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10 Car Features That No Longer Exist in New Vehicles

car features - leather interior

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

  1. I was born in 1964, and I am just old enough to remember all the old stuff that was still around in the 1970’s from back in the 1960’s and late 1950’s.

  2. I leased a car for three years without a CD player. It was horrible and lonely! I complained bitterly. Just leased another car from the same manufacturer. They must have heard me. It has a CD player. Wonderful

  3. My mother used to forget to turn off the turn signals in our ’57 plymouth. My father was very handy and installed an old fashioned telephone type bell that would ring loud and incessantly until the signal was turned off.

  4. I MISS THE HIGH-BEAM SWITCH “ON THE FLOOR”, BUT IT WAS DIFFICULT WHEN USING MY CLUTCH AT THE SAME TIME

    1. Hi Michael! Totally agree but with all the differences in vehicle designs you may be popping your hood as well! I am also glad the car makers are aligning for that reason. Thank you for your comment! -MM

  5. How about the gas fill locations? Some behind the license plate, some behind the hinged tail light, some behind the continental stile spare tire.

  6. I owned 7 VW’s over the years and most had the butter fly widow, even in the summer time you could get a breeze. I miss them even today.

  7. High beam foot switch, left of either a clutch or brake pedal. Also, most transmissions are sealed nowadays. Say goodbye to that Transmission Fluid top-off and its associated dip stick. I miss my 1968 Kharman Ghia. 3 speed, H pattern Manual transmission. :0)

  8. I miss being able to crack open the triangular-shaped “fly” windows, and also being able to pull the “slide” to open the floor vents to let air in, but I suppose a person could say that reaching down to pull them open, or to close them, while driving, might be considered a distraction, or safety hazard, but nowadays the vents are forced-air vents, so the air won’t come through naturally, and will be forced in by a fan, and I’ve noticed that there aren’t ash trays, and nowadays no cigarette lighter, but 12 volt/13.8-volt accessory jacks, but my 1974 Chrysler Newport Custom had a sliding door or drawer, with coin slots, which actually came in handy back then, when I’d need 3 coins, quarters, at the toll booths, but I haven’t needed to go through toll booths for a long long time, but I think that they have a different system now for toll booths, like some sort of pass or something. My first car only had an AM radio, the 1964 Ford Station Wagon, so in order to listen to FM Radio, I had a FM converter mounted in the car, and it didn’t have a cassette tape player, or CD player, etc, so later on I bought an AM/FM Radio Cassette Deck, by Audiovox, which was very nice back in the day, but which later on was stolen out of my car and never recovered.

  9. How about great big sidewall tires instead of your tire looking like someone put a rubber band around the rim? I absolutely adore my 1970 Chevelle.

  10. My 4 gripes with the new cars: (1) with bucket seats, when one has a passenger, there is no convenient place for a woman to put her purse; (2) trunks are big, but you could double lock and the valet key could not open it. Today, it is no longer safe to put articles in the trunk for safety (golf clubs); (3) if one’s car is parked in the driveway (because one does not have a garage, and the fob is in the house – but not the required distance to disable the fob, a thief could steal the car by just unlocking the door – there is no way to safeguard the car; (4) and I miss being able to switch the rear view mirror to dim the headlights on the car behind – the automatic dimmer is slow and does not dim enough.

  11. I yearn for the days of easy replacement light bulbs. These day you need to replace the entire assembly for mega bucks.

    1. Actually with my last few vehicles, you don’t replace the whole light bulb assembly, and you just replace the bulb itself, but then there’s the possibility of dirt getting into the light bulb assembly, unless you make sure that the seal around the bulb is good.

  12. I dislike that mostly every car looks alike. I don’t know how many times I almost got into the wrong car. It seems that car designs are made from the same aerodynamic mold. I realize it’s for gas milage purposes but I still prefer the beauty of the old styling of cars. Years ago, in the Fall, I would look forward to the new car designs. The exterior design of today cars are a little boring.

  13. I miss the floor dimmer switch for sure and I also miss the gauges on the dash. It is so helpful to know if you battery is charging correctly or if your oil pressure is getting low BEFORE you are stranded somewhere.

  14. Purchased a new 2019 KIA Sportage for the spouse. A couple days later she noticed no CD player and she like to listen to audio books. I miss the Hi/Low beam switch on the left corner of the floor.

  15. I loved our ’66 Dodge Polara station wagon. I wish i had a car again which had bench seats. I also liked the butterfly or elephant ear windows and the floor vents. My parents paid extra, so the car had a/c, but we only had to use it when it was very very hot, because the aforementioned windows and vents worked wonderfully. There was a full-size spare tire, and though I guess it wasn’t ideal for fuel economy, and therefore not the best for the environment, i loved that the car was so big and heavy – it felt safe! To this day, when I close car doors, I push or pull very hard, as was necessary to close the heavy doors of that station wagon – it’s just automatic to me, having grown up with that car from the age of 4 to the age of 26! (Much to the dismay of my friends who own more delicate automobiles.) I will admit that I liked later cars having cassette or CD players. My current car (21 years old) has a cassette player but it’s broken, and i do miss being able to play my own specific music choices. I am on the fence about the manual windows; I prefer them, especially if underwater and needing to escape, as someone else mentioned. But in this day and age, when gas station attendants don’t come around to the driver’s side to communicate or take payment, it is then nice to have power windows and avoid leaning over to crank the opposite window down. Finally, I so love the look of older cars, anything pre-1980s, with the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s being my favorites.

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