• 2024-03-13 08:00:00
  • >13

    Mar

The Car Features That Are Worth It (And the Ones That Aren’t)

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It’s great that there are so many options for additional features on our cars nowadays, giving us the choice to create a bespoke system for our driving experience. However, with so much choice it can be tricky to sort the good from the bad and know which features are useful and which ones might just be gimmicks.

Below, we investigate some of the best car features and some of the worst.

The best car features

These are some of the car features that can enhance your driving experience.

Cameras

Cameras have proven to be a real asset for drivers. Many cars will have blind spots, so a reversing camera can help us safely get into or out of a tight spot. In fact, reverse cameras are now mandatory in the UK for all new cars manufactured from 2021 – in the US, it has been mandatory since 2018.

It’s not only reversing cameras that can be a benefit. Front-facing and side-facing cameras can also help with parking, getting us into spaces safely. Importantly, they also help to reduce the risk of accidents by extending the driver’s field of view.

Parking sensors

Where cameras aren’t available, parking sensors can be a great feature for your car. Many newer cars have parking sensors fitted as standard, but they can also be added as an extra feature or even retro-fitted to older models. Parking sensors can be installed on the ear and front of the car and will alert the driver when the car is near to an object by beeping.

Like cameras, parking sensors can help to guide drivers into spaces safely, by alerting them when they are getting too close to an obstacle. They can also help to avoid accidents, by letting the driver know if a person is nearby.

Android Auto / Apple CarPlay

It’s illegal to use your mobile phone while driving in the UK. Not only could you face a fine and points on your licence, but it’s also highly dangerous, as your focus will be on your phone rather than on the road. Smartphone integration with your car’s infotainment system gives a safer, alternative way of using your phone without having to take your eyes off the road.

Android Auto allows you to connect your Android phone and Apple CarPlay allows you to connect your iPhone to your car’s system. Through this you can often use voice activation to use maps, play music, and answer phone calls. You can also set it up so text messages are read out loud by the system, so you can always keep up with communications when you’re driving, all while keeping yourself and other road users safe.

Tyre pressure monitoring systems

Tyre pressure monitoring systems will continuously check your tyre pressure and alert you when it’s too low or too high. Some systems might simply let you know when your tyres are underinflated, but even this can be a huge benefit.

Driving with underinflated tyres can be dangerous, as it will affect your steering and make it slow and sluggish. Underinflated tyres will also increase your fuel consumption and can even affect the wear of your tyres, giving them a shorter lifespan. Getting immediate notice when your tyre is low pressure means you can rectify the issue quickly, avoiding the issues that come with underinflated tyres.

Heated windshield

It’s maybe not the flashiest feature, but it can be a real benefit for drivers. Heated windshields can cut the time it takes to defrost the glass right down, saving you a lot of hassle trying to scrape ice.

Heated windshields can also speed up defogging the inside of the glass in cold or rainy weather. This means you can get driving quicker, with full visibility. They can also help save fuel consumption, as you won’t have to rely on the blowers to clear condensation from your windshield. Overall, on cold wintery days, heated windshields might be a simple feature but they’re hugely convenient.

The worst car features

Below are some of the car features that we believe might not be worth it.

Lane assist

Lane assist is a safety feature that keeps your car in the centre of the lane. It uses a camera to monitor where the car is positioned and will either alert the driver if the car drifts, or in some instances may even automatically centre the car in the lane.

Whilst the intention might be good, in reality it doesn’t always work. Poor weather conditions can affect the system and hinder its ability to function properly. Often the system only works at high speeds, so they can be helpful on motorways but useless for urban driving. Lastly, the feature might give drivers peace of mind if they drive long periods and are worried about losing focus, but for the vast majority, staying in the lane won’t be an issue anyway, making the feature ultimately redundant.

Gesture controls

Gesture controls are a feature offered on some modern cars. Generally, they’re seen to be a bit of a gimmick. Whilst it might seem cool in theory to answer calls with a wave of the hand or adjust the volume by swiping the air, in practice it can be more of a hindrance. It can be tricky to get the gesture exactly right so it’s picked up by the sensors. In addition, all of the controls will also have a button, which is usually the easier way of getting the function you need.

Touchscreen only controls

Infotainment systems that utilise touchscreens can be helpful and intuitive. However, there seems to be a concerning trend amongst modern cars where all controls for the car are accessed via touchscreen instead of buttons. In some models, this even includes controls such as the air conditioning and climate controls.

Taking away real buttons in favour of using a touchscreen can be dangerous. Touchscreens will usually require the driver to look at them, so they know they’re touching the right part to get the functionality they need. This means their eyes are off the road. With buttons or hardware to control features like heating, the driver can intuitively adjust the settings without taking their focus from the road, making them a much safer option.

Social media integration

Infotainment systems in cars are massively helpful for keeping us connected safely while we drive, allowing us to answer calls, use sat nav and play music all through one system. However, one aspect of infotainment systems that we think is useless for driving is social media integration.

Social media will be a huge distraction when driving, and we can’t see a scenario where we would need to scroll our feeds while we’re driving. It would be dangerous to do so, and it’s not something that’s required. If drivers are stopped and want to access social media, they can do so just as well through their phones.

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