Thursday, December 22, 2011

The worst thing in the world.

I have been driving the same car for over ten years now. I've pretty well got it down cold. I can even reset the clock, without needing to consult the owner's manual, in about a minute while keeping one eye on the road. (Now there's an unexpected downside to the digital era...)

But heaven forbid I ever vary my shutdown routine one little bit...

See, the Zed Drei has the classic Detroit-style "organ stop" headlight knob on the dash to the left of the wheel: Pull out one click for parking lights, two clicks for headlights, and twist to dim or brighten the instrument panel. When I get out of the car normally, I operate this switch with my left hand, but when I'm un-assing the car in a hurry, I'll pull the keys from the ignition with my right hand while my left is operating the door, and hit the headlight knob with my right hand in passing on the way out.

Apparently, BMW considers this to be the Worst Thing You Can Do in this automobile, because, should you commit the grievous error of removing the key from the ignition while the lights are on, rather than a warning beep or chime, the car lets out a noise used in science fiction movies to signal a warp core breach. It would probably cause a U.S. Navy veteran to look around for the button to SCRAM the reactor. It triggers, even after a decade, the same reflexive spinal-level twitch you'd get from the sound of a running Husqvarna being lobbed into a playpen.

I hate that noise. Which I guess I'm supposed to, since I believe you would need to be deaf to leave the lights on in this car.

48 comments:

Weer'd Beard said...

What's nice is Modern cars with the lights on and the keys removed will just switch the lights off after a period of time with no input.

Seems that the department store PA announcing that there is a grey Datsun with its lights on is as much a thing of the past as...well Department Stores, and Datsuns...

Tam said...

Weer'd,

I do not find my quality of life diminished by needing to manually shut off the lights any more than I do by needing to manually depress the clutch pedal.

The Z3 has too many fripperies for a bare-knuckle sporting roadster as it is, and it's positively spartan compared to a current moderately-optioned Honda Accord.

greg said...

So, does this mean your one of those folks Adaptive Curmudgeon was talking about the other day, who need circuitry to protect their battery?

I do the same thing when I go back and forth between my F-150 and the wife's Subaru. If I didn't know better, I would say Ford and Subaru made a deal that they wouldn't put ANY of their controls in the same place.

Tam said...

No, I am perfectly capable of shutting the light off on my own, but apparently I am, when in a hurry, not doing it in the proper sequence to make Bayerische Motoren Werke happy, and so the car loudly lets me know that alles is not in ordnung.

greg said...

Holy Moly...I can barely spell BMW this early in the morning, let alone spell what it means correctly and in it's native. If you could do that from memory, I humbly cower and cry they pardon.

From experience, the alarm telling you the reactor has automatically SCRAM'd and you don't know why is much worse than the ones telling you to SCRAM.

staghounds said...

But you have heard the signal more than once! That qualifies you as " people that can’t handle an on/off switch."

I do not believe that forgetting to turn the lights off now and again means one is too stupid to drive, and welcome the automatic on/off light feature.

Tam said...

staghounds,

"But you have heard the signal more than once!"

You have to hear the signal if you wish to disembark in the swift and efficient fashion I described in my post. ;)

Tam said...

I will point out that the Germans are fricking geniuses for figuring out how to make it physically impossible to lock the keys in the car.

greg said...

The worse one is when you try to be SOOOOO quick and efficient that you forget to put the truck in park. There is no noise then, other than the heavy breathing as I try to get the key out, but the truck won't let go of it.

T.Stahl said...

"..., let alone spell what it means correctly."

What do you think 'Saab' really stands for? ;-)

Tam said...

"What do you think 'Saab' really stands for? ;-)"

"Svenska Aero...umm...something-or-other, A.B." Duh. Everybody knows that! :D

Sport Pilot said...

Sport's car's are cool but require trade off's.

Jeff said...

I thought about commenting, then wasn't going to, but the word verify is too good to pass up now that I've started.

Ouvernag - The practice of using the SCRAM the reactor sound for the "forgot to turn off your headlights" sound.

My daily driver is a 1998 Taurus wagon. It has all the technology I need. Easy to use knobs and switches for the radio, heat, headlights, etc. All easily used w/o looking away from the road.(Would even go back to the mechanical heat lever of my '86 if i could.)

The child wrangler is a 2004 minivan. Hell, I can't run any of that 777 cockpit inspired stuff without looking away from the road. Forget texting and driving, turning the heat on is enough to kill you!

Duke said...

Tam isn't it amazing on older cars, everything else will break and need replacing except warning bells and lights. That is one part that never fails.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Speaking of Modern Auto Electronics, my '95 Chevy Earth F$^ker 4x4 Radio had screwed up to the point that it was constantly draining the Battery, so I now have a big Hole in the Dash now.

The '05 Malibu Max's Radio was eating CD's, and after 3 Warranty Replacements, it still does it, but GM said "Oh well, our work here is done, because you just went past the cutoff date."

If I remember correctly, the GM Subsidiary Delphi had made up Wiring Harnesses that were so bad, they were causing fires in the Geo line of cars, and GM sold it off to avoid shelling out any more Liability money.

And now Michelle Malkin tells us that the "Wave of The Future", the Chevy Volt, actually costs the Taxpayers about $250,000 per CAR.

Thank God we have a Honda Fit for a daily driver, because I'm getting too old to keep peeing on the Gooberment Motors Electric Fence.

Anonymous said...

What do you think 'Saab' really stands for?

Going out of business?

Gerry

Anonymous said...

Do I get extra points for knowing what SCRAM really means?

Joanna said...

Anon,

You get a cookie and a pat on the head. Finals were yesterday.

aczarnowski said...

Did the turn-of-phrase machine get an oil change and tune up recently? It's very clearly running in top order this morning!

A running husqy and playpens? [sniff] That's beautiful.

As for lighting systems, whoever did the work for Subaru is hopefully slotted for the place in hell next to people who talk in the theater.

Robert Denbigh said...

Anonymous-
I've never bothered to look it up, preferring tribal knowledge to actual research, therefore I tell people it stands for Safety Control Reactor Axe Man. However, there is another camp that swears it is Super-Critical Reactor Axe Man. That acronym seems forced to me, especially since the reactor is super-critical all the damn time.
Now, the alarm that warns of a loss of propulsion lube oil on the submarine will definitely induce the temporary brain scramble that Tam mentioned above; every time I hear it my central nervous system reboots.

1911Man said...

I'm still trying to figure out whether she's concerned about a playpen equipped with a running chainsaw, motorcycle, or sewing machine.

Sure, at first blush the chainsaw would seem the obvious choice. But if you've ever seen what happens to a guy's hand when it gets caught in the rear sprocket / chain pinch point, you might well vote for that one.

But, what with Tam being twisted and all, I suspect she's probably envisioning one really evil little shit in the corner of the playpen with a sewing machine, calling out, "hey, Timmy, I need you to come hold your finger riiiiight here for me..."

abnormalist said...

Not sure how the beamer does it, but on a VW GTI I had a few years ago, the buzzer was tied into a relay. Only function the relay served was to alert with the keys were in the ignition, the belt wasnt buckled, or the lights were on with the keys out.

Yeah, that relay got ganked from the panel in about 30 seconds.

Funny thing is I never got in trouble for leaving the lights on after pulling it either :-D

For the recod, on my VW, you could actually lock the keys in the car. You had to go through the passenger door, hit the central locking (since the drivers door was already closed it allowed it) and then close the passengers door.

I had to figure this out when I had someone else lock the car who didnt have the keys.

Tony Muhlenkamp said...

According to my wife, due to several repeated problems; SAAB stands for

Sorry Assed Automo Bile

Bram said...

Newer BMW's don't make that sound. If you leave the lights on, they just shut off when you lock the car - which is convenient these days when it's dark on both ends of my commute.

The Bimmer does have an annoying habit of beeping to let me know when it's cold outside every time I pull out of the garage. It's December, I know it's cold.

Joe in PNG said...

Tam, I think that is the sound every German soul makes when someone doesn't do something properly!

Eck! said...

Sounders of excessive loudness and other assorted noise makers on my wheels get the same treatment..

wire cutters.

I just do not put up with that crap. if the current though the device is critical to the computer I substitute something that doesn't make noise or much light.


Eck!

Lasse said...

What abnormalist said...,
or find the fuse for the buzzer and pull it.

Richard said...

Robert, the term is Safety Control Rod Axe Man.

A reactor is Super-critical is the reaction rate is increasing, sub-critical if the rate is decreasing and critical if the rate is constant. So a reactor is almost always critical, and being super-critical isn't necessarily a problem. Now, Prompt Critical is a *very* bad thing..

The panic on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea every time their reactor was going to go critical is one of the many reasons we submariners consider it a comedy...

Rick T MM1(SS)

Anonymous said...

Like Eck sez, disable the klaxon.

Will said...

If I just want to vary the volume of the noisemaker, I take a screw and thread it into the center of the unit. Sometimes it comes with one already! I hate loud buzzers/dingers, but it can be useful to know that something is happening, especially with my reduced situational awareness.

Justthisguy said...

See, your car is not old enough. Real BMWs have the turn-signal lever on the right, and all of the other controls arranged appropriately for maximum ergonomic convenience. And, of course, no digital electronics in them whatsoever.

Kristopher said...

But does the midget scream "Verboten!"?

libertyman said...

Herr Stahl -- SAAB stands for Swedish Automobile, Always Broken.

Ruth said...

My '91 civic didn't make ANY noise when you left the lights on....after forgetting to turn off the lights so many times it killed the battery dead to the point where it stopped taking a charge I learned ALWAYS try to turn the lights off when I got out of the car, whether or not I remembered turning them on. Its a habit I've maintained today, I've never heard my current car's warning noise.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

You oughta post a recording of the sound.

warlocketx said...

My '98, just acquired this summer (long story), is somewhat more sensible. It waits until the driver's door is opened before sounding off, though I believe the sound it uses is very much the same.

Of course it also turns the headlights off with the key, which makes the car useless for deer spotting. This is a grievous defect.

Regards,
Ric

blindshooter said...

I have found that a tooth pick jammed in the buzzer/squawker unit generally kills it.

the pawnbroker said...

So the warning buzzer bugs you, blessyerheart? Get back to me after you've had the pleasure of navigating iDrive...

Oh, and run flats with no spare? How's that grab the purist in you?

Who'da thunk the new 328i that replaced wifey's C300 Sport would make the latter seem like the spartan driver's car in comparison? Not only is BMW no longer the new and improved British roadster, it's fast becoming a frickin' Lexus. You might want to keep nursing that gen-1 Z3; they ain't making 'em like that any more.

dave said...

(Copied from previous)

Tam:

Your snark is well-placed, and your hyperbole contributes, but in some vehicles--due to bad design--the beeper is important.

Take, for example, the 2004 Explorer. Rather than the organ-stop switch, it has a knob with a vertical bar that turns clockwise. Off is vertical, 1 o'clock is parking lights, 2 o'clock is "please, please kill my battery!" I've never forgotten to turn the thing off, but I bump the dash with my right knee about every third time I get out. I move the switch two clicks about every ten of those.

Bastards of Bad Design, I curse you, but I at least thank you for giving me a call to prayer to send that curse.

(Also, 11 o'clock is auto-headlights. WTF is that for?)

Tam said...

Justthisguy,

"See, your car is not old enough. Real BMWs have the turn-signal lever on the right, and all of the other controls arranged appropriately for maximum ergonomic convenience."

See, you're wrong. The turn signal lever is on the right. And the Z3, due to nostalgia, uses the vintage American organ-stop style headlight switch that can be reached and operated with the left thumb still in contact with the wheel, unlike the standard rotary headlight switch used in similar-and-older Bimmers, which required removing the left hand from the wheel.

If you're gonna try and come over all curmudgeon, you gotta do your homework. ;)

Lergnom said...

My '93 Taurus replaced a '75 Volvo 244, and it was opulent by comparison. The Taurus finally went to charity after the kids at the garage couldn't figure out why it wouldn't start($1500 later). The '03 Grand Cherokee which replaced it, to my mind, redefines opulence.
I still miss my '65 Galaxie.
Stay safe

Ferret said...

My 528 has the same "world is coming to an end" buzzer if the proper conditions are met (headlight switch on, key out of the ignition and driver's door open). As automotive warnings go, I'll deal with that any day rather than be saddled with the nagging seatbelt warning dingers that just WILL NOT SHUT UP in most other vehicles. A buddy of mine has a Ford Exploder that, if seatbelts are not applied properly, reacts with a DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING about every two minutes or so.

Contrast that with the one in the BMW which gives a gentle reminder:

BMW: Pardon me, sir, but you may want to put on your seat belt before departing the driveway.

ME: I'm only moving the car, not actually going out on the road.

BMW: Very good, sir.

That's it, no further complaint. This may sound odd, but I like having a car that treats me like an adult instead of nagging me as though I were a recalcitrant four-year-old.

JimB said...

I will not buy any car that controls the headlights. DRL's are for euorpeans and idiots

Anonymous said...

"DRL's are for euorpeans (sic) and idiots"

What about illiterates? ;)

Kristopher said...

Come now ... transposing teh letters does not make one illiterate.

CTone said...

"Hey, wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?"

I hear ya. I harbor enough hatred for the seatbelt dinger in the Sante Fe that I will never buy (allow the wife) another Hyundai again. That ship has sailed.

BMW - because you suck, and we hate you.

Will said...

CTone,
take a look under the seat. Usually there is a cable with a connector (for removing the seat) that controls that buzzer. Unplug it. If the car still starts and runs, your're good to go.

Might have to look at the belt mount at/near the floor to find it, and sometimes it snakes under the carpet before you see the connector.

Blacque Jacques Shellacque said...

"...rather than a warning beep or chime, the car lets out a noise used in science fiction movies to signal a warp core breach."

As long as the warning device isn't a Mallory Sonalert...