When you think of cars, “fun” is probably not the closest word you will think of. But the way modern cars are designed these days, manufacturers want you to be entertained while keeping you safe.
The battle of cars these days has gone beyond functionality: speed, fuel efficiency, suspension, etc. They are also now being judged on the cool tech accessories, gadgets and features built in or you can use in them.
This list is exhaustive, but it gives you a better idea how far we have come as far as designing cars is concerned:
- Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
Any driver knows vehicles, including motorcycles, come with a braking system to prevent head-on collisions, injuries, and damage to property, among others. Despite its necessity, it can also suffer from a glitch so dangerous it can be a matter of life and death.
This emergency is called locking. Simply put, the brakes of the car stop working, which reduces your control over the speed and direction of your vehicle significantly. Most of all, it increases your risk of skidding, especially during wet days or winter.
The anti-lock braking system (ABS) is the solution. There are many types of ABS found in vehicles these days, but they work similarly. Sensors attached usually on each of the wheels will measure any changes in your traction, so they will know if your wheels are about to lock up. The valves and pump work together to make sure you can stop faster than the chance of skidding while giving you the chance to maneuver the vehicle. Cars with ABS can also tell you if this feature is activated.
- USB Chargers
If you are wondering why many are now adopting the nomadic lifestyle, then perhaps this feature will give you the answer. Cars usually do not come with USB chargers, but they provide you with the capability to use them.
What are these USB chargers? These are nifty gadgets that allow you to use your phone anytime and anywhere! If you are running out on battery for your mobile device, tether the phone to the USB charger and the charger to the car. This way, you are maximizing your car’s energy to power your device.
USB chargers are available in various designs. Some now allow you to charge more than one device while others are meant for specific device models (e.g., iOS or Android). To make them even more attractive, they are sold in cute packages. Think, for example, the Flux capacitor USB charger that transforms your car into a Delorean (minus time travel).
These devices are compact, so you can store them in your glove compartment if not in use. Of course, they make perfect travel buddies.
- Global Positioning System (GPS)
More drivers are becoming more confident to go to unfamiliar destinations, thanks to global positioning system (GPS). This is not exactly a device but a network of more than 20 satellites orbiting in space – yes, space!
GPS is meant for navigation and runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What you need is a device that can collect GPS information, and fortunately, most modern cars have one. In fact, it is a hot feature for vehicles.
GPS determines your location relative to your surroundings, and it does so even when you are on the move. Further, since the satellites are in space, they can also take other vital information like weather conditions.
What does GPS mean to you, though? For one, it tells you where to go, including where to turn and what highways to pass to reach your destination. Just input where you are going, and the GPS will do most of the work for you.
Some GPS networks these days can even collect data on traffic, so you know areas to avoid during rush hour. If you do not know where exactly to go but have an idea on what you want (e.g., you want to eat the best steak in Montana), just perform a broad search, and GPS can provide you with a list of restaurants near your location. GPS is the reason why you can use geolocation apps such as Google Maps.
Granted, GPS is not a perfect device. Go online and you will read a number of horror stories of people getting lost after following their car’s directions to a T. However, more often than not, it works.
- Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS)
This one has a lot of sub-features, but all together, they do one fantastic job: make driving easier, safer, and more comfortable for you. In fact, if it is your first time to drive, owning a vehicle with this feature can make you feel like a pro in hours.
Having advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is like having your own car secretary wherever you go. Take a look at these sub-features to understand why:
- Blind Spot Detection – Your car’s mirrors are handy and trustworthy, but they do not always capture everything you have to see. Objects, even people, that are not visible in the mirror or your periphery while you’re still in the car are considered to be in your blind spot. Blind spots are tough because if you don’t pay attention or become careless, you can damage a property and kill somebody. The purpose of the blind spot detection is to alert you if something is within, well, the blind spot. If your vehicle is equipped with cams, the system will feed a live image so you will know its location.
- Collision Avoidance – As its name suggests, it prevents you from hitting another object or person while you’re driving by sensing the proximity of such object from your vehicle. If the nearness hits a certain threshold, it will send you an alert.
- Speed Limit Detection – Speed limits can vary among states, which can be a problem for you since you have to always pay attention to these types of information. But if you have speed limit detection, the car takes one responsibility off your list. The system already includes an intelligent sensing capability that measures your speed then compares it with the speed limit of a particular location.
- Keyless Entry System
Can you imagine cars running without keys? Today you can because many of them already have a keyless entry system.
With a keyless entry system, you don’t need to have a mechanical key or even make contact with your vehicle to open it. Just press a button, like you do when you’re using a TV or garage remote, and the car door opens. It may also trigger the opening of the car door once you are already a few steps away.
This tech is helpful in a lot of ways. One, you can avoid fumbling your pockets looking for the right set of car keys. If you’re carrying heavy objects or groceries, press a button to open the car door or even the trunk.
One of the major concerns of using a keyless entry system is the possibility of having your vehicle stolen. It does happen, but normally, you have the full control as to the settings of the device. Moreover, keyless entry systems made from 2013 may be obtained from car dealers only and may be programmed with the help of a professional locksmith. In other words, it isn’t easy to use by a typical car thief.
Let’s pretend you are going to a club and have decided to leave your car because your friend offers to take you home. Sadly, hours after, while you’re so drunk and definitely cannot drive, your friend takes off, leaving you behind. You can hail a cab, but wouldn’t it be much safer if you have a car with you?
In cases like this, what you need is a self-driving vehicle, which has all the coolest tech features you can ever imagine.
How does it work? It is equipped with a variety of sensors to make it run as if there’s a driver behind the wheel. You can program its destination as well, so it can pick you up from work or the club. It can maneuver itself on highways and other high-traffic areas so you should not have to. This way, you’ll have time to do other things while in the car like checking your mail, calling your boss and family, or even sleeping.
To get more ideas on autonomous driving, look for Waymo, which is Google’s self-driving car project.
PS: Before you get excited with this one, please know this is still in the testing phase and is a subject of hotly contested debates pertaining to driving regulations. Nevertheless, there’s a huge chance this will be the future of car and driving.
What These Tech Features Mean for You as a Driver
Although these features are cool, they are not immediate reasons to buy vehicles with them. The first thing you have to answer is “What’s in it for me?”
It turns out these tech features can provide you with benefits more than making your car feel something McGyver will come up with:
- You can lower your insurance costs – Insurance companies love vehicles with a lot of safety features. First, it gives an idea you’re a cautious driver. Second, the chances of companies paying (a.k.a. getting your vehicle totaled due to a collision) decreases. In fact, auto insurers are open to giving you lower premiums if you upgrade your vehicle by adopting more safety features or buying cars with them.
- You are definitely safer – You can forget all the bells and whistles. When in the car, there’s nothing else that matters than your safety. These tech features don’t 100 percent guarantee that, and besides, you should still do the work. However, it markedly increases your chances of living by avoiding common causes of car-related injuries and deaths.
- You get a better market value – If you plan to sell your vehicle in the market, you can use these tech features as your leverage to ask for a higher resale price. This also makes your car a hot item.
I’m Sold! How Do I Get One?
Most auto manufacturers these days are upping their game by giving you cars equipped with as many cool tech features as possible. However, there’s a catch: if you want those with sophisticated options, including a GPS, you better be ready to spend a lot of money.
One of the cheapest you can get is the Ford Fiesta, which comes with a touch screen and an app support and costs around $21,000.
If you want to go cheap, there’s a way: join car auctions online and offline.
In car auctions, you have dozens or even hundreds of car selections, some of which are less than 5 years old. These vehicles, especially if they come from good brands, are more likely equipped with these tech features. The upside is in auctions, you have the opportunity to bid and pay as much as 30 percent to 50 percent of their book value. That’s huge savings for you.
Around the country are several auctions sometimes happening simultaneously, but you don’t usually hear them since the buzz is often limited within members of the auto industry. To get the details you need to participate, it’s best to subscribe to an auto auction listing such as Gov-auctions.org.
Although this website doesn’t run auto auctions, it collates all information you require about auctions in the country. You’ll know which ones are happening near your area, auctions scheduled in the next few days, and even types of cars sold. The database of auctions is updated almost every day, so don’t miss them out.
Buying a car with these tech features isn’t just for show. It’s also about convenience, comfort, and, most of all, safety – three things you should not compromise. In other words, it’s a wise investment for you and your loved ones.
And in case you want to get one but don’t have a huge budget, remember, auto auctions are aplenty. Join one and enjoy a bargain.