Sunday, February 17, 2013

A car with bun warmers!

Winter here is a mess.  Along this stretch of U.S. 40 in Indiana, winter thaws in the day time and freezes in the night time.  So, between midnight and noon, we can fall on our ice.

The wondrous thing about having a car from Germany or Sweden is that they think about those things.

Saab and Volvo probably had bun warmers (heated seats) in the early 1970s in the 99 and the 240 series of cars, respectively.  Perhaps, the high end Mercedes-Benz cars had them also.  The BMW 2800 and Audi 100 of the time seemed more utilitarian.

I've made use of the bun warmers a few times already.  I also have heated mirrors, and I suspect I have the heated windscreen washer nozzles, also.  That's a lot of bad weather fighting technology.  Friday night, I had plenty of ice all over the car, as it had been raining before a good (is it really good, or hard?  it's just a) freeze.

In any case, I've been glad to have a German car that is set to handle harsh weather.  Japanese cars rarely do that well, probably because Japanese people are generally not driving in miserable weather.  Subaru would be the notable exception here with all-wheel drive, etc. but before that, they weren't all that great, either.  It used to be that German air conditioning was horrible, of course.

I was somewhat surprised when I first used the bun warmers.  It was something like 12 degrees F outside and I'm unhappy with anything less than 50 degrees F, due to frostbite, and my general nature, I suppose.  I didn't realise that it had 3 levels of toastiness and it selects the highest level at first.  You must push the button more to decrease the heat.  Suddenly, down the road it was becoming uncomfortably warm.  It didn't melt my cards or anything but it was toasty.

As I tried the defroster/deicer, I noticed that it turns on the air conditioning, which is something I'd been doing during Florida's summer afternoon rains because of the humidity.  I was glad to see similar thinking went into the process, as having water dripping inside the cabin is not a good idea.  I still remember in the 1960s how my parents would retrieve a handkerchief to wipe the inside of the windscreen to handle the moisture.

I still haven't seen the light indicating that the mirror heaters are working, so I wonder what extremes they need to operate.  As a random though, I wonder what ever happened to the headlight washers and wipers.

The skid (electronic stability) control is a great addition and seemed a minor extension of ABS that wasn't implemented soon enough.  I haven't seen it work on this car yet but I was using a Toyota Corolla rental car and it activated on some ice and it helped.  I think the Golf TDI is so stable that it hasn't been useful quite yet.

As it's only been about 3 weeks, I haven't tried the limits on snow or ice, but somehow, I figure it will fail just as easily as any other car in those conditions.  It might be fun to try a few things in a deserted parking lot, though.

Update 2013.11.09: It's about that time again.  The temperature has dropped below freezing a few times already.  Yesterday when I started the car, I needed to scrape the ice from the windows and had the heat going.  I suspect this will be a better car to survive winter, but ice is still ice, and this area has a terrible snow-thaw-freeze cycle that consistently puts ice on the road day after day.

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