The 10 Most Annoying Car Features

Touchscreens top the list.

by on Mar.25, 2015

Lincoln has been hammered in recent studies because of problems with its touchscreens.

Love that new car? Plenty of storage space, good performance, great mileage? You’re still likely to find something about it that will make you grind your teeth, perhaps the lack of useful cupholders, a glovebox that invariably bangs your knees or a touchscreen audio system that makes it a chore to simply change radio stations.

A poorly designed interior is one of the things most likely to send you running when you go looking for a new car, truck or crossover. But other things, like car alarms that randomly go off in the middle of the night, can add to your frustration.

Your Reliable Source!

The editors at online shopping service Cars.com have set out their own list of the 10 most annoying car features. We’ll add a few of our own and invite readers to weigh in with their own.

“Over time, we’ve developed some serious frustration with certain features, even those you might not expect,” explained Dave Thomas, Cars.com Managing Editor.

(Ford designers want to mine your mind – using eye-tracking and brainwave scans to see what features turn buyers on or off. Click Here for more.)

In many cases, you can spot a potential annoyance simply by visiting the showroom and taking a vehicle for a test drive. Sadly, many of the more annoying features – like those overactive car alarms – may not be apparent until you’ve driven home and lived with the new vehicle for awhile.

Why can't your passenger program the Caddy Cue navigation system while you drive?

The top pick? Touch-sensitive controls. No surprise here. According to J.D. Power and other researchers, balky touchscreen controls now cause more gripes among new vehicle owners than just about anything else. With some vehicles, the problem is with displays that are either too sensitive to the touch while others require you to pound on the screen.

Touchscreens also come in as the second biggest annoyance for Cars.com editors. In this case where manufacturers decide to replace perfectly useful knobs and switches with video displays that require you to dig down through several screens just to turn off your seat heaters or change a station something that can “turn simple tasks into a multistep process (that) can be quite frustrating,” the editors kvetched.

Not surprising, then, that they also found annoying the use of tuning buttons instead of knobs. We agree that knobs are the simplest way to tune a radio – and add the same goes for changing volume. Why, for example, did Cadillac opt for a touch-slider control on its new Cue infotainment system? It often lags behind so the radio continues to get louder after you take your finger away.

Other annoying features:

4) Navigation systems that won’t even let passengers program them when the vehicle is in motion;

5) Giant Key Fobs that are either too big or too heavy to carry in a pocket;

6) Square Cupholders. Okay, we get the idea of a juice box in the back of a minivan, but the square hole isn’t easy to use with the round peg of a soft drink bottle;

7) Auto Stop/Start. Some studies suggest this technology can boost mileage by 5% or so, but it can also make you crazy having your engine shut off, start and shut off again waiting at a light, especially on poorly executed systems;

8) Voice-Controlled Systems. “The concept is great, but these systems have proven to be largely incapable of understanding what you’re saying, making the experience frustrating and usually not worthwhile,” laments Cars.com;

(Voice recognition is #1 problem for motorists, finds new J.D. Power study. Click Here for more.)

9) Car Alarms. Do we need to say more? Have they ever actually stopped a car thief? Or do they only wake up the neighbors in the middle of the night?

10) Small Side Mirrors. Sure, they meet the letter of the law, but they can be largely useless.

To this list we’ll add those poorly designed gloveboxes that can’t be opened if someone is actually sitting in the passenger seat. And how about seatbelts mounted so far behind you that it takes yoga training to reach them when you’re ready to buckle up?

The good news is that automakers insist they’re listening to consumer complaints and trying to address annoyances like these.

(Millions of vehicles may be vulnerable to hackers, warns new report. Click Here for the full story.)

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6 Responses to “The 10 Most Annoying Car Features”

  1. Jorge says:

    The infotainment/touchscreen crap is just the ignorant forcing their views on all consumers be it computers or autos. It’s the perfect example of insanity to make you go thru multiple levels to change the audio volume instead of using a knob or button.

    BTW, start-stop systems should not be cycling on and off while stopped at a traffic light – if properly designed and functioning. That defeats the whole point.

    You would think for the prices that auto makers charge for their Nav systems, they’d function properly with voice controls, cook your breakfast, shine your shoes and walk the dog. Their prices are that far away from reality.

  2. heyfred3000 says:

    That’s why I’ve begun to apply the same KISS principle to my new cars that I do to the sports cars I intend to keep for a long time with very low usage. Being unhappy to be without adaptive cruise, I still simply did not want the awful stuff that came with it.
    And the feature that locks the brakes for 2 seconds when starting on an incline in my new Passat TDI straight shift? Its going to get me killed. And its not defeatable. I’ve already told my lawyer.

    • Phil says:

      But, But, Its German engineering, and the Germans know what is good for you non Aryans.
      My Wife Tiguan has the same feature, can I join your class action?

      • Jorge says:

        I suspect if enough owners complain to VW, they will issue a software update or if required a retro fit solution that eliminates the “hill hold” feature. For many people “hill hold” is a gift because they are incompetent drivers. Diesel’s in particular can be difficult for many drivers on hill start ups. I would not want it, but some people might. It should have a shut-off switch to eliminate issues.

  3. Chris Holman says:

    Placement of gauges the speedometer in particular, I’m 6’4″ and have yet to find a vehicle that allows a comfortable position for the steering wheel that will give a view of the center mount gauges.

  4. Rob says:

    The stitching on leather steering wheels could be much smoother and easier on the fingers when turning.

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