My Greatest Fear #51: When You Accidentally Adjust a Setting in Your Car but Can’t Figure Out What You Changed

this is not a photo of my hand
this is not a photo of my hand

This happened to me, and it can happen to you.

I was driving back from the grocery store today and needed to turn on my turn signal, which is done in my car (a Camry) by pressing down on the lever to the left of the steering wheel.

However, my hand clumsily knocked into the turn signal lever. I think I pushed it forward, and it snapped into a position I’ve never seen it in before.

I quickly readjusted it back to what I thought was the original position, but the odd thing was that nothing seemed to change. There were no indicator lights on my dashboard to tell me that I had reverted back to the original position.

So I started to doubt that the handle was in the original position. Maybe I took it too far–maybe the original bump knocked it from the incorrect position to the correct position.

I spent the next few minutes driving and pushing the lever back and forth, trying to see what it was adjusting. For the life of me I could not see or feel any difference. But it was definitely in two different positions.

For all I know, I was driving down the road flashing lights I didn’t even know existed–there was no discernible difference inside the car.

And now I have to live my life not knowing while setting is correct because I don’t know what has changed, nor do I know the original position of the handle. This is a terrifying proposition. I may have to sell the car because of this.

Have you ever had this happen? Did you ever figure out what changed and what the original setting was?

8 thoughts on “My Greatest Fear #51: When You Accidentally Adjust a Setting in Your Car but Can’t Figure Out What You Changed”

  1. You probably turned on your bright lights by pushing the lever forward, which would be indicated somewhere on your dashboard with a little blue or yellow bulb-looking sign. It may not have actually done it if your headlights weren’t on at the time, hence the little light wouldn’t turn on even with the lever in forward position. If it’s no longer forward, it’s in the only other position it can be in without the turn signals being on, which is back where it belongs.

    • Sara: That’s exactly what I thought it was, and I kept looking for the bright lights icon (it’s blue–I’ve seen it before), but I couldn’t see it! I think my lights were on at the time, but maybe not. I’ll check the next time I’m in the car.

  2. I have VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) in my CR-V. I did a similar thing where I meant to hit a particular button, hit something else, and saw VSA OFF on my dashboard. I didn’t notice it until I actually parked the car, so I sat there thinking, “What the Hell did I do?”. Apparently I didn’t need the button I originally wanted to push, I think I was trying to adjust my mirror, and since I don’t do that very often, I didn’t even know the VSA button was over there. Once I pushed things until the light went out, I thought, “Oh, ok. Noted.”

  3. First, I’m going to laugh at your pain, so… HAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Second, you might want to skim through your car’s owner manual about this if you are truly concern. I found this in the great internet. Please read Page 2 since I don’t know which forward direction you are talking about. Forward to you or dashboard. You really might have been putting on a spectacular light show as you were driving home like Sara said. Other drivers love you for warning them about cop car ahead, cop car loathes you for slowing down drivers.

    Third, that blue light might be burnt out so you don’t see it on.

    • Thanks Jasmin! I meant to look for that today when I was out driving. I’ll try again soon. It’s possible the indicator light is burnt out.

  4. What if it wasn’t the brights you accidentally turned on, and instead was some new and unknown feature on your car, such as the flux capacitor, and now your trusty Toyota is primed and ready to become a time machine?! If that were the case, your next car ride could take you to a future filled with jet packs and hoverboards…


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