A young woman from Enterprise picked me up in one of the ugliest cars I’ve ever seen, called a Chevy HHR. “I think it looks like a hearse,” she said with a grimace. Of course, they gave me one at the rental office.
Last night when I was driving it in the dark, I noticed an irritating bright white light just over the rear-view mirror. It’s very tiny, just an LED in a little recessed hole, but there wasn’t any label to indicate its function, and no switch to turn it off. It only comes on when the headlights are on. The thing is just bright enough to be annoying, but not bright enough to be useful for reading maps or anything. It can’t be dimmed using the dashboard dimmer.
So today I opened the Owner’s Manual, and after thumbing through hundreds of pages, I found not a single mention of this light. It doesn’t appear on any of the interior control diagrams, it’s not described in the section on interior lighting, there doesn’t appear to be a fuse for it. Nothing. I went to the Chevrolet Web site, and once again, found nothing.
By now I was getting caught up in the mystery, so I called Chevrolet and was greeted by someone named Sandy Jensen, who had a distinctive Indian accent. I wondered if she’s a member of the UAW. Probably not.
I described the little light to her, and she took my number and promised to call me back. Half an hour later, she told me she couldn’t find any mention of it in any of her research material. She said she’d contact a dealer and inquire about it and get back to me. A couple of hours later, she called me back and said, “The dealer has assured me that there is no light mounted in that location in that vehicle.”
Completely exasperated, I took the following time-exposure photo and solved the mystery:
The little LED light is an accent light, used to illuminate the instrument panel. The problem is, the instrument panel is already illuminated by many little bright lights that compete with the accent light so that you can’t see it under normal circumstances. But you can see it glaring into your eyes when driving at night.
The problem is easily rectified with a small piece of electrical tape. But what troubles me is that General Motors doesn’t know about it. Maybe they’re so busy managing offshore workers like Sandy Jensen, they sometimes forget about all of the cool, useful features they’ve designed into their products.