Sunday, March 04, 2007

Fun reading an owner's manual

Since I bought a new car, I am now reading the 400+ page owner's manual. So far, I've run across a few entertaining items. For example, when describing the inside door levers that open the door, the manual helpfully notes to not pull the lever while driving as the door will open. Duh!

In another case, the manual was describing a feature of the power windows and how for safety they will detect an obstruction when closing and will automatically reverse. Being the curious sort, I immediately thought of testing this on my hand - hey if it's a safety feature, it ought to be safe - but the manual has a bright yellow warning block that explicity says to not try to test this with any bodily parts as it could cause injury or death! Well, so much for my bright idea.

In another section, there are some drawings of proper and improper ways to configure child seats (called "child restraint systems" or CSS in owner's manual lingo). In the drawings of the children, the children in the improperly configured CSS actually have small X's for eyes to show they've been killed! Yikes! In the properly configured CSS drawing, the child is all smiles and has normal eyes.

The car is a 5-speed automatic with overdrive. The overdrive feature allows the driver to force the engine to downshift to lower gears - 4 through 1 - to use engine breaking, which I had assumed was useful for going down hills. But, there's a chart listing the speeds at which you should use the overdrive. While the choices are from 4th gear down to 1st, the chart says you should only downshift into 3rd gear when the vehicle drops down to a speed lower than 100 MPH. When the heck would I be driving faster than 100 MPH?!?!? And if that is true, when would I ever downshift into 4th gear? For speeds greater than 100MPH??? Does this mean I'm never even using 5th gear since I never expect I will be driving faster than 100 MPH?

Another section describes the seat belts. It mentions a personalized seat belt extender is available free of charge "if your seat belts cannot be fastened securely because they are not long enough." That's some very polite wording - it's a problem with the length of seat belts, nothing else.

Finally, there's a section regarding the vehicle "break-in" period - way back on page 307. It descibes how you should treat the vehicle gently for the first 1000 miles in order to add to the future economy and long life of the vehicle. Heck! It's on page 307! I would assume by the time most people get to page 307 (if they ever do), they've already put close to 1000 miles on their car. They should put this on page 1! Or put it on a sticker you have to peal off the dash before you start driving. And it's not like all the suggestions are obvious. Here's one of them: "Do not drive for a long time at any single speed, either fast or slow." What's that supposed to mean? What's a long time? 30 minutes? An hour? 5 hours? I'm not supposed to drive for a long time? What if I normally have a long drive? Am I supposed to drive in a jerky manner, accelerating and decelerating constantly? Or is varying my speed by a few MPH sufficient? Talk about something that's unclear. And the manual claims the ramification of not following this advice will reduce the life of the vehicle...

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