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Standards features for all new cars?

Our pals over at, recently posed us an interesting question: “What features would we like to see standard in all new cars, if we could have our druthers?”

After much hemming and hawing -- including discussions about the merits of possible in-dash cappuccino makers -- we came up with our list.

Here it is.

We're curious to know what you think. If you could pick any new feature that you'd really like to have standard in all new cars, what would it be?

Let us know by sharing your ideas right here -- and thanks.

Tom and Ray Magliozzi

Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers

All of those nifty safety features are the only reason why my cheap, used, Scion driving self secretly lusts for a high-end Mercedes. I know they have to cost a bazillion dollars because they’re so new but the trickle-down could be a lot faster.

But mostly I agree with the “Sorry” button. Or, really, anything that increases communication. Maybe something like a “it’s ok, go ahead” button too. Because flashing your headlights a la highway driving doesn’t always work in stop-and-go city driving. So you got into the wrong lane and need to cut me off? No problem, as long as you SOMEHOW let me know you’re about to cut me off. I don’t want you to waste gas; I’m just that big of a hippy. But dear god at least use the turn signal. Do you think a U-Turn signal would be possible too?

I think this is getting ridiculous. I think standard equipment should be a basic car. Crank windows, manual locks, non-ABS brakes, seat belts (not an airbag), mirrors to see back and sides. Get the ABS, stability control, air-bag, etc. if you want it. Let people take responsibility for themselves.

I don’t understand that request for “audible” warnings for oil pressure, tempurature, etc. What are we “blind” and driving cars? Why aren’t the old gages for such things adequate?

I do fully support the “Sorry” button, but it would have to be in coordination of the “what are you an idiot?” button too. Can’t have one without the other.

the only sure way to convince my wife that imminent, irrevocable damage is occurring, is to link up the sensors to the a/c system. if it goes off, so does the car. she can ignore the radio and obviously idiot lights and gauges.

I agree with FitJeep. I want a standard vehicle that doesn’t cost me more for not getting all the gizmo’s that create more reasons to go to the mechanic. Get rid of the computers and make a car that I can fix/perform the easy stuff myself.

I am seriously considering looking for a 1960’s ear vehicle for my next vehicle. I’ll give up a little gas mileage for something that is easier to repair.

i’d like to see a device that would keep tires filled to the correct pressure. this would save gas and improper tire wear.

A more certain solution would be to have the car immediately reduce the engine to idle only while warning that it will shutdown altogether in a few seconds.

Add to the Sorry button another item that would diplay on the back of the car: “Get off my $%^& bumper!”

Seriously - I saw a piece on TV the other day that technology exists that could warn drivers who just walked away from their cars while leaving a baby inside. Mostly it works from a weight sensor in the baby seat. I would like to see this expanded to a motion sensor that could detect any child OR ANIMAL left in the vehicle. PLEASE - many children and dogs die horrible deaths every summer because distracted drivers walked off and left them in the car. It has even happened to dedicated K-9 Police officers who came off shifts so exhausted they forgot to get the dog out of the back of the truck, and to a child welfare worker who simply forgot to drop her baby at daycare and because the baby seat faces backwards, did not realize the sleeping baby was still there. This is simple technology, and desperately needed. What I heard on the TV piece was that the manufacturers were not including it because of “liability issues”. How absurd! We have motion sensors on our home security systems; why can’t we have them on our car alarms?

Every car should have a provision to “accept” a trailer hitch, even if never installed. I would not need to own TWO cars if that were the case.

Wipers on = Headlights on
Rear defogger on = Headlights on
Heated mirrors
Ice on windows = car can not move (overide available)
key pad to start car

Keys that set the mirrors and seating position for the person owning that key… Fifteen years ago this was identified as safety improvement that was available then and it still isn’t generally offered. (Saab has a version of it.)

I would like to see that all automatic transmissions are over 95% efficient. Currently, they are roughly about 85% efficient. Only manual transmissions are over 95%, and do not require external cooling loops. Increasing automatic transmission efficiency from 85% to 95% will increase mpg over 10%.

I would suggest E-code lights. For some silly reason the US has the worse headlights around. Then to acknowledge the fact that they are poor, the put those expensive complex HID’s on them which are really no better than simple e-codes.

I like them all, but I doubt if the tail-gating one will help. Most people tend to tail-gate and they don’t want anyone, especially their car to tell them how to drive. You might as well put an alarm on for when you go over the speed limit.

All of my suggestions are for the instrument cluster:

  1. Oil pressure gauge. I need to know that my engine not only has the proper amount of oil, but that it is being circulated properly. Haven’t seen one of these on a car in years.

  2. Voltmeter gauge. One look at it when the car is running, and you know your alternator’s condition. One look at it with the key on “accessory”, and you know your battery’s condition. These gauges also seem to have gone the way of the dodo.

  3. A light to indicate if one (or more) radiator fans has failed. With old cars the fans made more noise and it was easy to know if they were on – open the window and listen. Today fans are much quieter, so it would be harder to tell if they had failed. Also, if the “Fan Failure” light comes on and your temperature gauge reads high, you know that the reason you’re overheating is because of the fans and not because of a coolant leak. This is important when you’re on the road and away from a shop.

  4. (Admit I’m picking nits here…) Numbers on the temperature gauge. Why do we only have C and H now? I want to know whether my system is running at 160?F or 220?F.

Older cars used to have these features. Newer cars don’t. What happened? :frowning:

  1. Stability Control
  2. ABS
  3. Traction Control

Your ideas are all good. But I am amazed that my 2004 Toyota Prius has no low gear! I guess that’s OK if you live in the flatlands, but I drive in areas with steep hills–sometimes long steep hills–and I need a low gear that will keep me from exceeding 30 mph. Riding the brakes seems like a really poor alternative, and sometimes it is downright scary.

The dumbing down of America. That’s what happened. So far, your suggestions are the only ones I like. I don’t need a car that does everything for me, including pay attention to how close I am to the next car. If I don’t want to be observant, I’ll take the bus. Or make sure it’s my day to be the passenger in the carpool. OK, so what I’d really like to see standard in all cars is a big sign that says use YOUR brain, not the cars!!!

NO ELECTRONICS with a retail price over $10-
I’m sick and tired of all the so called comforts that make a car more difficult to repair.I will fix up and drive a '50’s pickup rather than buy another new car

On your hybrid, you are not riding the mechanical brakes at those speeds. You are activating the regenerative electrical braking system under those conditions, which is exactly what a low gear setting on the transmission would do. (The transmission on your car doesn’t swap different gears in and out like on a non-hybrid car.)