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3 On Your Side: High Tech Car Confusion

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Summer is always a busy time for car dealers. Last month auto sales jumped 22 percent compared to a year ago. Many of these new cars are loaded with new technology. But as 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds, learning how to use it can take you down a bumpy road.

Hitting the road these days involves a lot more than just hitting the gas. Our rides have been re-made with all sorts of high tech touches: wireless internet, voice activated navigation and even a dashboard concierge. Automakers are touting technology to lure new buyers. Consoles now look like cockpits, yet some drivers are not quite sure they’re ready for take off!

Steve Freed just bought a 2013 Ford Escape, yet before he can leave the lot he has go to tech lesson. Steve can even control what happens when his teen daughter is behind the wheel without him. His salesman says, “You can actually limit the car so it can’t go past 70 miles an hour and so the radio can’t be played above 60 percent.”

But learning all of this is also a bit overwhelming. In fact confusing technology is the number one complaint among new car owners. Negative reports on entertainment and navigation systems are up 45 percent and problems with voice command devices up 137 percent.

While many consumers want the technology, Jessica Caldwell of Edmunds.com suggests that they might not have the patience to learn it. She says, “You may have to actually read your owner’s manual and people don’t like to do that type of thing, so I think there definitely has to be an awareness on both sides”

Even so, some “users” may long for the day when they were simply drivers and the car wasn’t trying to be so smart.