AutoGuide Answers: Seven Car Features That Drive Us Insane

AutoGuide Answers: Seven Car Features That Drive Us Insane

Modern cars are packed full of features and little luxuries designed to help make it easier and safer to drive while trying to give you more for your buck, but not all features are appreciated equally.

Here’s our take on the most infuriating, annoying and downright stupid features that we find in the many cars we’ve tested.

“Oh BEEP yourself!” Mike Schlee – Road Test Editor:


“I’m so sick of cars beeping at me. The most infuriating of all these audible safety sensors has to be lane departure warnings. Overly sensitive in many cars, some vehicles begin beeping when the car isn’t anywhere near the painted line.

And while I’m ranting about beeping sensors and lanes, can a manufacturer please invent a blind-spot monitor that can identify double-left turn lanes and not beep incessantly when making a left hand turn in conjunction with another vehicle to your left?”

“Poke the Volume Up!” Jodi Lai – Managing Editor:


“I hate it when cars don’t have champagne coolers in the back! GOSH! So uncivilized.

Just kidding, the one thing that drives me insane with some cars is much more simple and idiosyncratic than that. Call me picky, but when a car doesn’t have a volume knob, it drives me bonkers. When I furiously have to stab a button to change the volume, or when I have to use a stupid touch slider, I get so frustrated because a volume knob is a time-tested, simple technology that just works. You can just reach over without taking your eyes off the road and easily change the volume. Easy. Why did automakers think they should reinvent the wheel with this one?

It’s worse when a temperature or fan speed knob occupies the spot on the dash that the volume knob is typically located. KEEP IT SIMPLE, AUTOMAKERS. Don’t be complicated just for the sake of being complicated. Honda, Fiat and Cadillac are offenders here.”

“Am I changing lanes yet?” Sami Haj-Assaad – Features Editor:


“Ever wonder why those BMW drivers don’t signal when making their lane changes? It’s because their turn-signal stalk is downright stupid. Instead of clicking into place, some stalks spring back to center, yet keep your signal on. It’s a very subtle movement. To cancel the lane change you have to bmw-turn-signal-actiontap the stalk again. I didn’t expect to have such difficulty getting used to this, but the amount of brain-power I exert trying to signal properly is intense. It just doesn’t feel natural! And sometimes the springy-ness of the stalk causes the signal to go in the other direction. Great, now instead of clearly expressing my intentions on the road, I look like an idiot.

What’s worse is that other automakers are getting in on this trend. Please stop this madness or else I’m just going to pretend I’m an octogenarian and leave my signal on all the time.” [Good news BMW Drivers! I found a video from BMW USA showing us how to use our turn signals!]

“More power at his fingertips” Craig Cole – Associate Editor:


“If there’s one annoying thing I hate about modern vehicles it has to do with power windows. When manufacturers cheap out and don’t include express up and down functionality, it perturbs me greatly. Being able to hit the switch and have a piece of side glass motor all the way up or down without having to hold my finger on the button is a great convenience.

Automakers, please spend the extra $0.38 on the extra relays or whatever it takes to enable this functionality in EVERY VEHICLE THAT HAS POWER WINDOWS.”

“Covering those interesting bits” Stephen Elmer – News Editor:

“Open the hood of just about any brand new car and your eyes are met with enough plastic to build a replica of the engine from LEGO. I’m tired of every brand new engine being shrouded in secrecy underneath a 10 cent piece of plastic. Talented men and women spend their days working to give us these incredible works of machinery, so why would you want to cover them up?

My suspicion is thats it’s for all the non-car people who already think the engine runs on magic alone, but seeing as they’re not the ones cracking the hood anyways, can’t we just eliminate these ridiculous covers. I want to see every detail of an engine, not only because it’s more interesting to look at, but for my own understanding. After all, we don’t want a generation of kids thinking that engines are big black plastic blocks, right? ”

“Is this a diesel?” Colum Wood – Editorial Director:


“Clack. Clack. Clack!

People keep saying that modern diesel engines have gotten so much quieter. Have they? Or have gasoline versions just become a lot louder? It might be the latter.

Over the past several years, the switch to direct-injection gasoline engines may have resulted in millions of gallons of saved fuel. But it’s also created another form of pollution: noise pollution.

While automakers do keep improving the sound insulation of cars to reduce the noise DI engines make, the early versions were rather crude sounding and many still are.”

“Is this thing on?” – Jason Siu, News Editor:


“I understand the whole point of start-stop systems, but they simply just don’t feel right to me. Having the engine shut off while idling at a red light and then trigger back on when you push the gas pedal seems so unorthodox and unhealthy for the powertrain over time, although it is supposedly safe.

Sure, it helps some vehicles skirt the gas guzzler tax, but it’s still pretty annoying, especially when it automatically turns on every time you start your car – I’m looking at you Mercedes. At least give us the option to permanently leave it off if we despise the technology.”

Which features drive you insane? Tell us in the comments below.

  • craigcole

    Self-centering turn-signal stalks and plastic engine covers annoy me greatly as well …

  • Sami Haj-Assaad

    I agree with Jodi – some things don’t need to be on a touch-screen.

    One other weird quirk I’ve seen lately is getting rid of gear-sticks but not doing anything with the space. The newest Acuras are a great example: great all the gears are cool buttons, but you aren’t using that for anything. In comparison, look at the Chrysler 200, which offers this massive cubby by getting rid of its gear-stick.

  • concerned future buyer of MB

    New mercedes models C300 and C400 and the GLA have a Horrid Center Console (used for Nav when you option it) that can’t be lowered or removed, and you can’t order one without it because they use it for the Radio and Entertainment functions (so if you dont upgrade to navigation everyone that steps inside and sees your monitor will be thinking WTF!)…so you’re stuck looking at a poorly conceived monitor that looks worse than a Garmin GPS stuck to your otherwise well designed dashboard. they need to make it concealable for style sake alone…we don’t need to see it on the daily drive to work, and I believe they could make a more discreet looking Radio interface.

  • Teckler

    I totally read that as “Massive Chubby” at first

  • mick

    Two of the things on this list cancel each other out. Engine covers underneath the hood serve to attenuate sound. So if you remove it, bam, more DI noise

    All vehicles should be on their way to having software updated over the air. Tesla does it, GM is well on the way. How many dealer servuce visits could be saved not to mention recall compliance rates? My Infinti has been back no less than 4 times for updates. All were software and all could have been done remotely.

  • Stuart Stribling

    Holy first world problems, Batman! Guess I’m too pedestrian to struggle with such elite problems. My 3 Mazdas all totaling under $60k don’t really have these problems (other than the no power windows auto-up, but I thought that was federally mandated).

  • mchan1

    1. One touch power up/down window buttons should be std for all windows in all cars.
    – VW has it!
    2. LED overhead lights for front area but regular overhead lights in rear… WTF?!
    3. Having a regular display radio with buttons/dials but NO touchscreen? WTF?!
    4. Why do auto markers NOT put in noise insulation since it’s one of THE biggest problems that people complain about?! EVERY year and every model… just put in the sound insulation to mask out the noise! Use thicker, noise treated glass for the windows and windshields, front/rear!
    5. Make FOLDABLE side mirrors as STANDARD equipment which it WAS years ago!
    – F#cking auto execs don’t drive or live in city areas??!
    6. ADD Adjustable headrests in ALL makes/models of cars (looking at you, NISSAN!)
    7. ADD BACK 60/40 split rearseat backs (looking at your Honda/Toyota/Many other companies)!
    8. 2 Way adjustable intermittent wipers still used vs Variable adjustment intermittent wipers found in most cars… Why the former?!
    9. ADD BACK the driver’s seat rear storage pouch! Does it really cost that much to make a storage pouch behind the driver’s seat? Seriously?!
    10. ADD center console storage area and one that’s Roomy.. (i.e. Nissan Rogue.. none… VW Golf… tiny ash console that’s small)!
    11. Cup adjustments for cup holders instead of just putting in a fixed sized cup holder that can’t hold larger containers!
    12. STOP Expanding the center console width expansion as it’s Robbing Kneeroom!
    13. Using old fashion foot parking brake instead of putting in a hand brake? [Looking at you, Nissan]!
    14. Don’t put in a rearview automatic dimmer mirror as standard equipment on top trims as not everyone Likes it! I prefer the manual rearview mirror as the automatic version does NOT get Dark enough!! FU!
    15. Worthless center icon console like Nissan which shows the car but does NOT do anything else since you didn’t get the Optional Tech package, not even including an electronical, digital speedometer. FU, NISSAN!
    16. Add more seat cushioning in front and add lumbar support. TOO many brands/models have thin, not enough cushioning.
    – The worst ones include the leather upholstery and/or lumbar adjustment.
    – FYI… the lumbar support feature DOES tend to FLATTEN OUT the Lumbar cushioning over a couple of years esp. if you keep it =/>10 years!
    17. Use other colors, besides White, for the console lighting… Blue, green, yellow but Not Red (as ~10% of male population color blind to red).
    – Just make it relatively bright as it looks better than just White!
    18. Make sunroofs Larger… a “true” panoramic sunroof [ALL auto makers as it’s Small esp. when you have a sedan like an Accord/Camry/Altima].
    – VW’s “panoramic” sunroof is a joke! It’s really not that much bigger than a “normal” sized sunroof!

  • smartacus

    i feel the exact same way about the Express Up and Down windows!

  • smartacus

    all Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems should show psi at each corner and automatically adjust for position after tire rotations!

  • Jonny_Vancouver


  • Jonny_Vancouver

    So right with this list!


  • y.b. normal

    How about fake engine sound specifically generated to be broadcast into the cabin through speakers or noise pipes, while at the same time the real deal is muffled to the point where it’s imperceptable? Dumbest idea ever…

  • Mike Schlee

    I agree with the speaker generated engine noise. But real engine noise being pumped into the cabin via a sound tube from the intake is ok by me.

  • FireEngineer

    You’re not alone. I read it the same, your post made me reread Tecklers

  • roundthings

    Knobs and buttons. Touchscreens don’t belong in a car at all, except for just toggling between audio functions.

    The lack of lumbar controls also bothers me. Heck, my 2006 Cobalt had it

  • Neil J. Rosen

    Give me manual steering and a clutch with ‘feel’ any day

  • Glen

    Pet peeves and car features, what a great subject. These are the ones I find a bit annoying in the 2015 models.

    Turn Signals – I like the single touch lever that generates three signal lights (you know, like, “Hey, I’m coming over now, thanks.”). But single touch lever that leaves the signal on until you touch it again? Weird and definitely sounds like a pain. I still don’t like BMW drivers cutting me off, but at least now I know why they didn’t signal.

    “Express” windows – I agree this should be on all windows of every car but…they should change it so you have to hold it for a full second or so. Ever try to put your driver’s window down an inch or so to toss that cookie crumb out the window? Most modern cars won’t let you – the window continues all the way down and when you try to stop it, it goes all the way back up! That’s annoying, especially if it’s raining.

    And yes, the start-stop eco systems, along with the lane departure feature, parking aid tones, etc. should have a permanent on/off selection. That eco system stutter start is like the reverse rattle of running out of gas. You can turn rain sensing wipers off and the navigation voice off, why not these?

    The other things that I’d like to see changed (you’ll notice this if you drive a lot of different cars) is the location of certain standard items like:

    Push Button Start – LOVE IT! Not having to get your keys out of your pocket to get into your car and start it is great. But please automakers, agree on a location and everyone please put it within a few inches of that spot. Drive some new cars and start searching – right of the steering column, left of the steering column, left side of the center console, right side…pick one and leave it there.

    Windshield Wiper controls – Shouldn’t this lever should ALWAYS be on the right hand side of the steering column? Please stop moving it from left to right to ???. Signal lever on the left, windshield wiper lever on the right, simple. Oh, and stop adding headlight controls to these levers as well. On the dash on left hand side of the steering column is just fine, with the high beam selection on the turn signal (which should also be on the left side).

    Automatic Transmission Selector – The Hurst shifter became famous for a number of reasons, one of which was the fact that it was exactly where your right hand landed when you entered the car. Please, remove the dials, levers, push buttons (ok, that was the 60s) and put it in the center console. You’ll still have room for the cup holders (which should be behind it so your cold drinks don’t get warmed up by the sun beating down on them).

    Gas Door Releases – It’s nice to have a latching gas door that has to be released from the inside (to deter thieves as gas prices continue to rise). But please, pick a place and leave it there. I’ve seen them in the floor, on the dash, in the alcove in the door panel. Pick one and stick with it, please!

    Good discussion, hope they are listening!

  • Craig M. Bryda

    Automatic door locks,

  • slugg_jb

    I’m glad I don’t have too many of these annoyances on my 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan but the one I have (and totally drives me batty) is the “dual” climate control. Unless you opted for the deluxe version which you can set so that the passenger control matches the driver control, you have to manually adjust both controls if you are driving alone. Did Chrysler think there would “always” be a passenger that can adjust their side??? How dumb is that?

  • John Teague

    Start / Stop Systems FAIL … I have a BMW and started out with this system engaged which compared to defeating the system amounts to very little fuel savings AND living in Florida, while driving I often have the air conditioning on, charging my phone, headlights on if at night and listening to the radio so the engine turns back on before the green light anyway as the battery is draining to much to keep turning the engine off and then on again … this has to be beating the life out of the battery. Has anyone quantified THAT? BMW doesn’t care if I need a new battery a year or more before I normally would, in fact, they make more money when I do so …. Needless to say, I have the start/ stop system now disables on my car.



  • ixalmida

    Button placement is one peeve I have. The button to change driver seat profile…right at knee level (imagine sitting at a stop light when suddenly the seat and steering wheel start to collapse on you). The button to activate voice recognition…on the inside left of the steering wheel (where I accidentally press it all the time, forcing me to call out “cancel” as if I have turrets).

    Another is volume knobs that won’t actually adjust the volume if you spin it too fast (like when you’re nervous because a cop pulled you over) and electronic shifters that always spring back to the middle so you can never tell what gear you are in simply by touch. The latter is actually dangerous because sometimes when I think I’ve shifted into park, I actually haven’t and the car starts rolling.

    And while I love the one-touch entry system, it is a bit of an annoyance that it can’t tell the difference between a human touch and the spray of a car wash nozzle. When I wash my car, the door constantly unlocks and all the lights flash.

    Yes…first world problems, but why not just invest a few extra hours thinking about the customer experience and get it right in the first place? Are they really rushing these cars to the assembly plant that fast? What other things might they have missed (e.g.: my shifter stops working at an off-ramp and a message says, “Shifter malfunction. You must come to a full stop and turn off the vehicle to engage park.” That shit is scary.)

  • dickerin

    Great idea.

  • OperationMongoose

    Sorry, daytime running lights are a good idea. you CAN see oncoming cars in the daytime better when the lights are on. You are wrong.

  • OperationMongoose

    My car doesnt have that and I cannot understand how it is a benefit. Never mind the battery, thats minor. How about the starter and the fuel pump? Check out the BMW dealer costs on those items.

  • OperationMongoose

    I have always hated the passenger side mirrors that say ‘objects are closer than they appear’, or somethng like that. I want to look in a mirror with the objects appearing the right distance that they actually are!!! I have often gotten that mirror replaced at a glass shop on several of my vehicles and I know others that have also.

  • dickerin

    You have poor eyesight.

    Surrender your license.

  • Isend2C

    Where can I replace this?! I’ve always hated it too! Makes no sense at all to me. I’ve never seen a car in the US without this ‘feature’.

  • Isend2C

    Yup. srsly.

  • Isend2C

    I used to hate auto windows for the same reason. I first dealt with them in my mom’s 2001 Volvo and the detents were so mild that I would ALWAYS have the window go all the way down or up. it was impossible for me to get it partially. Most of my newer cars have gotten better about this – particularly Hyundai, but they have a very hard not great feeling detent.

  • OperationMongoose

    Just go to a glass shop. My sister worked in one and I used get it for free.

  • OperationMongoose

    no, my eyesite is fine. Daytime running lights are especially helpful in rainy conditions. So your lightsout group is stupid and so are you. Get a life.

  • dickerin

    We don’t usually get teenage girls on this website. Welcome.

  • OperationMongoose

    Thank you. This only proves that even us teen girls have more common sense than you.

  • BlueBomberTurbo

    Its because the passenger mirror uses a wider angle. You can adjust your position in the driver seat to look around in the driver mirror, but that really doesn’t work on the passenger one, since you’re farther away.

    If they gave you a 1:1 view on either mirror, you wouldn’t be able to see much at all. Try it: just make a box with your hands the size of a mirror and see how little you can actually see.

  • Robert Stone

    seat belt beepers (Hitler reminders) at least you can turn them off