When I sit with customers and talk them through the different technology that comes with their vehicle, oftentimes customers are confused about what a specific button does. It’s completely understandable since most of them are just pictures and don’t say what they are. Often it’s just easier for people to leave these buttons alone rather than find them in their owners manual or call a Technology Specialist for assistance. I’m a big believer that if people are going to not use a feature on their vehicle, it should be because they have made an informed decision not to rather than out of ignorance of the feature.
So begins the first in a series of posts entitled “What Does That Button Do?” that covers buttons and lights you might come across on most vehicles.
Traction Control Off – Your vehicle has a traction control system that helps keep you safe in less-than-ideal driving conditions. When this system feels like one of your wheels is slipping and spinning rather than grabbing the road with the appropriate amount of traction, it takes force from that wheel and transfers it to a wheel that is getting traction. The traction control system comes on automatically every time you start your car. The reason there’s a button like the one pictured is for situation where you might be stuck in a stopped position like ice, snow, or mud. In those situations, you’ll want the wheels to spin so you can get the vehicle rocking back and forth so you can pull out of whatever you’re stuck in. It’s a handy help in those situations, but this is not a button you’ll use with any frequency. Trucks and SUV owners may never need to use this button at all, since those vehicles sit high enough they may never get truly stuck.
Hazard Lights/Four-Way Flashers – This is a light most people understand. When pressed the button causes all your turn signals to flash in rhythm, alerting other drivers that you’re going slowly, to be careful, or that you’re stopped. No matter the specific situation, it lets other drivers know that things are not right, and they should be careful. What’s important to note is where this button is located in your new vehicle. If you’re not very aware of where this button is, you’ll have a difficult time finding it when you’re panicked and looking for it while trying to drive in a treacherous situation. My advice is locate it and commit to memory where it is. It may eventually save your life.
Auto Start/Stop Off – Some vehicles are now being equipped with auto start/stop technology. This allows you to maximize fuel efficiency by having the engine switch to a standby mode when you’re stopped at a light, stop sign, or in a drive-thru. As soon as you take your foot off the brake pedal, the engine kicks back on and you don’t miss a beat. Over the course of a year, this technology will save you between a tank and a tank and a half of gas. Some people don’t like the experience of the auto start/stop, and certain auto makers allow you the option to turn that off and have the engine idle like normal. If you see a button like the one pictured, you can press it and turn this feature off. You’ll often see this feature on Fords and Cadillacs, but not on Chevrolets, Buicks, or GMCs.
Next time we’ll be looking at the buttons and icons that accompany advanced safety features on some new vehicles.