Superfluous control

Once upon a time, you might have had a heater in your car. Today’s motor vehicles have ever-fancier climate-control systems, and most automakers try not to mess with your head when they design ’em. And then there’s BMW’s dual-zone system:

I have dual-zone automatic climate control. This is a hallmark feature of many upscale and wanna-be upscale vehicles. You set one side to 74. You set the other side to 69. You press “AUTO.” And then the air blows out at the perfect temperature to create a 74-degree experience on one side, and a 69-degree experience on the other side, and everyone is happy.

So far, so good. But then there’s this one useless control mounted just below the center vents:

It turns out that this has no effect on the actual air temperature. In order to affect the actual air temperature, you have to change the switch to BLUE or RED, depending on what type of air you want to be released from the vents, even after you’ve already set the temperature.

Now, here’s why this pisses me off: because this DEFEATS THE ENTIRE PURPOSE OF AUTOMATIC CLIMATE CONTROL. When I set my climate control in the first place, I’m telling the system exactly what temperature I want. So why is the entire climate control system at the mercy of some all-knowing switch that decides whether to blow hot air or cold air? Newsflash, climate control system: if I choose “84” for the climate control temperature, and it’s 2 degrees outside, I’m going to want HOT AIR, regardless of whether the freaking switch is on blue or red.

Even the goofball system Nissan invented for the second-generation I30 and its Maxima sister comprehends this logic: I leave it on 74 year-round, and the machine does whatever it thinks is necessary to create 74, even if its thinking seems inscrutable at times. So I never have to endure this:

Say it’s the middle of winter and somehow the switch accidentally gets turned to “BLUE,” which means cold. Here’s what happens: even though I have the temperature set at 75 degrees and automatic, the air that blows out isn’t warm. The air that comes out is cold, because that’s the random orientation of some STUPID SWITCH that completely overrides every single setting in my climate control system.

I am forced to conclude that the Germans simply think they’re smarter than us.

And that “switch”? It’s actually a knurled wheel, which in the grand scheme of things means — probably nothing.



  1. Brett »

    12 March 2015 · 8:30 pm

    Should have listened to Robert Palmer:

    “I need you
    To soothe my head
    Turn my blue heart to red.”

  2. CGHill »

    12 March 2015 · 8:31 pm

    Palmer was surrounded by too many, um, distractions.

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