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I never said I had good judgment

Bought a car, a Volkswagen Passat (no, not the turbo diesel, wife dropped the veto on me), new 2012 model, right? Well after a really vexing buying experience (my first) which got worse and worse after I picked her up, well don’t get me started on that – I drive the car off the lot, fire up Bluetooth on my Nexus (had never done that, linked up a phone to a car with Bluetooth), feeling relatively satisfied about the purchase (well, technically a loan) and that I could change tracks on the steering wheel. But then I notice something fishy, I couldn’t hear the lead guitar in Led Zeppelin’s No Quarter. So I flipped through some Floyd and Hendrix (that era is good for determining stereo or mono) and indeed the damn thing was playing in mono! Friggin’ mono.

No way it was my Galaxy Nexus, didn’t even bother googling for Bluetooth A2DP issues with that, so I fire up Google and hunt down Passat bluetooth mono, bunch of forums of consumers like me pissed off that they can only either listen in mono or wire up. These forums were exactly like XDA, people trying to figure out how to flash different firmware onto the car radio somehow. Look at this one, 313 comments and counting trying to figure this out and chronicling their failed attempts to get Volkswagen to fix it. I think at one point the mood of the thread spiked up toward satisfaction when one guy got someone from Volkswagen to concede there was indeed a problem. A milestone.

So, at the loss of an ability to control the music on the steering wheel (moved the phone mount close to the wheel, impairing visibility, so I could sort of touch the phone with my pinky without letting go of the wheel), no car speakerphone, plus another wire dangling, I’m wired in. I know there are people in the world with bigger problems than that but come on this car wasn’t cheap and it’s 2012, how the hell do you screw this up? Is it really that subtle a problem? And how do you not hook people up with a fix? And parenthetically, anyone know off hand how I can fix this thing? Did you know there were XDA-like websites for your car’s radio? Friggin’ brand new car radio firmware flashing??

One thing I did manage to fix myself, which the dealer said couldn’t be done (man I hate that guy), was disable the setting that toots the horn when you lock the car. I don’t know, it just struck me as kind of fruity, Hey bad guys I just locked my doors so don’t even think about it, and it might have been irritating my neighbor. That was satisfying. I’d post it on that forum but I forgot how I did it, just sort of changed every setting at once. Also got the AC temperature in celsius (I like celsius – try it out if you haven’t, also Km/h which could make you sort of think you’re driving faster than you are so that you’ll maybe drive a tad slower, also rolling down the windows seems to create that effect).

Further parenthetically (it’s Sunday, I get to be parenthetical), coming up on two months of having owned this sucker and I still haven’t had enough wide-open highway to hit the gas and see what she could do. Not exactly a muscle car but I got her up to 182Kmh before hitting traffic. Is the early early morning the past time, in terms of law enforcement presence, to take her for such a spin? While I’m out, if it’s raining, I might be able to find an empty parking lot to do some drifting and e-brake experiments. I’m an e-brake ninja you know.

And what about tire pressure? I’m obsessed with dwelling on tire pressure. Got my own gauge ruler thing too. It says 30 on the door but I want mileage baby (without damaging the tires and making it excessively unsafe flat and traction-wise), so what’s a liberal but not too crazy amount, 37, 40? Do you find that tailgating an eighteen wheeler boosts your mileage enough to warrant the danger? Don’t you hate it when people don’t use the passing lane for passing purposes, and have you noticed that four out of five times it’s a woman? Also, when it’s been in the sun and it’s hot, does revving the engine and putting the AC on full blast somehow accelerate the drop in temperature of the air blowing out or not really? Is transmission damage from neutral drops (which I always thought would be a great name for a band) covered by insurance? Is it a traffic violation to, without speeding, accelerate fast? Just as long as you don’t burn a lot of rubber?

In the event of getting pulled over for something like speeding, do you have the right to exercise your right not to incriminate yourself by refusing to answer the officer’s questions, like do you know how fast you were going? If yes, do you have to declare that you’re pleading the Fifth or exercising your Mirandas or can you simply remain silent without exacerbating the situation? Formulating my pulled-over game plan, which so far just includes shutting off the engine, putting the keys on the dash and keeping my hands on the wheel as a gesture of respect to the cops. I think they’d like that. But the silent treatment, I don’t know.

Doug Simmons

PS, you really ought to watch this whole thing at least once (seriously):