Sometimes, you shell out for a feature in a car. Maybe you even pay a bit more for a whole new trim level, replete with fun and fantastic features. Then you own the car, you drive it, and you come to a conclusion: Actually this sucks. Yesterday we asked for the most frustrating features in your car, and you came up with hundreds of answers. Here are some of our favorites.
In every rental car I have, bloody auto start/stop. More aggravating for cars that reset your selection after it’s shut off.
Early stop-start functions were bad, with their lag to restart the engine and vibrations until you got going. Recently, they’ve gotten better, but it’s still not a guarantee that the system in your car will be at all pleasant to use.
Intrusive Infotainment Notifications
My daily driver is a 2013 Subaru Crosstrek. It’s a perfectly fine car for many things, but the on-screen notification if the Bluetooth connection succeeded or failed pops up even if you’re in reverse and using the back up camera. It’s like “Not right now, car! I need to see behind me!” I imagine it probably wouldn’t have been difficult to program a simple conditional “if rear camera in use, do not display anything over it until rear camera turns off” or whatever language actual programmers use.
HEY, I KNOW YOU’RE DRIVING, BUT I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THERE’S A MINOR BLUETOOTH ISSUE. HOPE YOU WEREN’T USING THIS SCREEN FOR ANYTHING ELSE, BY THE WAY.
Flesh-Eating Tail Lights
Late model Dodge Durangoes have a razor sharp parrot beak shaped edge on each tail light that is exposed when the hatch is open. This leads to terrible arm gouges when loading/unloading stuff from the rear hatch if you aren’t super careful to avoid. The Durango forums are full of injuries caused by this. I put a sanding drum on my Dremel and dressed the edge after being badly gouged twice. I have a 3/4" scar on the inside of my right elbow from the bastard. And yes, that’s my carved flesh hanging from the edge.
Click through to skwimjim’s comment to see their actual skin shaved off by their actual car. Just in case that’s not up your alley, however, I won’t embed it here. Instead, I’ll just say, manufacturers: Do not make your cars into knives. I didn’t think I’d have to ask this.
How terrifying it can be to get the Charger to stop.
As I’ve warned in other posts, anyone feeling like blowing $40K-$50K on a Sixties muscle car and if it still has manual drum brakes, do not buy that car. It will kill you due to its barebones, easy-to-lose-control setup. You are used to nanny gadgets—ABS and ESC—and if you think you can be Dominic Toretto once you slide behind the wheel, you are totally mistaken.
While I’ve upgraded the Charger from drums to disc brakes, they’re still manual—your leg muscles working the hydraulics as you try and bring the car to a halt. And while disc brakes are a 500% improvement over drums, you still have to pump them to keep from skidding out of control. No “Just mash the brake pedal and let the ABS do the rest” with one of these dinosaurs. So yeah, you drive a ridiculously old muscle car that has more in common with a Ford Model A than a modern Challenger, it can turn on you in an instant—especially when braking.
Discs are a nice upgrade over drums, but manual brakes will always be a pain. Even without ABS, upgrading to a powered brake system makes a world of difference.
Power seats. I want a mechanical mechanism and will avoid trims with powered seats.
Back when I was getting in/out of fleets vehicles each day with different users, nothing is worse than waiting for a slow motor mechanism to move and they never get set in a good comfortable. Few folks are 6'3" so I was always waiting to get the knees-in-dash position.
Even in my personal cars (includes a 2+2 Coupe) I don’t want to wait for a motor to let the kids out of the back. Slide forward/back. Are we THAT lazy?
Give me a grab-bar and a mechanical movement. I can slide those things in less than a second and return it.
I don’t care much whether a car has powered or manual seats, but I do desperately want powered lumbar support. The little knob on the side of a seat never seems to get the job done like a powered, four-way system can.
My Audi S3 B-pillar, too big and the delay with the accelerator from a full stop.
Hot take: Cars are better when you can see out of them. I know, it’s a controversial hill to die on, but I’ll stand by it. Visibility is good.
Impermeable Infotainment UX
2016 Mustang GT. Using the radio with SYNC 3 stinks, and I would probably use it more if it didn’t suck so much.
Root problem is you are locked in to banks of 6 presets that
1. are limited to one band (AM/FM/XM)
2: you can only get out of by hitting the source button.
That means that even with steering wheel seek functions, you are still cycling through the same 6 stations until you hit the source button. If you want to get back to a station from a preset list you already passed out of, you have to hit the source button 5 more times.
Contrast that with my dad’s Siverado of the same year, which gives you 40 presets all in one big bank that can be any band you want. You can put stations from any band next to each other, and the seek will let you go between them no problem. Imagine that!
Really rock stupid shit like this, and the fact it was designed by a well paid and high ranking person, fuels my general distrust for the world.
In the tech world, there’s a concept called UX: User Experience. Every app you regularly use hired UX designers, if not a UX team, to make it work the way it does. Ford, apparently, did not hire those same people.
Early Bluetooth Woes
2015 Porsche Macan Turbo with Bose audio - the bluetooth audio volume is super low, so you have to crank up the volume on the radio to almost max just to hear it at a comfortable level. That would be fine EXCEPT when you turn it off, it disconnects from your phone. Then when you get back in, it switches to FM radio AT THE SAME CRAZY VOLUME and completely blasts you out of your seat.
Older Bluetooth systems, running dated codecs, can be an incredible hassle to use. Your phone connects, then it disconnects, then it connects to your headphones, then the car connects to your headphones. At some point, you just want it to work — and then you’re stuck listening to your music at half volume.
Glaring Nav Screens
My wife’s 2019 Highlander - the NAV screen is at such an angle that even mild sunshine makes it pretty much impossible to see. Luckily the instrument cluster can be configured to show basic instructions for the nav, but it’s such an oversight.
The new one is upright which I assume fixes it
Nav screens are bad for this, but piano black interior trim is even worse. So many manufacturers now surround their infotainment screens with high-gloss plastic, then get confused when people complain about the glare.
I have a 2006 Jaguar XJ8 on which sometimes all the gauges will radomly die (except the fuel gauge) and every warning light will illuminate. In this condition, the car will run and drive and the HVAC will work, but the air suspension will default so the ride is horrible and the transmission might get stuck in 3rd, but not every time. Sometimes it will not start because of this. To fix that, I open and close the trunk and it will restart fine, although the check engine light will be on until three drive cycles have passed.
I love the car otherwise, but this feature is annoying.
(It’s a Jaguar, so I’m fairly confident this is a factory feature, isn’t it?)
There’s nothing like buying an old British-made car, except possibly buying an American one that’s been in a flood. Those kinds of electrical gremlins are some of the most frustrating issues that can possibly crop up, simply due to how difficult they are to diagnose.
The HVAC on many Hondas, specifically the V6 models. Although it’s a great V6 engine (the design is going on 26 years old now), I think, being aluminum, it can’t hold enough heat to effectively transfer heat through the heater core and into the cabin. So it takes a lot longer than it should to heat up the cabin, especially when temps dip below zero.
I’ve had trouble keeping the cabin warm AND the windshield defrosted when driving down the highway at 60mph and -15°F.
Also, like many early Japanese cars, the electrical power to the radio and accessory plugs cuts off as soon as you turn the engine off, whereas most “domestic” cars allow you to listen to the radio for 10 minutes or so until you open the door.
It’s not a big deal, unless you are talking hands-free on the phone and then your conversation gets cut short when you turn the engine off and you can’t get to your phone quickly.
Fortunately, Honda is fixing this issue, but it hasn’t trickled down to all models yet.
If your engine is extremely efficient, maybe you simply aren’t performing enough work to heat up the whole car. Try flooring it everywhere you go, the high RPMS may help built up heat.
Always-On Traction Control
I have a 2013 VW Passat and I can’t turn off the traction control.
For example I was living in apartment area that was hilly. When a snow storm hit it was a major pain in the ass to drive up a steep hill in the snow that the car’s TC kept cutting out power to dig my way out.
For most people, traction control is something that’s on when you leave the dealership and you’ll never think about it again. For those of us who live in snowy areas, however, it’s a curse — one we would like to disable.
Whatever Happened To Fob Wray?
21 Tesla Model 3 - bluetooth phone key. 98% of the time it’s great. 2% of the time, especially with hands full of groceries, it fails and you have to take out your phone and launch the tesla app manually and then you can open the doors. Drives me nuts. Possibly a great feature implemented too soon to be robust.
Were key fobs so hard? There are even proximity fobs now, that never have to leave your pocket. I can attest, my phone runs out of battery far faster than my keys.
Inconsistent Steering Wheel Controls
I can’t control my music with my steering wheel controls when connected to Bluetooth.
Steering wheels that control built-in media, but not connected devices, are a pox. They’re there to tease you, show you how easy life could be if you didn’t insist on listening to only your music.
A Lack Thereof
I own a 2009 Mazda 5 Grand Touring and what frustrates me is the LACK of features on what is supposed to be the high-end model.
First of all, European and JDM Mazda 5s have power sliding passenger doors and power liftgate as an option; none of these were available on the ‘09 US version, although Mazda was nice enough to include plastic blanks where the switches for those functions are SUPPOSED to be, thus constantly reminding me that this car was speced-out by the bean counters at Mazda USA
Other notable omissions:
No cover for the center console storage bin
No pocket on the rear of the passenger side front seat
No vanity mirror on the passenger side visor
No power adjustments on the driver’s seat
The lights on the instrument panel have two settings - High and Low, nothing in between.
Add that to the fact that the pedals in this car were not designed for my size 13EEE feet in mind, and the middling gas mileage (average 22-23mpg)
All these little annoyances turns a car that otherwise suits my needs almost perfectly (although another 50hp would be great) into a vehicle that is a reminder that the Mazda 5 was built to occupy a specific price point in the market.
Japanese-spec cars always get more interesting accoutrements than their American counterparts. In an ideal world, dealers would at least make the parts available, but often differences in wiring prevent it from being an easy install.