Car Talk

carMy new car and I are not on speaking terms.

Days will pass without a word between us and even those sparse conversations come tinged with anger.

It is like we no longer speak the same language.

We had this problem from the very beginning – on the ride home from the dealership.

I am in the habit of resting my laptop on the passenger seat. She mistook the weight of it for a child and expressed her displeasure by flashing the seat-belt indicator.  A simple misunderstanding.

I tried to explain.

The dealership led to believe my new car understood English. In the showroom, the sales people encouraged me to use the voice command system to activate various functions and I was very impressed.  They also demonstrated how through the same interface, the car could speak to me. Yet here we were less than a mile down the road, arguing about my laptop.

I spoke loudly, enunciating each syllable like most English speakers are often forced to do with foreigners.

LAP-TOP!” I repeated. But to no avail, she refused to respond and kept rudely flashing the seat-belt indicator.

As many technical people know, INDICATOR is the native language of almost all common devices, including automobiles, and I resented her reverting to such a devilishly cryptic language, so I responded with the human equivalent of INDICATOR. I flipped her the bird.

She went ballistic, screaming at me with buzzers and alarms.

So I immediately swung the car around and headed right back to the dealership to ask them to mediate. Let me tell you, that is a mistake.

The service people were polite to the point of condescending but they refused listen to a word I said. Instead they took her side, counseling me to cave in to her demands by either moving my laptop or buckling the seat-belt.

Not an auspicious beginning.

By the end of the week, she was at it again.

This time she lit an orange light on the right side of the fuel gauge. I knew we were low on gas.  I tried to tell her we were well within range of the Kwiki-Mart but she just sulked and continued to give me the blaze orange stink eye.

Then again the beeping and screaming.

After we filled up, I got the silent treatment.

That was the final straw.

I can’t take this abuse any more.  It ranges from rude gestures to screaming and to be perfectly honest, it’s been years since I understood a car or a car understood me.

The older cars had so much more to say.

When they did not feel well, they told you about it with coughs and shudders. If their joints ached, you could hear them creak. If their timing was bad or a tire was out of alignment, they complained in a rich and colorful language that spoke to every one of your senses.

Now all I get is buzzing, screaming, flashes of INDICATOR and polite but condescending service people.

Author: Almost Iowa

30 thoughts on “Car Talk”

  1. Ha ha! My Pathfinder has been talking A LOT to me lately–she’s a 1995. Bringing her in to be serviced on Saturday. This brought to mind Stephen King’s “Christine.”

  2. I need to show this to my automotive machinist husband. Our car has well over 200,000 miles. It was a gift from my youngest brother (after he upgraded) to our second daughter who now bought a different car, so we bought hers. The husband has the ability to maintain our vehicles well. However, the electrical stuff is out of his mechanical area of expertise.

  3. I was going to get rid of my 43-year-old VW bug (it’s the only car I ever had, and I’m the only owner it ever had), but decided I didn’t want to learn a new car language. So I’m getting it restored instead.

  4. The age of the Nanny car is upon us! I despise being automatically locked in among the many other bells and whistles my car offers. One thing I do like though. If I have my key fob in my purse and approach the door, it unlocks. No fumbling for keys in the parking lot is a good thing. So where is the laptop sitting nowadays/

    1. You are right about the Nanny cars. My Altima will not allow the navigation system to function when the car is in motion. I can see the hesitancy about allowing the driver to fumble with a complicated system, but could it be a passenger who is operating it? We certainly know when someone is in the passenger seat, don’t we?

      My phone knows I am traveling 60 mph and doesn’t give a hoot when I use its navigation system. Why should the car? I suspect lawyers are involved.

      1. We just went through this yesterday. Had to activate the voice recognition system on the GPS because it wouldn’t let me (the passenger) key anything in. Did you mean “navigation?” Did you say “POI?” Did you say “Yes?”

  5. I know where you are on this…I’m in the self-same boat. Just – and sadly I might add – got rid of my Nissan Cube for a new Vauxhall thing called a Meriva except, me being me, didn’t bother with a test drive. Big mistake for this new thing doesn’t come with a handbrake…they have substituted said handbrake or a tiny switch! My language has been less than civil!

  6. My husband sells used cars. You wouldn’t believe some of the nightmarish stories he tells me about dealing with the indicator lights from the newer models. Or, given this article, maybe you would.

  7. I don’t expect to buy another car in my lifetime, given that my previous Toyota got 385,000 miles or so, and I’m only at 30K with this one. But if the need arises, you can bet I’ll be heading for the used car market, looking for something earlier than 2010. If I could find a ’57 Chevy, that fit under a shade tree while I changed the oil, that would be even better.

    1. Getting that kind of miles out of a car speaks well for its owner. I like the idea of driving a classic, though I’d choose a pickup. I don’t drive that much anymore and all I would need is something to get me to town and back.

    2. My mechanic expects the same of my 2003 Toyota 4Runner (aka The Pupmobile) which currently has 172,000 miles. I almost bought a new one a couple of years ago, but they no longer have stuff I want and do have stuff I don’t want. Besides, I get 19.2 mph and the new ones don’t do better w/8cyl. And anyway, nothing in this car has been recalled, and I can’t say the same for newer cars.

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