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EditorialTechnology can make our lives better, but for some reason the people who make it also want to make our lives more annoying.  Our phones want to notify us of every little thing, including quite a lot of marketing messages.  For example, I turned on notifications for the Target app because I thought it would alert me when an order was being shipped.  Instead it sent daily messages on what it thought I should buy at Target, and it didn't say a word about my shipment.  Silly me... I should have paid more attention to the UPS app.

Now cars have jumped enthusiastically into the melee.  Little warning lights have multiplied like rabbits, and data is displayed on a big touch screen, which, by the way, the manufacturer recommends you do not look at while you are driving.  Don't even get me started... do you know a single human being on this planet who isn't going to look at that screen if something interesting is on it?!  Of course the few humans not on this planet look at those screens for a living.

What I really want to rant about is the Maint Reqd light.  Why does it come on at seemingly random intervals?  And how can one disable the annoying little bugger?

Tire Pressure WarningMy first encounter with modern warning lights was the low tire pressure light.  This bright yellow warning light stayed on for days while I speculated as to what the little icon was supposed to be a picture of.  My first thought was that the water in the car's vase was getting too low to sustain flowers, although I was pretty sure a car doesn't have a vase included in its standard equipment.  Then I thought a fat lady wearing a dress that was too short was stuck to my bumper.  Then I thought an exclamation point had somehow become imprisoned in an ink well.

Honestly I was baffled, but being a tenacious cuss, I looked it up in the owner's manual (another daunting challenge).  It turned out the car thought its tire pressure was low -- yeah, now I can see it, now that I know what it is supposed to be a picture of.  One of those things you only know if you already know what it is.

Well, that wasn't really my first battle with warning lights.  I stopped into a Virginia gas station one time, but could not read the tiny little LED panel on the pump because the sun was so bright it made reading the panel impossible -- a brilliant design for an outdoor piece of technology (not brilliant.  Nope, dumb and annoying).  Since I couldn't read the questions I couldn't answer correctly, and it would not give me gas.  I was so frustrated I drove off in a fit of anger, never realizing that the gas cap flew off the top of the car because I had forgotten I had left it there.

Check EngineA few minutes later the Check Engine light came on.  All of a sudden Cruise Control stopped working.  Putting two and two together, I found an auto parts store that was open on Sunday mornings, and bought a replacement gas cap.  But the car didn't want to admit that I had a gas cap until I had refilled my tank three more times, by which time I was only a few miles from home.  So no cruise control all day, with serious back pain resulting.

I suppose there is some technical reason not to have Cruise Control if your gas cap goes missing, but if a car can sense that the cap is gone, surely it can sense when the cap is not gone.  It was as if the car manufacturer wanted to punish me for losing my gas cap.

Maint RequiredWhich brings me to the Maint Reqd light.  I have taken my cars to a very trusted mechanic for the past quarter of a century, and he always tells me when maintenance is required.  He bases his assessment on a lifetime of experience and training.  I trust him implicitly.  My car was up for inspection last month, and I asked him about upcoming maintenance.  Since I am the proverbial 'little old lady who only drives to church on Sundays' my car isn't even close to needing maintenance.

So imagine my irritation when this Maint Reqd light came on last week!  I thought the car must be up for routine maintenance if the light came on.  I checked the auto manufacturer's app (yup, they have an app!) and no routine maintenance was listed for the mileage on my odometer.

Then I thought something had gone wrong with a part of the car.  I have one of those OBD devices that reads and explains car error codes and allows you to reset your Check Engine light -- take that! you tyrannical hunk of metal!

No codes, no errors, no problems.  Well, one problem -- the app didn't have a way to turn off the Maint Reqd light.

After a week I finally remembered to write down my mileage so I could call my mechanic to ask, but then I thought, surely I am not the only person who is annoyed by this distracting warning light.  So I searched the Internet, which is always right, right?  I found out these lights just come on every so often to remind you to get your oil changed or to proclaim you have driven for a while without being annoyed and the time has come.  In other words it is a cynical ploy by a manufacture who assumes I will be going back to the dealership every time a little light comes on to make me spend money I don't need to spend.

But -- good news!  A few generous souls had posted a procedure that turns the light off.  Turn on the car.  Set the LCD panel to show the odometer on some models or Trip A on others (leave it to a car manufacturer to come up with a convoluted, procedure and then change it).  Turn off the car.  Press and hold a button and turn on the power without turning on the car while still holding the button.  Wait for the numbers to flash and turn to all zeros.  Stand on one foot, jump up and down and make a sound like a chicken.  The Maint Reqd light turns off!

OK, I made up that part about the chicken.

And by the way, after writing this I checked my car manual and this procedure is actually documented right there on page 421.  But it is not as clearly stated as that fellow on the Web explained it, and has no fewer than six references to information other pages that if you have the patience of a saint might explain what they mean.  And it recommends I go to my dealer for service.  There's a shocker!

I turned off all notifications from the Target app on my phone and a plethora of (read 'almost all of my') other apps.  Not the UPS app -- that one only sends me useful information that I have asked for.  And great news,, I now know how to get rid of that annoying, inaccurate, and distracting huckster Maint Reqd light.

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