Complicated Car Controls

If you’re having trouble working your car radio or can’t get your Bluetooth to function, you’re not alone.

In Consumer Reports National Research Center’s survey, drivers of recent model cars reported the high-tech controls were giving them lots of trouble.

Finding your favorite radio station used to be simple.

Not so anymore. Many new cars come with high-tech “infotainment systems” that Consumer Reports’ Jon Linkov says can be very complicated.

Jon Linkov of Consumer Reports says, “What’s odd is that you have a knob down here that controls a screen up here, whereas down here you have the touch screen which doesn’t work with the knob, doesn’t work with the buttons, and you don’t know exactly which one to look at.”

In a Consumer Reports survey of its subscribers covering more than a million vehicles, owners of Cadillacs, Fords, Hondas, and Lincolns had the most complaints with electronics.

So Consumer Reports recontacted thousands of them to find out what was wrong.

Sixty percent who had infotainment systems said they were difficult to learn.

A survey respondent says, “I don’t think a car system should be this complicated, because it’s not safe to try to navigate through the system while you’re driving.”

And one-third complained that a feature didn’t work properly.

“It would lock up on us. And it would affect the radio part of it as well as the navigation sometimes.”

Consumer Reports says older drivers weren’t the only ones to report having trouble.

Donna Vaccarro of Consumer Reports says, “More older drivers found the systems complicated to use at first. On the other hand, younger drivers reported the most problems. This may be because they use the systems more.”

And don’t expect complicated controls to go away. Carmakers are packing more and more features into the dashboard.

Consumer Reports says its survey shows some electronic dashboard controls have been relatively trouble-free. They include the systems from Audi, BMW, Chrysler, and Lexus.


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