There are many variables at play when it comes to shopping around for a new car. Not only do you have to compare prices, compare manufacturers, read reviews, and test drive them, you also have to take a look at the spec sheet to see what you’re getting inside of the car. The last thing you want to do is buy a car that’s a beauty on the outside, but a complete dud on the inside. There are certain features that should come standard in every car that we can all agree on, for instance: air conditioning, power windows, heated seats, and automatic headlights, to name a few. These enhance the everyday commutes we have with our vehicles, and they are features that we’ve grown to know, love, and can’t live without. But what about those features that we can live without?
Cars can pack a formidable amount of tech into their relatively compact frames. Some of this tech is downright revolutionary, while others are on the complete other end of the spectrum. A lot of what are considered, “standard features” in cars were added just because they could, with the mantra, “the more the merrier.” Consumer behavior has taught us that people tend to buy things that have more features. But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, you just gotta stick to the bare bones, and keep the ride as simple, and as clean as possible. That being said, here is a list of the 24 standard features no car owner will ever use.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with manumatic transmission, it’s found in cars with automatic transmission, and it allows you go “manual” by controlling the upshifts, and downshifts on your car. It’s a fun little gimmick to mess around with at times; pretending you’re a race car driver, or even trying to get the feel for learning stick. But the allure fades pretty quickly as most people just want to get places without bothering to change their gears. This leaves the manumatic option as one of the features in your car that you’ll most likely never use.
Like manumatic transmission, paddle shifters give you the power to control the upshifts and downshifts of your car. Paddle shifters are usually found standard in high-performance cars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but they seem to have made their way into average consumer cars as well. It’s fun to flick the paddle while you’re driving at times, but there’s no need to have paddle shifters in an automatic vehicle, leaving me to wonder why auto manufacturers include them anyway. It’s a neat little gimmick to have, but it acts as more of a steering wheel decoration, as it’s never used.
This feature was meant to keep your car from idling, and to lower gas consumption while waiting at a long stop light, or being stopped for prolonged periods of time. The idea is great on paper, but having it on is a completely different story. The constant starting, and stopping of the engine has most drivers turning off the feature permanently, and that’s definitely understandable. The percentage saved on gas is negligible, and the constant on and off of an engine that isn’t properly warmed up could be harmful to your engine.
Windshield wipers are pretty straightforward. You turn them on when there’s precipitation, and it wipes it off your windshield. But wouldn’t it be great if the process was automatic? In theory, absolutely! In reality, moisture sensing windshield wipers aren’t always reliable. During heavy downpour, most automatic wipers go at a snail's pace, and sometimes on perfectly clear and sunny conditions, the infamous “ghost wipe” swoops across your windshield. Meanwhile, when you’re driving through mist, or a light drizzle, the wipers act like they’re in a Category 5 hurricane. Due to this, many drivers still swear by controlling their wipers manually.
Have you ever planned a road trip back in the day, and prepared for it by carefully curating your CD collection, or burning a few mixtapes for the long haul? Those days are now in the past, as most people have their media on their phones (either internally or through Spotify/Apple Music, etc.), and play their songs through auxiliary cable or Bluetooth. Car manufacturers are noticing this, and are going for touch screen media stations in newer cars, but some standard models still include a CD player that’s biting the dust, as newer innovations are on the rise.
We’ve already mentioned on this list that radios are rarely being used for listening purposes, this also holds true to the volume knob on the radio being used! It typically comes standard on newer cars for there to be a volume control switch on either side of the steering wheel (which is a lifesaver, by the way). Because of this, it obviates the need for there having to be a volume knob on the side of the radio, unless you want to turn the volume up for cinematic effect, like in the movies.
The Eco Button is a feature on many cars that is always on, but the button is never used. In fact, many people are unaware that there is a button you can press to turn it on and off! But even when you found it, there’s no reason to turn it off due to the advantages of having it on. Many people like the fact that they’re saving gas, and saving money while having this option on, so never find the need to turn it off, leaving the button collecting dust.
Roof rails are usually found on trucks, and SUVs, and give you that little extra cargo space if you want to hunker something down on the roof of your vehicle (the keyword being: if). Most trucks and SUVs have more than enough room to comfortably fit a large amount of cargo within the vehicle themselves. Which then leaves the roof rails with the purpose of handling oversized or irregular items, like kayaks, or bikes. But once again, this falls short as your average person doesn’t own a kayak, and if people transport their bikes, they usually purchase a bike rack. This leaves the roof rails as a feature almost no one will ever use.
Sunroofs are great for those hot, and clear summer days when you’re driving down the highway with the windows down, and you want to feel that extra bit of UV light on the country road. But what about when it rains? Sunroofs are great until you forget to close them and have a water park in your car. Most people forget that they have it open, and sometimes accidents happen. For this reason, many sunroofs (including mine) stay closed, with the cover drawn to avoid any mishaps that may occur.
SD Card slots in cars were introduced as an alternative to using CDs or MP3 players in cars, and some cars still have these SD card slots today. They were especially useful to hold video files, so that young children could watch movies in the back of the car (if the car had TVs). Today, the SD card slot is seen as obsolete due to the fact that people use their phones as media players, and the same goes for children in the back seats.
These used to come standard in every car, back when smoking was socially acceptable indoors. Although now, the car lighters are nowhere to be found, but their DC connector still remains. The DC connector was usually used as a power supply for car accessories such as GPS systems, and USB phone chargers. Now, even the DC connector is hardly used, as most new cars come equipped with USB outlets on the dashboard in the media stations, or in the center console storage. Due to this, these features are slowly becoming features no one will ever use.
Sunglass holders are usually found above the dash, where the lights are in your car. If you haven’t noticed it, I don’t blame you. It’s usually out of your field of vision, and people barely tend to notice it’s there. Also, people tend to rest their sunglasses on their head when they’re not using them. These reasons (coupled with the fact that people tend to use their cup holders, and glove compartment as storage spaces), are most likely why sunglass holders are almost never used.
Visors themselves are a little useless, since often times they don’t even cover where the sun is shining on your windshield, but the mirror in the visor is a whole other story. The visor mirror is unbelievably small, and you can only catch a glimpse of one of your eyes, and your nose, if you’re lucky. Back in the day, these mirrors were mostly used to check your appearance before getting out of the car, or even as a mirror to help you see when you’re applying makeup. But now, people use their smartphones, as the camera provides a wider field of vision, and better clarity. This leaves the visor mirror untouched, as a relic of the past.
I’ll admit it, we don’t see these around too often anymore, but they are still on some cars! Even when they came standard in many cars, the thought that often crossed people’s heads was, “Why is this thing even here?” Nothing screams A+ design more than a giant gaping hole in your dashboard. But in all seriousness, this was a rarely used feature in a lot of cars due to the fact that cup holders were almost always universally known to be the king of random storage spaces.
The hooks in the back window area of the car were mainly used to hang your dry cleaning. Now, it’s rare to see these hooks are being used at all. Even when some people go to pick up their dry cleaning, they usually lay it neatly on the back seat of their car. A large part of this is because people don’t want large ornamentation hanging from one of their back windows. Often times, those areas are blind spots, and hanging something in those areas can be a massive distraction, or even a driving hazard.
Much like the hooks in the back window area of your car, the handles that accompany them are equally as unused. The only time I’ve seen these handles being used are during a long road trip when people need something to hang onto to stretch their arms, or to use the inside of their arm as a gigantic pillow. Other than that, the handles’ main intended purpose was to ease getting in and out of a vehicle, usually for the elderly. But even then, they don’t seem to achieve their designed purpose, because we get out of the car to help our elderly anyways.
The parking brake is one of those necessary safety features on your car that is heavily encouraged to use when parking, especially downhill or uphill. That being said, many drivers neglect to use it, which can lead to some sticky situations. Many auto manufacturers are introducing electronic parking brakes to free real estate in the center console, which in my opinion, adds to the reason why many people don’t use the parking brake, because it’s not very visible. At least with a manual parking brake, you know it’s there, and you’re more inclined to think, “Hey, I should probably use this thing.”
This one may be a bit of a mixed bag, but hear me out! Cruise control is definitely a well-used feature for some, but equally as unused for others, in fact, many people don’t even know how to set their cruise control. For the most part, cruise control is one of those features that are rarely used due to the unpredictability of people on the road. Some people tend to speed, and some people tend to go well below the speed limit, which has most of us wanting to be in control of our own speed, which also brings me to my next point. A sense of control is definitely what a lot of us want while driving in order to feel safe. Many people will feel uneasy at the thought of not being in control of the speed (even though you can control it), and many of us also feel we may fall asleep at the wheel if we don’t need to focus on keeping the car in motion!
Getting around new areas of town, or even new cities can be daunting. Luckily, we live in an age where GPS is as accessible as flipping on a light switch. Onboard navigation comes standard in some cars, but in others, it’s an option you might have to pay a pretty penny for. Even if your car comes standard with an onboard navigation system, most people still opt to use apps like Google Maps, or Waze on their smartphones. This is usually because the apps are free and have regular updates, whereas onboard navigation systems usually cost a bit of money to update. Also, apps like Google Maps and Waze typically show congested routes, collisions, traffic cameras, and even speed traps.
Looking at your rearview mirror is slowly becoming a thing of the past, with the introduction of rearview cameras. Rearview cameras are especially helpful when coupled with a proximity sensor to avoid hitting a wall, the curb, another car, or even a living being! But, a lot of us are becoming a little too dependent on rearview cameras, which leave the rearview mirror (and the side mirrors) when reversing useless. It’s definitely convenient not having to crane your neck in every direction to reverse park, but it’s also nice to know your car inside and out, and trust your driver’s intuition.
OnStar is a feature that comes standard in American car companies like Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac, that gives you various features to improve your roadside experience. Whether it is roadside assistance, navigation, hands-free calling, Wi-Fi hotspot, etc. The problem is, no one uses it. The button itself does not do anything, until you have activated a plan with OnStar, which most people don’t due to the pricing plans, the hassle it is to cancel the plan, and the lack of a need for it. Most people opt for a cheaper option, like Android Auto (which is free), that only needs you to plug your Android phone in via USB to a car that supports it.
This feature is pretty useful at times, but more often than not, drivers are turning this feature off to stick with their stationary side mirror. Rotating side mirrors are activated when you put your car into reverse, and the driver’s side mirror rotates downward, allowing the driver to see how close he is to the curb, parking space lines, etc. But this, in turn, puts the focus solely on the ground, and not what’s behind you, or beside you, which could lead to some problems if you’re not careful. The stationary side mirror allows you to see all angles that you need to see, including the ground, which leads me to think, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
There was a time when every car had a key to unlock their doors and turn on their cars. Today, keys are slowly being phased out and replaced by key fobs, which many manufacturers are opting for. Cars now have start/stop buttons on their dash to replace the key ignition, making car entry and car start-up more of an automatic process. As a result, keys are slowly becoming a feature of the past (at least for cars) that no car owner will ever use in the future.
Sources: Autocar, Onstar, Android