Since the creation of the modern automobile, vehicles have come a long way regarding innovation and user-friendly interfaces. Certain features such as the air-conditioner, which we now all take for granted, is a terrific blessing, especially during the heat of peak summer months. The navigation system in your vehicle can help you find your way when you are traveling in unfamiliar areas. While safety features such as airbags and ABS have saved countless lives since they became commonplace inside cars everywhere.
However, then there are some ideas that are just so weird, so strange — and outright insane — that we often wonder how they came to be inside the cars that we drive every day.
Before we get started, we have a word of caution. This post is basically a rant on the top five most useless features that are found in cars today. These are strictly personal opinions, and this piece is intended as entertainment. With that in mind: enjoy!
Electronic Hand Brake
The parking brake, or also known as “handbrake” in certain countries. In its traditional, non-electronic form, the handbrake is a fairly simple feature. You pull the level back, which will in turn pull two cables that engage the rear brakes — with the added use of locking the rear brake. A handbrake can turn out to be particularly useful in key situations, such as parking your car in a descending or uneven surface.
Certain luxury vehicle manufacturers, including Audi, Mercedes, and BMW, had plans of replacing the manual handbrake with an electronic one. You are able to find a convenient switch on the center console which will engage and disengage the handbrakes with little difficulty.
It is not exactly that the concept of the electronic hand brake is a bad one. It is just that overengineering something that is very simple and effective like a manual handbrake is completely unnecessary. There are also some drawbacks to the electronic hand brake. Replacing a set of brake pads will cost you an expensive trip to the garage because the calipers are operated electronically. This means that you will require a diagnostics laptop in order to service your car’s brakes.
Paddle Shifters in a CVT
The CVT, or Continuously Variable Transmission, is a remarkable advent in automatic transmission technology that utilizes belts and conical pulleys in order to provide “virtual” gear ratios. By virtual, we mean that there are no real gears involved. It is si ply the diameter of the conical pulley that is changed due to hydraulic pressure which then, in turn, varies the speed using the output shaft.
In order to remedy this, vehicle manufacturers chose to install a pair of paddle shifts in order to provide the driver with an illusion of changing gears. Honda owners may be familiar with this. The issue with paddle shifters is simply this: a CVT, essentially, is intended to eliminate the jerk-feeling that is experienced each time you shift gear in a manual vehicle. The intention is to provide seamless acceleration from the beginning. Instead of simply faking gear shifts, vehicle manufacturers should focus on getting rid of the rubber-band effect that seems to be an issue with every CVT.
In essence, the creation of the sunroof feels like a half-hearted attempt in order to provide a convertible experience in a typical vehicle. There are many things that are wrong with the sunroof.
Here are some of the few things that are, in our opinion, wrong with the sunroof:
- First, they are extremely heavy. A sunroof can add over 60 pounds to the combined weight of the vehicle.
- Second, they steal your headroom. The sunroof mechanism takes up a lot of space on the roof.
- Third, sunroofs are well-known for leaking water during rain. Adding to this, they are also very expensive to repair if needed.
- Fourth, a sunroof disrupts the structural rigidity of a car. Cutting a hole in the roof is not exactly a wise idea from a structural perspective.
- Fifth, sunroof impacts the aerodynamics of the vehicle, decreasing gas mileage.
Automated Windshield Wipers
In our opinion, automatic windshield wipers are just lazy. There is really no need for windshield wipers to be automated. However, it seems to be a good idea at first, until you begin to realize how irritating it can be in practical use. The sensors often have a difficult time adjusting to the intensity of rain that is inconsistent or intermittent, and it can become absolutely frustrating to override the system once it has started.
The AM Radio
Do you even remember the last time you tuned into an AM radio station? Neither do we.
In the modern world, AM — or Amplitude Modulation — is a medium wave radio that is essentially a relic of the past. Analog radio broadcasting is a very primitive method of transmitting information. Not only is the sound quality poor, but the reception is often weak and extremely vulnerable to being intercepted. However, the relatively low-frequency transmission signal means that AM can easily transmit information over great distances, from 300 to 500 miles. Many AM radio stations use this low frequency in order to provide emergency broadcasts or severe weather alerts.
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