Home » What’s The Most Confusing Button Ever Installed On A Car?

What’s The Most Confusing Button Ever Installed On A Car?

Weird Buttons
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Who doesn’t love a good gadget? From clever tools for DIY projects around the home to electronic functions on the latest tech, the wow factor of gizmos holds undeniable appeal. However, some of these gadgets can be unnecessarily difficult to decipher for the uninitiated, particularly in cars. From electric roller blinds to heated cup holders, automotive creature comforts can be tricky to use, especially outside of our semi-secretive hive of handbook readers and button enthusiasts.

David’s submission for a confusing button is Porsche’s valved exhaust button, which looks like a pair of binoculars (see above). This is especially weird because Porsche’s loud mode button is labelled better than most, with the bumper cut for the exhaust tips appearing on the icon. Then again, it’s easy to see how less technically-minded people or those not used to modern performance cars would have difficulty finding what the icon references.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

4runner Party Mode

Another solid contender is the Party Mode button on Rob’s Toyota 4Runner. I thought party time was all the time in a modern 4Runner? Anyway, this button whacks up the bass on the stereo equalizer and shifts balance to the back for tailgates and festivals. From the front seat, it just makes the stereo sound a bit crap, which doesn’t seem like much of a party.

The REST button on a 2006 BMW 325i

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Oh, and who could forget the button marked “REST” found in many German cars? Does it make the car tired all of a sudden? Not quite. Instead, it circulates warm coolant through the heater core when the car’s off so you can pop into the shops in the winter and come back to a warm cabin. Now that’s a thoughtful touch.

The automotive kingdom is filled with confusingly-labeled controls, so we want to hear from you. Is there a button, switch, or knob you’ve found absolutely perplexing? Let us know in the comments below.

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Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
9 months ago

Ferrari buttons of a certain age. All of them. Every single one. Why do they decompose into that crap that keeps sticky notes together? You just want to turn on the radio or something and you end up looking like you fingered a hot asphalt butthole.

Benjamin S Lindstrom
Benjamin S Lindstrom
9 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

I learned a trick for eliminating the tacky surface that soft touch plastics decompose to over time: Rubbing alcohol on a cloth or paper towel, and lots of elbow grease.

Get the surface (and towel) really wet with the rubbing alcohol, and start buffing it with the cloth. Repeat until you’ve gotten all of the sticky stuff off and have a uniform and not sticky surface finish.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
9 months ago

Ooh yeah. There’s definitely fixes out there, but goshdarnit, it’s an unpleasant surprise when someone hasn’t done that.

sentinelTk
sentinelTk
9 months ago

Pity Cat….er….Party Cat….errr….whatever the heck PTY CAT was on Subaru stereo heads.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
9 months ago

Image posting would be supremely helpful for this post. My Niro EV has a little button to the left of the wheel with an electrical cord with a padlock under it and the word auto. It controls whether the charging cord automatically unlocks when charging is finished or stays locked until you unlock the car. The locking function itself isn’t that strong- I’ve fought it myself before I realized what was happening.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
9 months ago

In my mum’s 2009 Volkswagen Polo, the rocker switch at end of the stalk would cycle through different measurement values on the information panel in the instrument cluster.

One of the values was “l/h” (litre per hour). I have never seen this value before and wonder what purpose of “l/h”…

JoeJoe
JoeJoe
9 months ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

l/h is shown when the engine is running and the car is stationary. When you start moving, it switches to liters per 100 km as is customary in Europe.

AMGx2
AMGx2
9 months ago

Interesting. I am going to update my climate control panel for my 2009 SLK and it had this pretty large REST button and I never had an idea what it did. I placed the order 2 days ago, so this article is very welcome ; after installation I will now know forever and ever what this does. Electric pumps huh. Cool.

Ricki
Ricki
9 months ago

On my early ’90s Legacy with an auto, there’s a fully unmarked button near the top of the shifter console. I’ve looked it up in the manual before, and I think it’s to defeat the reverse lockout for rocking out of mud or snow. I don’t remember. But a fully unmarked button has to be up the in the ranks of confusing.

Also, I can’t help but assume that it’s like 4-wheel-drive on a rando daily driver: it’s only gonna get you more stuck most of the time.

AMGx2
AMGx2
9 months ago
Reply to  Ricki

Isn’t that to release the lock of the shifter in case there is no more power, so you can manually put the auto in neutral ?

Ricki
Ricki
9 months ago
Reply to  AMGx2

I just googled it real quick and the legacycentral bbs claims: “That button infront of the shifter allows you to move the gear selector without the key in. Just hold it then shift”

So I guess that’s it? My manual is in the car and it’s not here right now and I’m too lazy to go downstairs even if it was. XD

AMGx2
AMGx2
8 months ago
Reply to  Ricki

Believe it or not but I had to use that button last week when I had to remove the ashtray to upgrade a climate control panel. The shift knob was so close to the panel that I could not remove it. Had to remove the shift boot cover and there was a button (more a latch) which I could pull back and then the shifter could be moved from Park to Drive (!) – engine not started of course. This gave me plenty of space to remove the ashtray and stuff and later of course I put it back into park (would have been fun, starting the car with the automatic in drive… brrr)

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
9 months ago
Reply to  Ricki

Hell, a whole lot of older cars, say 50s or before, didn’t label any switch

Jonee Eisen
Jonee Eisen
9 months ago

My Citroen LNA has a switch with a picture of a platform shoe and you can choose “+” or “-“.

Adinsapo
Adinsapo
9 months ago
Reply to  Jonee Eisen

Pedal height adjustment?

Ron888
Ron888
9 months ago
Reply to  Jonee Eisen

Usually i’d go with Adin W’s answer below,but as it’s a Citroen that could be suspension height adjustment.
If so a platform shoe symbol is hilariously apt

Last edited 9 months ago by Ron888
Autojunkie
Autojunkie
9 months ago

The Tartan Prancer has the most confusing buttons by far.

Ben
Ben
9 months ago

I feel like I’ve answered this question before, but maybe it was on the old site.

The most confusing one on my cars is not a weird symbol, it’s just a fan image with the word “off” underneath. Unsurprisingly, it allows you turn off the climate control. Surprisingly, it also allows you turn it back on. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that was just a power button, not specifically an off button.

PlaysWellWithNOthers
PlaysWellWithNOthers
9 months ago

The “OFF” button for the memory function of the seats in Audis. I’ve never seen that on other cars and I still don’t understand when or how to use it. It’s not like someone is going to save a different memory setting randomly, and if they really wanted to, just to mess with me, they could just deactivate the “OFF” button and do it anyway.

And if it is meant for safety, you know, to stop the seat from moving in case you get pushed against the steering wheel or something, that makes no sense either, because as soon as you take your finger off the memory button with the saved setting, everything stops moving.

The only explanation I have is that the car does not automatically save any changes to the key when you lock it in case someone adjusted any settings, but even then, all it takes to go back to your setting is to push the button for your settings.

It just seems completely unnecessary and I’ve never found that function missing in any of my other cars with memory seats.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
9 months ago

very late to this, but it is pretty useful. On those Audis/VWs, the seats will revert to the stored position upon unlocking the car if they were moved. Once you press the “OFF” button, they’ll stay. So, if someone was borrowing the car, but you don’t want them to store a new setting or they don’t want to move the seat every time they lock and unlock the car, you just select “OFF”

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
9 months ago

I love the revert on unlock feature. When I have to flip the rear seats down, I have to move the fronts forward as I’m very tall (or when cleaning under them). To get them back, I just lock and unlock the car and they’re back where I like em. Also means if I do have a ton of shit in the back and need my seat further forward to not crush stuff (or the rear headrests) I just push “OFF” and I don’t have to panic move the seat up again.

Last edited 9 months ago by Glutton for Piëch
MiniDave
MiniDave
9 months ago

I’m curious about the two buttons on either side of the one in the top pic, what the heck are those for?

Lexiswest
Lexiswest
9 months ago
Reply to  MiniDave

Same question. But I have a guess for the left side button, which is probably something like on/off for an interior motion sensor. Right side? No idea.

Ron888
Ron888
9 months ago
Reply to  MiniDave

The left one deactivates the alarm so the car can be towed.
The right one? I have no idea and havent seen anyone else get it.Truly weird

Compost Mentis
Compost Mentis
9 months ago
Reply to  Ron888

The right button allows Serpentors to summon their Air Chariots.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
9 months ago

My A4 has a blank button with an integrated light. From my research it appears to be the interior motion sensor disable button, but I have no idea if it actually works or does anything on my car.

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