AutoGuide Answers: Seven Car Features That Drive Us Insane

Sami Haj-Assaad
by Sami Haj-Assaad

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

tap 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.

Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami has an unquenchable thirst for car knowledge and has been at AutoGuide for the past six years. He has a degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto and has won multiple journalism awards from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. Sami is also on the jury for the World Car Awards.

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10 of 38 comments
  • OperationMongoose OperationMongoose on Aug 06, 2015

    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 OperationMongoose on Aug 06, 2015

    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.

    • See 2 previous
    • BlueBomberTurbo BlueBomberTurbo on Sep 27, 2015

      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.