QOTD: GPS Misadventures

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

I led off my Mazda CX-90 first drive with an anecdote about GPS misadventures. This annoyed some of you in the comments, but I thought it was a nice setup to preview my conclusion.

I digress.

The wild goose chase that Google Maps sent me wasn't the first time I experienced -- or heard of -- a reroute to nowhere.

Last night, returning from Easter dinner, Waze tried to direct me around a traffic jam by having me exit the expressway -- and then by asking me to immediately reenter. Despite the fact that I was supposed to turn left or right at the bottom of the exit ramp.

I don't know if the GPS really thought it would save me time or if there was a bug, but I had to break traffic rules to get back on track.

I, and several other journalists, encountered this same issue on our first drive of the Ford Explorer some years back -- we were using factory nav that time.

I also remember a Hyundai event from a decade ago when I heard about two older journalists plowing down a dirt road and tearing up a Veloster's front fascia after the nav guided them into an off-road adventure.

We all know GPSs fail. And this QOTD isn't meant to ask what the best one is. I am merely asking if this has happened to you -- and if so, how often? Furthermore, has it resulted in hilarious stories or just minor annoyances? A few days from now, I will forget what happened last night. But maybe an unexpected detour led to you meeting your spouse or having a wild night that can only be recounted in letter form, starting with the words "Dear Penthouse"?

Sound off below.

[Image: one photo/Shutterstock.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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4 of 25 comments
  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Apr 11, 2023

    In my part of the world trusting google or any navigation system could be fatal. I was in a remote location where the forest service posted a big sign, "Your GPS is WRONG. Road closed."

    My son got lost when following Google when I blew the engine on my dual sport and hit my locator beacon. A 2 hour wait turned into 6 hours once he realized his mistake. To his credit, he rescued 2 fellows lost on adventure bikes in the process.

    Do your research. Check topographic maps, resource road maps, local experts etc.

  • Bfisch81 Bfisch81 on Apr 12, 2023

    I have not had any real issues since the introduction of Google Maps and the subsequent revisions of Apple Maps. The last time I can recall a real total GPS fail was probably around 2010 with my standalone Garmin unit. I was visiting friends in Deep Creek Lake, MD and the GPS got to be about a mile or two away and then it just had some kind of stroke-out. I ended up effectively in the woods on roads that were paved for a housing development that had gone bust. It was legitimately terrifying as the GPS kept leading me deeper into the woods. Eventually I had to call my friends and backtrack my steps manually.

  • Redrum Redrum on Apr 16, 2023

    I was using Google Maps last year in Iceland, it mostly worked pretty well but when I tried to use it to visit a local park. It had me go into an entryway lacking any clear signage, then drive down a gravel road that eventually intersected with a busy trail full of pedestrians and bicycles (there were no signs but it became clear this was a service vehicle path, NOT a public entryway!).

    I had to reverse all the way out of the gravel road and drive around to a different side of the park where eventually I found an actual normal entryway leading to a parking lot.

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on May 11, 2023

    I had a 2010 Challenger with GPS and there were a few places where it got totally mixed up. My favorite to show friends was when I would put a PNC Bank as my destination. It's on one leg of a triangle of roads, and it just totally lost it's way as you approached the bank from either direction. It would suddenly say, "Make a U-Turn" over and over again, just as you turned off either of the other legs. A complaint got me a free update....and it still did it.