New Car Blues

I bought a new car a couple of weeks ago, which should be a good thing.  And in many ways, it is.  The car handles well, gets very good gas mileage and is new enough that everything is still shiny and in good working order.  I bought the exact same model as my old car because I believed it would make the adjustment to my new car smooth and easy.  Sadly, that belief turned out to be completely naive.

True, my new car looks an awful lot like my old one.  It’s not very big, it’s light grey, and  has a sun roof, just like my old car.  But there have been some big changes in the way they make cars in the past decade or so.  The new vehicles may look like cars, but they function more like a cross between a computer and a helicopter parent.

My old car had a small screen tucked away on the dashboard that displayed the radio stations and doubled as a rear view monitor when I backed up.  My new car has a much bigger screen that looms over the dashboard and is constantly demanding my attention, sending messages, displaying maps and even a little picture of whoever happens to be singing on the radio.  Why anyone thought that having a driver looking at a screen on the dashboard when they’re supposed to be keeping their eyes on the road is an improvement, don’t ask me.

I try to ignore my screen as much as possible, but it’s as persistent as a whiny child.  When I first started the car, a notice popped up saying that the my car was capable of sending information about my activities to the automaker, for use in their research and development department, and also informed me that there may be a small fee for this service.  I was given the choice to accept or decline, and since I saw no reason why I should pay for the privilege of being spied on, I declined.  That must have made it mad, because now every time I start the car, I get a notice reminding me that I declined and promising dire consequences due to my poor choice.

My new car also talks to me.  Frequently and repetitively.  At first I thought I was imagining the soft voice that I heard sometimes over the music from the radio.  But the voice got louder, and also figured out how to make the music stop while it was speaking. So now when I’m driving along, minding my own business, I’ll suddenly be informed that I’m approaching a highway that has partial lane closures due to construction.  (Which makes me wonder just exactly how my car knew I was planning to get on the highway.)

I’m not sure exactly where all this will end.  Yesterday, while I was driving a half-mile to the grocery store, I got three different alerts about a flash flood warning thirty-two miles away.  Who knows what other kinds of warnings my car is going to give me?  If I’m pulling into the drive through of the local Dairy Queen, am I going to hear “Ice cream has a lot of calories and your jeans are getting a bit tight?”  Or if I’m headed to the mall will my car tell me, “It’s been three days since you’ve visited your mother.  Forget the mall and drive to her house instead?”

I’m not usually one to long for the “good old days,” but I have admit that I really miss the time when the most we expected out of a new car was safe and reliable transportation.   I mean, who really wants a car whose main purpose seems to be proving that it’s smarter than it’s driver?

118 thoughts on “New Car Blues

  1. I understand your frustration a little. my new car uses android Auto which, for the most part seems OK but every so often will ping at me and say something like “There’s a speed camera ahead”

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    • I’m not sure what my car is using, but those notifications get old very fast…especially since they repeat themselves every couple of minutes! There has to be a way of turning off the audio, at least. I do like severe weather alerts, but the rest of it is totally unnecessary. Thanks for the comment!

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  2. In 2001, I bought a new Toyota RAV4. It cost me nothing over/above routine maintenance and so, this past May …. I bought myself a 2019 RAV4. Can totally understand your Post and I still have not adjusted to all the electronics; the display options; the light alerts and the beeps. At a time when distracted driving is hitting our headlines on a regular basis, there is something incongruous about the modern vehicle!

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  3. “Ice cream has a lot of calories and your jeans are getting a bit tight?” LOL! It’s no wonder there are so many accidents caused by distracted driving. I’m one who does long for the “good ole days,” Ann.

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  4. I feel for you! All kinds of modern appliances are becoming infuriating. My new washing machine sings a song when it’s finished and I can’t figure out how to turn the sound off. It’s really disruptive and lasts for up to two minutes. I can only imagine how frustrated I’d get if my car was continually disturbing my driving. People just want straightforward cars, devices and appliances.

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    • I know! I honestly don’t understand why they insist on making everything so complicated these days. No wonder people are so frustrated! Who wants a washing machine that sings? I do hope all this is a trend that is over, sooner rather than later!

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  5. Please tell me that the manufacturers provide for a way to disable the alerts and other “suggestions.” That bit about a fee for sending user data back to the “mothership?” Totally unacceptable, in my books.

    Hubby toyed with the idea of buying a new car a few weeks ago. He has since changed his mind, and for that I am grateful, especially after reading your story. A horror story, actually, if I am honest.

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    • I know! The car actually has to go back to the dealer on Tuesday for an adjustment on the head rests…they push my head way to far forward…and I’m going to ask them if I can at least turn off the audio alerts. I hate how our modern technology is intruding into every aspect of our lives. Because you know darned well if the car can talk, it can also listen. And who knows who has access to our private conversations these days? That’s why I don’t own an Alexa. I certainly don’t want one in my car!

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  6. I chuckled at this. My last car was ancient and when I changed it last year I went through much the same process. In fact I’m still going through it. It’s forever terrifying me with warnings of things that I was totally oblivious to in the old car – yet it still got me where I wanted to be without any dire consequences!

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    • I think it is the assumption that I’m a complete idiot who needs to be told about, well, everything that annoys me the most. I don’t need to know there is a flash flood warning thirty two miles away when I live on high ground no where near a river. If I’m approaching a flooded area, then, maybe it’s okay to warn me. (Although I can see water over the road as well as the next person.) I do worry what is going to happen to humans when we become, inevitably, dependent on artificial intelligence to do all our thinking for us.

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  7. Your new car sound like a cross between a nagging mother and an inept stalker. Who comes up with these “improvements,” and how could they possibly imagine we would want them? You’d think there would at least be some way to choose which voices and alerts you want and which you don’t. Thanks for the warning; I guess I’d better baby my aging Subaru–I don’t think I have the relationship energy for a new car in my life.

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    • I’m hoping there is a way to disable those alerts, but I haven’t found it yet. If I don’t, I”m going to ask the dealership for help. Because I really don’t need those silly “improvements” at all! Trust me, the best thing you can do is keep that aging Subaru running for as long as possible!

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  8. I have a ten year old Truck- wind down windows, knobs to turn on radio and CD player. I have had several people tell me to keep it as long as I can. All the new vehicles have too much computer stuff…. I hope my truck goes another five years. Good luck getting use to the new car. Cheers

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    • It didn’t exactly yell, but it did speak (over and over again) in that weird, metallic voice that is super annoying. Keep your old car as long as you can! The new ones are no improvement at all!

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  9. Funny!!! I’m with you, give me the older vehicles. Nothing like getting bossed around by something that isn’t human!!! Ha. Recently I had get a new hard drive put in the laptop and Windows put on it—- eeks! Like your car who wanted to track you, the permission and privacy on computers is CRAZY!!!

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    • It is crazy! Also a complete waste of time, because no matter what privacy settings we select, our every word and move is being monitored and tracked. And we are raising a whole generation of people who have no concept of the idea of privacy…..So scary!

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  10. Lol! I just got a new car a month ago and was amazed at all the apps. I accidentally hit one called SOS and before I could even attempt to undo it, a calm voice asked me if there was an emergency.

    I do love that it reads my texts to me and lets me voice respond without ever picking up my phone while driving. 😉

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  11. I’ll keep my 06 civic as long as I can. I’ve run into some of this stuff when traveling and using a rental car. It’s maddening and distracting. I don’t find it an improvement at all! And no back talk at DQ, either!

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    • Exactly! The new “improvements” aren’t improvements at all. They are simply distracting and annoying…no wonder people are so angry these days. As for my ice cream runs, if the car knows what is good for it, it will stay silent on that issue!

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    • Honestly, Svet, I’m going to see if I can do that. Or at least make them silent alerts. All I really want to know is if a tornado or hail is nearby. I’ll let you know how that works out!

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  12. ooh excellent post and the perfect question! Very smart not to pay for them to spy on you but they will be doing it anyway … big brother is watching 😦

    I had one argument with Bertha, my cars AI, and drove into the makers and made them turn her off. They can do it and I felt it was vital for my safe driving …

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    • I’m going to have to figure out how to shut mine up. Some of the safety features are great, I agree. I like the lights that let me know someone is in my blind spot. I just want a little control over which alerts I get! But there has to be a way to do that….

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  13. Oh, wow. That sounds so distracting. I recently said how nice I thought it would be if I could plug my phone into the car system and have the GPS be displayed. I don’t have that feature, but now I’m wondering how good a big screen on the dash would be! I hope you can turn off some settings to make it a better driving experience!

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  14. Funny post, Ann. You’re right about the newer cars getting into your business. I like the safety features some of the newer cars have and I don’t mind the larger screen, especially since, without reading glasses I have a tough time seeing the smaller print. I don’t know what kind of car you have but I haven’t experienced that kind of invasion into your life. Makes you wonder who’s watching..:) Hopefully you get used to it kind of quick. Is there any way you can disable some of those features?

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    • It’s a Nissan Altima, which is what I’ve been driving for years. The safety features are nice, but I am getting super annoyed by some of the invasive stuff. I don’t need to be reminded that I declined to let them track me every time I start my car! Still, I do think there is a way to disable some of it. And if I can’t figure it out, I’ll see if my son can. He’s a tech person, thank goodness! Thanks for your comment, George. It’s good to have you back!

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  15. Living overseas, the public transport system is really efficient so I haven’t owned a car in a very long time. It would be difficult going back to it and especially with those “new fangled” (as my dad would say) things. So many things of today sound like the sci-fi of yesterday. And, I’m with you, the screen doesn’t seem to encourage road safety. Oy! Hope you can turn it off.

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    • Honestly, Brenda, I am beginning to envy people who live in areas where they don’t have to actually own a car. I think there has to be a way to turn these silly notifications and alerts off, and if I can’t find it I’ll try my son ( a tech person) or even the dealership. Who knew we would have to be dealing with all this stuff? It really is like science fiction, and not in a good way!

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  16. How obnoxious! Although having a flash flooding warning is a good idea, especially as electric windows do not roll down when the electrics have been submerged in water. I was chatting to a cab driver who had this happen to him. We have a tool in our car that will allow us to cut the window out in an emergency. Hopefully we will never have to use it.

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  17. This one had me chuckling! While it’s all very informative and at times helpful in tackling with the general madness of the world, Half-baked Artificial Intelligence reminds me of Boeing737 Max planes who thought they were smarter than the pilots and ended crashing two passenger planes.

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    • Exactly! The problems with machines, technology and artificial intelligence is that they are not always right…which is why we shouldn’t depend on them quite so completely. I think we have to use them as tools, but not as replacements for human intelligence and common sense.

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  18. I had a friend tell me the same thing about the Ford she bought. She said she still didn’t know how to work everything so I sympathize with you. I’m still driving my old clunker which works fine, except, like me, it is old. I’ll remember this post next time I’m dreaming about something new.

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    • I think this post has made a lot of people feel better about their old cars and trucks! The new ones have some nice features, but also some features that are very annoying and downright invasive. I’m going to have to figure out how to change my alert settings…. Thanks for the comment!

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    • Thanks! I figure we have to laugh at this stuff…what else are we going to do? Although I admit if I can’t figure out a way to get my car to quit talking to me quite so much, that screen may just have to be removed!

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  19. This really tickled me but I do sympathise. I really hope you can disable the features which annoy and distract. Life was so much simpler back in the old days and one made good use of the senses God blessed us with. Now cars seem to come equipped with sensors strung around like a garland, overeagee to function. Try backing into tight fit parking – the car shrieks at you, exclamation marks every where on the dashboard screen despite the fact that you clearly see that you have a good 3 feet of manoeuvring space. And then if a vital sensor malfunctions – just the sensor, mind you, not the part itself – be prepared for ENGINE FAULT!! DO NOT DRIVE – to be screamed into your eyes.

    I must have had 5 years shaved off my lifespan but it’s been 8 years with our present car, it’s got a pet name and it’s a certified member of the family now. I hope it works out that way for you too, Ann.

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    • Thanks for the warning! That must be so annoying…when you can clearly see that you have room to park, but your car is screaming at you that you do not. And the “do not drive” would terrify me! I do think that if I can figure out a way to change the settings on my alerts I will be happy with this car. (Although the head rest is position wrong, so that has to be changed. But it’s going to the dealership tomorrow and hopefully it won’t take to long to take care of that.) Thanks for the comment…it helps to know that your car worked out in the end!

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  20. It’s similar to windows machine/pc, where microsoft interfere in every possible way and make suggestions when you would expect least annoyance.
    Hope you will learn a way to keep the white noise at the lowest level 😀

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    • Oh yes, our computers do the same thing! The worst is when they keep asking if you want to update, and you click “no” and then it asks again…every day, several times a day…until you finally give in and update it. At which point lots of things go wrong! Thanks for the comment and good wishes!

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  21. I just don’t know how all this new stuff isn’t distracted driving. My husband’s car has it and it beeps and buzzes all the time making me think I’m hitting something. I managed to find a car that doesn’t talk or beep and stops my cell phone from dinging while in the car.

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    • I wish I had checked this out a little more thoroughly before I picked my new car, I’ll admit. I had no idea it had all these alerts when I bought it, I just thought that it’s the same model I had before, so I would be happy with it. Ha! Just goes to show what happens when we assume. And I agree…it is distracted driving, no two ways about it!

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  22. am I going to hear “Ice cream has a lot of calories and your jeans are getting a bit tight?”

    My truck has given up asking, instead a message flashes across the dash… GET OUT AND WALK HOME. YOU NEED THE EXERCISE….AND BY THE WAY, HOW ARE YOU COMING ALONG ON YOUR TO-DO LIST?

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  23. “I mean, who really wants a car whose main purpose seems to be proving that it’s smarter than it’s driver?”
    We call that “Car ‘splaining”.
    Uffda-mayda!!

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  24. Ann, your post made me laugh today! Now that I’ve read this, I think I want to go out and buy a 1967 Buick! I hope you eventually grow to love your new car, but you may have to spend some time learning to disable all the “features”. Have fun! Des

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    • Yes, I’m definitely going to have to figure out how to do a little disabling. Luckily, I have a pretty tech savvy son who I can call on if it’s beyond me. Otherwise, I’m going to have to go on-line and look for a car that was made back in the “good old days” when cars were just cars!

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  25. Sometimes, I think the good old days were in many ways the best of days! We were so happy to just jump in the car, roll down the windows, and play the radio! Of course, there are things we now could not imagine being without…like a cell phone.Some things have made life easier. But, I would not like all that noise and distraction in the car while driving. I would want to have that disabled. The radio makes for much better noise!

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    • I know…all the things that were supposed to make life easier have sometimes just made it more complicated and annoying. There are safety features I like on the car, but they did take it way too far in my opinion. The distractions aren’t really safe at all. Sometimes I also long for the good old days when life was less hectic!

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  26. I have a new car, it can be frustrating at time. One time I went to drive my husband’s older car, and I forgot one had to put the key in the ignition lol!

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    • Oh yeah, that one was hard for me to get used to as well! My old car had that too, and the first few times I drove it, I kept trying to find a place to put my key. Now if I drive an older car, I have the same issue: I forget to put the key in the ignition!

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  27. “A cross between a computer and a helicopter parent” – your frustrations with your new car really made me laugh, Ann, thank you. I tend to have a hissy fit with predictive text on phones – I find myself shouting at my phone “how dare you presume you know what I want to say!”. That’s not strange, right?

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    • Well if it’s strange, all I can say is that you have some company…namely, me! I also take offense when my phone tries to tell me what I want to say. And my email does it as well, which is proof positive that my email server is actually reading my emails. No wonder we’re frustrated!!! Thanks for the comment, Julie!

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  28. As someone who was hugely excited 5 yrs ago to get a car with not only electric windows but with a car fob to lock the door, I wouldn’t mind a little more modern stuff, though I’d never use all of it either. Actually, I’d just go for air con that works.

    My dad got a new car last year and it’s pretty spondulux too with that dashboard screen thingybobby; I also wondered how it’s a good idea to have so much information on there when the driver should be looking at the road & driving! He uses next to none of the bells & whistles, but at least he doesn’t get the machine telling him there’ll be hell to pay for his choices of not connecting an iPhone, subscribing to the music service or any other crazy jazz you can do on there 😂 Surely there must be a way to turn that notice off so it’s not happening every time you start the car? If you google the car and ‘notification’ or something like that maybe someone else can offer a solution. Fingers crossed!
    Caz xx

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    • Thanks! That’s what I’m hoping too. I haven’t had a chance to really check into it yet, but surely there’s a way to make the alerts and notifications less invasive and annoying. Some progress is a good thing, but a lot of progress is just a pain in the rear! I’ll let you know how this all works out.

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    • Glad to know it’s not just me, Lorie! Like you, I wanted a newer car but had no idea the adjustment would be such a big one. And for no good reason, either…..Thanks for the comment!

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  29. I’m laughing at your narrative but also shaking my head in disbelief. It sounds as though the GPS system is taking over. Is there no way you can turn the voice function off. It would drive me bonkers? Good luck with it Ann.

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    • It is driving me bonkers! And no worries, I will figure out a way to turn it off. Even if that means getting a screw driver and taking the whole screen out…… I’ll let you know how it goes, Miriam!

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  30. Funny. I got a new car in April, and was told by my Honda dealer to sit in the driveway and play with it to learn all of its functions. Who has time for that? By the way, Honda has done away with owner’s manuals in the glove compartment. Everything is online now.

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  31. I don’t understand why it is legal to have all of that distraction. I actually saw a new Mercedes owner almost drive her car off of a tall on ramp, not once, but TWICE, because she was paying attention to her screen and not her driving. The first time I wondered what was wrong with the driver as she drove straight into the curve, when I got next to her I saw her staring at the screen, she pulled her car back onto the road (out of the shoulder area) and then did it again. I don’t get it. Drivers should be paying attention to driving not a screen or a voice talking to them.

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    • Exactly!!! The screen is handing for baking up (it shows what is immediately the car) and for displaying the radio station and engine alert warnings. And that’s it! I don’t get why the GPS system has to put maps on it (because then we’re looking at the screen and not the road), or printed alerts that we have to take our eyes off the road and read (because we’re not looking at the road) or all the other stuff…because then we’re not looking at the road! How is talking on a cell phone while driving bad, but staring at a screen on the dashboard good????

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      • Yeah, I don’t get it. But I do get that a lot of people are on the road not paying attention to driving . . . I experience them. Perhaps you can turn some of it off? I dread the day I have to get a new car. UGH!

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  32. Too funny. But yet, this type of interference and “spying”I fear is unfortunately going to get more intense/worse as we move forward. I was just reading about certain stores that now have the technology to key into cellphones and use the information gained (for marketing) such as, how long you personally stood in front of a certain brand of yogurt and how many apples you bought. The feature of the voice in your car would drive me nuts. Although I do love the “new” feature which shows you a video while you are backing up. Would have saved my car from some serious damage in days gone by.

    Peta

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    • Oh, I agree! The day is fast coming when we will have no privacy at all, and I find that scary. Sure some of the new features on cars are great…the back up camera, the little alarms is someone is in your blind spot or if someone in front of you slams on their brakes….those are great. But I really don’t like the way my car is now tracking me. It’s bad enough that our computers and phones do it all the time! Good to hear from you, Peta!

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