Understanding Your Car’s Technology


Last week we reported on the new J.D. Power Dependability Study.  One eye-opening item that came out was vehicle technology continues to be the biggest issue consumers complain about, even after three years of ownership.  The study looked at people who had 2014 model cars that they purchased new. In particular, audio, Bluetooth, navigation systems, and DVD players, seem to be the items that give people the most problems.

What made me scratch my head on this is the number of problems with the technology on 2014 models was worse than in 2013, in spite of the fact that technology improves every year. 

The two probable causes of this are: 1) There was more technology in 2014 model cars than 2013s, or 2) since more vehicles were sold in 2014, each delivery was done quicker.  I suspect the latter and if I am correct, this problem will get worse in the future since auto industry sales have increased every year since 2014.

Under the best of circumstances, after going through the process of picking out your new or used car, getting settled on the price, and signing papers, you are ready to get out of there and drive your new car. The delivery process is just as important as the other pieces of car buying. This is not the time to take shortcuts; your long-term satisfaction could be at risk if you do.

At some dealerships, the salesperson goes over everything with you, and at other places they have designated delivery people. Let’s face it, cars are complicated these days and during the delivery process, you will go over the safety features of the car as well as the vast electronics in them these days.

It is a lot to absorb, no doubt about it.

Many people make the mistake of thinking they will just use their owner’s manual to figure things out. My experience is most people never get around to it, and frankly, the manuals are difficult to comprehend in a lot of cases. I have seen people who trade their cars in without knowing it did certain things that they would have enjoyed.

During the delivery, if you don’t understand how a feature works, stop everything until you do. Operate the features yourself instead of just listening to the person helping you.  Most dealerships will take the time to sync your cellular phone with the car you are purchasing as they let you watch.

If you just simply cannot take the time to learn all the features of your car, set up a time to go back and go over everything. Many dealerships have new owners’ clinics for these purposes, and they can be most helpful.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with all the gadgets, stop the delivery and just get the basics and safety features down, but make that appointment to go back and learn the balance of the features of your new car. If you choose to do this, keep a pen and paper handy or use your voice memo on your phone to note questions so you don’t forget something.  When you go back, you’ll be more relaxed and ready to absorb the information on the fun gadgets.

Over time, you’ll forget much of the car buying experience, but nobody ever forgets the magic moment when your salesperson hands you the keys to your new car. Just make sure the delivery information you get is clear so you can truly enjoy the benefits of car ownership.

Credit: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock
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