/ Motoring, Technology

Your view: car tech you’d introduce or retire

Toy car in a tunnel

In our debate on the potential demise of windscreen wipers, you discussed the car tech you’d like to consign to history. There were also suggestions of new tech you’d like to see introduced…

Wavechange dislikes all the lights in modern cars:

‘What I would like to consign to history is the current trend of festooning cars with strings of LEDs as brake lights, indicators and daytime running lights.’

Terfar shares his opinion on McLaren introducing ‘sound wave’ wipers:

‘Round wheels were invented in Neolithic times: should we stop using them because they really are ancient history?’

The cost of car repairs

Mike comments on the cost of repairing or replacing new tech, getting him our Comment of the Week:

‘Some innovations are good, some are not. Others are nice to have on a new car, but are a pain for second-hand buyers, because they go wrong. Some years ago I was appalled to have to pay 250 quid to repair an electric sunroof I never used, and did not want. Touchscreens are also likely to die on the last owners, sending the car to the scrapheap.’

Malcolm agrees:

‘The trouble with progress is it costs so much more to put these gadgets right when things go wrong – and you can rarely do it yourself. So no longer fit a new wiper blade, but an ultrasonic generator for which you’ll need a payday loan. The Xenon headlights on my car cost – £100 for the bulb and £450 to replace a failed ballest (off with the front bumper). Is it worth it? No.’

Past, present and future systems

Garrett misses his old car’s heating system:

‘My old car heating/ventilation system allowed me to enjoy hot air blowing at my feet together with cold fresh air blowing at my face. With my modern car’s air conditioning the choices are limited and when it broke down on a very hot afternoon our journey became almost intolerable.’

Peter wouldn’t miss his car’s voice-activated system:

‘My car has voice-activated systems; the radio/CD, the heating etc but, quite honestly, it’s easier to reach and push a button than try to think of the correct phrase out of the 140 possibilities. So often when I say ‘CD play track seven’, the response will be ‘Rear screen demister on’…bah!’

As for David, he’d like a new speaker system to be introduced:

‘I would like a speaker system within the car that would allow me to talk to rear seat passengers without having to talk in a raised voice and vice versa so that I can hear them also. Is there anything out there yet?’

What car tech would you like to see introduced or retired?

Comments
Member

For me, the most useful feature of modern cars is parking sensors. Over the 46 years that I have been driving a car, I cannot remember hitting anything going forward but I have reversed into many small bollards in every car I have owned – except my present one, which has parking sensors.

In the previous Conversation, Ian made several sensible suggestions, including using distance sensors to discourage tailgating.

Member

I can see the usefulness of reversing sensors, very useful until the day they go wrong, and they will. Friend of mine had such a failure on a Rover 75. Quite a big expensive job to repair.
Think I can get by without them.

Sensors on the front to deter tailgating is a very good idea though. So long as these sensors are designed such that replacement is made simple and cheap.
They could be made to only operate above say 20 mph to prevent waiting in a line at traffic lights becoming a pain, and made so that (above 20 mph) they could not be switched off.

As for other gadgets and gizmos I think the main issue is not whether they are present but how useful they really are, how well they are designed for easy and cheap replacement, because they will go wrong, and of course a thought about how quickly the technology employed goes out of date.

Member

Manufacturers have made it difficult to replace failed light bulbs in many cars, so it is not surprising that it can be expensive to replace a parking sensor.

It would be good to go back to the days when simple jobs could be done easily.

Member

I make my daughter get out of the car and stand behind it. Fortunately she’s now tall enough I can see her.

Member

Agree that daylight running lights are an EU generated waste of time.

Re tailgating; the rear sensors could be programmed to advise when you’re being tailgated so that you could decide whether to speed up (probably futile even if feasible) or gradually slow down (ideal but requires courage). Front sensors might be a pest if they went off at the start of overtaking manouvres especially on 2way roads. Other danger is that regulations might set parameters overcautiously.

Member

There are several improvements I would like to see:

1. Electronic speedometers (linked to the wheels as usual) but that automatically recalibrate themselves using GPS. There is no excuse in this day and age for speedometers to be inaccurate, usually over-reading by around 7%.
2. Clocks that require only a choice of timezone and set the actual time from a GPS signal.
3. USB ports for music instead of CD players.
4. Factory-fitted sat-nav with a choice of map source including free sources such, e.g. Google Maps. I’m fed up that Google Earth on my PC is more up-to-date than the data in my BMW because updates are provided only three times per year and with an excessively high charge of £200.

For cars that have a built-in GPS, the lack of the first two is inexcusable.

Member

An example of low tech that should be in every car:

A PROPER SPARE WHEEL AND THE TOOLS TO FIT IT.

Member

Meaning a full-size spare wheel, I hope.

Member

Damn right. Full size tyre, useable, same type of rubber, full instructions taped to the inside of the hatch/boot…