It’s almost impossible to find a new car that doesn’t come standard with amenities that used to be expensive options such as air conditioning (usually, automatic climate controlled air conditioning), power windows and locks, cruise and (usually) at least a four-speaker stereo system.
But there are also items that used to be givens in cars that are becoming harder to find and – within a few years – will probably be nearly impossible to find. For instance:
* CD slots –
Music is delivered over the ether nowadays, via Bluetooth and Pandora and SiriusXm. Compact discs are so 1990s. They are the tape decks of our era. Relics of another time. A few new cars still have a CD slot, but the CD changer (remember them?) is history. Who wants to deal with the hassle of a stack of CDs – each of which having maybe a dozen songs on it – when you can access thousands of songs on a iPod or iPhone the size of a pack of cigarettes?
Gas caps –
You may have had to deal with a “check engine” light coming on – and then having to get the “trouble code” cleared by a shop. Frequently, these codes are triggered by a fault with the car’s evaporative emissions control system. Perhaps you can see where this is headed. People not quite tightening the gas cap enough. So, gas vapors – very un-PC – escape and the car’s computer has a conniption fit. The car companies engineered capless fuel fillers to deal with this. Just stick the nozzle in, pump in your gas, pull out the nozzle – and the thing seals itself. You’ll also never have to worry about laving the cap at the gas station again, either.
* Analog gauges –
Old-timey speedometers and tachometers (and volt/temp/oil pressure gauges) with physical needles and fixed gauge facings are gradually fading away in favor of multi-configurable LCD flat screen displays. These have the advantage of allowing the driver to select from any of several displays. For example, you can toggle from oil pressure to volts to water temperature. Or change the look of the speedo. Or replace the speedo with GPS. The options are almost limitless. More stuff can be displayed in a given space (though perhaps not all at once). Flat screen displays first appeared in hybrid and high-end end cars but are becoming common in mid-priced cars and will likely be as common in all cars within five years as idiots lights and white-wall tires were back in the ’70s.
* Dipsticks –
Guess how you check the oil (and other fluid) levels in several new cars? It’s not by popping the hood and pulling out a dipstick. Several new cars don’t have them. Instead, fluid levels are checked from inside the car. Instead of popping the hood, you tap the app. Sensors tell you not only how much oil is in the engine but also its condition – and whether it’s getting close to change-it time. Some will lament the passing of the simpler – but dirtier – dipstick. But others will appreciate being able to check the level without getting their hands greasy. Or even getting out of the car. And also, getting the longest life out of each quart of oil. Many new cars come factory filled with (and require) expensive synthetic oil, which can cost $10 per quart or more. If the oil life sensors help you avoid changing the oil before it’s actually necessary to change the oil, it can save you a bunch of money over the life of the car.