The U.S. Government Is Trying To Crack Down On Shady Dealership Tactics

Morning Dump Dealership

The FTC clamps down on shady dealership tactics, Nissan issues a hood recall, Rivian takes Level 3 charging off the beaten path. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

F&I, Meet FTC

Car Dealership
Photo credit: “Row of Cars at a Car Dealership” by everycar_listed_photos is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

A typical guideline with any new car dealership is that no matter how nice your sales guy is, the finance and insurance (F&I) office is going to try to make you bend over by pushing high-margin drivel like dentless paint removal and TruCoat. While some F&I add-ons have value, like tire and wheel protection if you live in an area with awful roads or gap insurance if you’re going in with negative equity, most are just designed to squeeze more money from your wallet.

After what feels like a lifetime of seedy F&I tactics, the Federal Trade Commission is aiming to come down on dealership F&I departments pushing bogus add-ons. In a notice approved 4-1, the Commission is looking to do four things. First, establish rules that prevent consumers from being baited by dealership tricks like ineligible discounts and vehicles advertised but not available. Second, ban bullshit like charges for nitrogen-filled tires. I mean come on, air is already around 78 percent nitrogen, and most dealership service departments are in no way qualified or equipped to actually perform a superior nitrogen fill of a tire. Third, ban surprise fees for add-ons. Nobody likes to be whacked with charges that weren’t included in the original sticker price. Finally, establish upfront dealership pricing regulations so consumers can know exactly how much a car costs excluding tax and government fees. Here it is from the FTC itself:

  • Ban bait-and-switch claims: The proposal would prohibit dealers from making a number of deceptive advertising claims to lure in prospective car buyers. This deal deception can include the cost of a vehicle or the terms of financing, the cost of any add-on products or services, whether financing terms are for a lease, the availability of any discounts or rebates, the actual availability of the vehicles being advertised, and whether a financing deal has been finalized, among other areas. Once in the door or on the hook, consumers face the fallout of false promises that don’t pan out.

 

  • Ban fraudulent junk fees:  The proposal would prohibit dealers from charging consumers junk fees for fraudulent add-on products and services that provide no benefit to the consumer (including “nitrogen filled” tires that contain no more nitrogen than normal air).

 

  • Ban surprise junk fees: The proposal would prohibit dealers from charging consumers for an add-on without their clear, written consent and would require dealers to inform consumers about the price of the car without any of optional add-ons.

 

  • Require full upfront disclosure of costs and conditions: The proposal would require dealers to make key disclosures to consumers, including providing a true “offering price” for a vehicle that would be full price a consumer would pay, excluding only taxes and government fees. It would also require dealers to make disclosures about optional add-on fees, including their price and the fact that they are not required as a condition of purchasing or leasing the vehicle, along with disclosures to consumers with key information about financing terms.

All in all, some very fair goals, and the FTC actually seems eager to reach them. In a statement issued Thursday, Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “As auto prices surge, the Commission is taking comprehensive action to prohibit junk fees, bait-and-switch advertising, and other practices that hit consumers’ pocketbooks.” While protections like these are already in place in many states, federal protections will give consumers an extra coat of armor and bring out bigger pitchforks for offending dealerships. Let’s hope that things progress on this front sooner rather than later for the sake of making each dealership less of a battlefield for consumers.

Nissan Has Hood Problems

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid 1
Photo credit: Nissan

You know what everyone loves? A good hood that doesn’t fly up while you’re driving. Unfortunately, not every car has a hood that stays put forever, so Nissan’s recalled 360,379 2013 to 2016 Pathfinder crossovers for, erm, unexpected active aero. Let’s break down exactly what’s going on.

See, cars in North America have both primary and secondary hood latches to prevent any moving bodywork shenanigans. The idea is that even if the primary latch is popped, the secondary latch will keep things together like buttercream frosting. Secondary latches are typically some sort of bell crank arrangement that you have to find with your hands under the “popped” hood, though sometimes automakers use the same hood release lever in the car to pop both the primary and secondary latches via a cable (this requires two pulls). In the case of the Nissan Pathfinder, the secondary latch is a bellcrank type, and it’s a buildup of debris on its pivot point that can cause bodywork to fly. While this seems like an issue that can happen to any car,

If hood latch failure isn’t surprising enough, Nissan expects owners to implement one arm of this recall fix. While 40,000 owners will get brand new latch assemblies, everyone else affected will get mailed a letter with inspection instructions. According to the recall report, “If the levers move freely, the owner can clean and condition the lever per the Owner’s Manual general maintenance requirements in Section 8 “Maintenance and DIY.” While the recall report later states that hood latch cleaning can be done by dealerships and that properly bad hood latches will be replaced, the image of telling owners to get a can of white lithium grease and sort their shit out seems preposterous to picture.

Adding to the general weirdness of this whole situation, this isn’t even the first time the old Pathfinder’s been recalled for hood latch problems. In 2015, Nissan recalled model year 2013 and 2014 Pathfinders for another hood latch issue, this time for a cable that was a bit too short. Anyway, this latest recall affects 322,671 Pathfinders in America, 37,115 in Canada, and 593 in Korea. Owners in America are expected to be notified by Aug. 3, so I’d recommend leaving Pathfinders a touch more room on the road until then.

Rivian Opens Off-Road Charging Stations

Rivian Off Road
Photo credit: Rivian

It’s no secret that electric vehicles have a ton of potential for off-roading. I mean come on, between awesome low-speed torque, potential four-motor applications for sending power to wheels with traction, and the prospect of a quieter four-wheeling experience, there’s some awesome potential here. However, off-roading also amplifies the big weakness of EVs – the charging network.

Sure, several manufacturers have promised to put charging stations near national parks and off-road trails, but plans have either only incorporated Level 2 charging or seemed a bit far-fetched. Happily, Rivian actually seems to be making progress, opening a Level 3 charging station in Salida, Colo. on Monday. Honestly, Salida seems to be a dope spot for mountain biking, skiing, and high-elevation hiking, so I totally get how this decision was reached. What’s more, the charging station in Salida is one of three stations on Rivian’s Adventure Network opening this week. Two more opening in Inyokern and Bishop, Calif. should be perfect for those who want to see the Sequoia National Forest, Mammoth Lakes, Death Valley, and so many more cool spots near the border with Nevada.

Trent Warnke, Rivian’s Senior Director of Energy and Charging solutions seems pretty stoked. In a statement issued Monday, Warnke said, “We designed Rivian charging to support electrified adventure, and these first sites demonstrate how we’re enabling drivers to responsibly reach some of the nation’s most breathtaking natural spaces.” In fact, Rivian hopes to roll out some 600 chargers on its Adventure Network, so expect to see more EVs out in the wilderness soon. Personally, I can’t wait.

J.D. Power Is Back On Their Bullshit

F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center
Photo credit Ford

There’s definitely a value in reading beyond headlines. For instance, J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study has sailed to a record high average of 180 problems per 100 vehicles, which the firm views as a sign that quality is slipping. Without much critical thought, it’s an easy statistic to eat up, although any deeper pondering will smash that belief to smithereens.

I mean come on, what the hell is initial quality? Unless something falls off leaving the dealer lot, shouldn’t everything have decent initial quality? See, J.D. Power measures initial quality by counting any and all consumer complaints, then weighting them equally. Some Luddite not being able to figure out their new dome light is logged as the same sort of complaint as a blown engine. While it’s a great system for determining user-friendliness, it’s a bad system for logging quality.

However, what this does tell us is that vehicles are getting more complicated and harder to figure out than ever before. While a base-model compact car in 1990 offered such standard luxuries as seats, windows, and all the air inside the vehicle, a new compact car comes with infotainment, automatic emergency braking, and all sorts of other words that would have been the stuff of science fiction 30 or 40 years ago. As such, I propose and industry-wide test to measure user-friendliness. Get a car up to 70 mph, then have the driver change the cabin temperature, switch playlists on the stereo, and turn on the heated steering wheel. If changing all these settings takes more than three seconds, the user interface is too complicated. I reckon that a whole bunch of infotainment systems will need to go back to the drawing board to pass that test.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Wednesday, everyone. We’re halfway through the week! You know, this J.D. Power story poses a good question. What’s one feature in new cars that you absolutely adore, and one feature in new cars that makes you want to aim for the nearest lamppost? For me, I absolutely love gesture control. It’s a total gimmick, but it makes any driver feel like they have Matilda’s magic powers, and that’s pretty dope. As for a feature I hate, wireless phone mirroring without wireless charging can fuck right off. Come on, a Qi pad isn’t that expensive, don’t make me bring my own gear that could fly haphazardly about the cabin should I attack an on-ramp with zeal.

Lead photo credit: yonkershonda licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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53 Responses

  1. Great features:
    Wireless Android Auto. I expected it to be finicky compared to wired, but it actually worked really smoothly.
    Backup cameras. Some people call them a crutch, but no amount of driving experience will let you see through the rear of the car.

    Not so great: lane keep assist and auto-brake. Good in theory, but the practice leaves something to be desired. I’ve found Chevy’s LKA intervenes gently and only as needed. I guess it’s not terribly useful since it gives up so easily, but at least it’s not intrusive. The rental Ford I had tried to run me into the cones in a construction zone, then later tried to get me rear-ended on the highway with phantom braking. At least it was easy to disable.

  2. My recently acquired, ex-Federal government fleet, 2002 Silverado has a radio with *both* AM *and* FM bands! Such extravagance, no wonder the government is always in debt. Apparently, there was no “radio delete” option in 2002. Who needs such modern frippery??

    1. I would say you are my father-in-law but he doesn’t use the internet. He was livid that he couldn’t get just an AM radio on his 2000’s F-250. He was also upset about luxuries like the sliding rear window. Standard A/C and automatic transmission? – what is the world coming to – are we really so spoiled?

  3. Features that I like (which for the most part I thought were hoity-toity BS until I had cars with the feature):
    rain sensing wipers
    automatic headlights
    heated seats (in some cheaper cars heated seats can be really bad, like sitting on a hot plate–but when they are good they are really good)
    directional headlights (this is kind of hoity toity bs, but I really like it)
    back up cameras

    Features I absolutely loathe:
    lane keep assist
    adaptive cruise control (people seem to really like this, but honestly I just don’t get it at all)
    lack of buttons for things like stereo controls, HVAC, mirror adjustments, etc.
    screens in general–excepting for their use as back up cameras

    1. The adaptive cruise is nice, I use it in stop-go traffic all the time. I still keep a foot hovering over the brake pedal though because you never let your guard down, but it cuts down on a lot of the monotony of traffic.

      1. I am blessed to live in a place that’s largely bereft of traffic. I suppose if I had to deal with the Beltway, or the 110, or any of the BS in the NYC metro area on a daily basis I might acquiesce to letting the car do some of the work, but to me it just generally feels a little hinky.
        I’m going to go yell at some clouds now.

    2. Heated seats and back up cameras are great, but I would trade everything else on your “like” list for adaptive cruise control.

      For highway driving, especially on long road trips, I love being able to set it to the max speed I want, and then not have the annoyance of nudging it up or down every time someone else is going a slightly different speed, which is all the time.

      If you’re not on a schedule, maximize fuel efficiency by finding a semi going a speed that won’t drive you crazy, set your adaptive to follow at a distance that won’t drive the semi crazy, and enjoy the savings. I hit 40 mpg on a 92 mile highway stretch in my Odyssey recently. Could I do the same thing without adaptive cruise control? Sure, but it would have been a lot more of a chore.

    3. I’ll add the cooled seats to that list. No big deal if you’re in San Francisco or someplace cool, but in the South your options without it are either leaving the car running for 10 minutes pre-cooling or arrive everywhere with swamp-ass.

    4. RE: adaptive cruise control

      Regular adaptive cruise that only works down to like 25MPH use kind of pointless. Full speed cruise control, however, that will come to a complete stop during traffic jams is fantastic.

  4. Shady dealers are shady. The entire industry is seen as a bunch of cheats, liars and thieves. And they seem to welcome it. It sure makes the decent ones (and decent salespeople) stand out. And it means something that people should want to do — buying cars — is looked at with the same level of dread as a medical procedure on your nethers.

    Features I like: gimme the sweet, sweet heated seats and a damned manual transmission.

    Features I hate: please make the sunroof an option. I am tall.
    I would pay extra for a slicktop To get the hwadroom. Seriously.

    1. I think the internet has made life harder for the really scummy ones to sucker people, because I seem to encounter them less often these days. As far as I can tell, a lot of the worst of them just moved on over to RV sales.

  5. The simple way to avoid the junk fees is to negotiate the total price including the tax. That is the way I’ve purchased the last two vehicles I bought at dealerships. I even tell them I don’t care how many junk fees they add to slice up the profit between sales and F&I I’m just concerned with the all in price.

  6. Shady dealers suck. One dealer in north eastern Illinois selling Korean cars tried tacking on about $1000 worth of bullshit fees to a sale – dealer prep fee: $600, second documentation fee of $150 (in addition the the first documentation fee of also $150, and a $400 VIN etching fee. “We etch all the windows on our cars. It keeps our insurance rates low so we can pass the savings on to you.” Ummm, logic fail.

    Then they said we could not put any money down and had to finance through their bank. “You can refinance with your bank tomorrow.” Why would I want to do that? After calling them out, getting the VIN etching fee dropped, doing the math, the numbers still didn’t add up. The sales guy was clearly upset they he couldn’t rip me off and I heard him and the “manager” arguing in this office. At this point it’s already a half hour after closing. My wife get up and leave. Fuck that shit. They called 2 days later to ask if I was still interested in the vehicle. I blocked the number.

  7. Feature I like: The ability to customize screens to display the gauges/measurements I want to see at any given time. This may vary based on whether I’m track driving, towing, etc.

    Feature I don’t like: Besides the weird automatic transmission shifters already mentioned, and the stop/start I brought up yesterday, I really think Apple Carplay is overrated and useless. It doesn’t hurt me at all, since I just never use it, but I cannot understand the people that swear by it.

    1. I’m mostly with you on CarPlay. I upgraded sync in my Mustang a few years ago to add it and only used it a couple times. I just prefer running Waze on my phone, and controlling everything else through Ford’s interface. On the other hand, we just got a new RAV4 Prime, and CarPlay in that is much better.

      Now, my two pet peeves with many new cars/trucks:
      1) Seat belt chimes. They need to be smarter, or switchable. Before all of you want to save me, my issue is not using a belt while driving. It’s while swapping cars around in the driveway, or hooking up a trailer. The second I go over 5mph the f#@king chime starts and won’t stop until I put the car in park. Why not make it stop when I drop below 5 mph? Or, just give me a switch.
      2) Lack of an “I’m a passenger” button. Why can’t my passenger key an address into nav while I’m driving? The car knows if someone is in the passenger seat. I’ll take that as a condition for the button to activate.

  8. “While the recall report later states that hood latch cleaning can be done by dealerships and that properly bad hood latches will be replaced, the image of telling owners to get a can of white lithium grease and sort their shit out seems preposterous to picture.”

    Seems reasonable to avoid my local Nissan/GM/FoMoCO/Stellantis/NAPA/Hyundiai/Kia/Honda dealership monopoly. I just don’t trust the service departments (had a couple bad experiences with repairs on a 2001 Hyundai). My 2012 Nissan Frontier was bought 210 miles from here (No overpriced (semi-worthless) add-ons and a reasonable F&I experience). This truck has never gone to a dealership – so far, I have managed to do all my own work (disclaimer: This is NOT our primary vehicle, still has less than 50K miles).

    Last time I looked, they even packed their used cars with expensive as-ons in a side sticker. Only the Toyota dealership is not controlled my this local auto empire. Recently, both my daughter and granddaughter have purchased used cars from this Toyota dealer. Granddaughter was so impressed, she applied for a job there and now works there.

  9. I’m renting a new Rav4 for the week. One thing I do love about it is the radar aided cruise control. Combine that with the lane departure system (which I honestly don’t know if I love or hate) and its a solid addition to driving a vehicle on a long trip.

    One thing I’m increasingly unhappy with on new cars is how tight the seat space is getting. I’m a bigger guy, 6’1″ and about 275lbs last I checked. Passenger seating position in my wife’s CX-5 is horrible for me, driver’s isn’t a lot better. Driver’s seat of the Rav4 feels un-necessarily claustrophobic. No comfortable position to rest my leg that allows me to give any sort of pedal input quickly.
    Its almost as if they stuff a 95% 3D model in the car to make sure it fits and don’t put an actual person in it until its all the way complete.

    1. Yes, this. I’m a pretty broad guy, 6’2″ with shoulders like a linebacker, can’t really help it. But holy smokes, my hips are wide enough that I’m always sitting on the seat bolsters and it’s uncomfortable. I was comfortable in the seats in my previous XJs, ZJs, and generally stuff made before the aughts. They knew how to make a simple, flat, broad seat that didn’t look like it belonged in an F1 cockpit.

      I’ll tell you what my fix was, though. I took my seat upholstery apart, removed the hog rings and retaining wires molded into the seat. That gave me the soft squish I seek and side bolsters that don’t jab into my hamstrings.

  10. I definitely don’t like the trend to all screens and all touch sensitive controls. Physical controls with clicks are easily operated by feel and should be present for all critical functions
    What I like is back up cameras in cars with poor rear visibility, which gets me back in grouch mode on ever higher beltlines and gun slit sized windows. I also like the Bluetooth phone integration to the extent that I use it. Android Auto might be good if I can access Dexcom on the dashboard

  11. Good to see some crackdown on shady dealer tactics. My favorite so far has been, pre-pandemic, an attempt to levy a $950 “cleaning fee.” “Oh, yes, they applies to all of our pre-owned cars and covers the work needed to get them ready to sell. With this new internet pricing stuff, we need that to be able to compete.” Motherfucker, that is your entire value-add here. Otherwise you’re no better than goddamn Craigslist.

    The only feature I used to have that I miss is rain-sensitive wipers. A backup camera and rear cross-traffic alert would also be nice to have.

  12. I’m honestly just not much of a fan of many modern cars. Screens have their place but that place isn’t ‘anywhere we can cram one’. Safety features are great but at this point most people seem to use them as an excuse to be more reckless. User preferences are great but your car shouldn’t be tracking you and your data.

    Things I do like? Um.. power windows are nice. Air conditioning is pretty sweet and I’ve heard good things about this new-fangled fuel injection. In all seriousness I just wish new cars were more affordable, repairable and built to last longer as opposed to being treated like an iPhone you update every 2-3 years.

  13. I kinda love my heated steering wheel in the winter. That’s pretty dang nice to have when the weather’s cold balls. What I don’t love is the non-upgradeable infotainment system. I’d love to be able to push a software upgrade to get, say, screen mirroring at the very least, or full Android Auto. I’m also not a fan of non-physical buttons or “slider” controls (Looking at you, Honda volume controls and Ford sync nonsense). Also, I have a gripe that the audio controls are usually on the wrong side of the wheel. I want those on the left side, which is the hand that’s usually on the wheel at all times. VW had it right, everyone else seems to get it wrong.

  14. A crackdown on shady dealerships is welcome, but the proposals here are typical ineffective politician bullshit. The cynic in me thinks that’s completely on purpose. Now you can tell your constituents you “did something” and also tell the dealer lobby that they got off with extra fast-talk at the end of their ad.

    Want to really crack down on shady dealerships? End dealer monopolies by allowing grey market imports, ban regional franchise exclusivity agreements, and ban loan initiation payments from financial institutions to dealerships.

  15. Features I love on my RAM 1500
    – Surround view cameras/parking sensors (it’s a huge vehicle and it helps me navigate in tight spaces)
    – Automatic braking in reverse
    – Automatic wipers
    – Air suspension
    – Automatic adjustment of length for blind spot monitoring when towing a trailer
    – TPMS monitors for my trailer
    – The E-torque system makes transmission shifts in the truck the smoothest of any vehicle I’ve ever had. It also makes the stop start so much less annoying (still a little annoying) than any other car I’ve had.

    Gimmicky features that are kind of stupid
    – Self Parking (it only works if there are cars detected on either side)

    Features I hoped would be great and ended up sucking
    – Reverse trailer steering (it requires calibration every time it’s used, which involves driving forward and turning a few times. So if I don’t calibrate it before using it, it doesn’t work)

    The infotainment in the RAM is one of the best I have used, and it at least has a few quick shortcuts that are programmable, so I can have button always on the screen for things like turning on the surround cameras (great for parking when going forward). They do bury the heated wheel, seat heat and cooling, and even the climate control “off” button in the infotainment though, and that’s what I wish had real buttons. At least they are all only 2 button clicks in, and the heated wheel and seat heat/cooling pop up on the screen for a moment when starting the car, and also can be configured to be automatic based on temperature.

  16. New features I like:
    I would say CarPlay / Android Auto but those are at least a decade old now. The best new feature I’ve had in rentals and now my Bolt is 360 cameras. They are fantastic for those of use that live in cities and do a lot of tight parking.

    Features that bug me:
    Center console gear gear shifters on automatic cars. Why do I have this big lever sticking out of the center console taking up space better used for cup holders and storage? They replaced column shifters decades ago because stylist thought they looked cool and sporty by imitating a manual shifter. It didn’t fool anyone then and they are still a waste of space today. If it is a cable shifter column shift is the way to go. If it is electronic shifter give me a rotary shift knob – simple, intuitive, compact.

  17. Back up cameras are a Godsend. I actually like the lane keeping assist on my Mustang. No chimes or buzzers, and the car doesn’t try to correct my steering. It just sends a vibration through the wheel like I’m running over rumble strips. Engine start/stop that can’t be turned off is pure evil.

  18. Well, I have a CX-5 subject to the “KUOW Bug”, which Mercedes covered on the J site.
    https://jalopnik.com/a-weird-radio-glitch-has-mazda-owners-stuck-listening-t-1848506850
    For some people, their radio gets stuck on the NPR station that broadcast images without file extensions. In my case the impact is worse and the infotainment center continually restarts, so we have no navigation, no music, no phone connectivity, no backup camera, no way to access the maintenance app. So my complaint is with computers in cars that have no provisions to update the firmware.
    I’m getting a model 3 and want to sell the CX-5, but obviously can’t until we get the ($1500) computer replaced. We’re number 8 in line at our dealership, but that hasn’t changed in over 2 months.

  19. J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Studies have about as much impact on my purchasing decisions as Weird Al Yankovic’s thoughts on product quality.

    Actually, I’d be more likely to listen to Weird Al.

  20. Advertised car prices should be the cash down out the door price, or the monthly price including the amortized cost of down payments, fees, and balloon payments. Anything else should involve jail time and loss of license for the dealership owner.

  21. “What’s one feature in new cars that you absolutely adore, and one feature in new cars that makes you want to aim for the nearest lamppost?”

    I literally will not own cars without automatic climate control manufactured after automatic climate control was invented. (There is only one exception.) A 1991 Buick Roadmaster can deal with the fan for me, so if you think I’m reaching over to move the fan 3 times a drive, you got another thing coming.

    And fuck modern infotainment. Burn it all down, burn it down now, and never let it come back. This goes triple for the tightly integrated HVAC bullshit. I literally turned down an absolutely bonkers good deal on a ’19 Cayenne because 1) it will never get any updates so will stop working with my phone in ~3 years 2) you cannot possibly replace it despite being less integrated than the shit GM ships 3) you do not want to know the cost to repair or replace any of those screens.

  22. 100% on board with an industry-wide test to measure user-friendliness.

    Pros: Heated/cooled seats, rain sensitive wipers and cross traffic alerts.
    Cons: Lane trace that forces me to constantly wiggle the steering wheel and has a huge bias to the centerline that the dealer says is “normal”. Damn Toyota dealers…

  23. As someone who spent a good portion of their career in consumer research, I can tell you that JDP is interested in only one thing: Selling their “stamp of approval”. They are less concerned with the veracity of what they churn out than they are with getting someone to license their logo & buy their trophies.

  24. Features I like:
    Heated seats for all the obvious reasons.
    Bluetooth. I’m so glad I don’t have to listen to some asshole DJ play the same 50 songs over and over. Pink Floyd has more than 5 songs you idiot. Not to mention the commercials with asshole car dealers spewing their fake fee bullshit.

    Feature I don’t like:
    Lane keep assist.

  25. The JD Power Initial vehicle quality survey is absolutely bonkers.

    As I filled out my survey a couple months ago on my Stelvio, I quickly realized it was virtually all about the infotainment and electronic driving aids.

    Yes, a couple questions asked about how it drove, handled, and braked, but generally, it was all about the stuff I don’t care about.

    Seriously, how much head space do they think I devote to the characteristics of lane keep other than knowing it’s a pain in the ass like on any other car I’ve ever driven or owned?

    I suppose the survey reflects things the average consumer feels are important, but damn, I don’t know how the survey can make any accurate conclusions about actual vehicle quality.

  26. Good:
    Heated steering wheel
    Ventilated seats
    Bluetooth for my phone
    Auto-dimming side mirrors

    Things I won’t use even if they’re on the vehicle:
    Lane keep assist (I intentionally drift around in my lane to provide the most cushion possible to surrounding traffic, I do not need the car slapping my wrist for hugging the white line)
    Automatic wipers (I spent more time fiddling with the sensitivity than I do if I just set the speed)
    Automatic high beams (Somehow managed to be both over and under-sensitive – they would randomly flash people and also refuse to enable the high beams on deserted roads)

    Things that would prevent me from buying a vehicle:
    Lack of physical controls
    An unhooded digital dash that has glare under basically every lighting situation
    A steering yoke (seriously, pay attention to how many times you grab a part of your steering wheel that wouldn’t exist on a yoke. I do it _a lot_.)

    1. I have a lot of features on my RAM truck that I like such as blind spot monitor, back up camera, Bluetooth etc.
      However, the feature that I probably use every day and really miss when I drive my wife’s Toyota are the buttons on the back of the RAM steering wheel that lets you turn the volume up and down. It is located in a perfect place and I don’t have to take my hands off the wheel to access. Should be standard on every vehicle.

      1. I have those too and I do like them. It’s nice that they free up prime space on the front of the wheel for other buttons. Way better than some other systems where they have all the buttons on the face and you have to really reach for some of them.

  27. The feature that I absolutely love and use damn near daily on my new car is the remote start. I live in the part of the South where it is both hot and humid. Being able to turn on my car a few minutes before I leave work to cool down is spectacular. Yeah, it kills my good mileage by burning fuel; but I’ll take that over sliding into my car and immediately sweating like a whore in church.

    I also have whatever Hyundai’s lane keeping tech is on my car. Not something that I’d of chosen for myself; but it’s there. The rear camera with back-up monitoring, blind stop monitoring, and adaptive cruise are all great but don’t absolve me of my responsibilities while driving. Neither does this feature, nor does it imply that it does. It’s just different in how it’s used. I was curious and turned it on during a long drive back on the interstate and loosened my grip on the steering wheel a little. I quickly realized that this was not a feature for me. It didn’t do anything wrong, but it just didn’t feel right to have the steering wheel move so much without my direct input or being in response to the road surface. I turned it off pretty quick. I also turned off the lane departure warning because I-10 is in a constant state of construction. “Stop beeping! They’re shifting traffic over temporarily! That white line doesn’t count right now!”

  28. While I applaud the effort to crack down on unsavory business practices, I question how effective these efforts will be. Going line by line…

    Ban bait-and-switch claims:
    – All the dealership needs is one stripper model that could have “just sold yesterday” to advertise.
    – Same deal with financing. If only Bill Gates can qualify for the best financing terms, they could still be advertised as “subject to qualification”

    Ban fraudulent junk fees:
    – While I like the idea, if the shady dealership couldn’t charge $200 for Nitrogen-filled tires, they’ll just sneak that $200 in somewhere else — either another administrative fee or simply just added to the price of the car (which actually wouldn’t be all that bad because it would allow for more clear competition).

    Ban surprise junk fees:
    – Surprise fees are always bad, but if the customer is required to sign off on every single one, then it’ll just add to the stack of paperwork that most car buyers don’t bother to read as they sign. I was shocked at the reaction of the dealership employees when they seemed surprised that I actually read every page that was put in front of me when I bought my car. Apparently this is uncommon.

    Require full upfront disclosure of costs and conditions:
    – This is the important stuff. Just provide a bottom-line price (heck, include those government taxes and fees in the number) so that I know what I’m paying out the door. Forget the rest — this point is key.

    I’m constantly surprised that shady dealers still exist in our information age. With review sites everywhere, businesses who operate in an unscrupulous manner are called out immediately, and it’s no secret who the good ones and bad ones are. Why the bad ones continue to get business is a mystery to me. Their business should dry up as they burn bridges, but it just doesn’t seem to work that way.

  29. Feature I like, the blind spot/backup warnings. On the highway, I have cleared traffic and started to move over. Some moron screams “Get in front of me?!?!?!? NOT ON MY WATCH!” and floors it.

    The backup warning/stop has helped in parking lots with run away kids. Again, you monitor as much as you can but sometimes you see the flash of a run away kid and the car has stopped as you hit the pedal.

    What don’t I like? That is a bit harder as I like tech that works in my cars, I am not a luddite who feels we should have stopped a crank windows. The feature I am not a fan of is the transmission that is just a complicated series of pushes to get in gear. BMW, I am looking at you! What was wrong with p n r d (lower gears ) or the manual? Human interface exists for a reason.

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