The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 July 2006

Option package D

I have yet to figure out every last button on Gwendolyn's instrument panel, so naturally I'd think that this is a question to ponder:

In addition to more and more horsepower, automobile manufacturers are seemingly locked in a desperate struggle to load their vehicles up with more and more, well, stuff. Supposedly to help you drive better. After all, modern supercars are essentially porky Le Mans racers with power windows. But which feature is the most oversold, the most useless? Which does nothing but fill promotional material and empty your wallet?

I'm pretty sure that you can make some kind of case for just about any automotive feature whatever, but this comment, I think, speaks volumes:

Most useless feature in a car? Based on my experience driving in Massachusetts, I would say that itís the lever mounted on the steering column that makes a clicking sound when you press it down or up. It also causes a light to blink on and off. No one ever uses it.

It's occasionally used in Oklahoma, though I suspect mostly for its decorative value.

Posted at 5:10 AM to Driver's Seat


I'll have to run out to the garage and see if mine has one of those. I like blinking lights. But seems I read they outlawed those in Tennessee.

My current vehicle came with a couple of things I would never have opted for. The most ridiculous: the seat heaters for both of the front buckets. Never used them. Well, once accidentally last August when it was 95. A/C was going full blast but my butt was getting warmer and warmer. Then I discovered that I had somehow hit the on switch for the seat heater without knowing.

And then there are the side mirror heaters/defoggers. I tried them once and sho nuff, within 20 minutes the outside mirrors were ice and fog free. Of course it was only a 10 minute trip, but hey...

Posted by: Winston at 5:55 AM on 15 July 2006

Regarding the "lever mounted on the steering column that makes a clicking sound", some people around here seem to get a lot of enjoyment from just leaving their "blinking lights" on once they have made their turn, sometimes for miles afterward.

Winston, if you want someone to take those seat heaters off your hands, just let me know (if this was January, I would already be on my way down to Tennessee!)... :)

Posted by: Muttering In Manitoba at 9:31 AM on 15 July 2006

I remember a Mad Magazine series on drivers - they proposed an "improvement" where if the driver left the turn signal on, the car was eventually forced to turn that direction. Wouldn't that be fun!

Posted by: Jeffro at 7:45 PM on 15 July 2006

I would say that itís the lever mounted on the steering column that makes a clicking sound when you press it down or up. It also causes a light to blink on and off. No one ever uses it.

Most of the cars driven by Coweta County sheriff's deputies seem to have had that feature removed.

I remember a Mad Magazine series on drivers - they proposed an "improvement" where if the driver left the turn signal on, the car was eventually forced to turn that direction.

It would also need to require that if you weren't signaling, you had to go straight.

Posted by: McGehee at 3:41 PM on 16 July 2006

According to the "Boston Driver's Handbook" (a very good and amusing book), you're not supposed to use the directional as it gives the other guy the advantage of knowing what you're going to do.

Posted by: Thomas Pfau at 12:12 PM on 18 July 2006