These are 3 of the most irritating bits of car tech ever

    Some things are meant to make our lives better, yet ends up making it slightly worse

    4w ago


    There comes a certain point when we just start making work for ourselves. Coming up with madcap ideas and convincing ourselves that we like them because clearly our genius has not been formally recognised and the world needs to bathe in our greatness. I once tried to make a pork pie pizza, for example. The smell of grating a pork pie will never leave me. Mount Nacho Pizza worked wonderfully, but that was a rare hit in a battery of misses.

    That’s small scale though, and only really stunk out one kitchen. There are some ideas that, somehow, made it past concept, prototype, and many board meetings to make it in to the wider stream. Ideas that will have come to someone in a dream and simply had to be written down – only they weren’t a flux capacitor, but something a bit cack. Here are some of the worst.

    Auto-dimming mirrors

    It’s easy to see how this one got its run: “You know how you can be easily blinded at night by cars behind you? Well what if we made that problem go away..?” Anyone who’s been in a remotely low car with a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV behind them will know how, rather than lights, Mitsubishi installed two suns in the front of its car and they always want to blow out your retinas. The theory is that a sensor detects an abundance of light when it’s dark, and dims the rear view and door mirrors to stop the driver getting dazzled. It works, the driver doesn’t get dazzled. But it also renders the mirrors effectively useless because they turn so dark. The driver’s eyes don’t burn out, but they also can’t see behind the car. Some older systems have a handy button to turn this feature off… others don’t make it so obvious. These sunglasses are often buried in options ‘packs’ as well, so if you want option X you’ll need to have them. Rage inducing.

    And honourable mention for the auto-sensing rain wiper here as well. The car may be able to ‘see’ if it’s weeing it down, but your eyes and ears can do that as well, often much better than the machine.

    Gesture control

    Not long ago the world was, somehow, more obsessed with being as futuristic as possible. Voice control was often attempted in cars and was, almost always, utter cack (I once had a screaming match with a car while driving up the M40). As Iron Man tech became the top of everyone’s wish list, engineers thought of clever ways to integrate it in to everyday lives.

    And lo, gesture technology was put in to cars. It had the potential to be a neat way to answer calls, skips tracks, or fiddle with volume levels – a simple flick of the hand is a cool way to deal with simple stuff (and irritating people, let’s be honest) – and much fuss was made of it. BMW led the way, putting it in as many cars as it could justify.

    By waving your hand through an invisible beam, the car would read your movements and decide what you were trying to do. Often badly.

    If you were remotely animated while you, or your passenger, spoke you could end up skipping whole albums in the space of a single story, or end up deafening the whole car. And all of this was while the driver, the one with best access to gesture control, had their hands on a multifunction steering wheel which could do all the gesture stuff, and more, with a simple thumb prod.

    Branded puddle lamps

    Being able to see, as we’ve already established, is a good thing. Yet for some reason manufacturers seem to think we need to see everything all the time, even after we’ve finished driving. First there were ‘follow me home’ headlights that stayed on for a spell after you’d stopped and locked the car, great if you often parked down dark alleys, but useless if you reversed in to your space at home as they’d only serve to illuminate the neighbour’s living room.

    Then came the puddle lamp – a super bright light embedded in your door mirror designed to light the floor? Conceptually they’re mega because they highlight any mud/water/whatever as you get out of the car, but remember where they’re placed? The door mirror... Which meant that when you open the door they light up the front of the car, nowhere near where you’re actually going to stand. Mildly handy when you unlock the car when you return to it, sure, but largely useless when you arrive at a new space. To make things worse, manufacturers have started branding them. A Ford Mustang will bring up a horse, Audi’s RS cars light up with ‘AUDI SPORT’ which is very twee, but surely if you’ve bought an RS 6 or whatever you know what it is..?

    What car tech do you hate

    What else is out there that boils your blood? What other irksome tech have you found fitted to cars? Let us know in the comments.

    Join In

    Comments (97)

    • Putting a cup holder directly behind the gear shift so a drink is always in the way!

      Cars making bonging noises when you open a door and the keys are still in the ignition. Auto stop/start!

      Run flat tyres!

      Auto tailgates. All voice recognition systems! Whoever came up with that needs beating around the head with mouldy celery!

      Keyless entry.

      I’m sure there’s more, I’ll go and have a think

        1 month ago
      • Putting a cup holder behind the gearshift: Yes! See the Current Gen Renault Megane! The cup holders are about as much use as a Sunroof on a submarine.

          1 month ago
      • Agree, except run flats. They are slightly noisier than normal tyres, but I love them, nonetheless.

          1 month ago
    • I hate all tech that makes drivers lazy and inattentive to their surroundings because it's always the person forced by whatever reason to have an older, less safe, less techy car that comes off worse.

        1 month ago
      • I definitely agree with this, although I like my automatic gearbox, the clutch used to give me backache.

          1 month ago
      • Yeah can't deny an automatic and some electric windows are useful! Even power steering too, but a radar to stop you hitting the wall.... nope!

          1 month ago
    • Keyless starts, Electronic tailgates, so called "clever 4wd systems", Beeping every single time (open the door, close the door, starts the engine, turn climate control on, open tailgate, closing windows....)

        1 month ago
      • Omg yes! Beep for everything! NO ANCAP, that doesn't make a car "safer, it makes it an annoying place I don't want to be.

          1 month ago
    • BMW Gesture control - wank

      Auto dim mirrors -useful

      Puddle lights - not offensive so fine with it

      What I don’t like is massive keys with screens that are as big as mobile phones - yes you BMW!

        1 month ago
      • "BMW Gesture control - wank"

        What does a BMW do if you perform that particular hand gesture whilst driving the car?

        Is that how you set the distance on the radar guided cruise control to its lowest setting?

          1 month ago
      • That’s funny.

        I can imagine there will be a number of BMW drivers doing that gesture when they get unnecessarily annoyed by other drivers. The car however in my opinion would interpret that as flash your headlights at other drivers or...

        Read more
          1 month ago
    • I hate the "bing bing bing" that tells one "your keys are in the ignition" - Yes, I know they're there, who do you think put them there in the first place!?

        1 month ago
      • The "bing bing bing" would actually have been a good idea before the key fob was used for locking/unlocking the central locking, anyone who locked their keys in the car would agree. It's a shame they forgot to get rid of the bing when they put...

        Read more
          1 month ago
      • I know this isn’t the same issue, but on my car you can open the boot (trunk) without unlocking the rest of the car; when you shut it again it automatically is locked like it was before. Cool if you just need to grab something from the boot, but if...

        Read more
          1 month ago


    Post sponsored by

    What's less distracting?
    The Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid could just be the ultimate daily driver
    The Thrilling Game-Changing Supercars Of The 50s
    BREAKING: Romain Grosjean Survives Crash In Bahrain F1 Race