There was a point in time when cars were built to cater to smokers, and if you didn’t smoke you had a bunch of features for smoking. The built-in cigarette lighters are among one of the most obvious features drivers remember. You’d push the lighter in and wait for it to turn orange and pop out for you. The problem is that these were very unsafe, and many times a young child would get burned by playing around in the front seat. Sure, you didn’t have to carry a lighter around but you still had the risk of burns. Not to mention the fact that the lighter was useless for just about anything else.
The vehicle lighters never had a flame, so you couldn’t do much with them other than lighting a smoke. Most cars came with a built-in lighter up until recently, when the public outrage against smoking caused everything to halt. These days, you won’t find but an empty power port in most vehicles in the same area where the cigarette lighter used to be. The Marlboro man is probably quite sad at this fact nowadays.
Mike Tyson had one, your lawyer had one, at one point everyone wanted to have a car phone built into their vehicle. The problem? The technology was going to change and this big chunk of telecommunications was going to be taking up your center console. Long before smartphones were a part of daily life the carphone was a great thing to have. These phones didn’t last long for several reasons, the first of which was the expensive phone plans. Unless you were high up in society the average person couldn’t afford one of these.
Car phones have a place in automotive history and that’s all well and good. But in terms of practicality, the car phone was a waste of technology. There are thousands of cars still on the road that have these old car phones inside of them. A relic from a time when automotive technology was still coming along and moving into the future that we have today. So next time you see an old Lexus or BMW remember that it might just have an original car phone inside of it.
During the minivan and SUV boom of the nineties there was a sudden need for cargo organization because these vehicles had an open interior and cargo space it was much different than a passenger car trunk. Automotive companies realized this and start selling cargo nets and organizers right from the factory. These options were oftentimes very pricey and the result was never what the user guide suggested. Most of these nets were cheaply made and the actual stuff that we tend to haul around is much heavier then these net will hold.
In addition to the cargo net only being designed for a certain make or model, you also had to have it installed in your vehicle. All of this created a costly mess that many consumers went for, but the result was lackluster. Utilizing a cargo net didn’t improve the cargo capacity of your vehicle, and it didn’t organize anything. Automakers are still trying to perfect storage organization and cargo capacity to this day.
Chrysler was at an impasse during the 2000s, as consumers were gobbling up SUVs and the minivan segment had become crowded. Chrysler had real competition in the form of the Honda Oddysey and the Toyota Sienna, and the GM trio minivans. This meant that the company had to find a way to improve on the aged Caravan and Grand Caravan trio. Thus, Sto-N-Go seating was introduced to the public. Traditionally minivans had bench seats that you could remove, but this would prove difficult due to the weight of the seat.
Not to mention the fact that you had to find somewhere to store these seats once you removed them. Sto-N-Go seating would allow you to stow the seats on the floor of the van, which in theory was a great idea. But the actual product was cumbersome and as the van aged the seating would become very difficult to stow away and oftentimes require repair. Not to mention that the replacement parts were dealership only.
Automakers have been searching for ways to connect with younger shoppers for decades. It seems that the go-to option is usually to offer some sort of a drink cooler. The Pontiac Aztek had a removable cooler and the Dodge Caliber had one built-in as well. This is a great concept in theory but the reality is that we rarely utilize these options. How often are you going to open your glove box for a cold one? You probably don’t and this is why the built-in coolers generally fade to obscurity.
It’s not that the built-in cooler is a bad concept. It’s who would use something like this. The average consumer will rarely use a drink cooler, but someone who was out in the construction field would. Nevertheless, automakers seem to keep trying to incorporate these drink coolers into their automotive designs.
The soft-close door is a feature first introduced on the Acura Vigor. The motivation behind this feature was to save the paint. But if you don’t slam your car doors in the first place, you shouldn’t have to worry about it. The problem with soft-close doors is that the vacuum system in them will eventually break down. As with the Acura, this was a common and fairly expensive repair that would suck owners into a cycle of costly maintenance.
Soft-close doors are among the most useless features in a new automobile. This feature did nothing to preserve the paint and in most cases, maintenance costs were extraordinary. Soft-close doors are a feature you’ll probably never see on most recent cars because they were so useless.
Automatic doors are another fairly recent feature on new cars. Depending on the style, automated doors are useless on most modern cars. However, automatic doors can be a great feature on cars that have shaved door handles.
Automated doors come in several styles, and in terms of luxury are a pretty cool addition. But considering the way most cars look with automated doors, the feature is quite useless. Even the most modern luxury cars have tried to implement this feature without success.
As cars grow with the times, automakers are adding more comfort features. Back comfort is an important aspect, especially for drivers who have a long commute. Massaging seats in modern cars nowadays have tried various features. However, they just didn’t catch on with luxury car buyers.
The current crop of massage seats is a useless feature except for those consumers who commute a long distance. In future cars, there will probably be new massage features geared toward a certain part of the back.
At the dawn of the new millennium, there were a lot of cars that featured a rear-seat entertainment center. The problem with most rear-seat entertainment centers is that they become obsolete in a few short years. Cars that were utilizing a VHS or DVD systems are now obsolete, which means they are useless until you upgrade them. The rear-seat entertainment system was a great idea for long trips, but how many long trips do people take where they require a system like this?
The current crop of rear-seat entertainment centers can stream media, which will help longevity. But for the most part, the systems still will eventually become outdated. This is a useless feature car manufacturers will continue to include in future crossovers just to increase price.
As vans have evolved over the past few decades from conversion vehicles into minivans, tables were a normal feature. Some tables roll down from the rear seating. A built-in table is a great feature to have if you are driving an RV. But, for the average driver of a minivan, the built-in table feature is probably something you’ll never use.
The application just doesn’t make any sense in the long run. While a table can be a great feature for the traveling family, for most drivers, it’s just another thing that will get broken after years of constant use. There’s just no real use for interior tables in the long run.
With the popularity of digital entertainment centers, there has been a rise in gesture controls. They are various ways you can move your fingers on the screen like you would with a touch screen device. The gesture control is something that automakers have been toying with for years. However, gesture control units are probably one of the most unused pieces of new car technology.
Because most display units are so small, it can be a problem to train your hands to use gesture control. The overall design of the current units still need a lot of work to make them a feasible option.
Another interesting feature that has made its way into most new vehicles is the touchpad controller. Rather than having a touch screen interface, the touchpad controller is an option some automakers have begun to use. Touchpad controls are nothing new in cars, but recently they have started to perfect the technology. With the rise in luxury features, it’s not uncommon to see some sort of a touchpad.
But with touchscreen technology advancing with every product cycle, the touchpad is useless technology. It’s something that will just have to be replaced later on. There are no usable features that a touchpad controller can offer in today’s day and age.
Interior lighting has come a long way in recent years. Nowadays, many cars are now rolling out the red carpet. What this means is that concierge lighting is a feature you could see on higher-end luxury cars and it’s quite simple to install. The problem with concierge lighting is that it can be expensive to replace.
This is a feature that most drivers don’t need because most cars have other forms of interior lighting. For that reason, the concierge lighting feature is something people will barely use as time goes on.
Different automakers have toyed with the idea of adding drink coolers for years, but the ones in recent models have been incredibly useless. The modern car drink cooler is something you might never use once it is in your vehicle. The Pontiac Aztek, for instance, had a small removable cooler. This was something most owners never used although Pontiac intended it to be part of its recreational aspect.
The drink cooler function is a cool aspect of new cars, but it’s just not something the everyday driver is going to use. The modern drink cooler is just another useless feature most automakers got away with.
Do you want to post your car to your social media account? Some automakers are putting this feature into their vehicles. While social media is a big piece of modern life, it’s not something that you intrinsically need in your vehicle. Most modern vehicles have some type of social media suite built-in now. This feature can cause a distraction and you probably won’t end up using it in the long run.
The rise of social media is going to cause automakers to keep adding this feature to their cars. But if you don’t want to be always connected, it’s not something that you’ll use. Social media accounts and suites inside new vehicles are just ploys to make consumers pay.
Perhaps one of the most unusable features to come at the dawn of the decade was third-row seating in crossovers. It all started with the 2006 Toyota Rav4 and has spread across various crossovers for some time now. The problem with third-row seating in these small vehicles is that there is just no room. The odds of finding feasible seating in such a small area is limited. The only people who end up being able to use the third row in these vehicles are children. Third-row seating also means you lose cargo space.
Automakers have been trying to find ways to increase the amount of space in crossovers. But the third-row option is going to go the way of most useless automotive features that have come and gone over the past decade.
During the ’80s and ’90s, there were a lot of interesting features that made their way into cars. Perhaps one of the most unique was the addition of automatic seatbelts. These seatbelts would wrap around you once the car started. While this feature did increase the safety of cars in the long run, it was still a cumbersome addition to most cars.
Automakers eventually ended up getting rid of this feature because it just didn’t add to the safety of the car. Automated seat belts have not made their way back for some time, partly because of their clunky design.
One of the features you’ll find on cars that are as old as time is manual windows. Towards the end of the new millennium, this was a useless feature most automakers eliminated. When you pay triple digits for a new car, the last thing you want to deal with is manual windows. The design of the crank window has come a long way, but you now seldom see a car that still has this feature. Manual windows were the only way to open a window when cars were a novelty.
But as time went on, the advent of power windows created a much better experience. Most of us don’t even think about using a manual window anymore except in classic cars.
When cars first started getting more technologically advanced, GPS, or global positioning system, was one of the first additions. But the early adaptation of GPS was incredibly hard to use and navigate. As a result, most drivers opted for some type of external system, such as a TomTom or Garmin. The built-in GPS systems were also costly to update. Without updating, the directions didn’t include new locations.
Cars such as BMW would support built-in GPS for some time, but other brands such as Acura didn’t. Nowadays, there are a bunch of useless GPS systems in vehicles that drivers on the used market can’t use.
The audio system has come a long way in vehicles since the days of the eight-track player. But once streaming came along, the need for a CD player was over. While there’s an abundance of compact discs on the market, the odds of you owning one is slim. There are few cars that still feature a CD player. If you manage to find one, you’ll probably only use it a few times, which is why there are so few anymore.
The CD player was a great part of the evolution of media you could play anywhere. For in-car entertainment, the CD player was a welcome addition to the car radio. But as digital media and streaming have evolved, the number of people who still use the CD player is going away.
Most cars during the ’70s and ’80s had this unique feature. Wing windows are usually the third window on the front or rear of the car. This was a feature that was useless because the windows were hard to operate. You couldn’t get a lot of air through them, which was the point.
The most common wing windows were on the original Volkswagen Beetle. But this feature made its way on lots of other cars as well during this period.
Automakers eventually moved away from wing windows because they were not conducive to the design of the cars. Wing windows don’t do anything to benefit the driver or the vehicle. They were just another useless feature that automakers tried to incorporate over time.
Most drivers remember having a broken antenna on their first car. Chances are, you probably had a power antenna that would cause issues. The power antennas on most modern vehicles nowadays are part of the reason that carmakers stopped utilizing this feature. The first problem was that it could become costly to replace the antenna if it malfunctioned. In addition to that repair, an electric antenna was just as time-consuming as dealing with other aspects of the electric system. You’d need an audio specialist to fix power antennas, so most consumers didn’t want to deal with them.
Power antennas didn’t do anything to benefit the vehicle. Instead, they just became a cumbersome part of car ownership. The power antenna will go down as another one of those memorable car features that drivers never used.
No one is sure what the idea was behind pop-up headlights since they didn’t benefit cars in any way. They were expensive to replace and when they got stuck, you either had lights or you didn’t. Even so, there have been various renditions of pop-up headlights over the years. The last two modern cars that had pop-up headlights were the C5 Corvette and the Acura NSX. Most carmakers moved on from these after the ’80s.
However, there are still pop-up diehards who swear by these headlights. But for the most part, pop-up headlights are just another feature that people equate with bad ’80s engineering.
Although not a common feature nowadays, there was a time when smoking was acceptable. All the top-tier cars had an ashtray. This was in addition to the built-in cigarette lighters in cars as recently as the early 2000s. Smoking used to be the norm in most parts of the world, so you’d be hard-pressed to find a car without an ashtray. This was a semi-useless feature because most drivers and passengers would just flick their ashes out of the window.
This became such a fire hazard, that in many states it became illegal to just discard your ashes out a car window. But automakers still managed to incorporate this feature into their vehicles, which in the long run was something drivers didn’t need.
For a long time, if you had any type of sedan or coupe, there was probably a hand brake in-between the seats. What happened to this feature? Hand brakes were never anything most drivers would use. Unless you lived in an area with a large number of hills, the hand brake was just a useless feature. You just wouldn’t use them unless you were trying to do something stupid or reckless. During the next decade, teenagers would get a hold of their parent’s cars and yank on the hand brake like there was no tomorrow.
The hand brake was only useful in certain instances like with a manual transmission. Other than that, this was just a useless feature. In the long run, automakers ended up adapting different technologies, making the handbrake a useless feature.
At one point in time, all cars could seat six passengers. The sedan was known as the family sedan, long before the minivan or crossovers were even a thought. Because of this, most sedans had what’s called a bench seat, a feature that you just don’t see anymore. The last modern cars to have a bench seat was the Lincoln Towncar and the Chevrolet Impala. Otherwise, this feature is been all but gone. Consumers don’t want to pack the whole family into a sedan anymore so you don’t see the bench seat.
It’s a cool feature to have in a retro car, but you’ll never see a bench seat in a modern vehicle. It was just an outdated feature that people never tended to use.
Early in the evolution of the automobile, there were various aspects of the car that most people find familiar. Old-school rounded headlights were a feature most automobile owners would come across. This was because the headlights were easy to replace. But as time went on, most automakers wanted to find different ways to make the exterior look a lot smoother. Soon, sealed beam headlights were born, becoming a feature on most cars.
It’s not that sealed beam headlights were bad, but it was a useless feature that didn’t benefit the car. Automakers have since moved onto different ways of designing headlights. Today, early sealed beam headlights are a thing of the past.
During the ’80s and the early ’90s, most automakers were trying to make vehicles that were more advanced due to the rise in technology. However, digital gauges on vehicles like the Chevrolet Corvette and Chrysler Lebaron were far too complicated. There was a lot of information on the dashboard drivers just wouldn’t use.
Even though the automakers knew that they continued to use these dashboards. Eventually, the analog dashboard was the norm on most vehicles until the next generation of cars hit.
Nowadays, most of your vehicle’s information is digital, which is a far cry from the lackluster digital dashes of the past. This was just a feature that most drivers never ended up using that was expensive to repair.
Perhaps one of the most useless and sometimes dangerous features on automobiles was automatic lighting. This was something that you can find on cars toward the end of the ’90s and into the new millennium. The problem with automatic lighting was that most drivers would end up not paying attention to their cars.
Many drivers would assume that the headlights were on when they weren’t. This made it dangerous to drive at night and the visibility of the vehicles much lower.
Automated lighting has changed a lot in the past few decades, but it’s still a useless feature. The more that cars are automated, the less attention drivers pay to the road.
During the ’80s when the gas crisis was happening, many automakers including GM decided to start experimenting with cylinder deactivation. This was still a new technology, so most computers were not advanced enough, which caused a lot of frustration. The technology was especially bad for Cadillac because the Fleetwood in the repair shop more than it was on the road. The same thing happened during the 2000s when GM and Chrysler begin to experiment with the technology again. However, the fuel economy was not better. Cylinder cut-off caused was a lot of headaches for those mechanics who were unfamiliar with the technology.
The cylinder deactivation of the past couple of decades was a useless attempt to increase fuel economy. It’s just not something that works on a vehicle that weighs quite a few tons and has a powerful V8 motor.
These are 25 useless car features automakers got away with for decades. If you’ve ever had to deal with any of them, you’re probably glad they are long gone. Some were useful at the time, but became obsolete with emerging technologies, while others were just plain bad from the get-go.