New Car Technology Not Always a Blessing
While new car prices have skyrocketed to new levels during the pandemic, we’re content to ride along in a seven-year-old vehicle that cost less than one-third the national average.
Because of continuing car inflation last year, we had hoped to nurse our even older car into 2022 in hopes things would settle down when the calendar turned the page.
But with continuing mechanical problems and repair bills driving us to the Poor House, we finally decided it was time to bite the bullet.
After more than 12.5 years, we finally own a car with a video screen in it, just like the rental cars we started taking on out-of-town trips a few years ago. We had to resort to rentals after yet another visit to our regular garage. The owner told us: “Don’t take this car out of town anymore.”
Unable to Start
Of course, with rental car prices soaring to new levels, we were aghast at the prices we were facing for our 2021 vacation. While that didn’t send us to the car lots, the savings we registered made the equivalent of three car payments.
In addition, after our ongoing series of repair bills, we had peace of mind that (at least temporarily) the car would start every time and we wouldn’t be heading to the repair garage for a while.
The thing we didn’t bargain for was the car’s anti-theft system working so well that one night when we came out of a store after a shopping trip, we couldn’t get the key to turn over.
Not only was the ignition locked up tighter than a drum, so was the gear shift. Using a cell phone flashlight to illuminate the pages, my wife thumbed through the manual, trying to find some clue as to what was wrong.
Finally, we decided to call a mechanically inclined son-in-law. Years ago, he had rebuilt the engine when an old used car we bought started burning oil.
He professed ignorance, saying new cars were so complicated he couldn’t understand them.
“Call your brother,” my wife said after I hung up. That made sense, since growing up he was the car nut in the family, an affinity that still has him taking his 1965 Chevy to antique car shows.
Unfortunately, he didn’t have any ideas, either.
Having used our auto insurance company’s towing service before we had traded our old car away, I decided to give their toll-free number a try. I hoped that someone on the other end would recognize the problem and be able to give us a towing-free solution. It was after 8 o’clock and we weren’t too keen on staying in the parking lot until 10 p.m. or later.
Now, automated phone systems may save a lot of time and money, but I prefer talking to a person. After several punches into the phone tree, the computer told me they were going to send me a text. Since I didn’t know how to view a text and keep a call intact at the same time, I hung up.
I was about to call our daughter back to take her up on the offer of a ride home when my wife erupted with excitement.
“Turn the wheel,” she said, grabbing the steering wheel before I turned the key. Varoom! Just like that, we were on the way home.
Though grateful this was an easily resolved situation, I dread the day when cars will come with automated voice-recognition starting. I can envision sitting there mute, unable to get the microphone to work.