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.

Buying a New Car

Tips and tricks to get you through every step of buying a new car, whatever “new” means to you.

Download Now!

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!

Learn about AAA’s automotive services

SUBSCRIBE TO YOUR AAA NEWSLETTER

Sign up and receive updates for all of the latest articles on automotive, travel, money, lifestyle and so much more!

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

  1. Not all cars had them, but I remember a cable of some kind that ran across the back of the front bench seat. We’d use it to pull ourselves forward from sitting in the back seat.

  2. Lap coolers for front passengers in GM products with factory A/C. These were little chrome vents an inch high by a few inches wide that were aimed directly at front passenger’s “laps”. It was probably adored by those wearing summer skirts. Wonder why they went away?

  3. Flat dash or a dash that tilted towards the windshield. I used to keep a change bowl and occasionally throw paperwork (mail, business documents, etc.) on the dash. In my last few cars, the dash has curved towards the driver and passenger, so everything slides off.

  4. Being over 55,The one true thing I absolutely miss is the old style am/fm radios, The ones from GM’s Delco and Fords Philco, And just having a seperate underdash cassette , And for some of us the 8-track player, I now have one of those horrid aftermarket pioneer multi function car stereos,Without starting to swear profanity here, I still can’t figure how to set the time and date, To be all honest this so called simple technology intimadates me, I guess I’m just screwed , Cause I’m still one of those who can live very happily without a cellphone,

  5. When you used 2 be able to put gas in the car in the back under the license plate. I guess they think if you get rear ended your car will blow up!

  6. Back in the late 70s, I had a 1964 Plymouth Valiant with the most AWESOME PUSHBUTTON transmission!!!… bench seats, too.

  7. What about all the cool design elements?? the fins on the sides of the rear of the vehicle….the two-tone colors….the bands of silver alongside the body….the supercool dashboards with lots of “controls”, the ashtrays and lots of graphic design elements that make cars from the 70’s and earlier true works of art and iconic classics…..=).

  8. I loved My 1968 Plymouth RoadRunner. It came stock with a 383 street hemi engine with headers 3 2barrel carburetors with chrome covers on each one. It had manual steering with 4 speed stick on the floor and bench seats. Hoods scoops and chrome mag wheels chrome dual exhaust with raked up rear leaf spring suspension and positraction rear end and burn rubber in 1st and 2nd gear n sometimes if timed perfect I could get a chirp out of 3 gear. Oh and it sounded naturally great no thrush mufflers needed. Also had push open rear windows n roll down front windows and the outside chrome door handles I use to slide my car towel down in it and twist it to wring out the water to dry the car off. Oh man I wish Ai still had that Car. I got hit and run totaled outside my house where I parked on the street. I cried like I lost My best friend.

Leave A Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and may or may not be published at the editor’s discretion. Only comments that are relevant to the article and add value to the Your AAA community will be considered. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. REQUIRED FIELDS ARE MARKED *