Tributaries of denial

A Facebook friend in eastern Kansas sent up a snapshot of the gauge panel in his car, which was showing a temperature reading of 111° F. I responded thusly:

My car won’t volunteer a temperature unless you request it; I figured I didn’t want to know.

This is in fact true: the short-of-weapons-grade HVAC system Nissan crammed into the dash has only enough LEDs to display the temperature setting and the fan distribution. You want the outside temp, you have to push the AMB(ient) button on the side.

And it occurred to me later that this is not the first thing I didn’t want to know. Nissan provides the usual six-digit odo (no tenths) and two trip meters, labeled A and B. I am meticulous about logging fillups on the B meter — and then I keep the display set to A, so I don’t spend time wondering if I’m getting lousier gas mileage than usual. (Before you ask: unless I’m on a road trip, A measures the distance since the last oil change.)

While we’re on the subject: OG&E, having bestowed upon me a Smart Meter, sends me a link for an energy-use update once a week. I usually don’t look at any of them until approximately five days before the scheduled meter reading, lest I become despondent.


  1. Dick Stanley »

    7 June 2011 · 9:29 pm

    Me, I prefer automotive ignorance, blissful or not. Fortunately my Honda cooperates by not keeping me informed until the gas is low or the engine is overheating.

  2. McGehee »

    7 June 2011 · 10:04 pm

    Heh. My Bronco won’t even tell me when the gas is low.

    Empty, then it’ll tell me. Low, not a hint.

  3. Ric Locke »

    8 June 2011 · 7:33 am

    My car is old, but it has one of the early versions of the Aegis-derived information systems (with a green-screen CRT, yet! And a touchscreen! You want tech, we got it, baby!)

    All the logos say “GM”, but the system itself was clearly contracted out to the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, as mentioned in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Makers of fine equipment that does things no sane person would want done in the first place, and goes beep to tell you it’s done it!”

    It starts telling me the engine oil is low when there’s still a half-pint showing on the dipstick, and the outside air temperature sensor is located inside the engine compartment. I think that last is because the car is black, and the programmers wanted to confirm what the occupants feel is the effective temperature. In common with every vehicle I’ve had anything to do with for about the last thirty years, it has no sensor for the single most vital indicator of the health of the electrical system: the battery charging rate (no, the voltage is not an adequate proxy).

    It also has a feature in common with every GM vehicle I’ve ever had anything to do with, back to the ’53 Cadillac my college roommate drove: In their zeal to keep costs down, the company saved about a mill more than was justifiable on each electrical connector pin and switch contact. Corrosion then gets under the skimpy plating, and a large but unpredictable subset of the electrical system fails or goes wonky. At the moment, for instance, the HVAC blower doesn’t until I’ve hit a bump, but only sometimes.

    It all makes me nostalgic for the days when a speedometer was the only instrument one could reliably predict that a car would have. Alternatively, how did we ever get by without the ability to display operating voltage on the motor that raises and lowers the radio antenna?


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