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Old 28th August 2015, 13:58   #1
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Default The modern car and the technologically challenged

Note: Any reference to “nagasaki clan” does not mean I’ve Japanese blood in my veins. I have just changed it to protect our identity.

Hi Folks,
I am new to Team-BHP and I just wrote an introduction about myself on this other thread:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/introd...re-diesel.html

I've just joined this awesome forum now and I really do want to contribute many articles; but in front of the experts here, what can I really say? I will pale like the Moon in front of the Sun; or like Nara in front of Narayana. I did not TD a car recently, nor did I buy one. But I still do want to write. So I will try doing what I know best. Write about embarrassing situations that I've been in thanks to being technologically challenged at certain points in my life.

It is a well-established fact that the tenacity of the human race to resist and survive against multiple ordeals has given us an evolutionary advantage and has made us the super predator over the last 100,000 years ever since we battled it out with the Neanderthals/nature for real estate. We call it civilization, progress, the march of humanity, pinnacle of scientific engineering.

As Isaac Newton once very humbly said, “All we do is stand on the shoulders of giants”. That astute observation, even better than the one which my grandfather made many aeons back, “Is it lunch time already? Let’s get the puja done ASAP and go eat”; is what that has always defined our species from the rest. Before you start sneering and roll your eyes, let me add that we members of the Nagasaki clan take our food very seriously. It is said in our family history; written on papyrus scrolls that when the British and the French battled it out for control of Madras back in the day; my family got mildly upset that they missed their lunch that day and my old ancestor said, “humpfff!” in riposte.

Coming back to the story, the message that I wanted to convey is that most of our scientific endeavours have boiled down to two very simple things:
1) Is it going to make my existence easier?
2) Will this help me sit at home or maybe not move a muscle?

Long before the romans suddenly discovered that they could build awesome aqueducts, roads and bridges, the most ingenious “thing” that we humans did was to domesticate the horse. About 5000 years back, we discovered that we could simply sit on top of them and ride all day without having to walk or run. That discovery went viral and most of the known world adopted it very soon. That remained pretty much the same until we built the modern machines.

The car is a wonderful invention and it has helped shaped our modern world but on the other end of the spectrum, sometimes these machines are so “engineered” that they can truly create embarrassing situations for dumb people like me. And this post titled “The modern car and the technologically challenged ” is just to highlight some of these comical situations that I’ve found myself in, over the years. You see, we members of the Nagasaki clan never give up. You can punch us down but we bob right back up like an un-flushable . In the face of overwhelming technology, we remain unnervingly calm, collected and cool and adopt an expression which can be defined as a cross between attaining nirvana and feeling sleepy.

1.Driving the Automatic car for the first time:
It was 2007 and my first visit to America and all I had driven until then was the humble Maruti 800. I got my rental car due to generous company policy and soon found that it was an automatic. Any sane person would have realized that the right foot should be used for both the accelerator and the brake but not me. Due to some very strange reason, which I still cannot fathom, I used my right foot for the accelerator and the left foot for the brake. It was an extremely silly and dangerous thing to do and it took me a ride of 10 kilometres to realize that I was doing it all wrong! The Neanderthal would have figured it out in a minute but not me. I still don’t understand why! Thankfully I did not get into any accident then (almost hit a wall but).

2.Rear Defoggers
That very first day after I figured out how to drive the car, I realized that I had to stay late in office that day as I had work. It was winter in California and when I got out of office at 10 PM, I realized that the windows were completely covered in fog. Growing up in South India, I never knew about de-foggers in car and it was a comical situation. I took some tissue paper and wiped my car windows clean for a few minutes and started driving. Within no time, the fog was up again on the windows. I used the wiper to clean the fog ahead but I had no clue about what I had to do with the rear windows. Since I was new to the country and extremely cautious about my driving, I actually stopped a few times to wipe the rear windows. Next day when told my friends about it, they all had a good laugh and told me about the front and rear defogger in the car and I felt so silly after that. Looking back, it all seems so funny.

3.Seat heater.
Another day, another time, I was driving another rental car in Los Angeles; this time, the culprit was a Chevy Impala and I did not know that the car came with seat heaters. Not once in my life before that had I heard of such a thing. I had the car for 2 days and everything was smooth sailing; the car was built and handled like a tank. I must have accidently pressed the driver seat heater button and the seat started to heat up! I really thought something was wrong with the car engine or something. I stopped the car and opened the hood like any person would. Of course I had no idea what to look for inside, but it seemed like the right thing to do in such circumstances. I let the car rest for some time and continued my journey only to face the same problem again. I was at my wit’s end when thankfully a call to my friend sorted out the problem!

I know what you guys are thinking. Is this guy such a doofus? Well, I’d like to think not but as we have this old saying in Tamil, “Even an elephant can occasionally slip.” I will take heart from that.
I will not talk about the episode when I had to drive through complete fog on the mountains with occasional the deer testing the drivers. That was scary and great at the same time.

So guys, what other such issues have you faced? Let us know. Let the world know for posterity!

Thanks for reading!
Nivatakavacha
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Old 28th August 2015, 15:29   #2
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Good thread! After all, we understand our machines are capable of doing sometimes through some serious embarrassments!
One incident from my side:
A few years back, I was riding Pulsar in Bangalore. Since this was my first bike, this bike only taught me the basics about riding. Also, all my knowledge was limited to what pulsar gave me.
Some years later, when I returned to my native, we got an Activa (I had sold Pulsar by then), and on a cold morning, the self-start didn't work. The first thing that came on my mind was "Petrol should have been over, and the tank must be dry".
After several minutes of trying various ways to start and looking aghast, a kid of about 2.5 foot height (must be studying primary school) came near me and told me that, I should use choke, and showed me where it is located!! I used it, and voila, the scooter started!
Later I googled up what that means! Then I came to know that, my pulsar used an auto-choke, and Activa is using manual choke!
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Old 28th August 2015, 16:06   #3
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Default Re: The modern car and the technologically challenged

Quote:
Originally Posted by nivatakavacha View Post
So guys, what other such issues have you faced? Let us know. Let the world know for posterity!
I have the lowest-end Getz, which I curse for its lack of features (no power windows, no electric mirror adjustment).

When I got my EcoSport, I loved the speed control intermittent wiper, to the extent that I wrote the following in my ownership review of the EcoSport.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arunphilip View Post
The wiper controls are great for control freaks - you've got slow, medium, fast and intermittent with varying speed levels (7, I think). Where I'd previous just pick a speed and live with it (or toggle between 2 speeds), I now found myself tweaking the intermittent setting's speed to achieve the perfect speed. Rainfall is not a constant, so I'd find myself fiddling with this again after a few minutes. I need to chill, and just pick a sensible speed.
Then much later, when I was in my Getz, stuck in rain-induced traffic, I realized that what had always felt like a loose ring on the wiper stalk was in fact a speed control for the intermittent wiper. That was my d'oh moment. In my defence, I'm sure that Hyundai overlooked that feature when removing features to create the GLE variant!
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Old 28th August 2015, 16:31   #4
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Default Re: The modern car and the technologically challenged

Nice topic! Related thread:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/intern...ngine-off.html (10 automakers sued over keyless ignition not switching engine off)

A lot of controls on the modern car need some learning - to the extent that some believe that driving a feature packed modern car is somewhat like piloting a plane - separate certification needed for each type!!

At a time I had driven only the Ambassador, M-800 and Zen, I still remember borrowing my boss's Mitsubishi Lancer for an official errand to run. I am 6'1", my boss was 5'4". Got into the car, adjusted the seat, IRVM, and I spent the rest of the journey without using the ORVMs - because I simply did not know how to adjust them! I mean, I saw the controls, but, no matter how much I pressed the 4 arrow buttons, the mirrors would not budge! Took a while to figure out the little toggle switch above for selecting which mirror

Last edited by KiloAlpha : 28th August 2015 at 16:32.
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Old 28th August 2015, 19:01   #5
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Default Re: The modern car and the technologically challenged

Quote:
Originally Posted by arunphilip View Post
.......I'm sure that Hyundai overlooked that feature when removing features to create the GLE variant!
To be honest, most cars less than a decade ago had stuff by default which would make the 'all-new, exciting, will blow your pants off features' section of brochures now. My humble budget sedan (Accent GLE mid-variant) had intermittent wipers, day/night IRVM, slide-out cup holders below the A/C controls, 60:40 split rear seats and a boot lamp among other things, not to mention a decent build and a reasonably powerful & refined petrol engine that didn't sound and act like an LCV. Try getting that in a mid-variant budget sedan (ones that haven't had their derrieres unceremoniously chopped off) now!

Most of this stuff is either simply not available on 'cheaper' cars or are paid optional extras that car-makers bestow on us mere mortals as 'features' in their endless benevolence.

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 28th August 2015 at 19:27.
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Old 28th August 2015, 19:30   #6
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Default Re: The modern car and the technologically challenged

Good thread.

When I visited the US a few years ago, we took a rental car (do not remember the make now) which was as usual an automatic. I had a US colleague who had another car and I was supposed to follow him (no GPS in the car and I had not yet memorized the map). So we drove out of the car rental place and started driving. Everything went very smooth for a few minutes. And then I saw that the vehicle was not shifting into higher gears and I was literally redlining the car to keep up with my colleague. I tried everything possible to set things right, but to no avail. We finally reached our hotel. I then spent some time to understand what had happened.

All the previous automatics I had driven were the simple ones and this car had a sport mode. I have the habit of resting my hand on the gear lever sometimes. So I had accidentally pushed the gear lever forward while the car was in one of the lower gears and then the sports mode took over and the car stuck to that gear and did not go to any higher gear. Anyway figured out the stuff after the first drive.
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Old 28th August 2015, 19:46   #7
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My wife started driving this year in the US. A honda accord. She is still asking me how to switch on the lights. And almost everytime i see the switch its on High beam.

And there is no way she is close enough to understand fogging and defogging. The science is to keep the temperate inside and outside the same. I simply told her to drive with windows down if it gets foggy at this point even though i explained the details.

The new age cars make it easier with Automatic climate control where some also have defogging build into their system. Like the Hyundai Genesis .

Also parallel parking is needed. In this case i miss my Jetta which has a feature to lower the side mirror when you engage reverse. Unfortunately in Accord we have to do that manually. These are small things but getting the system to be automated in various scenarious only helps.

Auto sensing wipers, steering congrolled phone and radio, memory seats and memory steering settings and more are absolutely needed once you get used to it.

As i always tell my wife, its very important to know the limitations of a car more than its strength.

By 2020 lot of these things will be standard purely by competetion and its only good for new drivers.
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Old 28th August 2015, 19:50   #8
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Default Re: The modern car and the technologically challenged

Quote:
Originally Posted by nivatakavacha View Post
So guys, what other such issues have you faced? Let us know. Let the world know for posterity!
I recently moved to the USA, and I bought a new car for myself here. I read that we need to inflate our tires at least once a month. I had never inflated the tires on a car in India, since there would always be someone on hand to do it for me at the gas stations there.

So after one month of ownership, I looked up a Youtube video of how to fill air, and went to a gas station and inflated my tires. Everything worked, no problem.

After the second month, I went to the gas station again, and re-inflated my tires. The next day, while driving back from work, the TPMS warning came up on my MID, and started buzzing and beeping like crazy. So I went back to the nearest gas station and refilled the air again. When I switched my car back on, the TPMS warning came on again. So I went inside, got more change from the gas station attendant, and filled up even more. Still no good, the TPMS warning wouldn't go.

So I went inside, got yet more change, and started filling even more air. But as I filled, I could observe the tire visibly deflate!

So I went in yet again, and asked the gas station attendant to help me. That dude started filling my tires, and immediately I saw the problem. There is a small lever/knob that we need to press to inflate, and if we don't press that we will merely be releasing air from the tires.

The first time that I had inflated my tires, I had watched the Youtube video and depressed the lever correctly. The second time, I had completely forgotten about the lever and I had in fact deflated my tires instead of inflating them!

I hope I didn't damage my tires permanently. Anyway, lesson learned now. I've also bought a digital tire pressure gauge from Amazon that gives a much better reading than the inaccurate gauges built in to the air filling machines.
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Old 29th August 2015, 09:46   #9
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Thanks everyone for your comments. It really can get embarrassing at times because of modern technology. I still remember the first time I went abroad on a plane and I did not know how to use the in-flight entertainment system!
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Old 29th August 2015, 15:14   #10
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Great thread! I have the opposite to share (i.e. an anti-technology story).

First time in a Ferrari, I thought it'll have a fancy & complicated starting procedure ( press brake, engine start / stop button etc.). Me & the owner sit inside. I wait for instructions.

Awkward silence.

We look at each other.

He says "What are you waiting for? Just insert the key and lets get going". The starting procedure was similar to a Maruti 800 .

Last edited by GTO : 29th August 2015 at 15:55.
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Old 31st August 2015, 10:09   #11
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I was in US a couple of months back and I was able to lay my hands on the elite "Mercedes Benz C300". I completed the rental paperwork and I was handed over the keys for the car. Said "No" when asked whether I need any help with the information on the car.

Got into the car and started the engine and then an embarrassment happened. I could not find the gear lever where it is supposed to be. There is a lever there but it does not move.

Took a minute and help from the rental car representative to locate the lever which is behind the steering wheel. The other one was "Command Center". Thanked the person and drove off from the scene as quickly as possible to avoid further embarrassment.

Cheers!
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Old 31st August 2015, 10:54   #12
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Hello folks,

Even i have had my share of the d'oh moments. This was when we purchased the Getz 1.3. It was from the Kun Hyundai showroom in Anna Nagar, Chennai. I along with my dad, my wife and my mom went to the showroom. We had the humble M800 till then.

I see the car, the sales folks do the customary round of doing all the good wishes etc etc and we gladly hopped in, all set. I insert the keys, check if the car is netural and crank the ignition.... Silence. The dashboard goes blank when i crank. I tried 2/3 times. The initial smile on my face is gone and i'm worried as we had also paid the full amount.

The sales guys who told us everything else didnt tell us this fact. That you start a Getz by pressing the clutch pedal.
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Old 31st August 2015, 10:58   #13
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Interesting thread.

I have few experiences of my own to share.

1. Had tough time figuring out how to slot the reverse gear in an old Hyundai Verna. You have to slot it like you slot the first gear with a little difference (which I've forgotten now).

2. Driving a Figo/Logan after driving a Maruti/Hyundai. It takes a while to figure out which stalks are for wipers and which ones for the turn indicators

3. Once during my initial days of owning my first car, I had stopped at a petrol bunk to refill, but had forgotten to engage the handbrake. When I came out to monitor the fuel top-up, the bunk guy noticed that the car was moving slightly on its own and alerted me. I immediately shouted at my brother (who was in the front passenger seat) to apply the brakes. And he did something and the car stopped. I then walked up to my brother to thank him for applying the handbrake (or at least that is what I assumed he would have done), however to my amusement and to his own agony, he had bent all the way down and using his hands he was keeping the brake pedal pressed and was looking at me innocently asking "now what"
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Old 31st August 2015, 11:07   #14
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This happened with my palio 1.2.
It was my first car with power windows and it started raining. Now none of us knew to pull the button up to close the windows and hilariously I rolled down all the windows. I had to get help from another palio user who told us how to roll up the windows. Really hilarious now that I look back.
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Old 31st August 2015, 11:19   #15
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Default Re: The modern car and the technologically challenged

I had som eissues with the understanding the starting procedure of my MIL's i10 Grand, and I still remember it as if through a winter haze.
But I suppose everything becomes second nature in time.
Not just old cars, I do remember taking an amazingly maintained Contessa for a drive, and pulling into a petrol station, looking for the filler cap opener for about a minute while the attendant stood next to the window, and then driving out with no fill-up, and not a word exchanged with the petrol pump guys.
Where is the opener, by the way?
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