Car Functionality

This is kind of a weird topic as it may only apply to a few people. For my job I take photos of vehicles, about 15-35 vehicles per day. I have to take photos of most of the vehicle. My main point I would like to bring up would be in regards to the auto lock buttons, hood latches, hood releases and trunk release. Every brand of vehicle is different when it comes to where buttons and latches are placed. Even within the same make of vehicle they are different.

BMW I would say is the best vehicle I have dealt with in terms of consistency of having all buttons and latches in the same place regardless of vehicle. However there door lock buttons are on the center console which drives me insane.

Also I find it quite odd that car companies still haven’t come to terms as to what up/down, front/back lock buttons do.
From Normans book and from vehicles in the 90’s anyways when its up the lock switch would pop up. It would make sense to be consistent with that no? Some cars now are the opposite down to unlock!!?

As far as the worst vehicles I have dealt with. Smart Fortwo I still have yet to find the rear hatch release and the front hood release. The Cooper Mini I can’t find the hood latch for the life of me! Oh and pontiacs having there release button in the glove box… ugh and now the new ones are still in a compartment. Good thing they don’t make them anymore hah

I think that for something so easily dealt with this is a giant design fail.

Somewhat makes sense to me so that the passenger can lock/unlock all the doors, no? The newer ones all lock automatically at at certain speed, so really it it only necessary when you are parked and want to let someone in or prevent them from doing so.

Filler cap buttons and hood release button (under the hood) are what drive me insane. I can never figure out how to pop the hood once the hood release button is actually pressed. You have to fish around to find the catch… have yet to see that done well.

As an aside, I just found out after owning my 07 BMW 3 series coupe for 3+ years that there is a button on the trunk lid to open the trunk if the car is unlocked. It’s of the type that is under a flexible membrane, where you would lift the trunk from, above the license plate. I didn’t know it existed (always used the key fob or the button near the bottom of the footwell), until I had my end of lease inspection and the guy used it, and I couldn’t figure out how he opened the trunk!


I’ve heard the reason car companies do this is so they don’t have to make new tools for markets where the driver is on the right side of the car. Though I do agree with you that the lack of standardization of the various hood and gas cap releases is a big problem. If I have to get out of the car and hunch over to read labels there has got to be a better way to do it.

I was dealt a rental Pontiac once, in which I couldn’t find the hazard flashers button. I actually needed to use it, and never found it. Perhaps it was in the glove box too? FAIL

Old GM cars used to have the hazard button on the bottom of the steering column. You would push the inside of the button to start them, and pull the outside of the button to shut them off. Very weird. This is why Americans don’t use their hazards to indicate traffic slowing on an autoroute.

Tried that once, and the guy behind me started swerving like mad and giving me dirty looks when he passed me. Must have thought I was going to crash out of control because I had my hazards on…

Tried that once, and the guy behind me started swerving like mad and giving me dirty looks when he passed me. Must have thought I was going to crash out of control because I had my hazards on…

In most states here in the US it is “illegal” to drive with your Hazard Lamps ON… i.e. they’re for use only when the vehicle is a stationary hazard.

The HL switch on wifies little CLK is centrally located where it can be reached from either a LH, or RH driver (and the passenger (and kids :unamused: )) as well. It also happens to be brightly illuminated, on all of the time, and is a distraction (to me anyway). At least it is RED light and doesn’t screw-up night vision too badly. It seems to be saying, "Go ahead, f**k-up, I’m here to save your Maybe it should have “EJECT” on it…


This is why Americans don’t use their hazards to indicate traffic slowing on an autoroute.

That’s accomplished by lightly modulating the brake pedal without actuating the brakes.

Let’s not even get into a rant about “driver antics”… there are too many people on the road that shouldn’t be allowed to drive anything that isn’t powered by an animal… . but I digress.

Lew: I think the problem is that some people jumped a little too quickly from animal power to internal combustion.

I love the central door lock button on my bmw. Like rkuchinsky said, it makes locking/unlocking all the doors convenient for all passengers. Quite useful when I leave my gf waiting in the car for a few mins and she can lock the doors whitout stretching to the other side of the car.

The window regulator buttons are also on the center console which means both passengers can access them and they don`t have to be doubled on the drivers side door.

Only thing I don`t like is the side mirrors adjusting botton (or "joystick) that gets in the way. These are placed so within reach like you used them every day. Yet many people rarely share their cars that often.

Most cars have unlock/lock buttons on both doors. So it wouldn’t be a convenience thing. As you mentioned to only have one button as opposed to 2. As well save on money so both of your doors designs are mirrored so you don’t have to switch them accordingly for rhd and lhd.

For my job anyways. I would assume you get of your vehicle to get something out of the back and you forget to unlock all the doors so you have to reach across to the center console to unlock. Opposed to quickly getting at it while standing outside the vehicle. Also one note, the unlock buttons in the center console are among the mess of climate control, radio control buttons doesn’t necessarily make it easier the first few times round.

Also if electronic controls are on the horizontal level on the center console. Pending where the cup holders are… You are more likely to get liquids and grossness in the buttons. :stuck_out_tongue:

I really dislike having the door lock buttons in the center console. I understand the cost advantage of such a design for selling their products in different market, but it’s just not intuitive from use stand point. Consistency is not always a good thing, when they are consistently all bad.

Ok, I don`t know which gen. model you are talking about but mine goes like this: if you can step out (open your door) that means the central lock is off (or you pushed the button and unlocked it) and that means the back hatch is also unlocked and can be opened outside. Also many cars now have remote controlled back hatches anyway.

All in all I guess its just personal preference. The less buttons there is the better, for me anyways. Sometimes I even wish that new premium cars could be bought without all those lcds and gadgets and thousands of buttons...just give me the car, that awesome new motor, basic controls/stuff and thats it!

Another neat thing is some mercedes and bmw models are missing the button for fuel tank cap cover. When the car is unlocked the cover opens by pushing it, when locked it doesn`t. Simpe huh? :slight_smile:

At least some time ago there was a nice locking feature that AFAIK was only available on Euro cars:

You can only lock the driver’s door with the little push down button when the drivers door is closed (ie. when you are inside). From outside, you need to use the key. That way you can’t lock yourself out with the keys inside, (unless you try hard and lock the door, then crawl out the passenger side or something.

There is also an interesting feature on my 87 BMW that I think is kinda thoughtful. From the driver’s door, when you lock it with a key, there are two ways to do so. If you remove the key after it has been turned 90 degrees, it double locks it, so you can then only open the car (it has central power locks) from the drivers door with the key. This prevents an intruder from breaking a window and lifting up the little knob. If you lock it, but then turn the key back 90 degrees and remove it, you can then lock/unlock the car from any of the locks (doors or trunk) or with the little knob if you are inside.


Yesterday I put my car in for a service. They regassed the air-con but said a TX (?) valve needs to be replaced.

To replace a $60 part will require 8 hours (!) labour as the whole dashboard needs to be taken apart.

Where in the scheme of priorities does design for maintenance/ access sit?

To replace a $60 part will require 8 hours (!) labour as > the whole dashboard needs to be taken apart> . … Where in the scheme of priorities does design for maintenance/ access sit?

My absolute, all-time, pet peeve.

There is nothing quite like trying to work on your car on a summer’s day, with the ambient temperature hovering in the upper nineties, while laying on your back, twisted up like a pretzel, your head jammed up against the accelerator pedal with your right shoulder pinned under the brake pedal, crud raining down into your eyes, while fiddling with some in-visible electrical component, whose terminal number has to be determined by braille…

All that junk should be mounted on slide-out racks or something; if it added another $1,500 to the price of the vehicle it would be worth it to me.