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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 28: Why change?

This is the culprit. Maybe that is too gentle a term to use for this gear shift lever that may or may not work, depending on the unit and the driver. Let me clarify things for you. This is the gear selector on the newer model Jeep Grand Cherokee. Although its problem was common knowledge and a recall was in place, it gained more prominence last week, when a well known actor was killed. His Jeep, thought to be in gear, wasn't and it rolled back and crushed him. The issue, is that with this selector, it is very hard to tell for sure whether it is actually in the gear the driver has selected. Very dangerous. Now, my point in hearing about this is, why re-invent the wheel?

Let's see who else has a better(?) idea...........

I'm in the car business and experience a wide variety of cars, yet when I get into a Mercedes and am faced with the stalk in the picture above, I'm flummoxed. Why? Easy. This is not intuitive and so it is hard to get the selector into the gear one wants. Up, down, sideways and then there is that push button on the end. Aggravating would be a mild term.

I remember a few years ago, when BMW came out with a new selector, the Car & Driver magazine testers said it took them about twenty minutes to figure out how to get the car into drive and to get the test started. The good thing? No carjacker was going to jump in your car, when you turned the other way and drive off. Unless of course, you were turned the other way for quite some time. But fear not, since BMW now has a different gear selector, but again like the Mercedes, it is not easy to use and extremely easy to get mixed up.......

Why, oh why?

Now Acura has come up with another new idea. Well sort of a new idea........

......push buttons. Intuitive? Not really, but actually this idea is not so new. While Acura has thought their attempt to re-invent the wheel might be a hot new concept, not so. Let's look back at this ad from 1957.........

.........or these pics from around the same time of another brand of car.......

So, Acura's hot new idea isn't so hot or so new. All those push button gear shifters came and went like the hula hoop. But the point here is not whether it is new or not, but whether a new type of selector is really needed. The old gear selector on the steering column and eventually on the centre console had worked for many years and continues to work today on most cars, so why try something different for the sake of being different? Especially something as important as a gear selector. And in the case of our first example the Jeep, their new selector equaled a deadly change.

So why try to stand out with something that is different, but not exactly better?

Why not stay with what has been proven, is easy to use and is safe? I know what gear my Maxima (shown below) is in and the shifter moves easily between the choices. And I'm not taking my life in my hands walking behind or in front of my car after I've parked.

Trying to be new and different is not always the best route to take, as Jeep has so tragically proven.

Go with what you know. Fancy it up as much as you like to make it look new, but for the sake of your customers, why not make it easy to use as well? What a strange and unusual concept.

Until next time.......

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