Tue. Dec 5th, 2023

Our Topic: Ready for the Return of the Floor Light Switch?

   Maybe some car builder has done it, but if not, I have a suggestion: bring back the foot dimmer switch.
   Oh, I get it: sand, salt used to get up there. No one these days is familiar with the floor dimmer switch, but on the plus side somewhat handier than on the stalk.
   I can hear the cries, “you have to be kidding!” Actually the floor switch takes one less demand away from your hands. There are bright and regular settings, windshield wipers, radio… the steering column has become a confusing collection of controls.
   Then we have the repair/mechanical end to it. We put so much into the steering column cars have become much more expensive to fix. Especially if they have to pull the wheel. Carmakers sure don’t seem focused on making it easy: even for professional mechanics.
   However, with today’s tech, I see a lot of advantages.

1. The rust/salt issue is far easier to address. Better seals, better protection like that film they use on the bottom of cars and treatments inside doors, fenders.

2. Most cars these days are automatic, but even if standard the floor switch still brings more of your focus on the road, not, “OK, where the &%$! is THAT?” Especially if you have several cars. Disregarding our Studebaker truck, we have an Element and a Sequoia. The controls are in different places and we keep getting confused which control is where. Since standardization isn’t likely (Do you hear the Critic saying, “&#@!&%$!&%#!!!!!!!!???”) this would be at least one standard feature for the drivers.

3. If you must have more complexity, like on luxury cars, they could combine the foot switch with a dash dimmer switch. On the floor you’d have high, low, maybe on, off too. The control on the dash could be used to dial in what level high, low. Want more complex?(SIGH) Add fog 1, fog 2. The lights could tip down a little so not reflecting off the fog.

   Hey, I wouldn’t want to add that complexity, but whomever claimed luxury car buyers don’t want it would be quite clueless.
   All of this controlled by computer. Hey, the computer is already there to complicate the home job. Why use it to improve the driver’s ability to handle all kinds of situations.
   Years ago that would have been a pain to do, now it’s mostly programming. Might be hard to get used to, but no more than some current cars: like electrics and some EVs where the shift is different or absent and often starts without the kind of key most of us are used to.
   I am not committed to this specific set up, but I do think bringing back the foot dimmer might give the driver more options, more control, and offer the industry more happy customers.


    The Automotive Critic is a column by Ken Carman, who has been writing a weekly column since 1972 called Inspection, as a beer judge several beer judging and beer industry-based columns. Ken is also the author of Autocide: which he started researching over 20 years ago. Autocide is alternative automobile history filled with funs, odd twists and quirky characters. He has been into cars, working with cars as part of his job, since he bought his first car: a 61 Lark, at 14. Mr. Carman lives in Eagle Bay and Beaver River, NY.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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By Ken Carman

Entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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