Modern vehicle safety systems are a riot in a car wash. So we made a tape.
As vehicle development slowly marches towards an autonomous finish line nobody seems to want to cross, the safety systems automakers continually develop are adding up. It seems like there are so many chines, flashing warning lights and bells sounding when we enter the garage the point of these systems is being totally lost as we learn to ignore all the squawking safety nannies. Still, they did once save our bacon on the highway, so we are welcoming the ones that work seamlessly. One thing that seems to set the safety sensors off all at once is a simple car wash.
Our managing editor, Craig Fitzgerald, was way out in front of this issue and his story published last year was one of the first to explain the problem and offer a common sense solution. Craig focused on the auto-brake-hold feature in some models, and mentioned that many other have the ability to see an obstruction coming and stop the vehicle. The 2017 Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury Td6 has quite a few of those safety features, including automatic emergency braking. Before we headed into the wash, we disabled them.
Turing off the auto braking requires that the driver presses an arrow on the wheel, and then an OK button, then an arrow on the menu screen, then OK again. Not a big deal, and much simpler than some vehicles we have tested, but wouldn’t a button called “Car Wash” that disables all this stuff for five minutes make more sense?
As you can see in the video, although we turned off the Discovery’s auto braking, the parking and proximity sensors remain on. To our ear, there at least three chimes fighting it out for attention and a minimum of three different visual indicators that the vehicle is about to come into contact with something, in this case, the “sudsey spinners” and “spaghetti fingers” as my kids named them.
The Discovery is a fantastic vehicle and the Jaguar / Land Rover infotainment system is one of our favorites among all the best brands’. We aren’t picking on the Discovery. In fact, we will let you in on a little secret. It was one of the few recent testers we could actually figure out how to make safe in the wash, so it got the job!