40+ Not-So-Hidden Car Features That Make Road Trips A Pleasure
By Peace L August 1, 2023
This article was originally published on morehackz
When you really think about it, people don’t know much about their vehicles other than the most basic features. As long as it can get them to their destination and the HVAC system works, they are good. Besides hardcore car enthusiasts, many won’t spare the time to read car manuals or do extensive research into what their automobiles can do. But those who don’t take the time to dig a bit deeper into their vehicle’s capabilities are missing out on a lot. Car manufacturers pack new features into each model to offer more convenience, efficiency, and performance on every new release. Many of these features are out in the open, yet car owners remain oblivious, while others are a bit more hidden and can’t be so easily discovered by accident. Whether you are aware of them or not, these features could make your trips very comfortable, easy, and enjoyable. Brace yourself because this article is about opening your eyes to some shocking features of a car.
#1 Color Codes
For those who aren’t familiar with the mechanics of cars, the engine is an overwhelming image of several moving parts and connecting wires flying around under the hood. That’s not particularly bad until the engine breaks down and needs your attention.
Car manufacturers, well aware of this problem, have color-coded all relevant parts of the engine to make things easy for the untrained eye. All the parts that require routine inspection have also been coded together. Users can refer to the car’s manual to understand the coding scheme.
#2 Space Improvement
Car producers always strive to improve efficiency on every new car model, and this includes space optimization. These spaces are often tucked underneath the car seats or other inconspicuous locations inside the car. They serve as secret storage for car owners.
These hidden compartments aren’t foolproof places to stash items away from thieves. And with them tucked away so well, it’s also likely that car owners themselves might forget where or what they put inside it. You can find these hiding spots in the car’s manufacturer’s manual or stumble upon them by thoroughly searching your vehicle.
#3 No more Unexpected Flat Tires
Cars have a system for detecting the pressure level of tires. A tire pressure monitor is installed in all vehicles. It alerts the driver whenever the pressure of at least one tire goes below a safe threshold and alerts the driver with a red LED on the dashboard.
This system was not always available on cars; older models have no way of indicating a flat tire. The car owner would have to detect a low-pressure tire by physical inspection. Better still, they can employ a mechanic to find the tires’ pressure using an appropriate pressure measurement device.
#4 Shop with Your Own Cart
The automaker, Citroen, built a car model called Picasso that was perfect for frequent shoppers. This vehicle had a foldable cart propped inside its trunk, stored towards one side. Unfortunately, the company stopped producing it due to a lack of commercial success.
It’s a shame that this was discontinued as it would have provided a lot of ease and comfort for grocery shopping. Owners of this car wouldn’t need to worry about finding a cart without a broken wheel or walking around the parking lot to find a cart return slot.
#5 Anti-locking Brake System
Anti-locking brake system, ABS, for short, prevents the breaks from jamming shut in certain situations where the driver will need room to steer the car. The sensor predicts lock-in break events and reduces the force of the breaks in reaction.
Wet roads make a car susceptible to break lock-ups. The system stays alert on such occasions, ready to limit breaking power during emergencies. Besides weather conditions, brake handling by the car operator can cause locks, such as if the driver pushes on the brakes too hard and quickly.
#6 Steering Wheels That Warm Up
You won’t know what you are missing till you feel the warmth of these special steering wheels, especially if you live in a cold climate. After having a taste of warm wheels, traditional steering wheels are something you will not ever want to go back to.
With the simple push of a button, your hands get cozy. This feature doesn’t warm only the steering wheel but other surrounding areas, too. The routine scrapping of your windshield to dislodge ice during winter becomes history. The control is usually positioned right on the steering wheel or around the seat controls.
#7 Self-Winding Window
While locking the car may seem like second nature, with some of us waiting to hear that lock click several times before walking away, we don’t always remember to close and lock the windows. Even a small gap in the windows could provide thieves an opportunity to steal valuables or even the car itself.
The key-controlled window technology provides a solution to this common mistake. This feature automatically winds up ajar windows after the car is locked. Check your user manual to see if your car has this feature and what button to push to activate it.
#8 Conversation Mirrors
Conversations between the driver and passenger can be tricky and dangerous. We’re used to looking at whoever we’re talking to, so drivers sometimes instinctively turn their heads away from the road to catch the occasional glimpse of their friend. Some cars now come with conversational mirrors to make communication between front and back seat passengers convenient.
Through a mirror, the driver and shotgun passenger can easily see people’s faces in the backseat, making the interaction smoother and safer. This feature is excellent for parents who may have the urge to turn around to look in the back seat. If your car has this feature, it can be located in the sunglasses holder.
#9 Warning Signals for Other Vehicles
Every car has this feature mounted inside it. Automatic hazard lights are warning signals that inform other road users that your car is compromised, such as a flare tire, knocked engine, etc. It is your duty to turn this light on so other passing drivers are properly diverted.
After unexpected events occur on the road, the ensuing stress and panic make it possible to forget to use your hazard lights. Car manufacturers know the danger this can cause and have used developing technology to include hazard lights that trigger automatically when damage is detected.
#10 Automatic Trunk Doors
Manually operated doors are fine until you find yourself with your hands full and unable open the car door. Normally, this means balancing and trying not to drop your groceries, getting flexible and opening the trunk with your foot, or putting them down on the ground. But all of these options are inconvenient.
The stress of using hands to open trucks is becoming history. Innovations in technology are phasing out manually operated trunk doors. With a simple wave of your foot beneath the trunk, it automatically opens. Some newer models can detect approaching users and open the door automatically.
#11 Does Finding Your Gas Tank Give You a Hard Time?
So you drive up to a gas station feeling fly in your brand new car and park beside a fuel pump, only for your coolness to turn into awkwardness when you can’t find the gas tank. If you’re unlucky, you may have pulled up on the wrong side and need to turn around before filling up.
Car manufacturers know this struggle, so they’ve included a feature to help you. Your car’s dashboard features an arrow in the fuel tank indicator section — the arrow points towards the side of your vehicle where the gas opening is.
#12 Inbuilt Fragrance Enhancers
Who doesn’t like their car having a sweet smell? Air freshening products for spicing up the scent in cars are well-loved by many car owners. However, these products don’t last that long. You have to keep replacing them regularly to keep your car smelling good all year round.
Additionally, finding a scent that you enjoy can take a lot of experimenting — and unpleasant smells in between. Guess what? Some new model cars come straight from the manufacturers with fragrance dispensers. On high-end cars, this feature is available with the simple push of a button.
#13 Car Floor Lights
Imagine dressing in a fancy outfit for an event. You drive towards the venue then pick a favorable parking spot, only to find out too late that it wasn’t a great choice after all. A muddy puddle outside the door is a sure way to ruin your outfit.
Floor lights can prevent this embarrassing and frustrating situation. They illuminate the ground around your car, making you more aware of your environment. They’re not available in every car yet, but it would be good to have more car manufacturers adopt this feature and provide better car lighting for customers.
#14 Car Equipped with a Vacuum Cleaner
Cleaning the inside of your car can get expensive. And although doing the chore yourself can save you a lot of money, it’s not always possible. You may not have access to facilities, space, or patience to set up a vacuum cleaner.
Some car manufacturers include an inbuilt vacuum cleaner in your vehicle. With the resources for cleaning your car right at your disposal, you don’t have any reason to spend extra money at the car wash anymore. Nor do you have an excuse not to clean your car.
#15 Customizable Indoor Car
There are cars with adjustable interior lighting, giving you the privilege of tweaking the ambiance of your vehicle. This feature allows you to style cars to match your current mood or personality. This makes time spent inside your car more enjoyable.
Everyone knows cars have interior lighting, but most are unaware that the color and intensity can change. Check your owner’s manual to see if your car features this inbuilt entertaining experience. It would be great if more car makers released vehicles with customizable lighting.
#16 Important Driving Info Display
No matter how much technologies change, the position of the dashboard has remained the same. Right at the driver’s eye-line, just behind the steering wheel, is all the information on your speed, tank fullness, etc. The time spent checking it can only take a fraction, but during that time your eyes leave the road.
Some newer cars have changed how you view this information. Stats and even driving directions appear to be projected onto the road. Now drivers can always keep their eyes on the road without needing to glance down for their speed, or to the side for GPS directions.
#17 Road Condition Alerts
Every driver knows that turbulent weather can make driving uncomfortable or downright dangerous. Elements like rain, snow, fog, and ice are risky conditions nobody should be driving in. Road condition indicators on cars are a life-saver. It uses a temperature gauge to determine the weather.
A red LED snowflake on your dashboard signifies that the roads may be too slippery to traverse. If you find this flashing in your car, take a while off the roads and wait till the ice melts down before hitting the road again.
#18 Self-Driving Cars
The most fascinating thing today in technology is self-driving cars. Tesla is the first and most well-known car to achieve this. While the technology isn’t perfect yet, it holds hope for reducing accidents. After all, auto-pilot cars can’t suddenly swerve into oncoming traffic.
Tesla isn’t the only brand out there working in this technology. Mercedes Drive Pilot is also working to install this feature in their cars. However, it is yet to accomplish a hundred percent auto-drive. Some of the journeys still have to be done manually.
#19 Blindspot Are No Longer a Problem
Blindspots are the primary cause of minor car crashes. While backing out of the parking lot, a signpost could hide right outside your field of vision, resulting in a collision. Considering the tricky nature of blindspots, automobile manufacturers have started developing technology to assist drivers.
The blindspot monitoring system alert drivers whenever they approach an object. The proximity of closeby objects is detected using a radar sensor. When the system predicts an imminent collision with another vehicle or thing, warn the driver with an LED light on the dashboard. Some even indicate the position of the object, relative to the car.
#20 Cleverly Sheathed Umbrellas
Getting stuck out in the rain is not a very pleasant experience; getting soaked before going into work or the store is not something anyone enjoys. Unfortunately, your umbrella may be stashed in the trunk or unreachable in the back seat.
Before making the trip out into the rain to get your umbrella, some car manufacturers have taken comfort to the next level by providing a space to sheath your umbrella inside the car door. On rainy days, you can easily slip out the umbrella to shield yourself without feeling a single drop of rain.
#21 Hook Attachments
Not that you might have noticed, but virtually all vehicles have hooks at their headrest. They provide an easy hanging spot for your handbag, umbrella, reusable shopping bag, etc. Owners sometimes buy separate attachments, not knowing that they could have saved money using the built-in one.
The amount of hooks depends on the car size, though it is always advised to avoid hanging stuff with too much weight. While it may be tempting, you shouldn’t use all the hooks all the time. At the very least, your car will feel messy and cluttered.
#22 The Fun Game Jeep Manufacturers Play
Asides from the impressive four-wheeled drive of jeeps, these automobiles have other interesting peculiar features. Jeep manufacturers usually play a little scavenger hunt game with their customers in the form of tiny drawings and figures are scattered around different spots in the vehicle.
Now you know that the little figure drawn in your car wasn’t done by one of your kids. If you’re a Jeep owner and you haven’t found it yet, go look now. It’s always fun to discover new things about your car, even if it’s already been with you for a few years.
#23 Flexible Seats
There are times when you have to load your car up with items and your trunk space just doesn’t cut it. When you run out of space, the back seat usually helps share the load. Some cars make this easier with folding seats that expand the trunk space.
This feature is usually available in SUVs, though smaller cars may have this option, too. Now, large objects like bicycles, home appliances, and luggage can easily fit into your car. Obviously, the driver’s seat can’t fold over to make room, but adjusting the passenger’s seat can help get a few extra inches.
#24 Stability Systems for Driving Assistance
You probably feel like a member of the Fast and Furious team when you turn a sharp corner; we don’t recommend doing this, even if you are the only car on the road. Your car can appear out of nowhere to pedestrians or motorists, and sharp turns can make your car topple over.
Electronic stability control, ESC, are systems integrated into cars to maintain their stability. In fact, they’ve been available in cars for more than a decade now. Sensors monitor your car’s motion and straighten the wheel when abnormal behavior is detected. It also assists sharp turns by engaging your brake system.
#25 Cars Have Headlight Glare Protection
The sun’s reflection bouncing off your rearview mirror during sunny days can be annoying. But did you know that you don’t need to put up with this anymore? Under the rearview mirror, there is a button for toggling either day or night mode.
Thanks to this feature, you can tone down the flashes of headlights from cars behind you. More advanced mirror dimmers exist, which automatically change between night and day modes. Though the feature is relatively new, we hope to see more iterations of it in the future.
#26 Self-Parking and What Not
The Computerized Driving Assistance feature isn’t that obscure among car owners. While the impact is mostly mild, there are some features that are hard to miss such as parking assistance. This feature makes parking a car so easy that one could never imagine driving without it.
If you think automatic-gear changing is impressive, wait till you see the amazing features of Computerized Driving Assistance such as automatic parallel parking. This feature allows your car to self-park. It also engages the car’s brake system to prevent the risky acceleration of the car in downward slopes.
#27 Goodbye to Distracted Driving
Receiving calls while driving is illegal, and for good reason. It puts the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and other vehicles in danger. Hands-free apps and devices have made it easier to communicate safely, navigation is trickier to get around without using Google Maps or Waze on your phone.
Smart cars bring all these features into cars by integrating Android Auto and Apple Car Play, giving you access to various functions while driving. With this feature, all the things you need your phone for can now be handled on your car’s dashboard, such as playing music, receiving phone calls, and using Google Maps.
#28 Backseat Reminder
Kids get left in the backseat quite often. It’s surprising that this happens as often as it does, and car manufacturers are trying to keep the numbers even lower. Therefore, they have added reminders into cars to prevent parents from absent-mindedly leaving their kids behind.
If the passenger’s door opens a few moments before or after a car starts, it signals the driver with a chime and displays a warning on the dashboard. Additionally, it detects the occupancy of the passenger’s seat using weight sensors.
#29 Trunk Release Lever
Many of us have a fear of being trapped in the car trunk. Do you remember the scene in Back to the Future where Marty gets stuck? Thanks to innovations in the last two decades, the likelihood of this happening is virtually impossible.
Cars produced after 2001 have levers for opening the trunk from the inside. Whoever ends up in a trunk can pop it open by pulling the release lever. Considering how dark it gets in there, sometimes cars have glow in the dark levers to help people locate and open the trunk.
#30 Features With Economic Benefits
A couple of these extra features extend beyond convenience and safety, they also offer economic benefits like saving money on fuel. One of the variables in fuel consumption is the vehicle’s weight. Therefore, automakers’ efforts to improve the efficiency of cars include building them using lighter materials.
As a result, car producers’ new favorite material for building cars is aluminum. It weighs much less than steel, which used to be the go-to metal for building cars. Additionally, this metal is quite delicate and flexible, so it is easily bent into different shapes for any part of the car.
#31 Traffic Monitoring System
Sometimes, traffic lights really exercise the patience of drivers. Many can’t help but find little distractions to pass the time. They pull out their phones to check their email, pick up a magazine, or use the opportunity to have a quick snack.
But even small distractions are enough to cause accidents. If they’re not paying attention to their environment, drivers may not know when traffic begins again. Newer car models include a feature to notify the driver when the car ahead of them has moved, meaning they won’t get startled by a horn from behind.
#32 Soundproofing in Cars
Cars are loud, but they could be even louder. To dampen the revving sounds made by a car, the engine and suspension mounts are padded with stacks of insulating material. In addition, auto-engineers apply noise cancellation technology and design most car interiors to be soundproof.
Soundproofing the suspension dampens the noise caused by the tires rolling against the road. For the engines, the extra layers of insulators reduce the roaring sound. This gives users a more enjoyable ride. The quality of this feature depends on the cost of a car. More expensive cars will have better soundproofing.
#33 Electronically Adjustable Sunroof
People often mistake sunroofs and moonroofs. They use the two interchangeably as if they mean the same thing. Sunroofs are glass windows on a car’s ceiling. The difference is that moon roofs can slide the glass-covering into the car’s roof, leaving an open window.
With smart sunroofs, the view can be changed at will. Tesla cars feature smart sunroofs. They help control a vehicle’s temperature, thereby reducing the pressure on the air conditioner. In addition, electronically adjustable sunroofs protect your eyes from the sun’s harsh rays by diverting the refracted angle.
#34 Lane Centering Sensors
This progressive piece of tech promotes safety on highways. The system consists of a sensor that tracks the relative position of a car to the center of a lane. If there are any deviations, it transmits the difference to the car’s auto-control system, and the car adjusts itself to a centered position whenever it gets askew.
The sensor measures the car’s position to the lane’s center using cameras. It tracks the white markings on the tarmac, keeping the car in a parallel position to it. The sensor automatically alerts the driver with a sound or vibration before correcting the car’s orientation.
#35 The Champagne Cooler
Cars like the Rolls Royce are synonymous with class. As expected, the Rolls Royce Phantom (one of the renowned automakers’ car models) is fitted with a champagne cooler. Like it should, the cooler is situated at the passenger section since drivers shouldn’t be drinking.
The pleasure of having cold champagne while riding in a Rolls Royce is one to experience. Luxury cannot be described any better than this. However, don’t get too swept off your feet. It’s important to remember not to spill drinks on this highly-priced vehicle’s interior.
#36 Electronically Adjustable Rear View Mirrors
Electronically adjustable side mirrors are quite common in vehicles produced after 2006. They protect you from the bright lights of vehicles behind you and allow you to make adjustments without getting out of your car. What’s new, though, is the adjustable rearview mirror.
An electronically adjustable rearview mirror allows you to make minor adjustments to the angle without completely turning it off-center. Not only does it make driving safer by helping to reduce glare from other cars, but drivers spend less time with their eyes off the road while adjusting the rearview mirror.
#37 No More Misplaced Fuel Cap
If you pump your own gas, then you may be familiar with the frustration of losing your fuel tank cap. It is a common mistake to make, as the dirty cap is not something you want to hold onto for a long period of time.
If you put down the fuel tank cap on the ground or the roof of your car, you might forget to cover it once you’re done filling up. To solve this problem, some cars have a fuel cap holder, meaning one less problem for car owners.
#38 Some Cars Have Sensors for Detecting Sleepy Drivers
As we’ve seen, not every feature is for the driver’s (or passenger’s) pleasure; some are important safety features. Another safety precaution is a drowsiness detector. This savvy tech features sensors to detect facial patterns to see if the driver is sleepy.
The sensor is wired to the car’s automated driving system, but it doesn’t take over immediately. The system monitors the driver’s behavior to determine wakefulness, measuring parameters like lane deviation, steering wheel angle, and pothole evasion. If the algorithm detects a drowsy driver, it warns them to avoid the road and offers to drive to the closest stop.
#39 Breaking the Ice
If you live in a cold climate, then it’s worth looking into what features your car has to get you through the winter. Skoda is one brand prepared to help drivers, which packs their cars full of functional tools for surviving frosty weather conditions, such as an ice scraper safely lodged in the fuel door.
Some of these features automatically take care of the ice without you having to lift a muscle. For example, a heated windshield, removes the frost from your front view with the push of a button. Additionally, the car has windshield self-cleaning capabilities.
#40 Massage Treatment Inside a Car
Long trips are usually accompanied by sore bottoms and discomfort in the back and shoulders. These are expected sensations when you sit in one position for too long. The seat massage gives car passengers and drivers some relief during long road trips.
Without a doubt, this technology makes driving more enjoyable even in the most unbearable conditions, like standstill traffic. Message seats make the hours-long wait in traffic jams more than just endurable; you enjoy the soothing feeling of relaxed muscles under the effects of the massage chair.
#41 Trusty grab handles
A social media user came across a grab handle hack that blew our minds. Grab handles in cars are often used by passengers as something to hold onto when someone else is driving. Additionally, some people use them to hang clothes when they don’t want to crumple them.For those who have done this, you know that sometimes this plan backfires since the handle can’t stay put for long, which usually means the hanger gets dropped. However, you can prevent this by lowering the catch on the inside of the handle since it ensures the handle stays in place.