Why do they make cars that do only what the engineer prefers


#1

Why do they make computer controlled cars with so many interlocked controls?



Case in point is my 2002 Pontiac Bonneville:



- They didn’t provide any way to start moving in second gear in icy weather.



- If the wipers are on, I can’t turn off the headlights. Thus, I can’t go to a drive-in theater if it is lightly raining.



- The radio stays on until the car doors are opened. Why?



- The headlights stay on after the engine is shut off and the car is locked. But the time they stay on seems to change by itself without any logical reason.



The climate control system is the worst case of doing what the engineer preferred, but not what others prefer:



- On my old car, in mild weather, I always left the defroster on with a low fan speed. I like indirect air. This car makes me manually select the defroster every time I start the engine, and then it turns the blower on high.



- When the defroster is on, and in some other seemingly unspecified cases, it won’t let me choose fully internal air circulation without first choosing another air delivery outlet. But when there is a dead skunk on the road ahead, I want fully internal air NOW.



- It won’t let me choose an air temperature below 60F. Sometimes I want colder air on the passenger side to keep frozen food cold for the long trip home from the store.



- It won’t let me turn on the air conditioner at certain times, even when a serviceman wants to test the AC system.



- The blower won’t run unless the engine is running.


#2

I can address some of those…

But first let me say the I agree with a lot of what you said…and when we went shopping for a new car…I made sure that the new car didn’t have some of those “features”. If they did…I didn’t buy it.

If the wipers are on, I can’t turn off the headlights. Thus, I can’t go to a drive-in theater if it is lightly raining.

Many states like NY have laws that state if it’s raining enough to have the wipers on then the lights MUST be on. I agree that there are situations where this isn’t desirable.

The radio stays on until the car doors are opened. Why?

Many cars have this feature. It’s to allow you to sit in your car and listen to the radio without any other drain on the battery. I actually think it’s a nice feature (at least I thought I did until my daughter started dating about 10 years ago).

Your climate control system is funky to say the least. A lot has to do with things being computer controlled. Personally I think they just added more complexity to a system that doesn’t need to be complex. The simplest and most effective HVAC control system I ever had in a car was my 90 Pathfinder. Easy to operate…did everything you ever wanted…Manual controls…Now everything is push button with built in intelligence(or stupidity - I guess it’s from which ever way you’re looking at it). The one thing I HATE about my HVAC is that I can’t adjust the temp unless I turn the blower on. This is just stupid…


#3

As an engineer, I’ll just say that you bought a poorly-designed (in some ways) car, not the result of ‘engineers gone wild’. There’s a reason GM went bankrupt.

Also, there may be some ways around some of your problems (at least in most cars): instead of pushing a defrost button, is there another control that just changes the air direction? Most cars have it.

Sounds like you need to sell it and find one you like.


#4

I Own And Operate A Bonneville Of The Same Basic Design, Although A Few Years Newer.

I don’t have a problem with the things being discussed here. Also, I don’t find evidence of poor design or poor engineering. I thoroughly enjoy my Bonneville.

Each car has its idiosyncrasies. I have a car in my fleet that turns the cruise control off every time the car is shut off and it has to be turned on each time it’s started. I don’t care for that feature, but others might like it.

I find the DRL / automatic headlights to be one of the best features on my Bonneville and my wife likes the same operation on her Impala. Others may not like it as we have seen.

I don’t have a traction problem starting on ice and we get lots of ice.

I like the radio on until door open feature, some do and others don’t.

My Bonneville allows me to start and stop the car with the HVAC controls set to defroster and low fan setting or whatever configuration I desire, unlike what has been complained about here. In fact, I have infinitely variable fan speed selection, too. My wife’s Impala allows this, too, and even “factory remote” starts and has the windows all cleared by the time she’s ready to roll.
Maybe ther’s something wrong with this owner’s old Bonneville or the design was improved upon later than this car’s production date.

I like my Bonneville and my wife likes her Impala just the way they are.

If you want a treat then try adapting to the location and function of controls when switching from one to another of our seven cars when you take one for a ride. I would like to see some standardization by the designers of cars, but it’s not a big deal to me.

Try getting more fiber in your diet.

CSA


#5

'Cuz that’s the way the car biz works.
A reflection of the trends of the time era in which it was designed.

Remember some of these trends;
sealed beams ?
hide-a-way headlights ?
every door’s armrest had an ashtray & a lighter ? ( now you can only special order a lighter )
cup holders ?
fastbacks ?
Vinyl tops ?


#6

It’s not what the engineers want that counts. They only execute a design that marketing convinces management should be in the car. Engineering weighs in on how much it will cost to include the feature, but they don’t decide what features are included. Maybe that’s what you meant.

One thing about your AC: Even though you can’t set it below 60F, it will almost certainly be on high until the temperature approaches 60F. You can’t make the air flow faster or colder than full out. If the air tempearture is too cold for AC at 60F, maybe you should just put the stuff in the trunk. It might be cold enough. Also, I don’t know how far you drive to the grocery. If it’s more than 10 to 15 minutes, you might consider a cold box for transport.


#7
  • They didn’t provide any way to start moving in second gear in icy weather.

There are lots and lots of cars that don’t have that feature, but people still manage to drive their cars in the snow. Maybe you need better winter tires to have that not be an issue. I just drive cars with manual transmissions so I have full control over the transmission, not some computer programming thought up by an engineer in a factory.

  • If the wipers are on, I can’t turn off the headlights. Thus, I can’t go to a drive-in theater if it is lightly raining.

Why in the world would you want to watch a drive in movie in the rain?
That makes no sense to me. You can watch the same movie inside a real theatre, and not have this issue. Plus, the sound quality is way better in the theatre.

  • The radio stays on until the car doors are opened. Why?

Its a great feature that allows you to keep the radio active after you shut off the car, so you can finish listening to a song, the news, the sports event, or whatever, without burning gas. It usually shuts off anywhere between 30 seconds, and 15 minutes, depending on the company that made the car. Some, like Porsche, allow you to keep the radio going forever, if you turn it back on.

  • The headlights stay on after the engine is shut off and the car is locked. But the time they stay on seems to change by itself without any logical reason.

Some people drive home in the dark, park their cars in dark garages, and really appreciate this feature. In fact, I can trigger this same feature on my two Ducati motorcycles with a couple button pushes after turning off the bikes. Really helpful if you just dropped your key for the house in the dark garage.

As for your defroster comments, my '92 Buick Park Avenue Ultra was the same way.

Typically, when people turn on their defroster, they are trying to remove condensation from their windshield. The best way to do this quickly is with the speed set to high. If I remember correctly, you can take your car to a GM dealer, and have this reprogrammed.

Also, air from the outside will be less humid to defrost the air in the car that you and your 5 passengers are breathing in, which is why you can’t choose recirculate with the defroster setting. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

  • It won’t let me choose an air temperature below 60F. Sometimes I want colder air on the passenger side to keep frozen food cold for the long trip home from the store.

Buy a cooler.
Way better than trying to rely on your car’s a/c to keep food frozen.
I had one that fit perfectly in the front trunk of my Porsche Boxster.
Was great driving 70+ miles to the racetrack with ice, food and drinks in it, play all day on the racetrack with the car, then drive back home 70+ miles, and still have ice in the cooler.

  • The blower won’t run unless the engine is running.

Keeps people from killing their batteries from moments of forgetfulness.

BC.


#8

This sounds like a preamble to the discussions we’ll soon have when the forum software changes.


#9

One feature I really like about “RAP” (retained accessory power) is the ability to put the window up after you shut down the key. I don’t know if this feature made it to a 2002 but my 2004 FORD has it.


#10

Another reason is the corperate reductions and cutbacks.
The buyer gets what THEY want to sell with extremely few choices.

Even when special ordering a vehicle !
You can pick only from package A, B, or C. that’s all , no wiggle room.

Until I ordered my 06 Escape Hybrid all my vehicles have been black outside with red interior. Now it’s not even a choice. Interior color ? tan or grey ! those aren’t even COLORS !
I wanted heated seats but to get them would have to buy package B which would have been just a one color exterior. ( not the desired two tone ) Now, just what the hll does exterior color have to do with seats ??
There are horrendously few interior lights and I’d like to add more as in years past. BUT NOW the not so “smart” junction box won’t allow the extra amperage load for me to add rear seat dome/reading lamp, under dash/kick panel lamps, and lights on outer corner of each door when they’re open.

Back in the day you could menu pick your ordered options.
Power seats but manual windows.
Power mirrors but manual door locks.
interior COLORS red, green, blue, gold.


#11

I used to like manual heater controls because I could always find a setting that would do what I wanted it to do. Those controls and their latter-day malfunctions could be the biggest complaint that “the users” have, as far as “the dashboard” goes.

Wipers and headlights should not be interconnected. Why allow potential short circuits? Why allow a bad ground to affect everything?

We don’t like replacing various malfunction generators when they screw up as designed.

If a car were built the old way, it could be marketed as the ultimate luxury car.


#12

You’re right. There is are two reasons GM went bankrupt. Benefits for the union, and GMAC.


#13

"If a car were built the old way, it could be marketed as the ultimate luxury car. "
There is a lot of truth to that. We are reaching a point where manual controls are more expensive to include in a car. Doing everything by wire is becoming the norm and mechanical linkage and hydraulics a thing of the past and more expensive in money and space. Creating function w/o control movement can be more reliable and functional. Cars are becoming ride-able lap tops.
Problem; it just cost me $400 to regain the use of a plethora of functions when a rodent crawled up the inside door frame to the roof liner, built a nest and chewed out one wire.


#14

I greatly agree with the premise of your statement. And every time I see a big BMW with I-Drive I shake my head in bewilderment. Why under the heavens would anyone do that.

In my own car there are a few such quirks. One is that I cannot select the defroster vents without truning on the defroster…which turns on the AC. In my old cars I used to blow hot air out the defrost vents to melt the contact layer of ice on teh windshield. But now, nooooooooooo says some genius, anyone selecting the defroster vents MUST be using the defroster, so therefore the AC MUST be on in the background. I say to them BLAH!!!

Hey, the computer I’m typing on right now makes way too many decisions for me also. I guess I’ll just have to get used to the 21st century.


#15

Don’t blame this on engineers, blame it on marketing.

If you ask engineers what the most valuable thing learned in college was, many will tell you.

1: Don’t re-invent the wheel.
2: KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!)


#16

I used to think that the perfect car was the Studebaker Scotsman which came out in 1957. The options consisted of a right hand sunvisor, electric instead of vacuum wipers, the Borg Warner overdrive and positraction. A radio wasn’t available even as an option. One had to purchase an aftermarket radio. There was no chrome–even the hupcaps were painted. The heater was the recirculating type–a box under the dashboard that housed a small radiator and a fan. When I bought an almost new car in 1965 I purchased a bottom of the line Rambler Classic 550. It did haver an a.m. radio, but nothing else. I had to add a windshield washer and backup lights. The car suited me just fine for the time.
Last March I bought a 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan. I got a good price on one on the lot. I didn’t think I would like the electric sliding doors, but they are really convenient when I take a friend with me who has suffered a stroke. I appreciate having the automatic locks when my grand daughter is in the car. I didn’t think I would use the blue tooth answering system for the cell phone, but it is very handy when we go to visit our son and his family. About four hours into the six hour trip my grand daughter calls and wants to know when we will be there. It is convenient to push a button by the rear view mirror and have the garage door open. It is nice to have the seats fold flat to the floor rather than having to wrestle a 60 pound seat out of the vehicle as I had to do on my previous minivan.
My wife’s 2003 Toyota 4Runner and the 1993 Oldmobile 88 we had before the 4Runner both had automatic temperature control. It worked perfectly. I have become spoiled in my old age.


#17

"[b][u][i]Really?

Perhaps you should mind your business keep it civil.[/i][/u][/b]"

Whitey, do you want to share with the class what that’s about? Being your first and so far only post in this thread it sounds like something from way out in left field.


#18

When I-drive first came out there was a lot of negative press and lots of crticisim of the technique. Typical with BMW they blazed the path for a multi-function control system that many other manufactures now emulate. This “being first” is demonstrated time after time with BMW.


#19

They didn’t provide any way to start moving in second gear in icy weather.

This is the way the majority of automatic transmissions operate. Does your car not have traction control?

  • The radio stays on until the car doors are opened. Why?

So you can listen to the end of the news/song/commercial without idling and wasting gas.

The climate control system is the worst case of doing what the engineer preferred, but not what others prefer:

  • On my old car, in mild weather, I always left the defroster on with a low fan speed. I like indirect air. This car makes me manually select the defroster every time I start the engine, and then it turns the blower on high.

This does seem annoying, but what does the climate control default to at every start? If I remember correctly, it should retain the previous settings.

  • When the defroster is on, and in some other seemingly unspecified cases, it won’t let me choose fully internal air circulation without first choosing another air delivery outlet. But when there is a dead skunk on the road ahead, I want fully internal air NOW.

Recirc should never be available in defrost mode, and every car with a system that is not operated solely by cables and levers will not allow recirc and defrost simultaneously. Recirc will just fog up the windows in the rain, just the opposite of what you want.

  • It won’t let me choose an air temperature below 60F. Sometimes I want colder air on the passenger side to keep frozen food cold for the long trip home from the store.

Actually, setting the temp to 60 IS “max” cooling, the same as keeping the dial all the way cold on a manual system. You do want recirc for this.

  • It won’t let me turn on the air conditioner at certain times, even when a serviceman wants to test the AC system.

Any competent service tech with the proper equipment can operate and test an A/C system when he needs to.

  • The blower won’t run unless the engine is running.

Of course not. Without the engine running the HVAC system can not generate heat nor cool. Auto climate control systems are not for everyone, mainly for the “set it and forget it crowd.”


#20

“One feature I really like about “RAP” (retained accessory power) is the ability to put the window up after you shut down the key. I don’t know if this feature made it to a 2002 but my 2004 FORD has it.”

Manual windows have that feature built in.