When we buy a car, whether new or second-hand, there are various requirements that we have, of course, and various features that are headlined in the specifications. But some of the design faults or less appealing things about a car aren’t mentioned at all, and you only know about them once you’ve had the irritation of finding them out.
My sister-in-law had that happen yesterday. Her husband opened the boot, loaded it up, tossed the key through onto the driver’s seat, shut the boot and told her the key was in the car. He didn’t realise that the car doors don’t unlock if you only open the boot, as he never drives that car himself. Luckily, a small window was open at the back and someone with a long arm was able to hook out the key. A lot of cars relock automatically if the key isn’t in the ignition – a friend was caught out here a few years ago and, similarly, his back small window was open and we were able to feed in a little grandson. But, if that were mentioned at all in the publicity, it would be as a Good Thing, not the damn nuisance it can be. You might well get out of the car and not want it to lock because someone else was going to get in, or fetch something from it.
I had a car with an electronic brake that was clearly designed for automatic transmission, because it was either on or off, nothing in between, and hill starts in traffic were pretty well impossible to manage safely. Dilly was infuriated when she had a car that needed a front lightbulb replaced – she’d always done that herself, but the entire front bumper had to be removed and replaced by a garage. Some cars don’t have spare tyres any more, not even the temporary sort, but have to have a temporary sealant put in or use run-flat tyres, which isn’t any use if there is major damage to a tyre, as happened to me a few weeks ago, when a bolt went into the tyre and out at the side. Luckily, I do have a spare, or it would have been a call-out.
There are smaller things though – nowhere to put your change, or poorly designed display, or a rear seat that doesn’t fold down neatly when you’re using the rear of a hatchback for transporting something. Or the rear seat doesn’t split, so you can’t have anyone sitting in the back if you just need part of the area.
There’s the peculiar thing that a lot of car radios have, that when you plug in your mobile, it immediately starts playing music from your phone app. I’ve read that some people record silence and put it on their phone as Aaa so that it’ll come up first and they’ve got time to turn the thing off. I never play the radio nor iTunes in the car, only things I’ve recorded on iPlayer, but have to turn the in-car volume right up as it’s too soft, so when the radio or iTunes comes on automatically, it blares out. No one is going to advertise that feature but it would be a good idea to advertise its absence.
A lovely little touch I saw on a friend’s car a year or two back was, behind the back seat, a strap with Velcro at both ends, so that if you put a box in the boot, you could secure it. Such a useful and neat touch and probably hardly mentioned in the brochure, but if I had that once, I’d probably never want to be without it.
I feel that I should list all the things I come across, good and bad, and check them when I next buy a car. Because the basics are easy – saloon, SUV, hatchback etc; diesel, petrol, electric or hybrid; automatic or manual; size of engine and so on….but if you go to fill the windscreen washer bottle and find that opening the bonnet breaks at least two nails and leaves you growling with irritation, it can turn you right off your new car.