Your Owner’s Manual? Haven’t Gotten Around To It Yet

The smell of a new car triggers numerous thoughts for the lucky person who just bought it.  As you drive the new vehicle off a dealer’s lot, you imagine all the exciting adventures that await you and all the envious glances from passers-by. What most don’t realize is that their nice new car comes with homework. Yes I did say homework, something we all thought we escaped on the last day of school! Let me explain.

Last summer a friend of mine asked me to go car shopping with him as he needed to replace his aging vehicle, a Volvo S70 from 2000. We did the usual round of test drives and internet research and finally arrived at a 2011 Audi A4.  Like most people my friend picked up his car at the dealership and the salesperson gave him a quick tutorial on the commonly used features, headlights, wipers, climate controls, gas cap, Bluetooth set-up and all the other things he needed to know to drive away and safely operate his vehicle.

I saw my friend a few weeks later and asked how he was enjoying his new car.  He was definitely happy he ended up with the Audi as it was better than he expected.  I asked if he had read the Owner’s Manual – as I had previously suggested the day he picked up the car – but he hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  Over the next few months whenever I saw him I asked the same questions, did he like the car and had he read the Owner’s Manual.  The answer was always the same, great car and hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

I am the type of person that will read the Owner’s Manual for everything I buy, whether a toaster or a car.  I believe that if the people who designed the product spent the time, energy and money to write an Owner’s Manual then it is probably worthwhile that I spend a few minutes reading it.  I realize that most folks don’t think like me and will not read the Owner’s Manual for their toaster, but when it comes to a car I think everyone should read it.  I asked my friend, as well as other new car owners why they hadn’t gotten around to it yet and the general theme is they don’t think there is a need to read it. I have driven cars for years, as have all my friends, we know how they work; the throttle is on the right, the brake is on the left and there is a big wheel in the middle to steer, it’s so simple even a child can figure it out.  The salesperson demonstrates the common features and we are all set to go.  However there is a problem with that thinking.

Cars today are a very different beast than they were 20 years ago or even 10 years ago, as is the case of my friend’s Volvo.  Cars today aren’t toxic fume spewing machines that grease monkeys fix; they are sophisticated marvels of engineering that sometimes require a lab coat and a laptop to diagnose when something goes wrong.  They may look like the car you know on the outside but beneath the skin it is a different story.

So I read the Audi Owner’s Manual from my friend’s A4, and here are a few tidbits of information that I shared with him; some of which even surprised me.

  • Personal Convenience Settings – For people who share the vehicle, individual settings can be personalized to the key they use to operate the vehicle so they are automatically set when the vehicle is unlocked, some examples include seat and mirror settings, climate control and adaptive cruise control, etc.
  • Energy Management System – A system that consistently monitors and controls the usage and distribution of electricity within the vehicle to ensure peak performance.  The system may temporarily turn off certain non-essential electrical components, e.g. Heated Seats, if it detects a drain on the electrical system that could lead to suboptimal battery utilization
  • HVAC Automatic Recirculation – If an air quality sensor in the HVAC system detects polluted air outside the vehicle it will automatically switch to recirculation mode so outside air does not enter the vehicle.  Once the air is clean the system will switch off and begin to re-use outside air
  • Valet Parking Mode – Allows the owner to provide the master key to a valet attendant but keeps the trunk locked so valuables can be safely stored
  • Coming Home and Leaving Home – Personalize the amount of time the perimeter lights of the vehicle stay on to provide ambient light when the car is unlocked or the engine is turned off and the door is opened.
  • Manual Fuel Filler Door – The Fuel Filler door is locked and unlocked with the vehicle locking system but if the system fails there is a method to manually open the Fuel Filler door
  • Charging the Battery – The battery is located in the luggage compartment so if there is a need to charge or boost the battery there are convenient terminals located in the engine bay

Cars today are more than a way to simply get from A to B; they are an experience in comfort and convenience. Manufacturers have recognized this fact and have worked diligently to provide functions and features to meet our needs and sometimes these features even go beyond our imagination. That is why reading an Owner’s Manual is a must after purchasing a new car. You’ve spent your hard earned money to buy the car of your dreams; you might as well spend a little time understanding why it cost so much!

So go read your new car owner’s manual, it may just hold a few surprises you weren’t even aware of.


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