You probably spend a fair amount of time in your car, but how well do you really know it?
Whatever make or model it may be, you can actually be sure that your car has a function that you haven’t discovered yet. Sometimes that is because it’s literally hidden and finding it is hard, but in other cases it’s something that’s been right in front of your eyes this whole time. From safety to hygiene, these are 25 hidden features that deserve your attention.
1. Colors under the hood
You don’t really have to be a mechanic to be able to find your way under the hood. Modern cars are color-coded to identify different parts of the engine, so it’s super easy for you to see what to look out for between services.
Parts such as the oil dipstick and the caps for the coolant, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid all have their own color. So you can do the simple maintenance yourself and leave the really complicated stuff to the experts. Most cars use yellow and blue for the parts mentioned, but some brands make them green or red.
2. The Hidden Jeep
OK, this one isn’t really all that useful, but it’s still fun. Most major manufacturers put hidden messages, funny references or memories of the past into their cars. Opel, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Chrysler are a few of the brands that place these kinds of hidden messages.
The American brand Jeep is especially well-known for this. Car magazine Car and Driver found no fewer than 30 of these so-called “easter eggs”. In the Jeep Renegade. Most of these refer to its iconic World War II ancestor Willy’s Jeep. Do you happen to have a Jeep? Then take a good look. You can probably recognize the silhouette of the Willy’s somewhere.
3. The VW Beetle’s vase
From the 1950s, Volkswagen put a small vase on the dashboard of the original Beetle. In the hippie era of the 60s and 70s, this option became really popular. The vase was perfect for a beautiful flower but could also be used for a set of pens, toothpicks, or even lipstick.
When VW brought back the Beetle in 1998 as the New Beetle, they also re-introduced the vase. The vase disappeared again when the model was renewed in 2011. So if you happen to have a very old Beetle or a slightly newer Beetle, do not forget to brighten up your car with a beautiful flower!
4. Hidden cargo areas
City cars are small, but many models actually have hidden cargo areas. The Honda Jazz and Civic, for example, feature a ‘Magic Seat’ system. This system allows you to fold up the rear seats for more cargo space. This way you can take lengthy items that you might not be able to fit into the trunk. You can also fold down the backs of the front seats so that you have a lot of legroom in the backseat. Or you could use to take a nap, of course.
5. BMW’s Brake Dryer
Car designers are constantly working on new ways to make their cars safer. And nothing is safer than a set of good brakes. To counteract reduced braking power caused by wet weather, BMW came up with the ‘Brake Drying System’. The system is activated as soon as the windscreen wiper rain sensor is triggered. At this point, the brake pads are pushed a little closer to the discs in order for them to stay dry. This way, you always have enough braking power to stop in wet conditions. You probably don’t even notice your Beemer is doing this.
6. Neck warmers
Seat heating Is now a relatively well-known option for modern cars, but some brands go even further to keep the passengers comfortable. They offer neck warmers especially for those who wish to keep the roof of their convertible open in colder weather.
Mercedes-Benz first came up with this function in 2015 under the name ‘Airscarf’. Competitors Audi and BMW followed in their footsteps soon after. The systems work by blowing warm air out of the headrests. Of course, the temperature and the precise direction are completely adjustable. This keeps the passengers nice and warm even while driving.
7. Subaru’s ‘EyeSight’ Traffic Light Checker
Nothing is more annoying than waiting for a traffic light. Especially if it’s impossible to see when it turns green. Subaru has come up with a solution for this. The EyeSight system alerts you with soft beeps that the row in front of you is moving again.
Convenient if you weren’t paying attention or if the sun shines in your eyes. Simultaneously, EyeSight can maintain a predetermined distance from the vehicle in front and can warn you of things that could hit you. Other brands call this function adaptive cruise control.
8. Fatigue Detection
Even if you take regular breaks for a cup of coffee, there is still a chance that you will get tired from a long drive. That’s fine if you’re sitting comfortably in the backseat, but it quickly becomes dangerous when you’re the one behind the wheel. Car manufacturers are aware of this.
Independently of each other, several companies have developed systems to keep sleepy drivers awake. For example, the Mercedes Attention Assist system makes the steering wheel vibrate when it senses that the driver is starting to swerve. If the driver still does not intervene after that, the system gently pulls the steering wheel in the other direction to keep the car between the lines.
9. A hidden vacuum cleaner
Vacuuming your car is far from being a pleasant job. If it’s not the cable that is too short, it’s the struggle with the suction nozzle that does not want to follow the contours of your interior. That way, you will never get all that dirt out of the difficult corners. And don’t get us started on vacuuming between the seats.
At Honda, they were well aware of that. In the Odyssey model, they incorporated a built-in vacuum cleaner with a long hose. The so-called ‘HondaVac’ can go anywhere, does not require a socket and can be empties at the push of a button. Convenient for the kids!
10. Fuel Saving Frames
The material a car is made of makes a huge difference for its efficiency. One of the best ways to make a car more fuel efficient is to make it lighter. Because aluminum can be made to be as strong as steel, but much lighter, this material is often chosen by car manufacturers today.
Ford started this practice quite early on. In 2015, the brand made their pickup trucks about 300 kilograms lighter than their previous models. According to Ford, the weight reduction resulted in a reduction of fuel use of up to 29%, depending on the engine type.
11. Nissan’s ‘Easy Fill’
Putting air in tires is a simple, yet tedious job for many people. Just give it some air and you’re done, right? Not quite. The exact amount of air you put into your tires is quite important. It has an effect on the driving behavior and the economy of your car. That is why, in 2008, a system that monitors the tire pressure became mandatory in all cars.
Nissan’s Easy-Fill Tire Alert system not only monitors pressure, it even helps the driver inflate their tires. When you have reached the ideal pressure, the horn will sound. Did you over-inflate them? Then the hazard lights will flash three times to let you know to let some air out.
12. Driving assistants
Today’s cars are filled with computers. Manufacturers are trying to make driving easier and easier by means of these computers. Sometimes the car can almost fully drive by itself. It is therefore worth taking a look at the systems your car features. Some are activated automatically; others require driver action.
For example, there is the ‘downhill assist’ function that prevents a car from rolling down a steep slope too fast. Other sensors allow some cars to recognize hazards, see in the dark and assist with parking.