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You Just Bought a Car and Have No Idea How It Works

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid

I had to laugh last month when an older gentleman stopped in and asked if I could help him figure out the “bells and whistles” on his new Cadillac CT6. He had heard from a friend that Jack, David and the team at AutoAid can figure anything out when it comes to automobiles, whether it is maintenance or repair, and that we even have repair financing if needed.

I told him it was true that we can review the functions on his car with him, and asked if he consulted the car manual before coming in. It’s something I ask our customers. His answer was “no, I know how to drive a car. I’ve had Cadillacs all my adult life,” he explained. “I figured what could be so different about this one? The salesperson gave me a brief tutorial but once I pulled off the lot, I realized I had no idea how to operate some of its new-fangled functions.”

As in many foreign and domestic car models, technology and design change at a fairly steady rate. That means that if you owned the same make and model several years ago, some basic operating functions have likely been updated or replaced.

One of his main complaints was the new shift control system in his car. “I’m used to having a gear changer in the console and now I have to deal with this electronic precision shift. Why can’t they leave things alone? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I say.”

I tend to agree with this gentleman. Besides the new gear control panel on his dashboard resembles a cross between an educational toy and radio controls. Cadillac and other high-end brands have switched over to electronic precision shift or digital gear selectors as they are also known. I felt for him, but if he wanted to stay with Cadillac or a comparable brand he was going to have to learn to live with the changes.

The two things that continued to puzzle him though was how to work the heads-up display on the dash and the wireless phone recharger similar to the kind you see at some trendy coffee shops.

“The dealer showed me how to use it but I was too frustrated to pay attention.” I looked at his owner’s manual and showed him how the toggle and buttons for the gear shift worked similarly to a side view mirror adjuster. I also reviewed his options for the head-up display: Speed, Audio/Phone and, if equipped, Navigation or Performance.

But it was the phone charger that seemed to irk him the most. “I don’t know why they couldn’t have kept the USB ports,” he said. “Heck, I preferred it when you had to plug into the cigarette lighter. Now, if you have one at all they hide in the center console.

“I just want to get into a car, use a key to turn it on and drive with my good old-fashioned gear shift. Why does it have to be so darn complicated?”

I assured him that once we reviewed the functions he could enjoy these electronic additions and upgrades.

Whether we like it or not, the trend in the auto industry is toward built-in technology. In many car makes and models a windshield or bumper are more than their former selves, containing electronics that affect other parts of the car. These innovations are why many shops like ours invest in the newest diagnostic equipment and have a at least one ASE Certified Master Technician. We inspect and repair domestic and foreign makes of cars throughout the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles area. We’ll even do a free Car and Truck Courtesy Check which looks at 38 different points in your car and generates a report on the status of each section. This gives us a broad base of knowledge when it comes to fixing what ails most cars.

Some of the other new car features include automatic braking, a safeguard against collisions; forward collision warning systems, audio or video that senses if a car in front of you is going slower or has stopped; radio-based adaptive cruise control, which brings your typical cruise control to a whole new level; and massaging seats.

AutoAid has been helping the community better maintain and care for their vehicles since 1979. We are a AAA-Approved Auto Repair and Customer Service Award winner, and regularly receive a 100% Customer Satisfaction Evaluation Score from AAA-customers. Call us at (818) 305-6632 to make an appointment or go online. You may also want to visit our website to find out about our specials.

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