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Friday, March 11, 2005 

Anger: I hate my car

Yes, I hate my car...

Its a 2004 Ford Taurus SE. I bought it new at the end of the model year because my old car (1994 TBird) was old and crappy and the price was right.

You might be saying "But, dude, its a new car...what could be so bad about it that you hate it already?" That is a good question!

There is only ONE reason I hate this thing. It is the result of a combination of two minor design errors that amplify each other to the point I dread getting into this car.

Somewhere there is a Ford designer that needs to have an attitude adjustment. This schmuck was tasked with designing the alert sounds for various issues the car can detect. Stuff like a door is open, the key is still in the ignition, the lights are still on, you know... the little reminders that the car gives you to make sure you don't do something stupid. The speaker has a pretty good range, it can make noises ranging from a melodic and soothing "bing...bing...bing" to a shrill screech.

So anyway, this moron was tasked with assigning sounds to the alert messages the detector sent his way. By and large he did a reasonable job, but screwed up BIG time on one of these alerts... I will get back to this dillweed in a bit...

You know that if you start any recent car without the seatbelt fastened, a reminder alarm is set off. I think this is a good idea; it must save some lives. At least it makes the driver aware that he is about to break the seat belt law in most states. Some other cars take this a bit further. They let you pull out and then alarm again after a short time if the seatbelt is still not fastened. Annoying, but I wear my seatbelt all the time anyway so it is not a problem.

This brings me to the second attitude adjustment candidate. Some class A safety-nazi thought to take this EVEN FURTHER and send an alert EVERY FEW SECONDS when the seatbelt is not fastened. A KEEP DOING IT FOREVER! "You vill vear your zeatbelts, and you vill like it!... Bitch!". Somehow this guy thought that this would enhance the safety of the car.

Now take the constant alert signal and the fact that the sound engineer chose a screech that would make Yoko Ono cringe and you get a lethal combo.

Now, I really do wear my seatbelt all the time... at least I thought I did until I came across this "feature".

Here are some examples...

Pull up to a bank drive-thru teller, put the car in park and reach out the window. Oh? You say you can't reach? No problem... just release the seatbelt and go about your business. WRONG... Even while in "park" (i.e. NOT MOVING) Yoko Ono is there to tell me that the seatbelt is unhitched. I go to an old fashioned bank, one that has the tubes in the drive thru that go to an actual person, not ATMs. The teller asked me if I was OK because she heard screaming through the speaker.

I used to like to take car trips with my family. I still do, but it takes the fun out of the trip if you have to be on edge because Yoko might spring to life any moment. The first time I got really angry about this feature was on one of these trips. I have a young child; young children need attention and get bored easily when in the car for long drives. My daughter wanted something from the cooler we always take along and asked my wife to help her get it. Ever the attentive mother, my wife released her seatbelt and reached into the back seat to help. A few seconds passed and we suddenly were sent into a wild frenzy of Yoko screaming at us. I was shocked by the sudden appearance of Mrs. Lennon, which caused the car to swerve while I peeled myself off the roof. Somehow, I didn't expect the seatbelt screech at (ahem) 65 MPH (cough). Silly me...

This is clearly a feature that will cause the car to be safer to drive. Mostly because I try to avoid driving it.

Man, I really HATE my car...

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