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20 most annoying car features
Updated 10 Oct 2019
The rapid advancement in technology has resulted in many features in the modern automobile that are useful and helpful (some even extravagant), for drivers and passengers alike.
But on the flip side of that, there are some auto inventions that are just downright frustrating! Here’s our list of the 20 Most Annoying Car Features.
1. Auto Stop-Start Systems
Known as the great fuel and environmental saver, the Auto Stop/Start system might be a ploy for manufacturers to attain more efficient emission and fuel figures than actually providing an improved experience for the driver.
The system automatically switches your car’s engine off whenever you come to a complete halt at traffic lights, stop signs or when sitting stationary in traffic.
This raises some concerns about the level of damage inflicted on your engine due to constant stopping and starting, as every time you take your foot off the brake the engine starts up again.
There are questions regarding the extra friction endured by engine and ignition components, which can become rather excessive if/when the vehicle is battling congested traffic, as the driver is constantly engaging the brake under these conditions.
An engine could be stopping and starting a hundred times by the time it clears the traffic block.
Some auto stop-start systems can also be a bit rough and not stop and start smoothly, causing a slight lag at take-off.
So, the jury’s out, with the majority of motorists finding this feature more annoying than worthwhile for now.
Give it another five years and we may just take this feature for granted, embracing it and viewing it as improved technology, however, we’re definitely not there as yet.
2. Non-Adjustable Steering Wheels
Here’s the scenario: You find a great car that suits all your needs, looks good, comfortable seats, has all the bells and whistles. You’re uber-happy! Then you realise you can’t adjust the steering wheel…
Unfortunately, we are not all the same height or weight, and we all have different driving styles.
We are supposed to assume the correct driving position, yet some manufacturers don’t allow us to do so.
A non-adjustable steering wheel is not only annoying, it can make driving more dangerous and result in less comfortable travels.
This is of the bigger bug-bears for drivers. Let’s hope you discovered the issue before you purchased your car as you may have a hard time selling it.
Most people would expect adjustable steering wheels on all new cars, but that’s not always the case, so make sure you do your homework!
3. Poor Reversing Cameras
You may be wondering how reversing cameras made it to our ‘most annoying’ list?
As it turns out, most of us think we should be able to see what’s directly behind our vehicle without moving our heads.
So, reversing cameras are supposed to aid us in seeing behind the car, like a second set of eyes, watching for things we can’t ordinarily see when we look over our shoulder.
Poor visual displays are the problem, with diagrams that cover the screen, poor general visibility or vague/fuzzy images make it difficult to see or identify what is actually behind the car
Most drivers will rely on the beeping sounds over actually knowing what they are looking at on the screen.
If there was no beeping noise, could we still navigate in reverse as effectively? It’s always best to take a look over your shoulders for any obvious obstacles!
4. Voice Control Systems
Voice control systems have never really worked as phone answering systems.
Yet for some reason, at some point, car manufacturers thought the idea of voice control systems in vehicles would be a great idea…
Because navigating traffic with the radio turned up and/or the kids fighting in the back seat isn’t frustrating enough without adding in a voice control system that can’t interpret a word you’re saying!
Let’s just say someone wasn’t thinking so clearly when they decided to install voice control into vehicles.
Some systems can be great and fun to use, but others are just a waste of time and if you can’t work around the voice controls to utilise the function you want, it can be a very infuriating experience.
5. Oversized Key Fobs
Gone are the days of car keys! Instead, we have fobs that unlock your door and start your car without having to get the fob out of your pocket.
Unless your clothes don’t have any pockets.
And if you’re not in the habit of lugging around a handbag or satchel wherever you go, keeping it close at hand inside the car, these fobs can be annoying.
The sheer size of these devices make them difficult to easily pop somewhere without you being weighed down or having a bulging pocket, and it still doesn't make them any harder to lose.
Not a good look for some fashionistas out there, and purely inconvenient for the rest of us.
6. Touch Screen Dependent Controls
These days we have so many great gadgets that do so many things, but the majority of us still like to be able to turn or push something to utilise or activate a function.
Anything with touch screens instead of a button or knob just doesn’t cut the mustard. If we want to adjust the air conditioner, de-mist the heater or change the radio channel, give us a dial or button over touchscreen any day.
We have better things to do than make sure we hit the exact position on a picture within a screen in a moving vehicle to get the desired result.
Some technological functions just don’t hit the mark and touch-sensitive controls are one of those.
7. Small Side Mirrors
Those petite little mirrors that don’t make your car look like Mickey Mouse heading down the road may be discreet, but they’re disliked by many.
If safety features are high on your priority list, then you probably don’t want to increase the risk of blind spots by purchasing a car with small mirrors.
Small mirrors result in a higher incidence of annoying other drivers as you pull across into them because you can’t see them.
Not ideal, small mirrors aren’t great for safe driving or the avoidance of unnecessary accidents.
Unless they come with side avoidance technology, small side mirrors get a thumbs down.
8. Lack of Centre Console Storage
All we want is storage, storage, storage and all at our fingertips! We know they're not good for hiding valuables, but how else can we dump all the things we cart around everywhere and need close at hand if there is no storage in the centre console?
If you own a car, it must have some room in the centre console otherwise you will be lost as to what to do with everything.
The glove box is no good; it’s too far away and too big, if you put something in there, you’ll never find it again.
Some of the cheaper small cars on the market don’t have a centre console, which is not seen favourably by drivers.
9. Noisy Driver Assistance
Some of the loud, beeping driver assistance warning noises could be up there on the list of extreme torture choices.
Parking assist, lane drifting and blind spot monitoring are all technologies that are meant to make our lives better and increase our safety on the road.
They’re great if the systems use lights to advise us of a potential problem, however, the majority use annoying beeps, dings and bells to warn us.
This feature may be a novelty for the first few drives, but then become increasingly annoying over time, to the point you don’t even react to them anymore or just want to rip the feature out of your car.
10. Square Cup Holders
If you have been fortunate enough to visit Fiji, you probably noticed that Fiji Water make square water bottles.
They are obviously more advanced than the rest of the world and knew that most car cup holders were going to be made square.
For whatever reason, a number of vehicle manufacturers made a decision that square was the go, because why would anyone want to have a round cup holder??!
11. Non-Opening Rear Windows
You get relinquished to the back seat of a small car on a hot day and you think, ‘I’ll just crack the window’.
There is a window there, you can see out of it, but there’s not a window-down button or even a manual window winder in sight!
After being laughed at by the driver, you come to the realisation you are stuck in the back, knees around your neck, sweltering in the heat, and that the window is a fake.
Non-opening windows or the sort that only pop open a slit to the side are a major disappointment to most folks, and I’d say there are probably some dissatisfied dogs out there as well.
12. Confusing Gear Shifters
You would think a simple concept like an automatic transmission is pretty straight forward, right? You just chuck it in drive to move forward, reverse to go backwards and park when you want to park.
The ‘auto on the floor’ as it was once known, may become a thing of the past, as manufacturers now place the auto gear shift wherever they like.
Manufacturers seem to think that automatic drivers are missing out and want to make things more interesting, with some versions a push button system when you want to park.
In other vehicle models, you shift gears by pushing a button on the console with no such thing as a lever to physically move any more. Some car makers are even reverting back to the old stalk shifter varieties…
Some cars require a degree to understand how to get from the garage to the road.
With so many variations on the market, the old premise of getting an automatic driver’s license because they are easier to drive could end up being the quite the opposite and more challenging than driving a manual.
13. Space Saver Spare Wheel
I can’t say I’m surprised about this one being in here. Space saver spare wheels have been around for ages and yet we still hate them.
They stick out like a sore thumb, are narrow and usually a different height to the other wheels on your car, and you can’t drive on them over 80 km’s an hour, or for an extended amount of time.
They may save you room in the boot, but when you really need something to get you out of trouble, there is nothing more reassuring than a regular wheel and tyre.
14. Inaccurate Satellite Navigation
Sat Nav is great for getting you where you want to go without having to think about it.
It all works fine as long as it’s up to date and accurate. Try using a system that is inaccurate and out of date, and you’ll find yourself scrambling for your phone to look for a more accurate option.
Roads are changing all the time, so you want to update your sat nav regularly, to avoid travelling up one-way streets the wrong way or missing exits because they have now moved!
15. Blank Switches
Finding blank switches in your vehicle conveys the fact that you obviously don’t have the fully accessorised version of your vehicle.
Manufacturers will create one template for a model and add in the extras depending on which version they are going to produce, so you can end up with what looks like fake, blank switches or spaces that don’t serve any purpose other than to remind you that a more top of the range version out there has something in that space that actually serves a purpose.
16. Off-centre Speedo
Yes, some cheaper vehicle models out there have the speedo in the centre of the dash. This is to reduce costs when they export internationally.
If the speedo is centrally located on the dash, there’s no need to change the dash of the vehicle to suit countries that drive on the opposite side of the road.
Sometimes, you come across a car designer that had a radical idea to change the location of the speedo being positioned directly in front of the driver, behind the steering wheel, and place it somewhere unconventional.
So, when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat you have to look away from the centre of the instrument panel to know how fast you’re driving.
This is not only inconvenient, having to move your direct eye line also isn’t ideal for comfort or safety purposes.
17. Brake Pedal Dead Zones
Manufacturers like to create these great systems that they think we want, like brakes that don’t actually do anything until you are forcing your foot through the floor.
Apparently, when we place our foot on the brake, we don’t really want to slow down just yet. It’s not until we get to the “bugger, I’m not slowing down, is this thing going to stop?!” stage, that we’re really serious.
As every car is different, you can sometimes end up in a bit of strife when you almost run into something because you didn’t place enough pressure on the brakes, and then when you do, your startled passengers go flying forward.
Brake dead zones are not only frustrating; they can be hazardous.
18. Hidden or No USB Port
You know it’s there, the salesperson at the dealership told you there was one in the centre console.
Finding the elusive USB port can send you nutty if you haven’t been shown exactly where it is. USB ports can be located in armrests, glove boxes, centre consoles and who knows where else they decide to put them!
Not only are they in different positions on different vehicles, sometimes they are hidden just in case someone breaks into your car and decides to charge their phone while they are stealing your loose change.
It may be quicker to read your driver’s manual to locate your USB port. You could find out that the manufacturers of your vehicle didn’t feel a need to fit your car with one at all!
19. Stereo Tuning Buttons
It’s a very specific problem, but really annoying for so many. If you want to tune into a radio station a dial or knob is needed.
Pushing a button that only goes up in certain increments for each push is not going to do the job.
Bring back the knob so we can get the exact station without having to pull over to the side of the road yelling expletives at our stereo. Push buttons are out for tuning.
20. Car Alarms
These days, no one even notices when a car alarm goes off! We are mostly desensitised when it comes to alarms so they probably don’t even annoy us anymore…unless they don’t turn off within 10 seconds.
Then it gets annoying. More irritating are those vehicles which have alarms that make an infuriating beeping noise every time the vehicle is locked and unlocked.
Enduring one of these annoying features might be ok, but if you’re suffering through multiple infuriating moments in your driving day, it might be time to buy a new car!
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Rachel spent her early adult life around cars, motorsport and hands-on with her own cars. This interest moved into various careers within the Automotive industry. Joined with her passion for writing, Rachel loves putting the two together to share her experience, so we can all become AutoGuru’s.