Gray modern car closeup on black background.
As 2006 moves into history, it’s time to wrap up all the weird and wonderful stuff that the auto makers have passed along.
There are hidden gems in a year’s worth of owner’s manuals, press releases and news items, and it’s my mission to spot them all.
Sometimes they’re mistranslations, sometimes they’re just overworked publicists.
But they’re all guaranteed to bring a smile to your face:
You didn’t mean me, did you?
The local Canadian Auto Workers union in Oshawa, home to General Motors, distributes “Buy Domestic” licence plate frames. One is spotted on a Korean-built Chevrolet Optra.
Why Tony Soprano will never drive a Hyundai
The Azera’s manual advises, “Never let passengers ride in the trunk.”
That’ll leave a mark
Mercedes warns to “be careful that you do not close the hood on anyone.”
Mini’s cupholder carries a symbol warning you not to insert a wineglass.
They’re those things near the floor, right?
Lexus states, “Do not drive if you are unfamiliar with the location of the brake and accelerator pedals.”
Yes, that rolls off the tongue much better
Lincoln introduces its new crossover with a press release that reads, “The new Lincoln MKX (pronounced Mark X)…” When the vehicle finally arrives, the company decides to change it to M-K-X, with each letter pronounced separately.
Work those muscles!
Hyundai Santa Fe warns, “Do not allow passengers to fold up and down and up the seatbacks and seat cushion while the car is moving.”
Leggo my Eggo
Toyota FJ Cruiser comes with a 115- volt outlet, but warns, “To prevent any damage caused by heat, do not use any electrical appliances, such as toasters, in any locations including … the seats.”
Just set the car on fire
Ford warns to “not use the navigation system to locate emergency services.”
Stop if you hear squishy sounds
Nissan Murano warns, “Do not fold down the rear seats when occupants are in the rear seat area.”
THEY’RE MUCH SAFER AT Christmas
AAA Michigan issues a press release titled, “Trick-or-treaters are at higher risk on Halloween.”
Smart key, dumb driver
Nissan warns that its Intelligent Key system won’t start the car “if you have an Intelligent Key for another vehicle with you.”
Taking all the fun out of driving
Mercedes-Benz issues a warning, “Do not pull the (hood) release lever while the vehicle is in motion.”
Whole OTHER KIND OF HELP
Honda prints an incorrect customer service phone number in 1.2 million U.S. owner’s manuals. The number directs callers to a phone sex line.
And you thought Touareg was odd
Volkswagen announces it will name its new SUV the Tiguan, a combination of “tiger” and “iguana.”
Tiguan is chosen after it wins a survey, defeating Nanuk, Namib, Rockton and Samun. Nationwide, journalists bemoan the loss of “Nanuk of the North” headline possibilities.
TRY A FIRM GRIP ON your coffee CUP
Nissan suggests that “the cupholder should not be used while driving, so full attention may be given to vehicle operation.”
SOUNDS LIKE A NICE FEATURE
The Dodge Nitro’s manual helpfully explains that “the backup lights will come on when your vehicle is in reverse.”
But tie-down hooks ARE back there
The Nitro’s manual also cautions, “To help protect against personal injury, passengers should not be seated in the rear cargo area.”
Penny-wise and pound-fuelish
Researchers at the University of Illinois say that Americans are using almost 940 million more gallons of gas than they did in 1960 because the average driver is now 24 pounds heavier, which adds to fuel consumption.
Ya can’t fix dumb
GM invests $10 million (U.S.) in a new crash-testing facility to improve occupant safety in rollover crashes.
Rollovers account for only 2 per cent of all crashes, but 40 per cent of all fatalities on U.S. roads.
Problem is, 70 per cent of the people killed in rollovers didn’t bother to wear their seatbelts.