Advances in the automotive industry have contributed immensely to innovation and user-friendliness. We take for granted features like the air-conditioner, which is an absolute blessing during peak summer. The navigation system in a car helps you find your way around. Safety features such as Airbags and ABS have helped save countless lives.
But then, there are some ideas that are so bizarre and outright absurd that we wonder how they ended up in the cars we drive.
But, before we get started, a word of caution: This post is a rant on the top 5 most useless features in a car. The opinions below are strictly personal. Enjoy!
Electronic Hand Brake
We think the electronic parking brake, or the electronic “Handbrake,” as we call them in India, is an unnecessary feature. A handbrake is normally a simple feature: pull the lever which pulls two cables that lock the rear brakes. Handbrakes are useful when parking on sloping or uneven surfaces.
However, luxury automakers like Audi, Mercedes and BMW have replaced the manual handbrake with an electronic one. You can flip a switch on the centre console that engages and disengages the handbrakes electronically. But why, we wonder?
We do not believe that the electronic hand brake is a bad idea. But isn’t it unnecessary to overcomplicate and overengineer something as simple and effective as a manual hand brake? Then there are the drawbacks; replacing a set of brake pads will cost you an expensive trip to the garage. As the callipers are electronically operated, you will need a diagnostics laptop to service the brakes.
Paddle Shifters in a CVT
CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission, a remarkable feat in automatic transmission technology. It uses belts and conical pulleys to provide “virtual” gear ratios. By virtual we mean, there are no gears involved. It’s just the diameter of the conical pulley that is altered due to hydraulic pressure. This in turn varies the speed via the output shaft.
To “fix” this, carmakers decided to plonk-in a pair of paddle shifters to give the driver an illusion of changing gears (Honda owners might know this). The problem with paddle shifters lies here. A CVT, in essence, is meant to eliminate the jerk you feel every time you shift gears in a manual transmission. CVT is meant to provide seamless acceleration from the start.
We say, instead of faking gear shifts automakers should focus on getting rid of the rubber-band effect that plagues almost every CVT.
A sunroof in a car feels like a half-hearted approach towards providing a convertible experience. There are a million things wrong with sunroofs! For brevity, we’ll just list a few.
First, they are heavy. A sunroof adds nearly 30 kilos to the vehicle’s gross weight and second, they steal your headroom. This is because the sunroof mechanism takes up a lot of space on the roof. Thirdly, sunroofs are notorious for leaking water during rains. Additionally, they are also super expensive to repair. Finally, the sunroof messes with the aerodynamics of the car. And we have barely scratched the surface of the list of reasons for the sunroofs’ inutility.
Automated Windshield Wipers
Going for automatic windshield wipers is straight-up lazy. There is absolutely no need for it. Though automated the windshield wipers seem like a great idea at first, it gets annoying after a while. The sensors have trouble adjusting to the intensity of the rain. Besides, the inconsistency is sure to frustrate you.
The AM Radio
When was the last time you used the AM radio? Don’t remember? Well, you are not alone.
Today, AM (Amplitude Modulation) or medium wave radio is an ancient relic. Analogue radio broadcasting is a primitive way to get information across; the sound quality is poor, the reception is weak, and it is extremely susceptible to interference.
However, the relatively low-frequency signal means that AM can transmit information over great distances (500-800 km). Several AM radio stations across India use this low frequency for emergency broadcasts or severe weather alerts.
Sorry, but the AM radio still tops the list of the most useless of car features.
These are our pick of some of the weirdest and most unnecessary features in cars. They add very little to our lives and don’t make a great deal of sense.
Again, these are only our opinions, so feel free to offer your own. What do you guys think? Got a favourite useless car feature? Let us know!