Useless tech / equipment in cars

Jul 18, 2017
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On a car forum it was asked what was the most useless tech or equipment in a car. The one that made top of the list was the Stop / Start function. Mine peeves are the first four which I think should be options. :unsure:

From that thread I have compose a list of unnecessary stuff that you paid for, but probably will never use however take note of the comment in italics by one idiot. Do you have any to add?

Stop/Start
Unnecessary sunroof when you have air con, noisy when open at speed and you get roasted by the sun when its open.
Paddle shift gear change
Hill Descent Control on 4x4. Do we have any really steep hills in the UK requiring that function?

SatNav lack of functions as cannot add dimensions, doesn't show alternative routes and in many cases you need to pay big bucks to update
Another annoying thing can be automatic windscreen wipers, they are always either to fast or too slow.
The dashboard chime can be annoying when a door is slightly ajar
Touch screen with far too many apps that you will never use.
Lane keeping assist, lane centering, radar-guided cruise control. All this is making us worst/lazy drivers.Keep your hands on the steering wheel and pay attention. The poster does have a point!
Auto brights - always switches off too late for oncoming traffic , switches on when car is 200m in front.
Radar cruise control - car keeps preset distance, matches speed of front car when on cruise control, but when car in front gives way, car takes 10 seconds to increase speed again

Limo mode - rear entertainment cannot be accessed on front panel when in limo mode, but kids don’t know how to control the screens. Split screen in front - driver cannot see DVD/ media playing on front screen, but passenger can. I also want to see the dvd

Voice recognition was fun for 5 seconds then turned it off.
Headlamp washers in cars.
 
Aug 24, 2020
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Our Citroen has many of the features listed there - my two particular peeves are:

1) the electronic handbrake - to release the handbrake you need to have your foot on the foot brake - there's then a brief pause before the handbrake releases, described as a driver aid to give time to get your foot over onto the accelerator - a "feature" which wouldn't be needed if you didn't need to have your foot on the foot brake to start with.

2) The built-in TomTom satnav - I ran TomTom on an iPaq PDA when it first came out in about 2003, long before phone apps or standalone satnavs. I could programme it to know what speed I drove on various roads, what sort of roads I like to drive on, and several other factors. After 20 years development I now can't adjust maximum speeds (which would be really useful when towing), or most other factors. I know they want me to spend extra for the caravan version of TomTom on my phone, but it's still annoying.

Oh yes - I've disabled the auto-main-beam because it's far too slow to react.
 
Jul 23, 2021
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It's very interesting reading this, and leads me to believe the value is in the specific (manufacturer) implementation of a feature, not the general feature its self. A few examples.

Stop / start - ok this was on my PHEV, but it was totally un-noticeable from a driver perspective. It just saved money and fumes at traffic lights.

Built in sat nav - mine now uses Google maps natively. It's brilliant, always up to date, with excellent traffic information and all the extra info that Google brings on destinations. The TomTom built into the Fiat is "ok" but does a great job of charger selection and availability. Its also too up to date - showing roads that aren't actually built yet...

Voice recognition - again, because its native "ok google" it just works, especially for interacting with the navigation, or for adjusting the temperature, seat heaters etc. Or even opening the garage door, turning on the lights at home or adjusting the thermostat. On the Fiat, its usable to set a navigation destination - but thats about it.

Active high beam - This works amazingly with LED matrix lighting, its like some form of wizardry, only pointing the high beam where there isn't another vehicle, but not where there is. It has to be seen to be believed. The Polestar is MUCH better at this than the Fiat.

Radar cruise - pilot assist. Was good on the PHEV, not bad on the Fiat and excellent on the Polestar. The Fiat has a nasty habit when on the motorway and pulling out to overtake a slower vehicle. If you slip in behind an even faster moving vehicle that just passed you (as some margin of speed), it will think you are too close and apply the brakes, even as the gap is already increasing rapidly. The Volvo PHEV and Polestar have no such bad habit.
Auto rain sensors - also brilliant on all three cars.

What is there that is not useful? Surprisingly little...
 
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Jun 16, 2020
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Must agree with Tobes. For me, the start/stop has worked smoothly in the background. A slight problem with the MG thoug, if trying tonip in at a roundabout for example. That tiny delay when trying to fit into traffic is a little off putting.

John
 
Mar 3, 2022
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All these gizmos just waiting to fleece the unwary when they go wrong!
Much prefer cars built on the KISS principle.
 
Jul 19, 2021
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Start stop in my experience so far.
BMW- too aggressive
VW - about right
Land Rover - Never worked

Sunroof - love them, glad my Santa Fe has a massive one
Hill descent - fantastic on icy or muddy hills
Rain sensitive wipers - no issues, they are adjustable and work very well in my experience, one less thing for me to worry about
Paddle shift gear selection - I agree
Touch screen - my gripe is that they are out of date so quickly, mine is positivly useless now
Voice recognition- never use it, not interested in google collecting more data from me , kids love it though, it's a generational thing
Active High Beam - wish I had it, been out in an ID3 with matrix lighting it and it's bloomin amazing, some kind of whichcraft
Built in sat nav - never found one to be any good, but may help in an emergency
Headlamp washers in cars - I don't need to get my hands cold and dirty, so don't see the issue
 
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I really cannot see why in Buckman list showing headlight washers are given thumbs down. Cannot see why that would be. Winter days with salt on roads can quickly dry out on the lights and dim them. What objection could anyone have?
 
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JTQ

May 7, 2005
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Sun roofs have never been anything but an option on any new cars we have purchased. And ought, in later reselling to be self-evident to any buyer of a used vehicle, therefore they are not options we paid for without being fully aware we were.
Hill decent, well in Disco 3/4 interpretation of it, is useful, and yes, off road we certainly can encounter steep enough hills. Plus, again any thinking buyer would be aware of that vehicle feature, so buys knowing they are spending on it. Apart from a selector it is nothing extra physically in the vehicle, just lines of programming code.

With mass produced vehicles offering item by item options, should any maker offer you it, adds to the build cost as if changes many factors, so options lists are finite and often grouped into "packages".

One feature I truly detest as it has been so costly going wrong, is an electronic dip stick, not the addition of it but the replacement of the tried and tested actual dipstick. As dumb a design decision as one could ever make.
In all the engines I professionally have had involvement with, it never replaced the dipstick, but was in addition to facilitate automated surveillance, in that it makes complete sense.
 
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Sep 26, 2018
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The HIll descent control on the XC40 I used to get my father-in-law to an appointment in last winter's early december snow & ice. It was brilliant, take feet off pedals, and let the car takeitself down hill, it felt INCREDIBLY secure and planted on sheet ice.

Mind you I did only use it once or twice in 3 years
 
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Sun roofs have never been anything but an option on any new cars we have purchased. And ought, in later reselling to be self-evident to any buyer of a used vehicle, therefore they are not options we paid for without being fully aware we were.
Hill decent, well in Disco 3/4 interpretation of it, is useful, and yes, off road we certainly can encounter steep enough hills. Plus, again any thinking buyer would be aware of that vehicle feature, so buys knowing they are spending on it. Apart from a selector it is nothing extra physically in the vehicle, just lines of programming code.

With mass produced vehicles offering item by item options, should any maker offer you it, adds to the build cost as if changes many factors, so options lists are finite and often grouped into "packages".

One feature I truly detest as it has been so costly going wrong, is an electronic dip stick, not the addition of it but the replacement of the tried and tested actual dipstick. As dumb a design decision as one could ever make.
In all the engines I professionally have had involvement with, it never replaced the dipstick, but was in addition to facilitate automated surveillance, in that it makes complete sense.
With the Hill descent, if you do not use it, it may seize up. Same with the low ratio which I do use occasionally and can be used instead of Hill descent. On our previous Jeep it seized up although it did not affect the performance of the Jeep. I only found out by chance that it no longer worked. It was replaced under warranty although the Jeep was 6 years old.

Another forgotten aspect is on certain vehicles, stuff like the transmission, gearbox, axle diffs are supposed sealed for the lifetime of the vehicle however lifetime is not defined. What would happen if one of the units goes faulty and the vehicle is 6 - 7 years old with appropriate mileage and a full service history?

In my opinion sealed units is an unnecessary evil as it would be quite expensive if one needs to replace either of those sealed units!
 
Nov 6, 2005
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There aren't many things on my VW Touareg that I don't use:-

Stop/start - used once in a blue moon now that it defaults to the previous status, usually off
Coasting - I was never comfortable with this and prefer to use engine braking, as I was taught
ESP Switch - never used it so ESP is on all the time

On the flip side, a sunroof is essential for us especially as so many modern cars have drab black interiors - hill descent control is useful off-road and on very steep public roads.

One of the things that really pigs me off is that the Traffic Information feature no longer works in the UK as VW UK have ended their use of TrafficMaster - so no dynamic sat nav routing.
 
Jul 23, 2021
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With the Hill descent, if you do not use it, it may seize up. Same with the low ratio which I do use occasionally and can be used instead of Hill descent. On our previous Jeep it seized up although it did not affect the performance of the Jeep. I only found out by chance that it no longer worked. It was replaced under warranty although the Jeep was 6 years old.

Another forgotten aspect is on certain vehicles, stuff like the transmission, gearbox, axle diffs are supposed sealed for the lifetime of the vehicle however lifetime is not defined. What would happen if one of the units goes faulty and the vehicle is 6 - 7 years old with appropriate mileage and a full service history?

In my opinion sealed units is an unnecessary evil as it would be quite expensive if one needs to replace either of those sealed units!
In the two cars I have been in with hill descent (Freelander 2 and Volvo XC60 - both Haldex based) there is nothing to go wrong other than a computer. It uses the ABS sensors, individual wheel brakes and regular drive train. Is there a physical component on other cars? Low range on a 4x4 with a transfer box, I can understand.
 
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In the two cars I have been in with hill descent (Freelander 2 and Volvo XC60 - both Haldex based) there is nothing to go wrong other than a computer. It uses the ABS sensors, individual wheel brakes and regular drive train. Is there a physical component on other cars? Low range on a 4x4 with a transfer box, I can understand.
It works fine in my Santa Fe, I use it in a wooded car park after walking the dog. Just for the sake of testing it. I can go down the hill Slower just using the brakes.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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I used HDC in my two Subaru Foresters on some occasions when it was snowy/ice or on muddy descents. Both had cvt gearboxes and I must admit I found the steering wheel paddle shifters quite useful in solo driving.
 
Aug 12, 2023
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-Have Andriod Auto so never use satnat, which has been dropped in latest Vitara.
-Love adaptive cruise control and was one reasons for buying new car, just makes long distance driving safer and more relaxing. Never get stressed by following slow drivers and more.
-Auto headlights are great.
-Auto wipers I'm so so about.
-Reversing camera must especially for attaching caravan.
-Not been impressed with works mixed fleets lane keep, terrible on some cars. luckily mine doesn't have it.
-Paddle shifters I rarely use and are useless on windy roads which is one place would need them most. Luckily auto very good most of time with sports mode ideal for windy roads.

-Hill start is great especially when towing. Its a feature I never think about but use all time without realising it.

-My collision detect can beep because of odd parked cars but never activated. Workmates have had it kick in a couple times and saved them, one wasn't braking hard enough other was probably checking emails on phone.
-Blindside spot detection is must have.

Some of work fleet is terrible with bings and bongs on tight streets, subaru being worst.

Overall new features especially active safety ones just make driving less stressful and safer.
Edit. LED headlights brillant (punn intended) will never buy another car without them. Only low beam on mine. The new adaptive high beams sound like way to go if doing lot of country road night driving
 
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JTQ

May 7, 2005
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With the Hill descent, if you do not use it, it may seize up. Same with the low ratio which I do use occasionally and can be used instead of Hill descent

"Seizing if not used", that's not realistic with the HDC on my Discos, because it is nothing physical unique to it other than a selector in the cab. It is a bit of computer software that uses the ABS and throttle system, both frequently used in their other roles.

Using low ratio is not the same.
Fundamentally different in that low ratio is just that, it lacks the intelligence to selectively brake individual wheels and control the throttle in response to how each wheel rolls or slips.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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"Seizing if not used", that's not realistic with the HDC on my Discos, because it is nothing physical unique to it other than a selector in the cab. It is a bit of computer software that uses the ABS and throttle system, both frequently used in their other roles.

Using low ratio is not the same.
Fundamentally different in that low ratio is just that, it lacks the intelligence to selectively brake individual wheels and control the throttle in response to how each wheel rolls or slips.
To be honest I have no idea how it works as never had the need to use it. I did have an issue with the low ratio on a previous vehicle as again never used it until one day I needed it. Now I use it about once a month to make sure that it still works.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I used low ratio on my Disco 2 when towing a trailer of straw bales, and it would come in handy when pitching the caravan on some CLs in the days before I had a mover.
 

JTQ

May 7, 2005
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To be honest I have no idea how it works as never had the need to use it. I did have an issue with the low ratio on a previous vehicle as again never used it until one day I needed it. Now I use it about once a month to make sure that it still works.

It is therefore difficult to give any credibility to stating that HDC may seize if not used. That is simply not the case with what is additionally software, though with the claimed alternative low ratio, that involve physical use of otherwise un used components, it can be.

I find low ratio the more refined gearing for backing on for hitching up, the more so with a cold engine whilst it features elevated idling crank speeds, so that is frequently in use in our case.
 
Nov 6, 2005
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It is therefore difficult to give any credibility to stating that HDC may seize if not used. That is simply not the case with what is additionally software, though with the claimed alternative low ratio, that involve physical use of otherwise un used components, it can be.

I find low ratio the more refined gearing for backing on for hitching up, the more so with a cold engine whilst it features elevated idling crank speeds, so that is frequently in use in our case.
I prefer VW/Audi's recent approach of an 8-speed transmission with ultra-low 1st gear and ultra-high top gear instead of the low ratio with a 6-speed transmission.
 
Jan 3, 2012
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So far on my new car the stop start has worked smoothly
i also like adaptive cruise control that was one of the reasons of going for it
Also adaptive lighting with dynamic led headlights
lane -centring help you stay in the predefined position within your lane
Active park assist has help me choosing the right space
rear view camera comes when i put into reverse gear
Paddle shift on steering wheel (not use so far)
The sat nav so far in this car has work great .
 
Nov 16, 2015
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I use the speed limiter on our Santa Fe, in certain "long speed restricted roads" as I know how easy it is for my speed to creep up just over the limit, It is amazing how much of a tail back I get behind me.
I think all these little items you have on your car you should use them at least once a month just to make sure they work. So that when //if you need them, they work.
 
Aug 12, 2023
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I use the speed limiter on our Santa Fe, in certain "long speed restricted roads" as I know how easy it is for my speed to creep up just over the limit, It is amazing how much of a tail back I get behind me.
I think all these little items you have on your car you should use them at least once a month just to make sure they work. So that when //if you need them, they work.
I use on roads with mixture of long straights and slower corners. Never need to worry about speed when back on a straight.
 
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I use on roads with mixture of long straights and slower corners. Never need to worry about speed when back on a straight.
Does your speed limiter reduce your speed as you come off of the straight and into a corner. I recall the first time I came across cruise control. I hired a Chrysler K car in Washington for a drive onto the Skyline Drive. Once on the drive I engaged cruise control as speed limits were enforced by the park police. Didn't occur to me to disengage it when a bend arrived. Must say the K car managed the unanticipated manoeuvre incredibly well. :eek:
 

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