I had a terrifying experience in a brand-new car last night.
The story begins with yesterday’s blog about the demise of auto parts stores. The universe played a very cruel joke on me by causing my car to overheat last night and become undriveable at a seriously inopportune time. Think rainstorm, far from home, dead phone battery, groceries in the car… you get the idea.
I hope the problem is as simple as low coolant level or a faulty thermostat. Lucky for me there’s an auto parts store within a mile of my home, which will make for a very convenient morning walk. If parts stores are indeed on the decline, I’m happy that the one near me still has its doors open.
Without a car but still needing to go for a drive, I managed to talk my way into a 2013 Subaru Legacy for the evening. And that was enough to scare me into holding on to my car or buying used when the time for replacement comes.
The Legacy had everything. Backup camera, lane-departure warning system, adaptive cruise control and, I’m pretty sure if I pushed the right button, an espresso maker.
I’m used to tooling around in a car with a 5-speed manual transmission. The Subie came equipped with a CVT automatic, which is the complete opposite of my car. If that wasn’t unnerving enough, the car’s owner decided to show me how the adaptive cruise control works. What wasn’t planned was the approaching ambulance and highway traffic abruptly pulling to the right. Instinct, of course, demanded that I plant my right foot on the brake pedal. My friend, though, kept saying, “Don’t touch the brakes.”
You can imagine how unnatural it feels to be in a line of slowing traffic going from 60 miles per hour with the cruise on and not stepping on the brake pedal.
“Don’t step on the brake,” she said.
“I have to!”
The car in front was slowing way down.
“Don’t do it!”
The car stopped on the side of the highway, and the ambulance safely passed.
“Isn’t that cool?!” she exclaimed.
“I don’t know,” I said as I dropped my head. “I stepped on the brake.”
I could feel the car slowing down before I took over, but all I could think about was that Volvo at a press event that slammed into the back of a truck when it was supposed to stop on its own. Trusting a car to stop seems like a lot to ask when I know my right leg is perfectly reliable at performing the task.
Technology is cool in new cars, no doubt, but I wonder if some is just overkill. At this point, I’d just be happy with a cooling system that works.
Will you opt for adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warnings for your next car?