10 Car Features That No Longer Exist in New Vehicles

Technology is constantly advancing. Here are 10 car features that you don't see in new cars anymore.
car features

Who knows what car features today’s teenagers will find nostalgic when they reminisce about their very first cars? Perhaps they’ll miss when vehicles weren’t so “smart” and didn’t drive themselves. Or maybe they’ll miss when driving actually meant wheels on the road.

Nobody knows how drastically automobiles will change in the future. But we do know how much they’ve changed since their invention and even in the past 30 years. Here are 10 car features that no longer exist in new vehicles.

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Audible turn signals

Does it seem like more and more people are driving for miles with their turn signals on, apparently planning on making a left turn that never materializes? There’s a reason for that. Many modern cars are phasing out audible turn signals. While those noisy little clicks might seem annoying after a while, that’s exactly what made them useful – they reminded you to switch off your turn signals.

Keys

On most higher-end cars, stamped metal keys are becoming a thing of the past. Instead, start/stop ignitions and electronic key fobs have become the new norm. Vehicle doors automatically unlock when the registered key fob is nearby, and once inside, you simply push the button to start. That’s a big change from the turn-key ignitions most of us are used to. Car manufacturers like Mazda and Ford have even created apps to remotely start and unlock your car using a smartphone app!

Simple controls

Texting and driving is extremely dangerous, and a complicated control system could be just as distracting. In a 2015 AAA study, results showed that mental distractions could last up to 27 seconds after using voice commands on select in-car systems. With many new cars using touch-screen controls, things could get even trickier. AAA suggests putting climate controls, radio stations, GPS and other settings in place prior to driving.

Spacious trunks

We’ve come a long way from massive hulks of solid Detroit steel we used to call cars. Now models are sleeker and more aerodynamic than ever. But that also means less room. Many of today’s car owners don’t know the meaning of a spacious trunk. And unless you’re buying a minivan, you can expect to pack some of those weekly groceries in your back seat.

Spare tires

Here’s a car feature that many of us miss. Some cars don’t come with full-size spare tires anymore because trunks are getting smaller. Other car manufacturers are trying to reduce vehicle weight. No matter what the cause, buying a new car with a full-size spare is a rare occurrence these days. In fact, spare tires have been replaced by tire inflator kits on 29 million vehicles in the last 10 model years. But if you’re lucky enough to get one, today’s tiny doughnut tires are only designed to be used for short distances and under 50 mph. Even with run flat tires, buying a new tire or getting a patch becomes pretty urgent.

Ashtrays

Equipped with electric lighters and ashtrays inside the dashboard, old cars were a smoker’s heaven. Those in-car ashtrays were even great for non-smokers as the ultimate coin compartment. However, most car manufacturers have shied away from ashtrays and opted to install more tech-focused car features, like phone charger ports.

Radio antennas

If you remember when cars had ashtrays, then you probably remember when cars used to sport whip antennas. Were they unsightly? Kind of. But most people used those long radio antennas as a chance to give their cars a little spunk. Back in the day, you could spot countless raccoon tails, smiley face balls and other neat trinkets on top of those wiry menaces. Now most cars have much shorter fixed antennas.

car features

Vent windows

Vent or “wing” windows are another one of those car features staple to older cars. The small triangular windows were found on both the driver and passenger sides and could be rotated inward to get some fresh air. On days that weren’t too hot, you could skip opening the main window and still get some ventilation going without messing up your hair. So, what happened to all the vent windows? Two words: air conditioning.

Hand-cranked windows

Today’s teenagers probably don’t know what a hand-cranked window is. But yes, at one point in time, people had to manually roll their windows up and down. This car feature is almost impossible to find nowadays and that’s probably because most people don’t miss them. In fact, new car owners can rejoice in the power of the window lock. No children will play with the back windows on our watch!

Bench seats

Before seat belts were included in cars, bench seats allowed three people to fit comfortably in the front of most vehicles. You could even fit a fourth passenger if they were small enough. Today’s kids will never know the feeling of squeezing up front with mom, dad and their siblings, but modern cars are definitely much safer!

Can you think of some other car features that no longer exist in new vehicles? Tell us in the comments!

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134 Thoughts on “10 Car Features That No Longer Exist in New Vehicles

  1. I miss those drip rails over the doors. Nowadays you get a dusting of snow falling on to your seat when would open the door. Very annoying and inconvenient!

  2. How about the rear window that rolled down a few inches and the side vents, combined you could get by with no AC.

    1. On a bench seat, parking at a curb on the passenger side, I could slide over and get out without worrying about opening the driver’s doo to traffic.

    1. No more cars with a three on the tree either, as a matter of fact it is difficult to find a car with a manual transmission.

  3. Remember horn rings? You could blow your horn from any hand position on the wheel. It’s silly not to have real spare tires. None of the “innovations” to replace spares really work. I miss the really attractive dash boards of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. I agree about missing whitewalls. Not practical, but they gave cars, especially two-toned ones, a special spark. I miss fins a little bit. Now most cars are just bean shaped – didn’t that come in with the first Datsuns? – and SUVs have all the design flair of a cardboard box.

  4. I fear CD players will become a thing of the past. The drive from RI to FL will be long indeed. I like to select my own music, and not to have ‘you’ll-also-likes’ foisted on me. Classical music on a southern radio station? Dream on.

    1. There’s always Sirius XM for when you get a car that has that capability. No need to ever be limited to what local radio stations provide. You can also play whatever music you want on cars equipped with Apple CarPlay.

    2. CD players are no longer available in many or all new cars. I found that out when I rented a car several months ago.

      1. My wife has a 2019 Mercedes SUV and it came with a CD player. I also know someone with a 2019 Subaru and it also has one. Yet my 2015 Dodge doesn’t….think it depends on the manufacturer.
        I miss my CD player!

    3. Use “geek sticks” AKA “thumb drives”. I too like to select my own music – and I feel your pain regarding the dearth of classical music stations!

  5. The most egregious thing Detroit has dropped is the dimmer switch on the floor. Now you have to take your left hand off the wheel and PULL the stalk toward you in many cars. Driver distraction, anyone? Who ever thought this was a good idea?

  6. I wish more people would use the daytime running lamps!! just at dusk you still see cars with no lights on yet. aggravating!!! dont like keyless cars either

    1. I agree with you I own mostly General Motors models which all have automatic headlights….nice that they come on automatically at dusk, when going through tunnels etc. just need to keep in mind to put them on when it’s raining during the day to keep safe!

      1. I recently rented a 2019 (don’t remember make or model). The DRL’s came on when the engine started and the full lamps came on when the wipers were turned on. They designers are going in the right direction.

    2. I have been driving with my FULL headlamps on for 50 years. Now that everyone is used to most cars having some lights on in the daytime, I miss the friendly calls from pedestrians, “HEY! YOUR LIGHTS ARE ON!”.

  7. Nice big, beautiful WHITE WALL TIRES, especially “VOGUE TIRES” which had a narrow gold stripe around the white wall.

  8. They should go back to turn signals that make noise, drivers forget them on and you don’t know what there intentions are. Or maybe after a one mile the turn signals go off.

    1. Now that I am older I don’t hear the click or ding. I thought life was phasing me out. I like the idea of automatic turn off after a few minute.

  9. I miss having a big Station Wagon with the bench seats plus. Having a good old heavy steel car I always felt safer with more steel between me & the next car if & when there should happen to be accident. Guess I’m just an old fashioned kind of girl. But then I feel somethings where better left alone thats just me.

    1. I remember the beach wagons. I don’t know if they were called that because of the artificial beach wood side panels or because you could really load a lot of people and stuff for a trip to the beach.

  10. The thing I miss most about older cars is the high/low beam button on the floor. The column mounted combination switch is harder to operate while making a turn.

  11. I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY CARMAKERS THINK A TACHOMETR IS A NECESSARY FEATURE ON ALL CARS. I WOULD GUESS THAT 90% OF DRIVERS DON’ T KNOW WHAT A TACHOMETER IS AND ONLY 1% ACTUALLY USE IT.

    1. On my 1974 stickshift Opel Manta (in “Fireglow” red you could instantly spot anywhere in the mall parking lot—I always parked in the back, away from those clueless drivers who open their doors by Braille) I would have to pay $150 for a tachometer.

      Today’s multispeed automatics hardly need tachs on most cars—for most drivers—except, perhaps for those who actually use the paddle shifters or stick shifts.

      Which reminds me, how many brands actually still provide manual transmissions? Except for those times I would be stuck in traffic, particularly on a long upgrade, I loved the crisp control offered by a good stick transmission and the great driving experience. Paddle shifters shift for more “casually”. And who really wants to run through 8 or 9 speeds with paddles?

      Getting back to that Opel. It was a smallish German-made sporty coupe by GM. But it had a decent-sized trunk. My wife and I would load it up for cross-country vacation trips and only had the cooler chest and a roll of paper towels on the back seat. I made money off the bets from those who insisted, “you’ll never get all that luggage into the trunk.”

      And one more thing I miss. Bright paint colors. Looking out at a parking lot, it is typically a sea of whites, blacks, and grays. How many variations of “gray” have to be in the brand lineup?

      1. Absolutely we need more colorful cars. I too dislike the many shades of gray plus white and black. The cars I’ve owned, since 1963, have been green, bronze, orange, red, red, and red. That’s because red is often the only colorful color there is nowadays, and my Prius is a brilliant one.

  12. My former 1956 TBird had air vents on each side of the car which helped keep the motor cool . This was an upgrade from the ’55 model which had no such vents and were known to run a little hot.

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  13. My work truck Ford Transit 2013 has crank Windows. I hate for the fact that people come to my passenger window and get mad when I don’t put the window down. I can’t reach it from the drivers seat.

    1. I feel your pain, Patricia. My Mazda 3 doesn’t have automatic locks, so I always have to unlock the passenger side door from the outside if I have a passenger. 😉

      1. What plastic bumpers? Cars don’t even have bumpers anymore. [well some p/u trucks do). The entire car now is covered in high gloss mirror like paint that is impossible to just touch up scratches. So every minor scratch and scrape requires a panel to be removed and repainted professionally. Much more expensive than a metal or rubber bumper that was supposed to have the accidental marks on them. Body work has become terribly expensive since even small dents need to have huge panels replaced or taken off and repainted.

    2. Floor button on the left side to turn high beam off and on. So much quicker to use on two lane roads where it’s typically an on and off routine as one responds to on-coming traffic.

      1. The floor button was down where, in order to see it, you needed to take your eyes off of the road, and so you needed to feel where it is, but what was the worst, was that, in the Wintertime, sometimes the button got frozen, and sometimes I needed to hit it, or kick it a few times, to allow me to switch the high beams to low beams, so I like the turn signals up on the column, where I can see them, and where they won’t freeze up, as when I’d sometimes need to kick it a few times, it was sort of a distraction, or a sort of safety hazard, as sometimes, since sometimes I couldn’t get the high beams dimmed right away, the driver coming the other way would get, or be, blinded, and/or sometimes that driver would flash their high beams at me, making it hard for me to see, so I didn’t like the floor button, except when it worked, liked Spring, Summer and Fall/Autumn for example, when the button couldn’t freeze up.

        1. The floor button for hi/lo beams was great…never had it freeze, always knew where it was…..I miss that feature…..

        2. Never had any problem with the high beam switch down there. Like any of the controls on the floor you know where it is. You are NOT supposed to take your eyes off the road. Way back then when learning to drive or when taking the road test, that could get you a failure. They never want to see you take your eyes of the road for any control. You should KNOW where it is.

      2. Own a 1966 Chevy Impala that I’ve had for years. It of course has the floor button for high beams and I love it. It’s right next to your left foot so it’s easy to find and use. I’ve never had any trouble with it freezing up or sticking, even in a 54 year old car!

    3. no longer have CD players- what will I do with my CD”s that I used on trips so I wouldn’t need to find a good local radio station?

      1. The whole world assumes that everyone has a cellphone that they can use to play their music through, however, cellphones do not work in many places or people have made the choice NOT to have them. This means that the car companies are saving money, but charging you more, by eliminating features that some of us count on.

      2. It’s odd, I own a 2015 Dodge Charger and it doesn’t have a CD player and I hate it. I have a lot of CD’s and using your phone is not easy. But, my wife has a 2019 Mercedes SUV and it DOES have a CD player. I also know someone with a 2019 Subaru and it also has one.
        Only thing I don’t like about my Charger is no CD player.

        1. Do you have Bluetooth?
          Is it possible to find a portable C D player that has Bluetooth? Can always connect the player wirelessly.

    4. You all really miss the high beam floor button????? Not me-at 5 feet tall I could NEVER reach it! I’m driving for 40 years + and that button is a feature I never think about as I dial to the high beam on the headlight stalk.

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