New Car Technology Blunders that Cast Doubts on Car Engineering Logic

Anthony22 at en.wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Anthony22 at en.wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

An article on Forbes lists the ten top new car technology blunders every car buyer will likely enjoy knowing about. These consumer technology blunders tend to make us question the sense of reason our car designers and engineers are imploring. Anyway, blunder, as used in this discussion, refers to both accidental and intentional problems or illogicalities that come with a newly purchased car. It could be a factory defect or embarrassingly impractical “innovations” auto manufacturers thought were “good ideas.”

As listed by automotive analyst Karl Brauer and published on Forbes, the following are the top new car technology blunders car buyers may want to get acquainted with or grin about.

1. Fake Exhaust Noise or Fake Engine Roar

Yes, car manufacturers thought this would be a good idea. The rise of the fake engine roar is something non-enthusiasts will likely remain perplexed with forever. There are several new car models including BMWs that employ high power speakers to produce “engine noise” instead of relying on the actual sounds of the exhaust roar. Apparently, the rationale for this is to create that feel and sound of a powerful car since modern cabin insulation blocks engine noise or the powerful engine in a car does not really have the capability of producing a thunderous roar that impresses.

2. “Idiotic Idiot Lights”

For the uninitiated, idiot lights are real. They are also known as tell-tale lights and are used in indicating the status or malfunction of a system in a car or other motor vehicle. Some car makers, however, are taking the “idiot” part of the name too literally. An example of these “idiotic idiot lights” (as described by Brauer) is in the dashboard warning light on the 2013 Ford Escape. As Brauer reported, his friend encountered a perplexing problem that made him take the car to a local Ford dealer for servicing. His “ABS, Traction Control, Airbag” indicator light illuminated and was accompanied by the message “hill climb assist not available.” The problem was actually just a faulty airbag wiring harness. Having so many idiot lights lighting up caused unnecessary worries—and would have caused panic for other car owners.

Graphical Idiot Lights - [Public Domain]

Graphical Idiot Lights – [Public Domain]

3. Capacitive or Touch Screen Buttons for Critical Functions

Android smartphones and tablets nowadays have mostly eradicated the physical home and escape/return buttons under the displays to give way to virtual buttons integrated with the display itself. Not many complain about this “virtualization” of buttons but it would be better if car manufacturers don’t follow this trend for critical functions.  The buttons for the rear hatch (like the one on Tesla’s Model S) and other critical car functions are better as physical or traditional buttons that don’t rely on screens that need to be powered up to be usable. What if these displays or capacitive buttons encounter problems? The same goes for electric-powered doors.

4. Automatic Idle Stop without Addressing Noise and Shimmy

The idea of automatically stopping a car’s engine when idle is supposed to help save on fuel. However, manufacturers seem to have forgotten to deal with the noise, shake, and tremble cars have every time they have to restart. Brauer particularly pointed out the Mercedes-Benz E-Class as an example for this problem.

5. Restricting Access to Navigation and Communication Tools for “Safety” Reasons

Why should a supposedly smart car prevent access to navigation tools or phone features if it’s not necessarily the driver who will be accessing them. It’s understandable that drivers shouldn’t be facing distractions as they drive but completely denying access to a car’s phone and navigation systems is not the way to do it. There has to be a way to keep these tools accessible to passengers, and should not demand a driver to pull over only to program the destination when somebody else can do it while in transit.

6. Rear Camera View Taking over the Display when a Car Is Put in Reverse

Why do cars have to assume that drivers have the attention span of a gnat to be incapable of working with visual information beyond what the rear camera captures when a car is put in reverse? For Brauer, something has to be done about this. Other important details normally flashed on a car’s monitor shouldn’t be taken over by the rear camera view when a car moves in reverse for the sake of excessive safety.

7. Reduced/Limited Car Control

Brauer points out a number of instances when humans should take over their smart car controls. These instances include the need to thrust through the open space between two cars in an adjacent lane to avoid hitting a disabled vehicle or pedestrian. There are many situations when the dangers are more obvious to human perception than to any smart computer in a car. That’s why Brauer thinks limiting human control over a car is not a good idea. There’s wisdom in Europe’s decision to require driverless cars to be driveable. There’s a reason why there are those who want self-driving cars to retain the steering wheel, to remain maneuverable.

By Flckr user jurvetson (Steve Jurvetson). Trimmed and retouched with PS9 by Mariordo [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Flckr user jurvetson (Steve Jurvetson). Trimmed and retouched with PS9 by Mariordo [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

There are actually 10 blunders in Brauer’s list but we disagree on some of his points so excluded them. There are also items that can be fused in one listing so we only have those seven above. If you are buying a new car, you may want to go over this list and see if a car’s ad is simply misleading you with a gimmick feature that could actually be a blunder.