Monday, September 23, 2013

More tech fail

As if it is not bad enough to be misled by your sat nav device, what about when your car's tech stuff goes wrong?

I recall James commenting about how flat Melbourne is when he last visited. What? I avoid walking up the Collins Street and Bourke Street hills and use the tram. The thing is, Melburnians just don't have hill developed walking muscles, which is why we have struggled a bit with walking during our holiday. Almost everywhere we have been has hills, steep hills. Even when driving it has been uphill and down dale.

In Australia many roads are long and open and I expect as in America, cruise control is a marvellous thing, perhaps not so much in Europe. If you don't really know what it is, you accelerate to the speed you wish to travel at and switch on the cruise control and the car will maintain the speed. On some roads the speed limit in 110 km/h but mostly it is 100 km/h. Once in the countryside, you can set the cruise and take your foot off the accelerator and let the car maintain your speed.

The Mazda 626 we bought in about 1990 had cruise control. It worked adequately although the speed did vary quite a bit.

Our current car, a Mazda 3 has a much more elaborate cruise control and on flat roads or downhill and gentle slopes, it does a great job. The speedo under reads, so  I set it to 103, which is about 99 km/h.

But lordy, it does not deal well with a steep hill and behaves in a quite an alarming manner. I have learnt to switch it off when I see a steep hill on the horizon. The car tries to maintain speed in fourth gear, but cannot and switches down to third gear and starts to accelerate. It reaches the speed to maintain but continues to accelerate, up to above 110 km/h and then slowly drops the speed back to 103km/h. Often there is a curve at the top of hill and it is quite alarming to be accelerating as you want to be slowing a bit, or at least vaguely maintaining your speed.

I would suggest it is a defective product, and given cruise control has been around three decades plus, it is not good enough Mazda in Japan.

I have also noted that using cruise control when travelling up and down steep hills must use more petrol as the car tries to maintain speed, rather than not pushing the car the maintain speed as I have been doing. If it can't easily keep the speed up, then let the speed drop and let it maintain top gear and not force it.

I will confess though, it was a bit thrill seeking as the gearbox kicked down to third and started to accelerate when travelling uphill, but ever so wasteful of petrol.

We left The Bitch in the console today and used maps. I am much more comfortable with maps.

Today we visited Jindabyne and early tomorrow we depart the delightful town of Cooma to arrive in one hour later in our nation's capital city, Canberra.


  1. I could not do without cruise control - especially on long drives on interstates and such. It's a godsend!

  2. I know what you mean about not developing hill walking muscles in Sydney we don't either.

  3. I've never used cruise control!!

  4. I drive too slowly to make cruise control worthwhile. But one year we were driving a hire-car in Germany and of course cruise control was part of the package. I was so scared by the lunatic speed (legal) on the autobahns, Joe drove the rest of the trip!

  5. Ditch the cruise control and control the car yourself. That's what you are there for. It's apart of your driving skills, what you learned when you first began driving. Don't let some robot take over.

  6. Cruise control is essential on the beach road from Mordialloc to Sandringham - cameras are everywhere.

  7. I have a Mazda 3 and whilst it is very good in many aspects there are some irritations almost all of them around things designed for left hand drive vehicles that have not been altered for the right hand drive configuration.