Curbside Curmudgeon: What feature on Modern Cars Bugs You the Most?


I will admit to being a bit cranky at times.  I suppose that the condition has worsened just a tad since I crossed the threshold of 50 a few years ago.   Now that I have dated myself, it will not surprise you that I miss vent windows, fresh-air cowl vents and HVAC controls operated by simple cables instead of vacuum and electric thingamajigs.

However, this is not to rant about what is NOT on newer cars, but to rant about what IS on newer cars that makes life unpleasant.  The list is probably fairly long, but I have narrowed it to this: Why must General Motors cars and trucks turn on their backup lights when their owners lock and unlock their car doors?

You have all seen it.  Herb and Betty walk out to their Envoy or Lacrosse and hit the lock or unlock button on the key fob.  On every other car in the civilized world, the (you guessed it) doors lock or unlock.  But not for Herb and Betty.  A touch of the lock buttons results in the backup lights shining brightly.


Dammit, GM, don’t you know that there is a longstanding code at play here?  When the white lights come on the back of someone’s car, it means that the car is about to start backing up.  If you are behind it, you have to get the hell out of the way.  Or, if you are looking for a parking place, those white lights are a beacon of success, pointing you to a parking place that is about to become your very own.  Unless the lights are on because Herb and Betty have just locked their car and are heading into the store.   They might as well just turn, point their fingers and laugh, while yelling “Suckerrrrrrr!”

In terms of car equipment, I sort of follow the creed of the libertarian – carmakers, feel free to make your car do whatever you want, just don’t mess with other people.  If GM wants to make the interior lights flash and the seats twirl around three times at the click of the remote, more power to them.  But when they start crying wolf with backup lights, they have gone too far.

So, consider this a memo to GM:  It is not 1965 anymore, and you no longer get to decide what is normal.  Back up lights are to come on when the car is backing up, and not for any other reason.  You are so all alone here, and I wish you would just knock it off.

There.  I feel so much better.  So, who’s with me?  Or, is there some other feature of modern cars that grinds your gears?