By Craig Hastings
I’m enduring just another event in what seems like a constant barrage of similar events that move my sons a bit farther away from me as they grow older. Second son Lukas just turned 15 and now has his driver’s instruction permit. Unlike his older brother Payton, Lukas isn’t the car guy. Sure this is an exciting time for him, but nothing like it was for Payton or for me for that matter. Admittedly even Payton wasn’t as bad as I was but not many sane teens have been as anxious as I was to drive. I had a 340 Road Runner waiting on me at home and all I could do was wash, wax, and sit in it and listen to Larry Lujack playing rock and roll on AM/WLS radio. It was self-inflicted torture for me.
So since May 29 on days when Lukas is staying with me at my house he’s made himself our designated driver for all errands. The Mustang he drives has the new key less push button start. This feature is one I’ve just gotten used to and one he still hesitates to remember after buckling up and all set to go. I don’t understand this whole automotive related keyless movement. You don’t need two keys anymore but big deal; now you have to take this small pickle sized “fob” with you when you leave your car unattended. What’s the point? The owner’s manual touts this feature as time saving and added security. Really? Let me think about how much time I save unlocking my car doors by having the fob in my pocket vs taking a door key out of my pocket as I walk to my car and putting that key in the door lock and turning it a half turn to unlock the door!
We older population drivers used to go to the local hardware store and have additional keys made within a day or so of trading cars/trucks. For me it has always been a sense of security knowing I have at least two extra sets of keys here or there just in case. I always hid a set somewhere on my cars secured with duct tape just in case I locked myself out or lost my keys when I went somewhere out of town. I remember so many of my friends putting extra keys inside the air breather. A single wing nut held the lid in place and was an easy and quick go to hiding place if they lost their keys. A couple other places were inside the gas door cover and behind the flip down license plate holder.
A new car buyer today certainly could disregard these three places! There not only isn’t enough room to hide the big and bulky key fob but these places would also expose the $300 key fobs to the weather elements. I haven’t been talking about the simple lock/unlock key fobs from the 80s and 90s that also used keys. I’m talking about these newest fobs that only require being close to the vehicle they control to work. You don’t even have to push any buttons if your near the car. These fobs sense their mother ship is close and they obey her commands and allow the vehicle to unlock while the fob is still secure in a pocket, purse, or backpack. Ridiculous! Once seated in the car a push of a button is all that’s required to start the car as long as you’ve depressed the brake pedal at the same time.
I’m complaining that this feature is senseless and adds to the cost of all new vehicles and doesn’t have to be. In 20 years will the owners of these cars be able to replace these fobs, push buttons, or repair the interlock braking systems that talk to these fobs? Won’t these people, surely, rather have a set of keys handed to them instead? Here’s the biggest “joke’s on you” new car manufacturer person; drivers my age and older won’t trade the cars/trucks they currently own, because they are afraid they won’t be able to operate a new vehicle and they’re not willing to learn! My mother, an aunt of mine, and a friend in his 70’s are three of these people! These are all people that had forever traded cars every two or three years. They all still drive cars 12 years and older.
Lastly, should your new $300 keyless fob be lost or the battery in the fob die rendering it useless, how do you get into your new electronic marvel? LOL! Well its funny and frustrating if you have the mind to and the ability to take the door handle cover apart and the key fob apart to get to the secret spot to manually unlock the door. However, if you’re not of the mind to or the ability to take these pieces apart, it no longer is funny and frustrating but now scary and maddening! Even for someone that has some ability to accomplish the task; if this happens in the dark, the snow, the rain, or in a high traffic area, they shouldn’t try. Isn’t this technology wave just great!? NO!!!!
Lukas and Payton are growing up as this wave moves through so they will be just fine and so will any of your children under the age of 30. My posse of old folks are us and I; well we’ll watch them ride the wave from the shore listening to the “Beach Boys” while sitting in our pre 2000’s key operated, knob turning, slider ac/heat temp control, fender mounted antenna, and blue tooth free radio cars that we consider real driving men and women cars! Will I live long enough to see this craziness come full circle? Probably not but surely it will. I believe people will demand simple again with less cost because the truth is; there is no real need for most of these “Let me do it for you” gizmos and gimmicks.
Have any of you been reading about the cars that drive themselves for you? You sit behind the steering wheel, but that’s all you do. You are merely a passenger along for the ride. No longer a driver just another “Miss Daisy” being driven to your preset designation. Count me out!