The Other I

November 13, 2010

Car shock

Filed under: Uncategorized — theotheri @ 4:10 pm

Several months ago we were faced with the reality that we might need to replace our car.  After much soul-searching – not to mention repeated examinations of our accounts – we decided to replace our old Volvo which had been severely damaged in a flood.

It arrived yesterday.  Between us, Peter and I have over a century worth of experience driving cars, and have owned Volvos since the early 1970’s.  Over the years, each new Volvo, with some upgrades, has been much like the car before it.

Not like the Olden Days

Not this time.  This car is a whole new learning experience.

For starters, it doesn’t start with a traditional key slotted into a traditional key hole on the steering column.  This car starts with a fob pushed into a slot on the dashboard.  When we picked it up, the salesman gave us a short introduction during which the starter was only the start.  We both listened politely to the presentation, each of us thinking privately “well, I’ll figure this out using the manual when we get home.”

We shook hands with the salesman who disappeared, and we got into the car to drive home.  We couldn’t start it.  I mean, we couldn’t figure out how to start it.  We did turn on the air conditioning, the fans, the radio, the windshield wipers, the windshield washers, the fog lights, the parking lights, and the GPS.  And we  managed not to turn on the alarm, but after ten minutes finally looked at each other and admitted we’d run out of ideas.

I finally went back into the dealership office and asked for help.  I won’t go into details, but the essence is that you can’t start the car if you haven’t already got your foot on the brake.  I suppose it’s considered a safety feature that the salesman forgot to mention during the introduction.

Well we got home.

Since then Peter and I have divided the learning tasks we must achieve before going back onto the road:

the hand brake is nowhere in sight.  Well, that’s not true.  It’s not where every other handbrake in every other car I have ever been in is.  This one is a button somewhere on the dashboard.  We have to figure out how do you turn it off and on.

where is the special electronic release button to open the gas tank?

how do I adjust the driver’s seat so I can reach the pedals?  (don’t laugh:  I had to read the manual to find out)

how do you switch from automatic to manual shift – which then works without a clutch?

Then there are the obviously simple things like how the radio turns on and off.  ditto for the GPS and how is it programmed?  ditto for the cruise control;  and of course the lights of all kinds

And what do you mean –  “rear parking assist”?  what’s that awful noise?  we’re not that close to the wall!

Finally there was the cheerful warning from the salesman:  if you lock the car, after 15 seconds it will double lock itself and cannot be opened from the inside.  So don’t leave your spare key inside and lose the other one.  “There is no other way to get in.”   I started to object, but decided that redesigning the Volvo locking system on the auto forecourt was a lost cause.  I will just be careful never to lock my key in the car.

Except, of course, one doesn’t really have keys like in the olden days.  It’s a fob.

I’m thinking of taking a course.  Alternatively we can take the car out tomorrow and drive it.

I think Peter knows what he’s doing.


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