"spring ahead", changing the clock in your car

Why is is so difficult to adjust the clock in cars?

Last car (03 Passat), you had to turn a very narrow knurled knob against a huge spring tension, and repeat 11 times. Felt like the skin on my fingers was about to tear off.

New car (15 Forester) involves a complicated fiddling with some buttons. Last time it took me half an hour and all I remember is:
a) very non-intuitive, b) manual no help, c) endless trial and error attempts.

Sorry, needed to vent before I try to set the clock…


Well, that may be true of your Forester, but it is not true of my 2011 Outback.

All I have to do is to toggle between Eastern Standard Time and Eastern Daylight Saving Time in order to adjust the clock. Because the clock is coordinated with the GPS satellites, the time is always accurate, and I only need to do the seasonal EST/EDST adjustment with the touch of one button.

My Toyota has an “H” and “M” button. One touch of the H button puts me on daylight saving time. This fall I will press it and hold it until it goes around to the lower number on the H setting for standard time.

Germans love making things complicated.

And Japanese love making things inscrutable. There is a thin long knob sticking out to the right of the speedometer labeled “select” which does nothing at all (I had to check with the dealer to verify this). And of course there is the gas cap cover release on the drivers floor… Took me a long time to discover that first time.

And the three heater/AC control rotary knobs with no marking to indicate their position. Actually there is an almost invisible bead marker. I would up putting some white tape on the knobs, works fine.


Docnick: that is similar to the one in the Passat, but instead of a button, I had this very narrow knurled knob against a huge spring tension. Turning it one way advanced the minutes by 1, the other way advanced the hours by 1. Very difficult to turn, as I said, and more difficult to hold while it slowly advanced 11 times. And, usually I turned it the wrong way and had to reset the minutes also.


It’s seemingly difficult because we do it so rarely that we forget the procedure.

It’s not really that difficult at all , yet due to the un-familiarity it just seems that way.

SAME goes for all these devices that have only one or two buttons to push to fish through numerous menus like the phone, tv, game console, PCs and laptops etc. The less you do that the less you remember how.

Does anyone really know what time it is - CHICAGO 25 or 6 to 4

Ken, of those items, the clock on my subaru is the most difficult I have ever seen. The manual devotes 50 pages to the various ways you can modify the display.
The part for the clock has two pages and a dozen screen images.

There is a different entire erroneous page devoted to clock setting, but turns out this is for a previous model, as the buttons referred to do not exist. Again, a trip to the dealer was required.

an excerpt:

  1. Perform the preparation steps according to “Preparation for date
    setting” F3-49.
    (this is section F3-49)

And this all has to be done with the ignition switch ON and the engine not running. What’s wrong with the accessory position?


My Scion is exactly like Doc’s Toyota. Super easy.

LOL, thanks for the recognition, Ken. Yeah a pet peeve of mine is the single sequential buttons that need to be repeatedly pushed to scroll through menus, then submenus. Drives me nuts. And, of course, you have to take your eyes off the road to see the almost-invisible LCD readouts on the menus. May the almighty rain confusion down on all the designers of this craziness.

The main problem that I had with setting the clock on my 2015 Forester is remembering which option on the setting screen you go to first. I managed it pretty quickly yesterday morning but It would be better if you could just push a couple buttons on the dash such as on the Toyota Prius my mom drives.

In the old days there was this one clock above the refrigerator that was easy to reset. Every time the power failed it had to be reset again. Now, clocks have batteries and we have eight or twelve of them and five watches. I mentioned that so I could get to the point slowly. No need to rush. Chicago asked this question, Does anybody really know what time it is?. It was Twenty-five or six to four so I’m early. Why don’t we move the clocks ahead by half an hour and just leave them there forever?

My two Toyota’s and wife’s Lexus are very easy/ So was my Pathfinders and wife’s Accords.

Our vehicle fleet at work has Sync-powered infotainment systems. The procedure to change the clock is like spelunking through an old text adventure game. submenus of submenus of menus of options, and almost every selection requires a press of a different button to select it.

Made me really appreciate my TL. The clock changes itself when its supposed to. It updates via a satellite signal. No fuss.

I advise not moving the clock ahead to daylight time. When the universe was created, the sun wasn’t created until the third day. Hence, the creation did not begin on daylight savings time. Until about 1953, the state government here in Indiana did the right thing in declaring that clocks in all state institutions, including colleges and universities were to leave the clocks on Central Standard Time. The state colleges and universities ran the class schedule on daylight time, but the clocks remained on Central Standard Time. We learned to add an hour to what was on the clock during the summer months. For horn players, this is no problem in that we often have to transpose when the music is not in our home key of F.
All was well in Indiana until the state abolished the rule about maintaining clocks on Central Standard Time. We are now on Eastern Time and go to Eastern Daylight Savings Time in the summer. Now, terrible things have happened in Indiana–our funding to the public schools has been cut, the tuition at our state colleges and universities has far exceeded the rise in inflation, we have had one of the coldest February months on record and the IU basketball team may not get into the NCAA tournament. I don’t want bad things to happen to me, so I just leave the clock in my Sienna set where it is. (Actually, I am too lazy to get out the owner’s manual and step through the menu to reset the clock. Also, when I was growing up, the clocks in my parents’ cars of the 1940s and 1950s never kept the correct time anyway, so we never bothered to set them).

I’m for leaving it on DLT the whole year. Who cares if its dark at 7 am? Might even add another hour to it so its still light out at 11 pm. Works in Norway.

As far as changing the clocks, on my Pontiac you just hit the clock button and rotate the radio station knob where ever you want to go. No gimmicks. Couldn’t be simpler. On the Acura, its automatic but sure it would take a half hour if it wasn’t. I don’t change the clock in the Olds anymore so anyone driving it is on their own.

My last two rangers were simple to change the time. Both had two small recessed buttons that you could push with and ball point pen. One for hours one for minutes.
But I’ve had others that I always had to look up the procedure in the owners manual.


Advantage to my Camry with its easy little button over the Impala predecessor with its complicated time set hassle of sub-menus.

As to the design nerds who put complicated computer menu hell in cars just becsuse they think the entire world should be slave to sub-menu hell…well, to borrow an old Arab curse, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest their tents.

@Marnet My previous car, a Chevy Caprice had a nightmarishly complicated way of setting time using tiny buttons and submenus. Setting the radio stations was tough as well.

I like my wall clock at home. Reach up, touch the appropriate clock hand, twirl to appropriate time position. Relax and admire the result. :slight_smile:

You’re overgeneralizing. For my current car (a Lexus), my previous car (an Acura), and my wife’s current car (a BMW), it’s either automatic or trivial (ten seconds at most).