When you are faced with parallel parking do you get stressed out? Or do you slide right into the spot like a pro? With today’s technology, your car can do the parking for you. So who’s better, man or machine?

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How It Works

Utilizing sensors, cameras, and on-board computers, several automakers now offer automatic parallel parking on select models. The newest versions do nearly all the work for you, while others require you to accelerate and brake. The BMW i3 even tells you if a parking space is large enough to fit into.

Test Situation

Recently, AAA and the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center tested self-parking systems on five 2015 models: Lincoln MKC, Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic, Cadillac CTS-V Sport, BMW i3, and Jeep Cherokee Limited.

The test results revealed that the machines had 81 percent less curb hits and parked 10 percent faster than human drivers. Also, the systems required 47 percent fewer steering maneuvers to get into parking spots.

Who Wants Them?

Despite the superior performance of self-parking cars, only about 25 percent of drivers want this kind of technology. Some car owners don’t trust the computer assisted parking, while others probably don’t think it’s worth the added cost. Self-parking systems can add $1,000 to the price of the car.

In the AAA test, 70-80 percent of drivers feel confident in their parallel parking abilities. Ironically, about the same percentage are leery of trusting a self-parking vehicle. And of course most of us (85 percent) think we are very good drivers in general according to a separate survey. Interestingly, only a third rate their spouses as “good” drivers.

Unused Technology

A recent JD Power survey found that 20 percent of car owners don’t use nearly half of the technology found on new cars. It makes you wonder why the industry includes so many tech options. One explanation is that they have to keep up with the competition. Another explanation is that some car buyers want these features, and they may make buying decisions based on vehicle technology.

The fact is most autonomous car driving systems perform better than humans. Self-driving cars, for example, are much less accident prone than human controlled cars. The difference is so great that some even suggest that legislation will someday debate whether or not to allow humans to drive at all.

Cost Issues

Whether or not you find these modern features useful or not, they all incur a cost to the buyer. Also, more gadgets means more items (usually costly) that may eventually need to be repaired. This has been a growing trend for several years, and for some owners has been a source of frustration. Some owners opt for an extended car warranty to cover unexpected technical breakdowns which can cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to repair.

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Published in Auto Warranty Articles by CARCHEX on January 26, 2016