December 24, 2008 | Sophie was due for her 10,000 mile service, so I took her in last Thursday. Bah, humbug!
When I checked her in, I told the service guy that the power button did not work correctly. Namely, every now and then I park her and turn off the car only to find it running when I come back later. I mentioned that I had brought it in once before for the same problem and was told that it would be checked out "by computer" at the next service. This was now the next service. I went on to warn that I was going to be insistent about getting this fixed.
After a couple of hours, he came back to say that the technicians had checked it and found nothing wrong. "He turned it off about 50 times and it worked perfectly every time."
"Look," I said as patiently as I could, "this is my second Prius. I know how the button is supposed to work. This one does not work right."
"So you say, but the technician could find nothing wrong. If you could come back and show them that it doesn't work..."
"Now just how am I supposed to make an intermittent problem occur on demand?"
"How are they supposed to fix something if they can't find it not working?"
"So what am I supposed to do? Wait until it hasn't turned off in the supermarket parking lot some day and call you guys up and say, 'It didn't shut off again, come look at it'?"
From here it went downhill.
"My other Prius never did this, never, never, ever! I'm not going to drive a car that I can't confidently turn off."
He went away again. When he came back he asked, "When you turn it off do you have your foot on the brake?"
I sputtered, "I don't know, I don't think about it. Besides, that shouldn't make any difference. I shouldn't have to pound on the button to turn off the car, with or without my foot on the brake."
"If you have your foot on the brake, it only turns off the engine and leaves the accessories powered so you can use them."
"It's simply unbelievable that the car is designed to not turn off if you have your foot on the brake. I can see I'm getting nowhere, but I guarantee you, the next time it happens there is going to be hell to pay."
Later I consulted the owner's manual. There in black and white it describes the "smart function — on some models" which uses the brake pedal in conjunction with the "smart key" to cycle the power switch through on, off, and accessory modes. Of course, I'm told I can disable this — but then all the other functions associated with the smart key won't work. You know, useful things like unlocking the doors when it senses the smart key, allowing the car to be started without inserting the smart key in the key slot, turning on the interior lights for you when you approach the car in a darkened parking lot, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
They may call it smart. I call it stupid. They've turned a simple power switch — on | off — into something complicated that takes conscious thought and manipulation of the brake pedal in order to achieve the effect you want.
Well, excuse me for thinking that pushing the power switch when the car is running would turn it off. How silly of me!
Last updated on Apr 13, 2018