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Hot-Seat Emergency in the Outback

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Rob Spiegel
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Re: automobile design
Rob Spiegel   10/3/2012 8:11:20 PM
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Radio controls on the steering column are a new one on me, Rickz28. The last two cars I've owned had windshield wipers on the turn signal. That's very convenient, but it also means I inadvertently turn on the wipers when I use the turn signals.

RICKZ28
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Re: automobile design
RICKZ28   10/4/2012 2:32:41 PM
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Rob, I'm particularly attuned to car design including the interior controls since I just finished car shopping and purchased a new car.  It was my first new car purchase, so I made sure to take my time and enjoy the process of evaluation and decisions.

The steering wheel mounted controls for the radio are fantastic.  The push buttons control the radio volume, source (FM, AM, XM, CD or aux input), and channel (including music CD track).  I don't have to remove my hand from the steering wheel while driving for typical radio adjustments.  It's a feature I wanted on my new car, since I grew to enjoy this feature on my wife's '07 Acura TSX.

About the "hot-seat emergency", I noticed the switches for the heated seats on my new Honda Civic are also directly in front of the gear shifter.  Since the car has an automatic transmission, there's not much risk of accidently turning on the heated seats.  My wife's Acura heated seat switches are on the center console, and the heated seats have been accidently turned-on a few times...I've learned not to do that.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: automobile design
Rob Spiegel   10/4/2012 6:35:05 PM
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Rickz28, it sounds like the steering wheel radio and CD controls may actually be a safety improvement. 

Jim_E
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Re: automobile design
Jim_E   10/10/2012 9:36:45 AM
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Oh, where to start....

Toyota, oh hallowed vehicle designers, why must you torment me!  :)

We have a Toyota Sienna minivan and my wife loves it.  At 6'3", I'm a good foot taller than her, and that makes some problems for me.  I'm sure that my wife is the target audience, and can accept that, but....

- With seat and steering wheel properly adjusted, I cannot see the top of the speedometer!  I have learned at 55mph is with the needle straight up and down, so that helps me a bit, since I can see the lower part of the needle.

- The windshield wiper switch is on a stalk on the right side of the wheel, rather low and close to the wheel.  About every other time that I drive the van, I accidentally hit the stupid thing with my hand, causing the wipers to smear stuff on the dry windshield....

- The interior lights do not feature automatic shutoff.  In a van. Made to carry around young kids.  With push button lights in the back....  So, sometimes the kids push on the light over their seats, and we leave the van.  Since all of the lights are on when we open a door, I don't see it.  Luckily, I usally see the lights on when I'm out walking the dog later, but it had caused a dead battery before.

My 2000 Chevy Silverado has a nice feature which will automatically shut off the interior light after about twenty minutes, preventing a dead battery.  But, my Silverado also featured brake lines which completely rusted out this year!  One of the worse driveway repair jobs that I've ever done, since GM installed the brake lines before putting the body on!  Yes, I put new stainless steel lines on this time.

As for steering wheel radio controls, they are great!  My 1995 Pontiac Trans-Am has them, as well as our minivan.  They even make third party interfaces which will let the buttons work with aftermarket head units (stereos).

 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: automobile design
Rob Spiegel   10/10/2012 12:22:10 PM
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Interesting point, Jim_E. Sounds like a mix of good positions (the radio on the steering wheel) or the other controls. I've always held the view that Japanese cars are designed for relatively small people. I'm 5'8", and the Japanese cars all seem to have everything in the right place. If I were 6'3", I would imagine the controls would not seem to be in the right place.

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: automobile design
Nancy Golden   10/10/2012 3:20:02 PM
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Rick, you may want to figure out how to turn off those automatic lights. I remember one Christmas we were all in our Lumina which also has the "feature" of the headlights turning on automatically. We were in a very long car line driving through a Christmas lights village about 9:00pm. When it was our turn to enter the village there was a huge sign that said "Please turn off your headlights so they won't distract from the enjoyment of others driving through."  We had no idea how to do it and much to our chagrin we had to complete the drive through with our headlights on...

John
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Gold
Buttons on the dash
John   10/10/2012 3:28:09 PM
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I never understood why anyone would think that the red triangle warning flasher button would make a great focal point in the middle of the dash.  I think it's a foreign car thing to put that thing there.  Guess the rest of the world uses it more often than the US audience.  Kind of like the horn.  Some rebuilders have intresting jokes about that button. lol.  Maybe one day it will have what is suppose to go there.  Like a dial faced clock or is that too retro and not hip enough.

RICKZ28
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Re: automobile design
RICKZ28   10/10/2012 3:50:16 PM
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Good point Nancy, and I did figure out how to turn off the automatic headlights on my new Honda Civic.  There are certainly circumstances in which the automatic headlights are not desirable, but I usually keep the automatic feature turned on. 

Interestingly, the automatic headlights on my pristine 1998 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (now my weekend recreational vehicle after 10 years of daily driving), cannot be turned off.  The light switch on the dash is only to turn on the headlights during the daytime.

I remember the old days when there were drive-in movie theaters.  It was bad etiquette to drive in with headlights on after the show started.

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: automobile design
Nancy Golden   10/10/2012 4:07:32 PM
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I hate to admit I remember those days too, Rick - although I was usually a passenger...

If you google how to turn off a Lumina's headlights, this is what you get:

Turn off engine

Depress Emergency Brake

Turn on engine

I happen to be driving another Lumina (great family car) so I am going to give that a try...I bet if you jump on one of those car forums one of the guys can tell you how to turn your camaro headlights off...

GuidoBee
User Rank
Iron
Re: automobile design
GuidoBee   10/10/2012 4:36:15 PM
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My Tracker has the automatic lights (release emergency brake and the daytime running lights come on).  Flasher switch is on top of the steering column, which seems to be OK. 

My method for getting daytime headlights off is to pull up the E-brake a couple of notches.  It does not engage the brake, but it does cause the headlights to go out.  May not work that way on other vehicles, but it does the trick on mine.  Once I'm rolling again, I release the brake all the way. 

Driving up to military base gates in rental cars was always a pain in the butt.  Trying to get the lights to go out so as not to blind the guard was normal practice, but in rental cars, I was always concious of looking like an idiot trying to figure it out, and since you had to show the rental papers, ID, license, etc., it was a flail.

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