Home » These Are The Most Nightmarish Car Feature Subscriptions I Could Think Of

These Are The Most Nightmarish Car Feature Subscriptions I Could Think Of

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If there’s one thing that seems to be universally hated in the automotive community, it’s car features that get unlocked via subscription payments. Nobody seems to like these. BMW was an early adopter of this shit, attempting to charge subscription fees for things like seat heaters until they got shouted down. That doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned the idea, of course, they’re just trying it on different stuff now, like dashcams and drivers’ assistance systems and traffic camera alerts. [Ed Note: Technically, I should change they’ve and they’re to it has and its, but I’m letting it go because only actual human jerks would pull this nonsense.]

Other companies are interested, too; for example, Mercedes-Benz will let you pay to make your car a second faster going from 0-60, if you want. There’s too much potential money here for carmakers to ignore, so I think we’re going to have to deal with subscription crap for a while. That’s why I figured it’d be a good idea to prepare us all for the potential grim subscription-based future by exploring what could be the worst-case subscription situations.

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This isn’t going to be fun; in fact, if you’re of a delicate constitution or pregnant or higher or drunker than normal, or all of the above, then I would suggest just skipping this article – after, of course, carefully viewing each and every ad and clicking through and making a purchase of whatever product, service, or religious donation is advertised.

We’ll use this handy diagram of a 1997 Esquimax Nomadclam Estate DX with callouts to organize these subscription possibilities, so please refer to the numbered callouts and their associated subscriptions:

Carsubnightmare Chart!

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  1. Bumper strut stiffener subscription (without it, bumpers slide in and out freely)
  2. Tire inflation indicator accuracy goes from +/- 50 psi to +/- 1 psi with subscription
  3. High beams available for $0.25 per 10 minute use
  4. Turn indicators available for $0.01/blink
  5. Subscription turns off valve that squirts red Kool-Aid from windshield washer nozzles
  6. Airbag actually inflates upon impact ($250/use)
  7. Monthly $4 subscription keeps seat moisteners off-line
  8. Seat belt tensioner won’t saw back and forth when anti-neck-chafing subscription is selected ($8/mo)
  9. Windows roll down for free; $0.25 to go back up (per use)
  10. Amber lights for turn signals instead of red ($2/month, otherwise lone bulb in red section does it all)
  11. Real-time speedometer at $8/month; otherwise speedo works on 10-minute delay
  12. Monthly $9 subscription turns of nonstop AM radio broadcast of Golden Earring’s Radar Love at top volume
  13. Annual mudflap subscription ($24) turns off extremely loud voice announcement bellowing “WARNING: MUD DETECTED” through car stereo every time mudflaps encounter mud or mud-like substances
  14. Subscriptions for cylinder activation; default setting is V-twin, can activate two more for a V4 ($25/mo), or V6 ($50/mo), or full V8 ($99/mo)
  15. Catalytic Converter Protection subscription will stop broadcasting when car is unattended to local ne’er-do-wells (taken from federal watchlists of ne’er-do-wells, urchins, and cutpurses)
  16. Trunk/cargo area has sliding blocking panel that you can pay to move back, exposing more cargo room, for $5/per every 10 inches
  17. $10 gets you burst of nitrous
  18. Anti-lock brakes paid for on-demand, $25 per use (use is maximum of 100 pulses)

Rednsudivider

This is just a taste of the nightmarish world that can come from unbridled car feature subscriptions. It is only with constant vigilance that we can ensure such a world never comes to be.

Solidarity, friends.

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Bob Rolke
Bob Rolke
2 months ago

I want to know about how Torch found out about the federal watchlists of ne’er-do-wells, urchins, and cutpurses. I thought that was a secret. You didn’t get put on it after that arrest at the Lumiere Rouge did you?

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob Rolke

Thank goodness someone is finally shedding light on the out of control cutpurse situation out there!

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
2 months ago

BMW, actually: “Hold on, we can only write this down so fast!”

Óscar Morales Vivó
Óscar Morales Vivó
2 months ago

BMW earnings call: “We have achieved significant growth of almost 50% in our blinker subscription business, going from $2.12 in 2024 to $3.07 in total income”

Fred Fedurch
Fred Fedurch
2 months ago

That must come entirely from right turns by people randomly hitting the stalk with their knee.

Greensoul
Greensoul
2 months ago

What the hell. No blast of pleasing interior fragrance for a dime? I’m out

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
2 months ago
Reply to  Greensoul

That’s gotta be a buck per.

Isaac Fortner
Isaac Fortner
2 months ago

Airbag actually inflates upon impact ($250/use)

Considering only one of my nine cars over the years has had an airbag go off, I’d actually be ok with this one if you’re implying the car is ($250/airbag deployed) cheaper to buy and you’re billed for however many deploy in an accident, when insurance would be paying for it anyway.

My current car has at least 9 airbags that I’m aware of, so that’s $2250 off the MSRP, and it’s HIGHLY unlikely every single one of those would ever deploy anyway.

Given how often people abuse high beams around my area, I’m totally fine with that being a subscription as well.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Isaac Fortner

The airbag deploys after it checks that your subscription is active, which only takes 5-10 seconds on average after the sensor determines the airbag needs to be deployed.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
2 months ago
Reply to  Isaac Fortner

You’re giving them too much credit. This would definitely be an extra charge. And they would make every airbag go off in the event of a crash so they could charge you more.

Also is it high beam abuse or awful headlight design? Around here it’s really hilly and the SLIGHTEST pitch in the road will make all of these new cars with their headlights aimed almost level blind you.

Or they will simply be aimed poorly from the factory (mostly Toyotas and Teslas)

Or they are a lifted truck where they didn’t adjust the angle of the lights

Or it’s a Tacoma, 4runner, or Crosstrek with aftermarket dehydrated pee colored fogs brighter than the sun.

These new cars where the headlights are where the fog lights should be are specifically designed to do this. It’s awful and I hate it.

Last edited 2 months ago by PL71 Enthusiast
Pupmeow
Pupmeow
2 months ago

I can 100% see companies billing the estate of the deceased for the airbag fee.

Isaac Fortner
Isaac Fortner
2 months ago

Probably a little column A and little column B. I’ve seen people driving around in the middle of the day and their high beams are 100% on. Like I’ve owned the same cars I see and I know what the lamps look like with the high beams on.

David Escargot
David Escargot
2 months ago

Does the nitrous go into the engine intake or the A/C intake?

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago
Reply to  David Escargot

First one, then the other.

David Escargot
David Escargot
2 months ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Sounds well worth the $10

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
2 months ago
Reply to  David Escargot

A bargain at twice the price!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago

As I read to the end of the fourth paragraph, I was sure the next words I saw would be, “If you want continue reading this article, please subscribe to the Autopian now.”

Otherwise, I smiled, I grinned, I yukked, I chuckled, I giggled, I chortled, I laughed, I guffawed, I brayed, and then I sighed and shed a tear because as silly as this all is, someone will think these are good ideas. After all, I’m sure these were the same reactions to the idea of a sequel to “Weekend at Bernie’s” and we all know how that turned out.

Vicente Perez
Vicente Perez
2 months ago

“Subscriptions for cylinder activation”.

I must say, if it is month to month and the car’s retail price is cheaper… I would take this one.

Keep the car as a V4 for around town and pay for the extra engine only for the occasional road trip. It is actually a good idea!

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
2 months ago
Reply to  Vicente Perez

I would be fine with that as well. I use the freeway about once a month, so by all means, let me just occasionally pay to turn on a couple extra cylinders. I only need 4 cylinders 95% of the time, but a couple more wouldn’t hurt when I leave the city limits

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
2 months ago

3. High beams available for $0.25 per 10 minute use

I completely support this living in DC where about every 25th vehicle has their high beams on all the time at night. (Not new cars dazzling, older cars where inner lights are high beams)

4. Reverse this where you are charged for NOT properly signaling.

Sc00t3r
Sc00t3r
2 months ago
Reply to  NebraskaStig

Or how about a subscription service to disable others’ high beams?

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago

Something, something, number 14, Jaguar/Land Rover. Something, something.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
2 months ago

The ad I got was for some sort of bent penis medical correction procedure (no, I’m not making this up) and I don’t have a penis, so I’m sorry I can’t buy that.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
2 months ago

I thought the TEMU ads were using mostly-naked models to show off their wares, but after I clicked through and hit ‘buy now’ a drop-shipped high-cube container showed up in front of my house, filled to bursting with attractive (albeit a bit disheveled from their trans-pacific voyage and months of captivity) mostly-naked models! Thanks, Autopian!

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

Honestly, I’m surprised they showed up in a container and not some deliciously rusty Studebaker or something

Mike F.
Mike F.
2 months ago

You could always buy a gift card for one. Can you imagine how thoughtful a Christmas gift that would be?

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

That would certainly be a thoughtful gift if I happened to know anyone with a bent penis, but my love life has not been a penis salad for the last 15 years, so I don’t know these days who has what shape of genitalia.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

It would be really interesting to see who fights for it at the white elephant exchange.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
2 months ago

#5 – I’m not paying to turn that OFF! OH YEAH!
#6 – if I have a Takata airbag, I’m declining to pay this one too.
#7 – there are some folks who might not pay for that, either (but I am not one of them)
#12 – Why would you pay to turn that off?

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

#5 – the most humiliating thing is being forced back to the dealer to refill the Kool-Aid reservoir to maintain your warranty.

Church
Church
2 months ago

Why are you giving them ideas, Torch?!

Ryan F
Ryan F
2 months ago

Let’s be honest. The airbag fee would be $250 per year, and you’d get charged by the airbag.

Also, that 1997 Esquimax Nomadclam Estate DX is dead sexy. Of course, at one point my family had three beige Volvo 240s, and I haven’t properly dealt with my feelings about that.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
2 months ago

“$10 gets you burst of nitrous”
know nothing about nitrous, but how far off is this from what it costs if you were to install it and refill it?

getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
2 months ago

Seems pricey. Usually it’s $5 per balloon.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
2 months ago

Another $5 will buy the accompanying shot of additional fuel, netting a momentary performance increase while avoiding the severe detonation and engine damage that normally accompanies the ‘budget’ plan.

getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

We might be talking about different nitrous “boosts”.

Mike F.
Mike F.
2 months ago

What, nitrous is used for something other than Phish shows?

Hamish48
Hamish48
2 months ago

How about a 25 cent rebate for actually using the back up camera in big-box parking lots?

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
2 months ago
Reply to  Hamish48

I work from home and stare out the window all day in a very urban part of Chicago where your only option is parallel parking. One thing that I can say with certainty is that people that use their rear view camera to back up instead of turning their neck are significantly worse at parking.

(not anti camera, but their purpose is to show you what’s below window level BEFORE you turn your head and start backing out of say a driveway)

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

1. Honking horn
2. Unlock doors to exit when doors automatically lock.
3. Open trunk
4. Open fuel lid
5. Seat heater
6. Seat cooler.
7. Defrosting
8. Radio
9. CD player
10. Adjust tire pressure.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
2 months ago

Horn honks. Either $1 per honk, or the Mitch Hedberg style subscription:

“People honk their horn too much. Everybody should gets 3 honks per month, next time someone cuts you off and hit the horn : pffff. Damnit! I wish I wouldn’t have seen Ricky on the sidewalk!”

Drew
Drew
2 months ago

“This isn’t going to be fun; in fact, if you’re of a delicate constitution or pregnant or higher or drunker than normal, or all of the above, then I would suggest just skipping this article”
Luckily, I am not all of those things or any individual one of those things, but a delicate combination of some of them.

I’d joke about the blinker subscription not affecting BMW drivers, but that seems too easy. Instead, I’ll point out that paying for cargo space wouldn’t affect the drivers of massive vehicles much, since they rarely use the space. Then I will smile smugly and choose not to engage with anyone with counterexamples.

Maymar
Maymar
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I think blinkers being a subscription service explains BMW’s a little more.

getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
2 months ago

Congrats on The Atlantic piece, Mr. La De Da!

AssMatt
AssMatt
2 months ago

Uh-oh! I’m all for moonlighting (looking at Adrian’s Haggerty Mondial bits), but how do I square “free Autopian” with “owner/founder-created Changli content behind somebody else’s paywall?”

(Note: hand-wringing for dramatic purposes only; I trust the crew to port over and recycle all the cleverest wordplay.)

Whatsanautopian
Whatsanautopian
2 months ago
Reply to  AssMatt

no mention of taillights in the article…was that really jason or some antiquated apple or commodore gone mostly rogue? let’s discuss later at the Scarlet Lighter.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
2 months ago

There is…Amber vs red taillights

Whatsanautopian
Whatsanautopian
2 months ago
Reply to  NebraskaStig

blast! first round is on me, i guess.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
2 months ago

“ High beams available for $0.25 per 10 minute use”

Oh please make it so!
Pretty please?

Last edited 2 months ago by Hugh Crawford
Live2ski
Live2ski
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

I like this one. but change it to $25 per instance. stop people from driving with high beam on all the time.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

It’s gotten to where I’m tempted to seriously punish those drivers who refuse to dim. It almost seems like they believe they are staging some type of stupid rebellion. I understand their irritation with glare, but making it worse is not the answer.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

With the amount of 1 of 3 taillights functioning that I see regularly, I think it’s the fact they have burned out bulbs (or foggy headlight covers).

I gave an Uber driver a two star review after mentioning that their high beams were on and they brushed off the comment.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
2 months ago

I like that 1997 Esquimax Nomadclam Estate DX. I assume it’s manual, diesel, and only available in brown.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Two-speed free wheeling clutchless with overhead mounted shifter, whale oil turbine and it comes in orange/blue flip metallic.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Well JFC everyday is a school day.

A. Barth
A. Barth
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Whale oil beef hooked

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
2 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Thank goodness that was only a rumor about present-day NASA. However, until the early-mid-70s one of the primary ingredients, if not indeed *the* primary ingredient, in automatic transmission fluid was whale oil. Which puts a statistic such as the 1959 Cadillac Series 62 convertible requiring 23 pints of ATF in a new perspective.

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
2 months ago

And don’t forget 303-spec hydraulic oil. It was whale-oil based til ‘74 I believe. My IH 856 tractor takes 22 gallons of the stuff.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
2 months ago
Reply to  Cam.man67

Dang! Wonder if the transition to synthetic or petroleum-based alternatives for hydraulics in such machines caused any problems like what happened with American cars (apparently Japanese and European cars were not as adversely affected for some reason) where there were higher rates of failure for transmissions. For instance, my family had, for a decade from new, a ’73 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser and a ’73 Mazda RX-2 where the former went through two transmissions but the latter retained its original transmission. (Though the RX-2 did go through two engines thanks to Mazda’s teething troubles with their Wankel rotaries…)

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

How many hectares per liter of kerosene does it get?

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago

Depends whether you put it in H or Q.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Not in black?!?

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago

You think I’d be seen dead in such a proletarian contraption?

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Good point, I apologize

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

I think you meant Beige.

LBA Oak
LBA Oak
2 months ago

You joke, but there is at least one auto exec in each company using this list as a starting point.

A. Barth
A. Barth
2 months ago

I was expecting a fee for unlocking the doors when the car is occupied. No payment? GTFO. Except you can’t GTFO because the interior door handles are disabled.

Nomadclam Estate DX? More like Nomadclaustrophobia.

Andy Farrell
Andy Farrell
2 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

This was my thought, it’s free to get in the car but it costs 25 cents per door to let you out

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago

19) A subscription to The Autopian.

Last edited 2 months ago by Adrian Clarke
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago

Oh…I thought the answer was going to be Dub magazine.

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