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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My rental car's bizarre option

Last year, I rented a car while on a trip, and did the usual thing where you take whatever they have on hand and hope it works out. The car itself performed well enough, but there was one part of its user interface which stood out to me:

Courtesy wipe...!

Yes, they have an option for a "courtesy wipe". You think they'd find some other way to describe it. As far as I can tell, this option is so that it will do another pass or two after you use the option which sprays wiper fluid on your windshield.

In my own car, there's no option for an extra pass. It just happens. Of course, it's usually not enough unless I happen to keep up a certain minimum speed to drive the wiper fluid backwards. Otherwise, gravity takes over and sooner or later I have streaks down the windshield and it's time for yet another pass with the wipers.

Of course, using the wiper spray feature at speed is not advised if you're anywhere near any other cars. It will wind up splattering cars well behind you. That in itself is one problem, but there's more. There are people who will do this on purpose to indicate their displeasure with someone who's following them too closely, for instance. Thus, if someone receives this little spritzing from you, they may think you are doing it deliberately and try to retaliate somehow.

I would also advise against using this feature in the drive-through lane at your local fast food restaurant. I saw it happen once, entirely innocently, and it was rather embarrassing for all involved. There's not some magic force field which keeps that stuff on your glass, after all. It goes all over the place.

"Courtesy wipe" just sounds way too personal.