New Car Options That Aren’t – but Ought to Be!

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It’s a shame the government – rather than the market – is the driving force behind what’s standard in new cars. Imagine, given the technology available, what options might be on the table . . .

Rather than ASS – the universally despised “feature” that cuts off the engine every time the car stops moving and then re-starts it (after a noticeable pause) when you want to get going again – a built-in and state of the art radar/laser detector. They are legal in every state except Virginia – where it would for that reason not be offered as an option. But the rest of the country would probably be very interested in buying such an option – you know, freely, without it being “mandated” – which would give them some protection against predatory traffic law enforcement and eliminate having to rig up an aftermarket unit, with cords jangling from the ex-cigarette lighter (now “power point”) to the unit, suction-cupped to the windshield.

Instead of “driver assistance” electronica – which “assists” a competent driver the same way an able person needs  a walker to help him climb a flight of stairs  – how about an in-dash (or center console) coffee maker, on the Keurig cup model? All cars have multiple cup-holders and great effort is often put into their design. But it’s up to you to get something to put into them, which often means having to stop to get it. Imagine the convenience of being able to push a button and have a hot cup of Joe dispensed as you drive. Such a thing entails far less technology than “driver “assistance” and would almost certainly be something many buyers would eagerly opt for.

Because the government keeps pushing it, many new cars now come with some form of partially electric (i.e., hybrid) drivetrain. But there is – or could be – a much easier and far less expensive way to greatly increase the range of a car without the partial hybridization.

Optional accessory/secondary fuel tanks.

This actually is optionally available in a number of pick-up trucks. It endows them with the same or more range as that of a compact-sized hybrid car such as the Toyota Prius. Which hasn’t got much room for cargo – and less room for people – because so much space is eaten up by electric batteries and motors. An extra 15 gallons of gas takes up a lot less space – and takes you a lot farther. If the car averages 30 miles-per-gallon, an extra 15 gallons would take you another 450 miles – in addition to the miles the primary gas tank allows you to travel. Imagine being able to go 1,000 miles – or more – without having to stop, once.

Every new car comes standard with air conditioning. But one could do without air conditioning if new cars were available with vent systems such as they once came standard with.

There were once knobs you could pull to open vents that directed great gusts of free air into the cabin – and moveable wing vents in the door glass, that did the same. These cooled the car very effectively, provided it was moving. And it made the car’s engine much easier to get at – and to work on – because there wasn’t a fat AC compressor, brackets and hoses to get in the way of your hands. It also made the car cost less – and use less.

Gas, that is.

Air-conditioned air isn’t free – and more than just once. It adds at least a few hundred bucks to the purchase price of the vehicle and it costs at least a couple of miles-per-gallon to run it. It’d be nice if we could skip it. But we can’t – chiefly because of government regulations that encourage homogenized drivetrains, all of them fitted with air conditioning. It makes it easier for them to be “certified” as “compliant.” But it takes away our freedom to choose – for ourselves.

The ability to turn off our headlights. Wouldn’t that be nice?

There are times when one doesn’t want to be seen – ask any teenager out on a date, parked in a cul-de-sac. There are times when it is idiotic to drive around with the car’s headlights on – as when the sun is on.

There was a time when the only cars with their headlights on in broad daylight were those following a hearse. Nowadays, you can’t separate out the cars following the hearse from those just headed in the same general direction. Or easily see motorcycles, which were once the only other vehicles that routinely burned their headlights in broad daylight – for the entirely sensible reason that it is otherwise hard to see motorcycles and the headlights made them easier to see.

Now it is harder to see them because most cars have automatic/always-on headlights, formally known as Daytime Running Lights (DRLs). This being an early iteration of idiot-proofing, justified by reference to the handful of idiots who forgot to turn on their headlights when the sun went down.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we weren’t all presumed to be idiots? Then, only idiots would be seen with their headlights on in broad daylight.

. . .

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  1. Id like to see the 90s package available for suvs: manual transmission, transfer case, ground clearence, spare wheel on the back. A reliable L6 or v8 engine. I also liked the suspension button on my 93 pathfinder. It had a button where the shocks would soften up for rough roads, and tighten up for good handling on good roads. Honestly, nissan should just make the 93 pathfinder with a q45 engine, backup cam and better cupholders. Too bad the 90s suvs are mostly wrecked, broken down or not for sale

  2. My #1 favorite option would be hydraulic 5 mph bumpers with no damage like the ones of the 1970’s. I would be happy to pay an extra $100, or even $200 for this extra protection.

  3. I have a 14 VW Sportwagen, kinda the last of the dinosaurs. Naturally aspirated, 5 speed manual, 2.5L 5-cyl. Not too much electronic crap. However, the one thing that so most highly annoys me is this: They have some sort of daylight sensor, and when it activates, IT DIMS THE GAUGE LIGHTING!!! Well, if you go through that much trouble, just turn the fucking headlights on!!! Arghhh

  4. My last car had heated/cooled cup holders. I know it’s decadent but I loved them. A warm soda was cold a few miles down the road. My hot coffee stayed hot forever. I too miss the vent windows; they were way better than AC. Lastly, I always thought the built in mini fridge 2000’s Dodges offered was a cool idea.

    • Hi Anon,

      I like the heated/cooled cupholders as well. Also heated seats and steering wheels. It is so damned sad… cars could be so great, but they are just encrusted with aggravating, unwanted electronic crap, chiefly on account of government regs but also because so many pinheads actually seem to want to be parented by their cars.

  5. If the stupid system can register when there is an adult in the passenger seat to turn on the passenger side claymore, why can’t that same system realize that if there is a passenger the passenger can be free to fidle with the GPS and other tech that the car automatically shuts off as you hit 5mph? What is the point of the tech if it can’t be used by a passenger when they are with you? Although I would love to see a no tech option with just dials and buttons for the climate control & radio like the old days.

  6. “There are times when it is idiotic to drive around with the car’s headlights on – as when the sun is on.” EP

    Yeah, tell that to the dictators in the EU, Eric. Mandatory in all, if not most countries, in the EU. Have to drive around on a beautiful sunny day at high noon with your lights on. I was pulled over in Slovakia a few times when I lived over there. At least I did not get a fine.

    Come to think of it, I’m surprised our pig fornicators in our state houses have not mandated driving all the time with your lights on. It would be another revenue stream for them to plunder us with when we innocently forget to turn on our lights driving to the store.

  7. Love it Eric! You got me all excited to start my own car company and implement all this stuff…FreedomWheels™. Don’t worry, I’ll remember 10% for the big guy.

  8. The “fully galvanized sheetmetal package”
    The “galvanized truck frame package”
    The “stainless steel truck frame package”
    The “extended bar and chain underbody oiling service package”
    The “Courtesy Wipe full deletion package”
    The “Tech-free package”
    The “V10 twin turbo package”
    The “Holley Sniper V8 package”
    The “Naturally aspirated diesel manual transmission package”

    • Now we’re talking. Somebody get this man a beer!

      Though, we could save the trouble of all the extra galvanizing and exotic materials if these wankers would just stop salting the earth every winter. Cars aren’t made out of low grade soviet compressed rust anymore so water alone really doesn’t rot them. I’ve seen some old Florida cars with very little rust and that place is basically a hot shower half the year.
      Rock salt and brine is a godamn crime. They have to stop this madness. It’s awful. It’s expensive to purchase and apply. It ruins private property and expensive infrastructure like steel bridges. It’s downright dangerous. What about safety? What about the environment? They’re soulless bastards! STOP THE SALT!

    • LOL! That would be a great option. The emergency vehicles and school buses have ’em around here and I get jealous when I see them.

  9. High Flow Cats: I got a pair on my Ram the size of coke cans you get at a convince store and pass emissions with no issues.

    Stick with more trims: Just because dealers don’t order the Lux Trim with stick doesn’t mean some guy who wants X car doesn’t want top of the line with an auto, and he doesn’t wanna retrofit the best shit into his bare bones stripper either.

    Colored Gauges: Why is everything friggin’ white lit? I want Red or Orange in my speedo and tach; why can I choose the color of my paint and seats, but stuck with boring, generic white?

    Agree with the built in Radar detector

    Factory Catch Cans* Has to be special ordered to prevent Stacy’s mom and her daughters* from letting it overflow, but if you want it, why go aftermarket?

    Ala Carte Options: Because I only want X, not TUVWRXYZ. Why pay thousands when I just want one damn part and gonna find a way to remove or disable the rest anyway.

    Racier parts: Its available OEM+, why not cut out the middle man and order it straight from the factory (IE: Supercharger for a Mustang from the getgo rather than order it AM or Parts Department)

    Delete package: Anything not mandated can be removed, whether for free or have to pay for. I’d pay to remove ASS from my upcoming toy, I kinda did, though AM (At least I got stick)

    Just a few off the top of my head

  10. While in Alaska this summer I encountered that system that cuts off the engine whenever you stop. It was in the company car my son has and was annoying AF. I hope your playing us Eric about it being called ASS. Although it wouldn’t surprise me, as the PTB think of we mere mortals as such.

    I always bristled at the seatbelt thing, so all my vehicles have an optional dummy to insert and end that annoying beeping. You can find them at any junkyard for a few bucks cut them of the belt, and keep them in the vehicle giving you the choice.

    I have no doubt I would pay for a in dash espresso machine. I think the diaper devotes might like an in seat potty just like in the movie Idiocracy. Also a social distancing alarm letting them know when another vehicle is to close would be nice. Maybe preinstalled masks over the vents would be another useful option.

    The biggest and best option for me would a flying car. We Gen Xers were promised them as kids. That was a big reason I played along all these years, waiting for my chance to have a flying car, where we could all zip along in the rarefied air now only reserved for the elites.

    • Its called A.S.S as the former name before the acronym caught on was Auto Stop Start.

      Now they Call it Electronic Stop Start, but the Genies outta the bottle, its ASS

    • Ditto with the flying cars, Norman! I mean, WTF? We get to 2015, as in Back to the Future II, and there are no flying cars, no Mr. Fusion, and the “hoverboards” don’t hover at all, but are merely Segway’s with no handle.

      2019 (Blade Runner) also passed, and no flying cars. No replicants. Just some half-assed Chinese bioweapon near the end.

      I’ve oft thought, however, that there was no real reason that helicopters or gyroplanes should be immensely more expensive than cars, and they could allow take-off and landing from nearly anywhere. Personal flying should’ve been common long ago, but that would be FAR too much freedom for TPTB to allow.

  11. Here one I’d like – the “shut the fuck up package”…. one button – you press it and no beeping, nagging, warnings (unless the engines too hot or something important) or asking “can I help you” when the car thinks you’re talking to it…. id pay for that….

    Or a real “stealth package” which isn’t just an overpriced plastics and paint – but makes the car that can’t be picked up by laser radars…. again an option I’m sure will be popular !

    • ^^^this^^^

      Add to the STFU package quieting the nanny nagging about the effn seatbelt or illuminating the inactive passenger side warning airbag when there’s no one sitting there.

    • Also, a button that actually (instead of “mostly”) turns off traction control.

      Although, I have found that I can chirp the tires a little bit sometimes anyway when taking off uphill, probably because the front wheels are sufficiently un-weighted that it fools the traction control sensors…

  12. Unfortunately, the younger consumers, who are purchasing new and used vehicles are gadget happy. They want all this electronic crap. Also the law of use and disuse comes into play. If your car can parallel park itself, you will eventually lose the ability to park the car yourself and new drivers will never develops this skill. If you utilize lane assist technology to keep you in your lane, you will also lose the skills to control the vehicle. As Eric has pointed out on numerous occasions, the plan is to eventually take the control of the car out of your hands.

  13. After 26 years of mandatory OBDII on all cars and at least a decade of screens in all cars the manufacturers STILL haven’t baked a scan tool of any kind into ANY car. Old OBDI cars that could be coaxed into flashing trouble codes were more consumer friendly than their code reader required modern counterparts.
    Now imagine if that gaudy infotainment screen could actually inform. It could give realtime sensor and canbus data in text, charts or virtual gauges. It could display manufacturer troublecodes and freeze frame data for every system. With wifi or cell tethering it could display up to date TSBs and service literature directly from the corporate borg that created it. This would increase saaaaafety and protect the environment by letting the owner address or anticipate problems quickly without a several thousand dollar android tablet.

    Another simple CHEAP feature that all cars could benefit from is a built in solar trickle charger. The car companies have to know at this point that a lead acid battery thats always fully charged lasts far longer than one that may sit for days at a time being parasitized by a network of modules and doodads. What about gaia?

    I like your idea about the pork snout. An integrated radar detector would be a feature even I would buy. You’d likely get even better performance than aftermarket units with the ability to mount sensors in prime unobstructed locations. Link it to those damn screens to inform of direction, intensity etc. Perhaps even a user selectable feature to return the car to PSL upon the detection of certain bands in known speed camera and smokey hot zones.

    All in all it seems theres a disconnect between the people who plan and design cars and the actual owners of cars. Thats why we get annoying anti-features like seatbelt dingers, reverse radio mutes and a dumb check engine light on advanced automobiles.

    What happened to throw it in the woods?

    • ‘All in all it seems there’s a disconnect between the people who plan and design cars and the actual owners of cars.’ — Anti-Feature

      An oil industry engineer who had been posted to Libya (before Hillary Clinton broke it) described the difficulty of training local refinery employees.

      They could be taught to read gauges. But lacking any concept of the physical processes underlying pressure, temperature, flow rate, voltage and amperage, the gauge readings would only ever be meaningless numbers to them. They had no mental model.

      That’s the design-case auto driver: a bird-brained, innumerate idiot, who has to be told that ‘objects in mirror are closer than they appear.’

      It’s also the design-case voter, which explains a lot. 🙁

      • My favorite conversation with new technicians trying to get cable modems working usually goes something like this:

        Tech: I have good signal but the modem isn’t coming up. Is there anything going on in the headend?
        Me: Define good signal.
        Tech: -2 (dB)
        Me: On what channel?
        Tech: 2
        Me: That’s not even a channel the modems use. Try 88
        Tech (fumbles with meter, maybe has to rebuild the channel plan): -10
        Me: What did you have at the tap?
        Tech: I didn’t go to the tap.
        Me: Check signal at the tap and call me back.
        (later that day when tech is back at the shop)
        Me: What was the problem?
        Tech: Old splitter in the basement.
        Me: So signal at the tap was OK?
        Tech (sheepishly): yes…
        Me: OK. What did you learn today?

    • Yes, Anti-feature, I’ve been questioning this for years. Back when OBDII was made standard, or even OBDI, there was no reason not to integrate a LCD readout in the dash which would display the code in plain English.

      • It’s like a regular desktop computer that give you an error code that doesn’t tell a normal person what the problem is either. Its like the line from office space movie “PC load letter, what the f*** does that mean”.

        They can’t make it so easy that it puts techs out of jobs or something.

  14. If you weren’t forced to buy thousands of dollars worth of options and features you don’t want, you might afford to buy and install options you do want after market. I rarely turn on the RADIO in my car. Power brakes and steering, and AC, that’s all I want. They can keep the rest.

  15. If you don’t want the nav system but you do want a decent sounding stereo, that’s what you buy. These days if you want premium sound it has to come with everything (including an annual fee and charges for updates), and the device is completely integrated into the dash, so when technology marches on you’re stuck with whatever GM thought was the best in 2015 and a bunch of add-on devices that aren’t going to work with the steering wheel controls. How about going back to DIN and double-DIN stereos? Maybe even an option for a wiring harness and leave it up to the owner to install? Could even be an incremental revenue source for the dealers. And what about a communications standard for steering wheel controls? CANBUS is a standard, but the command for volume-up isn’t. Mice and keyboards are all universal and Dell still somehow makes money on peripherals even with Logitech selling similar products.

  16. An option I’d pay for: Cameras….that record 360 around the vehicle and with an option for the interior….both video and audio…especially for those encounters with AGWs.

    • New vehicles have plenty of surveillance cameras, interior and exterior … just not under your control.

      The big downside of those systems is when they get integrated into the windshield and eventually malfunction, making a new windshield a $3000 dealer visit.

      And I thought $600-700 on my wife’s 2016 Explorer was out there.

      The cameras driving the saaaaafety features in my 2018 Camry are not integrated into the windshield, but the component is a $1200 part from Toyota. Without the camera, the car lights up the dash like a Christmas tree with alerts, and the car would never pass inspection.

    • Mr. Hiss,

      Cameras cut both ways. I’m not convinced they are a good idea, especially because they can be used to uncover evidence of crimes you probably didn’t realize you even committed.

      Remember, anything you say can (and probably will) be used against you.

      • Right Answer.

        I made up my mind in 2006 to never purchase a newer vehicle. The gov and manufacturers can go suck a fat one. I don’t like their shit, I don’t want their new shit and I will not by their shit.


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