Car Tech: 5 Technologies That Don’t Work as Well as You Think

Source: Toyota

Car technology can do great things for you. In the course of one trip, it may find your destination, get you there while avoiding a traffic jam, and serve up great tunes for the entire ride. However, things may go haywire on the return trip.

Your car may not recognize the fob in your pocket, whine mechanically while you attempt to parallel park, and send you in circles when the freeway design becomes intricate. At these moments, the technology isn’t your best friend but rather your annoying sidekick who should have stayed with the analog setup.

You never know what type of technology will be activated inside the rental vehicle or car you are test-driving, but it is worthwhile to check before getting on the road. Otherwise, you may find yourself battling a tiny electrical monster who won’t let you park or drive in peace. Here are five examples of car tech that could be vastly improved.

1. Touch screens

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Touch screens, among the most fundamental bits of modern car technology, can be clunky at times, which is being charitable. We have tested multiple cars from the 2015 model year that have touch screens that feel like you are beating a drum when trying to type in a destination on the navigation app. They are a long way from the tech we use on smartphones, tablets, or even touch screens at supermarket checkout counters, airport terminal kiosks, and ticket vending machines.

2. Keyless entry fob


Are you used to starting your car without a key yet? Even if you are, your car may not be used to detecting the fob when it is in your pocket or otherwise in close proximity. We have received warning signals on the car’s display console saying the fob was not within the car’s range when it was in our hands in the driver’s seat. The latest technology ought to be beyond these common glitches, but the latest model vehicles are annoying drivers with them in 2015.

3. Park Distance Control

Source: BMW

Get into a car with Park Distance Control or other parking assistance tech and you may find yourself with the screaming mother-in-law you never knew you had. We were unfortunate enough to dig in with a car that had its alerts activated on high-volume settings without our awareness. When trying to maneuver the nimble, compact car into a parking spot in New York, a high-pitched mechanical whining flooded the vehicle. A painstaking search to disable the function followed.

4. Basic navigation

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

In a recent test of a 2015 model-year vehicle, we found ourselves driving in circles on the highway. Indeed, the loop in the road’s construction confused the car’s navigation app to the point it would have continued this circling until kingdom come. We were forced to shut down the navigation and pull up a more sensible app on our phones to reach our destination on the same day. The incident was not isolated. Problems with navigation apps are rampant. From route issues to problems finding the volume settings (partly a deficiency of touch screen design), navigation app developers can do far better.

5. Rear view cameras


If you see something in your rear view camera, your instinct or the car’s response will be to stop before contact. This function is self-explanatory enough. However, using the feature and its layers of colored lines to determine where you are with respect to a parking spot or other obstruction is unwise. When driving a car with the camera and its alerts activated, you may find yourself in for a challenging parking experience. As we have heard driving testers say, it’s OK to look behind you. In most cases, it’s the safest way to park.

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