This Is What Reporting Car Trouble Will Be Like in the Future

If you think your car is high-tech now, just wait. When driverless cars arrive in a few years, computers might well be running the whole vehicle. Imagine the help-line calls to the manufacturers then...

Self-driving/autonomous carPhoto: Shutterstock

First customer’s call

Help Line: General Motors help line. How can I help you?
Customer 1: I got in my car and nothing happened!
Help Line: Did you put the key in the ignition and turn it?
Customer 1: What’s an ignition?
Help Line: It’s a starter motor that draws current from your battery and turns over the engine.
Customer 1: Ignition? Motor? Battery? Engine? Why must I know all of these technical terms just to use my car?

(Don’t miss the 15 craziest cars ever built.)

Second customer’s call

Help Line: General Motors help line. How can I help you?
Customer 2: My car ran fine for a week, and now it won’t go anywhere.
Help Line: Is the gas tank empty?
Customer 2: Huh? How do I know?
Help Line: There’s a gauge on the front panel, with a needle and markings from E to F. Where is the needle pointing?
Customer 2: I see an E but no F.
Help Line: The F is to the right of the E.
Customer 2: To the right of the E is V.
Help Line: A V?
Customer 2: Yeah, there’s a C, an H, the first E, then a V, followed by R, O, L—
Help Line: That’s the front of the car. When you sit behind the steering wheel, that’s the panel…
Customer 2: That steering wheel thingy—is that the round thing that honks the horn?
Help Line: Yes, among other things.
Customer 2: The needle’s pointing to E. What does that mean?
Help Line: It means that you have to visit a gasoline vendor and purchase more gasoline. You can install it yourself or pay the vendor to install it for you.
Customer 2: What?! I paid $32,000 for this car! Now you tell me that I have to keep buying more components? I want a car that comes with everything built in!

(Find out the strangest things mechanics have found in cars.)

Third customer’s call

Help Line: General Motors help line. How can I help you?
Customer 3: Your cars stink!
Help Line: What’s wrong?
Customer 3: It crashed! I wanted to go faster, so I pushed the accelerator pedal all the way to the floor. It worked for a while, and then it crashed—and now it won’t even start up!
Help Line: I’m sorry, sir.
Customer 3: I was just following your stupid manual. It said to make the car go, put the transmission in D and press the accelerator pedal. Now it crashed.
Help Line: Didn’t you attempt to slow down so you wouldn’t crash?
Customer 3: How do you do that?
Help Line: That’s on page 14 of the manual. The pedal next to the accelerator.
Customer 3: I don’t have all day to sit around and read this manual.
Help Line: Of course not. What would you like us to do?
Customer 3: I want you to send me one of the latest versions that goes fast and won’t crash anymore.

Here’s why you need to wrap your car key fob in foil.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest