me.”

        I used to do the same, but now that I’ve managed to leave the remote in the cupholder and lock it in with the door button (so stupid), I’m too paranoid to not use the remote.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Turbos.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Doug, you might want to Google “Audi TT stability problems”.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      Which they handled with a fixed spoiler and, more importantly, activating the Electronic Stability Control option on the computer.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Right, but the point is that some cars need that rear spoiler for non-cosmetic reasons. Cars with back ends like the CrossFire & TT might actually need the spoilers. I wouldn’t make a blanket statement that they’re all useless.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Garish, spokey alloys that would embarrass crows.

  • avatar
    1981.911.SC

    Don’t suppose I can nominate the idiot driver ??

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …doug, i think you’re conflating spoilers with wings: spoilers aren’t for downforce, they’re to spoil aerodynamic lift at high speeds, and a small flap is all that’s needed to that effect…in deployable form on road cars they primarily function as a safety feature during freeway cruising, and the first-generation TT is a prime example of a car which would have been much better-served by a subtle articulated spoiler in lieu of that tacked-on afterthought spoiling its lines, no pun intended…

    …that said, artificial-low-speed deployment is about as showy as badging performance models; the original turbobeetle deployed at 93 MPH before volkswagen made the sales decision to festoon the model with S badges and drop deployment programming down to a more-visible 55 MPH…yeah, sleepers are cooler than showers, but most folks feel visual excitement has its place nonetheless…

    …personally, i think *functionally* articulated aero bits are pretty cool…

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “…personally, i think functional articulated aero bits are pretty cool…”

      Especially those that start out as non-articulated but improve over time. Like the Avenger I pulled up behind at an off ramp light the other day.

      Both the left and right mountings had broken loose and the wing was wobbily fluttering, pivoting on its center mount in the stiff cross wind we had.

      Someone will get to be behind the clueless lady driving it when the wing breaks loose on the highway.

  • avatar

    THE MANUAL TRANSMISSION…fortunately it’s on its way out.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I think the hemispherical combustion chamber is a stupid design. Fortunately, all the true “hemis” are gone.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I disagree with the prediction that manual transmissions are on the way out. I expect that 10 years from now, most cars will be autonomous. People will buy them to take on the chores of driving – dropping off the kids at Karate, commuting to work, etc.

      But there will still be a market for cars for the times when people really WANT to drive, and that market will focus on driving engagement and satisfaction. Cars like an MT Miata and Boxster will continue to be in demand for a long time.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I disagree. Even performance cars are switching to automated transmissions. Also, as there are more electrics, there won’t be the need for a transmission at all.

  • avatar

    Why are you calling retractable spoilers a stupid feature???

    Retractable spoilers, retractable air-wings, and air vectoring louvers/ ducts could actually make cars turn or handle better at higher speeds.

    Reducing drag improves fuel efficiency (fact) and can improve downforce when properly tuned.

    That’s a COOL feature. Ever drive a Lamborghini Aventador? I have.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Sad to say, oft times it’s the driver that’s the stupidest automotive feature. Fix him and a lot of the other stuff becomes extraneous. Except for the spoiler, of course.

    • 0 avatar
      ccode81

      Sounds auto driving is the ultimate solution.
      If auto pilot is programmed to obey all speed limits, no car needs more than 150 hp.
      I’m not sure I like that future…

  • avatar
    craiger

    I read this about the Robertson screw.

    “Henry Ford used Robertson screws in the Model A car made by the Ford Motor Company (one of Robertson’s first customers). The Model T used over seven hundred Robertson screws. Ford dropped these screws when Robertson refused to give him exclusive rights to its use. Robertson also refused to license other fastener manufacturers, so the design spread very slowly.”

  • avatar
    cwallace

    There are two that I just don’t get:

    The spot-MPG gauge. Knowing that I’m getting 99.9, 12, 37, 28, 0, and 17 miles to the gallon in a span of 45 seconds means absolutely nothing . The average MPG is great, but I don’t need to see in real-time how it is calculated.

    Running boards, especially tubular ones. They’re a whole three inches lower than the step-in height, and since they’re usually on a body-on-frame vehicle, the floorboard inside the door sill is about the same height. So now it takes an extra step to get in, and all they do for you on egress is deposit road grime on your pant legs. Thanks!

    What I really miss are the oscillating A/C vents from my old Mazda 929. Why those never caught on, I will never understand.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I actually find an instantaneous MPG gauge to affect how I drive. You really see how a small bit of extra gas makes a large difference in consumption. I find it becomes a game to keep the needle as high as possible.

      I agree on running boards though.

      • 0 avatar
        Reino

        It’s fine on a Prius or some other hypermileage vehicle. But not on a BMW 5 series, where seeing that needle go over 30 is just a tease, because at the end of the tank you still averaged under 20 no matter how light you drive. Also, it takes the place of what could be a useful engine temp gauge :(

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      Running boards done right are awesome. I’ve had ones that lower the step in by 5-6″ and also are completely flush with the body of the vehicle. So in combination with the splash guards my doors would remain immaculately clean even after driving down 2-rut muddy roads. Look at a GMT900 Suburban for an example of running boards done right.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …how about the countach rear-view periscope?..pretty stupid and cool at the same time!..

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I can’t explain why it irritates me as much as it does, but stop/start technology really makes me mad. If I ever bought a car with it, that would be the first feature I disabled.

    I think the problem I have is that it is pure lazy engineering. Instead of actually trying to get fuel mileage up, they just turn off the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I don’t get the angst about stop/start. With rare exception, when you aren’t moving, why would you want the engine running? You are burning gas for no reason at all, getting 0mpg. I do think it is a feature that has to be used intelligently, both by the user and in the programming by the engineers. I turn it off in stop and go traffic, for example, you aren’t stopped long enough. But in the typical middle-America endless stoplight infested grid-layout city, it makes perfect sense to me.

      • 0 avatar
        schmitt trigger

        I drove a stop/start vehicle for 8 years (Honda Civic Hybrid).
        It drove me absolutely nuts.

        -unless it has an electric compressor, the A/C stops. Not fun in the sunbelt during summer.

        -it constantly stops and restarts in crawling traffic, draining the battery, and with no benefit at all.

        -likewise in tollbooth lines.

        -even on legitimate stops (traffic lights) the vehicles in front of you will start slowly inching ahead, until a 6 foot wide gap exists between your front bumper and the next vehicle’s rear bumper. The drivers behind you will honk furiously if that gap is not decreased.

        -similar scenario on intersections with stop signs. The engine stops, and a few seconds later the engine is re-started.

        Fortunately, one could disable the annoying feature on the HCH.
        I did many, many comparisons on actual MPG in different driving conditions, and the actual gains were negligible.

      • 0 avatar
        izzy

        Or on any of Los Angeles Freeway during traffic hours.

  • avatar
    Thinkin...

    BMW/MINI: want to get out of the car? Pull the door handle. Twice.

    Porsche/BMW: speedometers that read 10% high.

    Old Italian speedometers that read 10mph while at rest.

    Toyota: that backup beep in the Prius.

    Honda: the 2nd gen Insight.

    Big alloy wheels.

    Everyone: GPS splash/warning screen

    But the biggest: Model years, and the whole school of planned obsolescence that comes with then.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …high-reading speedometers are a european regulatory thing: something like -0%/+10%+4kph tolerance…

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        How about speedometers that read up to 180 mph, in a car that will never go near that? My ’09 GTI is numbered up there, which squeezes the crucial 25-50 range (where I’ve gotten my last three speeding tix) into the space between 8 and 9 o’clock on the dial?

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      “BMW/MINI: want to get out of the car? Pull the door handle. Twice.”

      AAAAARRRGGHH!!!!

      I’m going to have to stop reading this, I’m getting too mad today.

      • 0 avatar
        MPAVictoria

        “BMW/MINI: want to get out of the car? Pull the door handle. Twice.”

        My Volvo S80 does this. Drove me freaking crazy for the first 2 weeks. Now whenever I exit any car I automatically pull the handle twice. So I guess my car has me trained.

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      I’d rather pull the handle twice then deal with some of the US models – want to get out? have to hit the button to unlock the door first… pulling does nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “BMW/MINI: want to get out of the car? Pull the door handle. Twice.”

      The back doors on some Fords do this (if the door is locked).

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The front doors that unlock by pulling the handle, period!

      Ford always did this! Now the Hondas do it!

      I don’t want my passengers pulling the handle and having the door pop open! Yes I know the door won’t move at higher speeds, but in a parking lot? Whoops!

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Let’s see…automatic climate control, seat belt reminders, DRLs, automatic transmissions, back up beepers, back up cameras, TPMS, TVs in the seat backs.

    The main problem with the powered, retractable wings and spoilers is that raw aerodynamics aside, visually they’re too small and gimpy for the car – they remind me of those little hats Damon Wayans would wear in those Men On Film skits on In Living Color.

    I can’t take a Porsche seriously when it’s wearing a rear wing the size of skateboard.

  • avatar
    ejwu

    Doug,
    Your ideas about spoilers are wrong. A properly designed spoiler reduces drag and prevents lift generated by the vacuum behind the car. It’s not for track days. And yes, a very small one does the trick very well. Wings have to be big, spoilers don’t.
    http://www.quora.com/How-much-downward-force-does-a-spoiler-produce-and-is-it-significant-enough-to-make-a-positive-impact-on-acceleration

  • avatar
    PeterKK

    How about vanity crap that’s on all the time? Like that dynamic engine noise crap.

    “Let’s annoy my passengers with engine noise, because VRRRRROOOOOOOM!!!”

  • avatar
    v8corvairpickup

    My biggest peeve on any vehicle I’ve owned was the automatic climate control on my ’93 Buick Roadmaster. When I would start the car, if it was warm outside the fan would come on at full speed regardless and blast you with uncooled air until the a/c could kick in.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      That sounds like just about any climate control. You’re not going to get any cold air in the cabin until you get some airflow over the evaporator. I’d rather have the fan blowing anyway in a hot car rather than just sweltering in hot stagnant air.

      • 0 avatar
        cdotson

        Modern climate control, like my 06 Odyssey, recognizes that it takes a minute for the HVAC air temperature to become effective toward achieving the controls’ setpoint. In the summer upon vehicle startup first you hear the compressor clutch engage, then the fan turns on low to medium-low, then after a few seconds the fan kicks up to high and the air is cold.

        In the winter the fan comes on at its lowest setting, or maybe not at all as its barely audible, until you’ve idled a couple minutes or driven about a mile and then steadily ramps up blower speed as the air warms. This is about the only part of automatic climate control that I actually like. The rest of it can hunt down it’s designer and murder him in his sleep.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          I always follow the habit of my folks, and shut off the A/C in the summer before I shut off the car, so as not to strain the engine more with the A/C compressor. But I thought I noticed, on the couple of occasions I’ve forgotten, that the compressor doesn’t kick in right away.

          Am I right — does it wait for an ignition signal to kick in, or am I imagining things?

  • avatar
    JMII

    Fake engine sounds gets my vote as well.

    Next would be running boards that appear to be steps but are clearly too small, too close to the body and way too weak to actually do anything. In fact putting your foot on one seems like a good way to break an ankle.

    Warnings on GPS screens are pretty dumb as well, they actually tell you NOT to use it for navigation! I assume this was only done to avoid lawsuits for people who drive into lakes because the GPS told them to.

    The biggest offended however is anything that allows access to a pickup bed – IE: those little notches in the bumper, the man-ladder in the tailgate or that stupid little grab pole. If the bed of the truck is too HIGH to use then you have FAILED to design a proper truck, just fix the ride height and bed walls to be reasonable.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    Not necessarily in order of stupidity, but here it goes:

    Spinners
    Any wheels over 20″ in diameter

    By far the stupidest feature can be found on your Ford (don’t know if the latest ones still have them) – Max AC setting on the knob that’s responsible for the direction of airflow. I.e. you can’t specify that you you only want the Max AC blowing through the front vents and NOT on your feet. This was enough to cause me to swear of Fords. Living in Atlanta suburbs, and using the max AC setting quite often this would cause unnecessary stress and strong desire to burn the car down.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Then don’t use Max A/C. I never do while driving. You can turn it up all the way without turning on “Max A/C”. If you need an A/C boost, the recirc button is available.

      • 0 avatar
        andyinatl

        I’ve since moved on to automatic climate control, which i actually quite like; no blasting air until it’s the right temperature, and it will not blow (by default) hot air in your face or cold air on your feet. But Max AC on directional knob is plain lazy/stupid engineering; why not put it on the temperature knob? Or make a separate button?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          It’s a separate button now (at least on my C-Max and MkT). Both have auto climate control too. But yeah, when it wasn’t a separate button is was a PITA.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          I love automatic C/C too, as with a manual system, I’d almost be in the “distracted driver” camp because I’m constantly fiddling with it. Fan, temp., mode, in order of OCD-ness!

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Me too, except for me it’s constant little adjustments to temp when driving a car with a manual system. The difference is such that automakers can convince me to spend thousands on unnecessary options by bundling them with ACC.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        “Max A/C” was also recirculate. It was dumb to tie together recirculate, A/C, and vent selection.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      God forbid I defend Ford, but is it possible that the recirc air intake is located in the footwell? By blowing some cold air down there, they’re making sure that the air being drawn into the system is already cold, which causes the air coming out of the top vents to be colder once it is blown through the evaporator.

      • 0 avatar
        andyinatl

        I am not sure, perhaps, but it was not a pleasant experience when i was wearing flip flops, and by the end of the trip could barely feel my toes. Don’t ask why, but for whatever reason i didn’t think at the time that i can reach same result by using recirc button…. Feel stupid now. I’m glad they relocated it to a separate button though, so that shouldn’t be an issue anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      Exfordtech

      The Max AC setting on Fords will direct air to the dash vents only as I recall. What model does as you describe, I’m curious?

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Andy, come back to Ford.

      My ford has a separate recirc button. Even though the recirc pulls air from the floor, I can still have it blow to the floor. It’s odd that it even works, but it does.

      What I hate about most hvac system (the only reason to like volvo) is that very few of them will let me blow out the vents (to the body) and the defrost at the same time. That particular combination is rare. It’s also the combination I find most desirable in the winter.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Engines. When misused they are capable of propelling the entire seating compartment at a speed sufficient to cause injury or death in the event of a collision with massive objects.

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    So far, we’ve been listing features that are poorly implemented or, more or less, simply exist in poor taste.

    Here’s a couple that are by definition stupid: seatbelt warning chimes (for the driver, at least), and airbags meeting FMVSS 108, which mandates that they be designed to save the Life of an UNbelted occupant, at the cost of injuries to those who buckle up. We’re increasing the likelihood of maiming the responsible, that the irresponsible may live. If that’s not textbook stupidity, I don’t know what is.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      “… airbags meeting FMVSS 108, which mandates that they be designed to save the Life of an UNbelted occupant, at the cost of injuries to those who buckle up. We’re increasing the likelihood of maiming the responsible, that the irresponsible may live. If that’s not textbook stupidity, I don’t know what is.”

      Truer words were never spoken. But don’t look for anything to change anytime soon.

  • avatar
    Midway1095

    I’m the proud owner of a 1988 Chrysler New Yorker Landau. One of its many luxury features is an electric motor that pulls the deck lid closed for last 2 and 1/4 inches. Lots of Cadillacs of the era had this feature too. Never figured out why it existed, other than allowing owners to say, “Look, my Chrysler / Cadillac does something your virtually identical Dodge / Pontiac doesn’t.”

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      You can simply push the trunk lid closed instead of having to slam it. My mom’s Roadmaster has that too. My only beef is that, if you forget and slam the lid down, you may actually damage the closing mechanism.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Really?! Thought there was some sort of shock-absorption built-in.

        The REAL luxury is a trunk which can be pushed shut with a finger — the 2013+ Accord is a great example of this.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    I used to thing these were useless but after reading this I think differently. A feature that alerts all neighboring cars that the driver is an asshole can hardly be considered stupid.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    I can’t tell if Doug’s being purposefully dense for the sake of this QOTD and his writing style, but he comes across more genuinely dense on the spoiler issue than he otherwise does.

    As several commenters have posted the spoilers such as those typically implemented on speed-activated vehicles (Porsches, Audi TT, Crossfire, VW Beetle?) are there to counter the *REAL* stupidest feature: Epic Aerodynamic Fail. Round-back vehicles behave downright dangerously with rear lift generation and poor aerodynamic drag. A spoiler breaks up the lift area, keeps the air flow attached to the rear glass (keeping it cleaner/drier), reduces drag and prevents excessive lift. A fancy automatic spoiler is like a neon sign stating “the proper function of this car was utterly decimated in favor of this ridiculous styling.” The mechanism of the spoiler and the fact it achieves is required goal I think is pretty cool, but I’m just a nerdy engineer. I’d prefer to not have to solve the problem, but the solution is rather nifty.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    A retractable spoiler on a Crossfire

  • avatar
    MPAVictoria

    Going to admit that I love weird, unique and basically pointless features on cars. My G8 had a a “night panel” feature that would turn off extra lights in the cabin when travel at night. Kind of useless but loved it.

    Life is too short, why not enjoy it?

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      That is a Saab feature, weird I am not politing a Jet , I did not know anyone else used it. I hate the self locking cars I rent, hit ten miles an hour they lock, turn car off they stay locked, go to get out, curse Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        Exfordtech

        Front doors on most Fords can be opened with the inside handle regardless of the lock position, and most of the auto locks can be disabled, the procedure isn’t intuitive, but is found in the owner’s manual that your rental won’t have in its glovebox.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Fortunately something that can be accessed on a setup menu, but early requirements for changing this option involved twisting the key a certain number of times while patting your head and rubbing your stomach while “planking” across the driver’s seat and center console! :-P

          (Only to have to lather, rinse, repeat after failing the eighth of fifteen turns and one stomach pat within a ten-second window!)

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Every car I’ve had with auto locks has auto-unlocked when shifting into park (for automatics) or turning the engine off (for manuals). The only time they get in the way is when you want to drop someone off at the curb without parking. I’ve gotten used to just hitting the power lock button in that situation.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        I’d love to have that feature. Don’t you ever drive at night across open, dark country? The last thing you want is bright dash lights that compromise your night vision.

    • 0 avatar
      ctg

      I liked the night panel on my old Saab. Its not terribly necessary on older cars, but now that most new cars have large, bright screens I wish it would make a comeback. On our G37 I find the big screen at the top of the dash very distracting at night. It also weakens your night vision. There is a setting to turn off the screen (which I use), but you have to go through a couple menus, and I only want it turned off at night. A simple night panel button would be perfect.

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        I rented a Chrysler 200 that needed the touchscreen for entirely too many functions, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it has a “Screen Off” Button in the dash.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    I had a Porsche 964 with the movable spoiler. That was supposedly to help cool the engine at higher speeds.

    Anyway, I used the spoiler button when I was washing the car to get in there and clean all the bits that are normally hidden when the car is stopped. Kinda like how you have to flip up the headlights to wash them on a 944 or Miata.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I see Doug-bot’s piece is getting a healthy amount of attention.

    • 0 avatar
      MPAVictoria

      I really don’t get why some people here are so hard on Doug. I really like his pieces. They are usually interesting and they often spark good comment threads. And at least he usually stays out of politics unlike some other authors here.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I think the disdain came when it was realized he was recycling question topics from two years ago. You do have a point though on his aversion to politics and focusing on automotive topics.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          He’s gotten better in the last few weeks. If I do an Advanced Search via Google, I won’t come up with three previous articles with the same content anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I agree. The posts themselves aren’t that interesting, but who comes here for the posts anyway? A lot of interesting comments.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Spinners. I just loath them.

    Buick or Cadillac chrome stick ons on non Buick or Cadillacs. Perhaps I need to participate in the QOTD ‘Which aftermarket accessory do you dislike the most…’

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The water drinking fountain in the Tartan Prancer.

    You can just buy a bottle of water for 99 cents.

  • avatar
    redav

    “The spoiler button is not a spoiler button. It is an asshole button.”

    So, it’s the rich person’s version of fake fender vents?

  • avatar
    azcelicafanatic

    My retractable spoiler is stuck in the up position. Wish it was stuck the other way, I feel like a prick. Yeah, its a Crossfire.

  • avatar
    markf

    Push button ignition. This is by far the stupidest feature foisted on the car buying public. It makes no improvement over a real key. It’s a gimmick that is now unfortunately here to stay. Now I have another device that will cost a fortune to replace, has to have its battery changed (but not before blinking all over my dash about the low battery)

    It is beyond idiotic. How hard is it to turn a key? Plus, worst part, you can’t go from ON to ACC without shutting everything off. PIA

    • 0 avatar
      Chris FOM

      “How hard is it to turn a key?”

      Dunno, but GM sure seemed to find it tough to stop a key from turning,

      • 0 avatar
        DweezilSFV

        Screaming funny. Having dealt with this since month 4 of my new 05 ION, you’re telling nothing but da troot. And the official recall switch doesn’t work right either.

    • 0 avatar
      schmitt trigger

      “It is beyond idiotic. How hard is it to turn a key? Plus, worst part, you can’t go from ON to ACC without shutting everything off.”

      Yeah, had forgotten about this “feature”.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I used to think push button start was dumb. After owning a good one, I can see the benefit. (I also own a bad one, and yes, it’s worse than just a traditional key cylinder.)

      “Plus, worst part, you can’t go from ON to ACC without shutting everything off. PIA”
      – If I understand you correctly, my Mazda3 allows me to do that. I can turn the electronics on without the engine by not using the brake. (Yes, it does cycle through off-ACC-ON-off-etc., but that’s of little hassle.) And I can turn off the engine without turning off the electronics by either leaving it in N or depressing the transmission lock button when turning the engine off.

      No, it’s not quite as clean as the old key positions, but it’s worlds better than early push button start systems.

    • 0 avatar
      scrubnick

      Yes! Say I want to here the last 30 seconds of a song with the engine off. Sorry, you have to turn the whole thing off, then turn it back to accessory mode and wait the 20 seconds for the car to start playing it again.

      Side note, I just went from a 2013 Civic SI to a 2015 one and that is one of my biggest complaints, the switch to keyless ignition. Why did they bother?

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        Exactly, there is zero benefit or improvement…..

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        That is a poor implementation. On my BMW a quick push of the button shuts the engine off but leaves the radio on. A longer press shuts it all down. To listen to the radio without starting the radio, you just push the on button for the radio.

        The real brilliance of push button start is when it is combined with keyless entry. I never have to touch the key, I just have to have it with me. Touch the door handle to unlock the car, get in, push the button to start the car. I do agree having a start button when you have to fumble with the key to get in the car is pointless.

        About the only time I ever touch the buttons on my key is to open and close the windows/sunroof from a distance. Very handy on a hot day or if I forget to close something after getting out of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      There’s a huge benefit. You don’t have to fish your key out of your pocket every time you want to drive. Just put the key in your pocket at the beginning of the day and leave it there.

      Now the early systems that required you to put in a key and then start a button… those were terrible.

  • avatar
    pbr

    Touch screen controls / infotainment. I find them ergonomically inferior to physical controls and usually outdated before the car is built. I retain the right to revise this opinion if/when some carmaker clues up and hires Apple to do it properly.

    Gimme my dials and buttons, and get off my lawn!

  • avatar
    hipostang

    This article was written to get readers to use their mouse button. Auto websites love posting stuff about Porsche because it gets clicks. Just like the random Yahoo & MSN articles about Apple’s latest story, but is really just random commentary on what people already know.

    Regardless, it’s clearly working. Well played!

    P.S. The stupidest automotive feature installed today is Halogen headlights…

  • avatar
    e30gator

    Touch screens. Why do we need to turn every car into a stupid iPhone? Undoubtedly there are people who love them and find them helpful, but it forces you to take your eyes off the road while you’re making adjustments. There was a time when once you became acquainted with your car, you could adjust the temperature and radio station by merely feeling the buttons. To me technology should make life easier, not the reverse.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      They are a necessary evil when systems get complex enough. If my LS460 had a button for every function accessible through the touch screen its dash would look like a big audio mixer. But there should be buttons for the most basic functions like volume and climate control adjustments, and many of today’s systems are omitting even those.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    The rear spoiler/wings on the Ram 1500 Daytona trucks they had a few years back.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    1) any Corolla 3 speed auto with a spoiler and push button E brake on many modern cars.

  • avatar
    Louis XVI

    I love my Mini convertible like I love my child, but it has two of the most undeniably stupid features I’ve ever encountered:

    1) The “openometer.” This is a big gage prominently featured next to the tachometer which tracks . . . how much time the convertible roof has been open. This would be stupid enough, but it also *resets* after every seven hours the top is down, so it isn’t really keeping track of anything.

    2) The “Engine malfunction! Power reduced” light. My Mini has a touch screen capable of displaying all sorts of information. But when something goes wrong, it just says, “Engine malfunction! Power reduced” and, indeed, reduces the power. It provides no information whatsoever about what is wrong. My light has gone on roughly once every two months, and I have always been able to solve the problem by . . . unscrewing the gas cap and putting it back on. Yeesh.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      In all fairness – the openometer does keep a total running count of open top hours as well – it’s accessible via the center display. (Mins reads something like 142 hrs.) But yes – it could easily do that without the big openometer at all. At least it didn’t displace anything else…

      Thankfully I’ve never suffered the Engine malfunction light, but it does remind me of the glorious warning lights in the days of old: “STOP – BRAKE FAILURE”

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Or even the message from the tool folks can download from Microsoft to build an ISO file to burn a DVD, or burn a jump-drive, for purposes of installing Windows 10 on multiple machines. As with all things Micro$oft, folks have been running into problems using this tool.

        It will start, run for a minute, then stop with…

        “Something Happened[!]”

        ::Facepalm!::

  • avatar
    azulR

    All these comments and no mention of what I vaguely remember as the purpose of the retracting spoilers. Sure, the spoiler is needed for aerodynamic stability at speed, but there was a reason to retract at low speed in addition to any aesthetic considerations.

    It’s for crash safety, and something else coming out of Europe to go along with the pedestrian impact standards. It’s so that if a cyclist runs into the rear of the car, they’re not sliced in two.

    You could say that’s nannying gone awry, but I could just about see this as a safety feature.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    My Scion has a stupid “feature”: There’s a delay on the interior lights when you open the door, after about a second they slowly fade on. I can see where someone might think this was cool, but on a car you actually drive it’s damn annoying, I don’t want to have to wait for their frickin light show every time I want to get in the car.

    Also, the overhead light is pretty dim, the map lights are twice as bright, which means you really don’t want to use them while you’re driving at night…which kind of defeats their purpose. I guess with GPS, it’s not such a big deal, but still….

    And what about cars with only ONE backup light? Gee, huge cost savings there, and it only puts you in danger of wrecking your ride every time you put it in reverse in the dark. I’m looking at you MINI! Also my Scion, first year of the second-gen Xb. I’ve noticed later years have 2 lights, I guess enough people complained.

    Also, all spoilers/wings are stupid. At legal speeds they’re not doing anything.

    • 0 avatar
      azulR

      The one backup light will be for commonality with cars in the European market, and maybe elsewhere. It’s a legal requirement for only one such light, I think with the logic that you’re not going to mistake a car in reverse for one coming forward. That would seem kind of silly, but I think the scenario would be an unlit narrow road at night, where the lights would also be an implicit clue as to which side of the road the car is on.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Interesting…although I don’t see the point. So you see one light and assume it’s a motorcycle, until you get close and realize it’s actually a vehicle that takes up a lot more of the lane. Not seeing the safety benefits.

        • 0 avatar
          azulR

          Oops., on checking online I misremembered (not for the first time). There are indeed Euro regulations about one light only, but it’s for fog lights. I could see that it might be convenient to have a single reversing light on one side, in the place where the single fog light is on the other, but that’s then a cost thing.
          The safety argument that I was making up was trying to justify what I knew was a safety argument for a single light, but a totally garbled version of the rationale for single fog lamp. Apologies.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Yep, this later version is correct. Many European countries require a single rear foglight. Manufacturers often integrate it cheaply by putting it where the backup light is on the other side.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      “Also, all spoilers/wings are stupid. At legal speeds they’re not doing anything.”

      Really? Stick your hand out the window at those speeds and tell me you can’t feel the force of that air.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Backup lights that turn on when a car is parked, but not in reverse: You are in a parking lot and think someone is about to leave, but their GM product has inexplicably turned the reverse lights to illuminate the perimeter of the vehicle. Bloody daft idea.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Foot wide and 18″ tall consoles.Any console.Digital gauges. Fixed rear door glass. Idiot lights for temperature rather than a real gauge. Packages of stupid automotive features required to get the one you’ll actually use.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      After owning two cars with digital speedos, I have to say I like them. Before I owned one I thought they were dumb.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        I miss the digital speedometer on my ’98 DeVille.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Ah, but do you miss the motor?

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            It was a good motor until the Dexcool caused a head gasket failure. I was young and foolish and didn’t realize that I shouldn’t follow the GM recommended coolant guidelines.

            It was at around 95,000 miles and the car was pretty much immaculate. I actually sold it to a mechanic whose plan was to stick the Northstar from another Deville he owned into that car.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    The German fetish for vacuum-operated door locks. WTF? Electric solenoids too easy for you?

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      The theory is that the crash censors deploy the door locks at the exact instant of crash (before the electronics are crushed into oblivion). Then the locks actually unlock a bit later (after the crash) due to the vacuum thing. That’s a theory, anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      They have several advantages. They are silent for one. Nothing screams Klassy like the loud KER CHUNK rattle of an old GM door lock solenoid. Overall, they are more reliable and easier to troubleshoot. They do require the every decade or so maintenance of replacing the rubber vacuum hose juntions.

      Long out of favor since it is much more difficult to do anything fancy with them like remote controls and autolocking.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    The ability to manually raise the spoiler in the Porsche (at least my Cayman) is a good idea that covers up the bad idea of a raising/lowering spoiler in the first place. Allow me to explain… normally the spoiler deploys automatically at speeds over 75 MPH and doesn’t retract again until you are back down to 45 MPH. The problem is, if you are driving past the revenue collectors (police) at 64.9 MPH but your spoiler is up, they know that you have exceeded the 65 or 70 MPH speed limit. That’s where the manually-activated feature comes in: plausible deniability.

    I had also heard (but can’t verify) that on air-cooled 911s the spoiler would direct additional cooling air. Obviously, this is useless with the modern water-cooled design.

  • avatar
    carve

    Fake duct work and functionless, or even function inhibiting, spoilers.

  • avatar
    baconator

    Power-open trunks and lift gates. They inevitably open and close much more slowly than a conventional trunk with spring or gas-strut assist. Much more weight and complexity, more things to fail (go randomly sample W220 Benzes), and it actually costs me time rather than saving it? This is a feature for people who want to talk about the feature, not one that’s actually useful.

    I guess people like the new thing where you wave your foot under the bumper to open the trunk, but that’s a separate technology.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’m tempted to say oil pressure gauges, since my oil pressure gauge has shown full pressure…and then I pull out the dipstick and it’s dry.

  • avatar
    AxMax2000

    The fake brake air ducts almost all cars have as design elements. Yep those black squares on the sides of the facia are supposed to fool you into thinking you have a high-performance cooling system for your brakes. Honda Fit and others even have the fake hot air ducts coming out of the back.

    Then there’s the driving lights, another gimmick, placed inside those ducts and blocking the air that isn’t going to cool anything because everything’s a high performance charade.

  • avatar
    Number6

    1. The ESC on my 2013 Fusion removes 100% of the advantage my snow tires give me.
    2. Red turn indicators are STUPID. Snow? Covered rear end? is it braking or turning? You make the call! On ice!
    3. Electric parking brakes
    4. Anything found between the front and rear bumpers of a Jaguar S-type
    5. Paddle shifters…and EPA- pleasing programming of 6+ speed automatics with silly shift points

  • avatar
    Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

    Any car without a full size spare tire onboard. Space saver spares and a can of inflator foam doesn’t cut it.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      In 30 years of driving, I’ve had one slow leak that was bad enough to switch to the spare. I would have caught that one in plenty of time if the car had had TPMS.

      The idea that I and a billion other people should carry around 50 pounds of ballast and lose a significant amount of trunk space doesn’t make sense. A flat is no more than a minor inconvenience, and your chance of getting one is immaterial.

      People always come up with some fantasy comeback about how they crisscross Death valley all day and therefore absolutely need a spare. Fine, pack a spare, along with your survival kit and extra cans of gas. There’s no reason why everybody else should take a spare along for a 250,000 mile trip that ends at the auto shredder’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

        I’ve used my spare 4 times in the last 10 years; I hardly consider the convenience of having a spare at those moments to be ballast. Plus the fact that cars were able to accommodate full size spares in the past means that today’s cars are compromises. I’ll continue to use this as a tie breaker and possible deal breaker for future purchases.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Needing the spare every 2 1/2 years? Tell me where you are so I can avoid that place.

          I’ve been driving for 23 years and in that time I’ve used a spare once. And a can of fix-a-flat would have gotten me out of that situation fine.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            Streets of some large cities.

            I hit a large hole at night in Chicago on Lake Shore Drive. RH front tire blew and the rim was damaged. The RH rear had a large bubble in the side wall. The spare I had in the car allowed me to swap the front in a few minutes and get the car to a shop. It actually allowed me to drive 30 miles to the nearest Discount Tire to get a new set of tires for $30 (I bought the replacement certificates from them when the car was brand new) , took the rim to a place they recommended and got the rim fixed for around $90. $120 out the door which a tow would have cost that if not more plus the $130 a tire.

            Both my new cars now have come without a spare; I’ve went online and ordered the kit from Ebay for less than what the dealer has charged. Honestly after I lost 95 lbs I’m sure that has helped MPG more than the doughnut and jack assembly.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I have a full-size spare, and am damn glad to have it.

        Having one has saved more than a few times. The fact that flats happen occasionally is irrelevant to the value of having one when you need it. It’s an insurance policy.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          I’ve had cars with no-spare for about a decade and a half. Ironically the closest I came to needing a spare was when I hit a pot hole with a run-flat and the side of it dented.

          For flats, I carry a plug kit along with the cars mobility kit. You don’t even need to take the wheel off.

          Yes, there is the possibility the tire getting shredded or the wheel destroyed – but that’s why they invented flat-beds.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Respectfully, Doug, this is the Dumbest Feature Automotive Article I’ve ever read here. There’s no foundation for anything you say. You admitted that, as you repeatedly told us that retractable spoilers are “inexplicable,” “for no apparent reason” except for “bragging rights.” (You may arrive near a valid point when you mention the Porsche’s spoiler-fashion button, though.)

    However, since you’re so confused about this feature, how are you qualified to say that these spoilers are too small to be effective? Says you and whose wind tunnel? The Audi TT was the first common car I remember to use an active spoiler, as part of a number of stability improvements after several fatal accidents where the early cars acted like flying wings at high speed. Spoilers are most necessary at speed, but in everyday use they tend to add drag that cuts fuel economy. Making the spoiler retractable solves both MPH and MPG goals. There, that’s a purpose!

    At least these cars don’t come with user-adjustable spoilers. I’ve long made a sport of spotting mid-’70s Mustang fastbacks on the road. I see them less often now. Some of those, I bet, wound up crashed because of their owners’ misunderstanding of the most basic aero principles. EVERY Mustang I’ve seen had its spoiler, adjustable by just one bolt, with its leading edge tipped up towards the sky like a an airplane wing at takeoff.
    But hey, that matched the slope of the fastback, so it looked right.

    Back in the day, did you drive one of those Mustangs, Doug?

  • avatar
    kadajawi

    Doug, the original TT used to crash regularly, it would just spin out of control on the highway. Audi fixed that by attaching a tiny spoiler to the rear… and it is tiny, far tinier than those spoilers that extend at speed (which is where they are needed!). Ever since the TT can be driven without it just crashing out of nowhere. But those spoilers are bad for fuel consumption, and can ruin the lines of the car, so having them only come out when you actually need them makes a lot of sense.

    My stupidest feature is keyless go. If finding the key takes so much effort, learn to organize your stuff. It is quite a security risk, police forces around the world issue warnings because they see a spike in keyless go theft (it makes theft easier…). And all just so that you don’t have to find a key when you get closer to the car?

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