« Thank you, Brian Jones | Main | It's What's Up Front that Counts »

July 19, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Rob Martin

How about full size spare tires....unless you have run-flats or buy a full size SUV or pickup good luck getting one included with the purchase of a new vehicle.


Oh, where to start; never mind slippery, too-hot-or-too-cold leather upholstery, sun roofs that rob headroom and, inevitably, leak, no, one of my biggest peeves is "hidden" windshield wipers.

The designers of these wipers should be forced to live in a region with four seasons. They seem to predominate on American cars. The trailing edge of the hood fills up with snow and ice, and leaves and needles (depending on the season). This causes the wipers to freeze in place, and/or the defrost intake to clog up. Other problems occur when shutting off the wipers. Slush and other gunk have been pushed down into the space the wiper arms have to retract into, but they can't, resulting, eventually, in warped wiper arms.

Just very bad design, for the real world.

Brian Williams

Auto Pet Peeves?
Hmmm, how about those HVAC position dials which include the A/C setting? You know, you set it at A/C but in doing so you have to move the dial from, say, Feet level to the A/C setting which is Face level only. I much prefer a separate A/C button. That way, I can choose to press A/C regardless of where the air is coming from. If my feet are hot, then I choose the Feet level plus A/C.
How about auto lock doors? Egad, now there's a ridiculous design!
Then there are sunvisors which cannot be used by anyone of average height. With the visor down, it fully blocks the view ahead (I'm only 5'10" and have noticed this in several cars), so you have to leave the visor up and get used to squinting into the sun.
And while we are on the topic - seats that are low to the floor but do not have a height adjuster (my wife's former 1998 Legacy wagon was guilty of this design oversight).
And lastly, sunroof designs which cut into headroom so much that the driver's seat must be reclined a notch or two (1990's Eagle Talon's were the worst transgressors in this regard).


Pet Peeve - Most drivers will agree that stability control is a valuable safety feature. It's especially good if it can be turned off on a track.

I notice testers always point out that VW charges $450 for stability control. I was happy to pay it on my Jetta.

Why do the same testers fail to mention that you can only get stability control in the Toyota Prius by ordering one of two very expensive packages - one for over $3500 and one for over $7500?

Toyota has yet to respond to questions about this.

47 Ronin

Here's are some of my pet peeves (I'm sure I'll think of more..)

1. Glove boxes that are only big enough to hold the massive owner's manual, warranty manual, etc. package that the dealership gives you upon delivery. Why bother calling this storage?

2. Speedometers that go up to 260, 280, 300 km/h when everyone knows there's a limiter on the throttle that will cut the fuel well before you reach that speed. Just show me how fast this car will actually let me go.

3. Cross-over SUVs with gigantic blind spots...yes, I'm looking at you, Rogue and FJ (but can you see me?).

4. Tip-tronic transmissions of all sorts (get a stick!), but especially those that will auto-shift anyways, if you rev to high.

5. On a related transmission note - V6 engine engine option that doesn't come with an available manual transmission. "All the performance with none of the fun" should be the motto of this option.

John Ottaway

Turn indicator lights.

Whose idea was it to incorporate the front turn indicator lights into the headlamp assembly? The close proximity, combined with the brilliance of today's headlights makes it all but impossible to see an oncoming car's indicated turn during the day or night. Front turn indicators should be amber and positioned away from the headlights for proper visibility.

Rear indicator lights should be amber as well. In many vehicles with red indicator lights incorporated into the brake/tail light assembly, the lack of variance in the brilliance can make it difficult to tell if the indicator has been activated until you are closer than comfortable. Amber light can be seen from a much greater distance, and cannot be confused with faulty tail or brake light function. The argument that rear indicators should be red so that people won't confuse it with an oncoming car is just inane.

Both front and rear indicator lights should be designed to be easily seen when activated. If the auto industry and/or consumers place aesthetic values ahead of safety, perhaps government should step in and regulate it.

Drivers who do not use their turn indicators are not a vehicle design default. Educating and training them to drive safely, legally, and courteously is a much greater and more difficult problem to be resolved and should be addressed more diligently.

Darren Worrall

My 2003 Dodge SX 2.0 (aka Neon) has fog lights (daytime running lights) that turn off when you turn the headlights on.

When a fog light burns out, you have to put the car on a hoist to change it. To replace a headlight you have to undo the bumper from the frame and pull it back to get at the light. Lights seem to burn out in the winter and replacing the headlight is a job for bloody knuckles. Why can't they make these things easy to change?


Truck rollovers, specifically on the 401, specifically on the eastbound lanes approaching Mississauga. What bugs me the most is that it happens almost once a week, usually on Fridays and the worst part is, you can't blame this on the weather! Is there a highway design flaw that the engineers must have missed where the concrete swells up and protrudes causing these big rigs to go swerving off the road? Maybe they all just weren't paying attention to the exponential increase in traffic once you hit this stretch of highway, but I doubt it...most likely it's the idiot drivers that zig-zag through gridlocks hoping to squeeze an extra 10 seconds off their commute that cut them off and send them packin' for the ditch. At least the guy behind them can unwind, put the car in neutral, and coast his way back home to a 9pm dinner date!


While not directly about car design, how about this one, Mr. Kenzie?

With the recent heavy rainfall here in southern Ontario, I've noticed that most drivers fail to turn on their full lights - both headlights and taillights - when the rain starts to fall. If we have daytime running lights, why don't car manufacturers have the full lights turn on when the car starts? If memory serves, some previous model Buicks and Subarus had this feature, possibly built-in when Transport Canada mandated daytime running lights but when GM and Subaru didn't want to pay for secondary electric wiring/switches to send a reduced current to the high beams.

Better still, why aren't full lights mandated by Transport Canada instead of daytime running lights?

The spray kicked up behind cars on the highways makes it virtually impossible to see the backs of cars that don't have their lights on until you're too close for driving conditions in the rain, or until they hit the brake. Drives me bonkers. And is a clear violation of s.62(1) and (4) of the Highway Traffic Act.


Seems to me that most of the griping being done here is directed at people who simply do not exercise common sense when driving. My full lights go on when it rains or when the sky gets dark. My 2005 Hyundai Elantra has amber turn signals (front and back), and the blind spots are minimal. It has an A/C button, and I frequently only have it on my feet, as having it in my face causes my eyes to water. If you get a car with a sunroof, you notice that the headspace is lower BEFORE you buy the car, it doesn't sag over time. No excuse but vanity for these complaints. The "warped arms" complaint is nothing short of driver negligence, clear the arms off BEFORE getting in the car. I do, it's not that much of a chore.

My only 2 peeves are people who have no clear reason for hugging the speed limit like a lost love, and brake riders. 50 is NOT the only speed you can drive in town. Sometimes you can go faster, sometimes you NEED to go slower. Nothing irks me more than someone who cannot adapt their speed to match traffic. It's also very dangerous to coast with the brake lights on without actually braking. Once you actually start to brake, the car behind you may not notice. Drives me bonkers that I have to focus that much more on the position of your car just because you don't know how to use a dead pedal. I understand that both of these complaints can be remedied by circumstance, maybe there is a good reason for this behaviour some of the time, and I'm more than willing to admit that I'm not perfect either. Still annoys me though.


Tailgating is still a number one cause of accidents [Gary: We prefer to all them 'crashes' or 'collisions'...] and I still see people, like the woman this morning, who drive so close you cannot see their bumper in your mirror. It does not matter how fast your reflexes are or what kind of braking system you have, if the person in front suddenly stops, the tailgater will hit them. And the damage, injury, and hassle are definitely not worth it.


I've enjoyed the comment here, and smiled and nodded at most of them. But I guess some of the auto design types are listening. My car is an '05 Chrysler product:
- When the turn signal is engaged, the Daytime Running Light on that side goes out.
- When my wipers are on, the lights (front and back) automatically come on.
- a decent size glove box is better appreciated when you put the owner's manual in the decent size console storage area.
Not pushing the Mopar, I'm just saying...


- people who put flashing bulbs in their third brake light. Great way to distract people at critical time of driving - the car ahead is stopping, but I can't stop looking at flashing light... so pretty... crash!

- extra high pickups with vast space inside fenders around wheels so that any driving in rain turns this vehicle into a view-blocker with the massive spray the tires kick up in rainy situations.

- vehicles parked blocking the bike path, causing cyclists to veer into the car lane and get killed. Everybody has a right to their space on the road.

Sean McConnell

1) This one is very simple and would save millions in parking lot door-ding mishaps. Design the inside door release lever that, in order to reach it with your fingers, your hand must wrap around a secure bar attached to the door. This way, your hand has complete control over the opening door. Too many people just fling the door open and pray that the first sprung hinge position will stop it before crashing in to the car beside them. If the parking spot is tight, I go so far as to open the doors for my kids (from the outside) because I can't trust them to maintain adequate control of the opening door. For an exact example of my suggested design, track down a 1978 BMW 530i.

2) This one SHOULD be simple and it would save many lives. Mandate that ALL car manufacturers place their windshield wiper control stock on the right side of the steering wheel, completely independent of ALL other functions. Most drivers with more that 5 years experience have had at least one incident of being blinded by crud being splashed up on the windshield. The split second required to get the wipers on could spell the difference between life or death! Fumbling around with some twisty thing on the end of a blinker stalk is totally unacceptable. We have surely evolved further than this, people. Again I refer to my old 1978 BMW 530i (God I miss that car). The instant the windshield becomes obscure, you just nail that wiper stalk hard and it's INSTANTLY working hard to save your life! There's no little delay while the controller checks for the "delay" setting. There's no issues with the wipers being stuck down in their personal garage under the hoodline. They're just on NOW!!

3) Light sensors controlling our exterior lighting HAVE to go. So many people don't even know HOW to manually turn on their lights anymore that it's just a joke to see how many cars are out there, virtually invisible to other drivers, the second we experience heavy rain, fog, snow, etc.

4) OH! And Speed Limits... They gotta go, too!! What a nuisance.

Sean McConnell
Canada's Worst Driver 2 :)


I would like to have a car with headroom...not everyone is under 6ft and I neither want to lay in my car to drive it nor drive a minivan to fit. As well, why do we need 750 buttons strewn all over the dashboard to turn on and off all the gadgetry? What's not there can't break and can't distract.

Talking SatNav: How about an interlock? You can't enter a destination while you drive....love those specialists navigating the navigation system while driving.

And lastly: Forbid fog lamps. It's not "cool looking", it's just a nuisance to oncoming traffic when there is no fog.

Greg White

During the past 25 years, I have had the pleasure of driving across our country many times. My latest trip a couple of weeks ago was both familiar and unique. Familiar was the number of vehicles travelling in excess of 130 km/h. Unique was the percentage of socially responsible and environmentally aware owners of fuel efficient hybrid vehicles driving in excess of 130 km/h. Perhaps someone could explain the logic behind paying upwards of a $10 000 premium for that "extra" efficiency, then driving it in the most inefficient manner possible.


No mist option on Chrysler products. To do a single wipe, you have to turn the wiper on and off, very annoying.

Standardize the side that the gas tank fills from. This would simplify the gas line lineups. (Oh, and drivers that line up at a gas station by pulling up to the front of a car at a pump, instead of behind one should be dragged out and shot).

Middle lane drivers.

People that use the shoulder to pass during traffic jams.

Oh wait, this is beefs about car design...

GM's decision to install OnStar with every vehicle, whether you want it or not. Hey GM, want more people to subscribe? Drop it to the $10 a month it should be.

Dead pedals, or rather the lack of them! Or worse, half A$$ed ones, where you can't rest your whole foot on it, just your little toe.

In car DVD/TV systems. Let the kids look out the damn window. Mine do.


Consol stick shifts in vans or suvs.
My Chev Equinox SUV has a center consol for selecting P,D,R,N etc. It takes up the entire center area of the car. In my old 1993 Mercury Villager there was a column shifter for selecting PDRN etc. The entire center area between the seats consequently had a massive amount of room for a large waste container, a cooler, purse or whatever. On the Equinox all that valuable space is now taken up by a space wasting central shifter the only purpose of which (in the past) was to allow car race drivers to easily shift gears on the track.

Steve  Pukonen

Ignition keys not placed in line of sight.
Trying to get the key into the ignition of a current model Honda civic at night is very frustrating as its mounted on the steering column out line of sight. Drove a Saab with ignition on the middle console for 14 years and that made perfect sense. Put it where you can see it or get rid of it as in a smart key.

Why do interior automatic climate control systems work automatically all the time?
We have two cars with auto climate control and they both seem to behave the same.
If I turn down the temperature dial to coldest position the A/C comes on despite the fact that I didn't press the 'auto' or 'A/C' button. Some times I just want coolest ambient air and not a/c. On the Honda A/C on seems to be the default on car start up, you have to press the A/C button to tell you that the A/C is off otherwise the compressor engages wasting energy for nothing.


I agree with Dentropolis about the position of the ignition key.. why is it hidden on the steering column behind the steering wheel? With the newer cars, the airbag takes up so much room, you can only find the key hole by feel, not sight.

One thing that really irritates me is the heating system in cars. Every notice where the heat vents and radiators are in a house? Under the windows - the coldest place in the house. Ever notice where they are in a car? In the center! One cold days, my left foot and leg stays ice cold, while my right foot (which is right under the heating vent) gets overheated. Is it so hard to place the heating vents closer to the outside of the car instead of the center?

Laura Wright

This may not be politically correct, but my beef is big, thick A pillars which to me, are the 'new blind spot'. We went from driving an '87 Grand National, '89 Micra and '92 Sentra Classic (all with skinny A pillars) to the '87 GN, '04 Matrix and '07 Camry SE (manual) and with the Camry especially, I am often finding that cars at intersections are behind the passenger-side A-pillar/rear view mirror combo, which takes up a space of at least 18 inches wide by 8 inches tall. I've begun to do the equivalent of the old shoulder check - the head bob to the left and then right to see around this obstruction of my vision.

I know, they are thicker in new cars because that means more rigidity and so probably safer, and the large side mirrors are great (esp. for reducing blind spots), but really! How much bigger are these A-pillars going to get?

Grand National Girl in Guelph

Ron Mayswood

Problem #1
During heavy snow falls I have to roll down my window and when the wiper blade has swung over to my side – quickly lift it to attempt the removal of the built up slush and ice not only on the blade but also on the windshield. Why don’t car designers put a few defrosting wires running vertically so the ice/snow will not accumulate?

Problem #2
When I am making a left had turn I can’t always tell if the oncoming car is going to stop. Why don’t the car designers install a red (or some other colour) brake light in the middle of the front bumper? You could clear the intersection sooner if you knew if they were in the process of stopping. It would prevent T-bone accidents.

Ron Mayswood
Toronto, Ont.

Oscar Elviss

Windshield reflections!
2005 Audi A6 with light colored interior: severe dashtop reflection in the windshield with any amount of sunshine. Eyestrain and reduced visibility are the result. How did this pass design and production checks?! I've made a black felt dash cover so I can see out the windshield. Recently saw a TV segment on the 2009 A4...same reflections from a light colored dash. Where are the safety and satisfaction engineers at Audi on this flaw?!

Dave Barker,  Whitby Ont.

What is up with newer cars having more and more bright reflective surfaces INSIDE the car? Aluminum bright reflective "optional" dash coverings on new Mustangs, Chrome bezels around important gauges (on just about every Japanese sports car, a la 1960 Italian), bright aluminum work on steering wheels (Nissan 350 is a perfect example) and the really dumb idea of polished aluminum shifter knobs (Audi TT) are just some examples of the ongoing effort to make sure that sunlight from any angle gets in your eyes.

The dash on my 2002 Camaro is not stylish in the least, but gives me all the info I want with zero glare. Can't wait for the car manufacturers to get rid of the bright glitzy bits and get back to making dashes useful to look at while you are driving, not pretty while sitting still.

Paul Nielsen

Dash Light - a good design from a surprising source.

Saabs have excellent control of dash lighting.
1. Black Panel. Following aircraft practice, pressing this button extinguishes all lights except the speedometer. This reduces eyestrain and frankly that's all you care about on the road. If a control needs your attention (e.g., temp rises), that gauge illuminates exclusively, bringing it clearly to your attention.

2. A simple light sensor on the dash adjusts the gauge lighting appropriately for the amount of light coming over your shoulder. If you're headed away from the sunset, the gauge lighting increases so you can read them. If you head into a dark garage, they dim appropriately.

I find that the Saab engineers in Trollhattan are generally idiots but this feature was wonderful.

Greg Hannah

Is there not a law that says you cannot obstruct your view by stuffing your back window with stuffed kitty cats? Or drive with a sunvisor that is as large as a welder's helmet?

Are there not laws that say you cannot black out your side windows completely? Or obscure your rear license plate?

Ian Whybrow

I have seen a few comments about sun visors. I owned a 95 GMC Jimmy (not a particularly great vehicle but I needed a truck at the time). It did, however, have the best sun visors I have ever seen or owned. The main visor had an extension that slid out of the end to cover more area (the whole side window if needed or the spot near the rear-view mirror) and if you had the main visor rotated to cover the side window, there was a secondary visor to pull down in front of you. On top of that it had lighted vanities in both visors so you could adjust yourself before an important meeting or date. What more could you ask for other than why the h--- is this not on every vehicle that GM or anyone else makes.

Ian Whybrow

How about clarifying the laws about window tinting. My son got a ticket for his side windows being too tinted. They are dark but you can see who is inside the car. The windshield is clear and un-tinted. A couple of days ago we saw an an-marked Police Dodge Charger (it had lights in the rear window - the only non-tinted spot on the vehicle). Not only could you not see through the side windows as to who was driving but you could not see through the windshield. How is it that the police can flaunt the laws we get ticketed for. On top of that the driver was tailgating on the 403 and exceeding the speed limit by at least 30k. A fine example of serving and protecting.

Ian Whybrow

I'm in the HOV lane, the dreaded double lines to my right. I am a captive and cannot cross into the express lane which is now going 20 km faster than Mr. Pokey in front of me. Dozens of vehicles are piling up on my tail. AAARRRGGGHHH!

Allan Robertson

About the polarised sunglasses, I noticed this for the first time this summer when my lovely wife bought me a pair as a gift. We were driving our newly acquired 05 Escape across the vast sunny western Canadian plains when I thought the radio display had died. It took me one or two hundred klicks to realise it was the glasses; I was on vacation after all. The displays also use polarised screens. You need to tilt/turn your head or more correctly the glasses to de-align the cross polarisation to see the the display. I know some people must have thought I had some sort of tick as is rolled my head eighteen degrees right to see what time it was or change stations. Perhaps a new automotive safety standard on display screen polarisation alignment?


Various people in every country take the loan in various creditors, because that's simple.

The comments to this entry are closed.