Attention Automakers: Never Get Rid of Volume Knobs

Here’s something you should never do if you manufacture cars: get rid of volume knobs. Never do it, never consider doing it, never even think about doing it. If you do it, you will get an incredible amount of complaints from everyone who exists on this earth. It’s a bad idea. Stop considering it.

I say this because a few years ago, Honda got rid of volume knobs in its vehicles. In most cars, they exchanged it with this touch-sensitive volume slider, which I thought was pretty good, but which most people thought was kind of a nightmare. Then the complaints started.

It’s actually incredible how many people complain to me about this decision. Not to Honda, not to their dealer, but me. "Oh," they say, "you’re into cars? Well let me tell you about my volume knob." Then they insist on going on a diatribe about how difficult it is to turn up the volume in their Pilot or Accord, or whatever. I cannot imagine the customer commitment department at Honda. I bet they have a person there just to take volume knob complaints.

These complaints got so loud and so frequent that Honda finally gave in: At a recent Honda press event, when showing off an updated version of one of their models (an HR-V, if I recall correctly), the Honda people announced that the volume knob was back. The crowd of journalists chuckled, all knowing it had been the chief complaint with Honda’s vehicles for the last few years.

And so, automakers, this isn’t something you want to monkey with. People want to turn up their volume in the easiest way possible, which involves simply moving their hands over, grabbing a knob and twisting it. They don’t want plus or minus buttons, they don’t want a slider, they don’t want anything on a screen, and they certainly don’t want any changes. And so, you should learn from Honda’s mistake, and stay the course. The course of volume knobs.

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