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Technology is adding many features and benefits to our vehicles each and every year, but is anything disappearing?  The answer is "yes".  So we created our Top 10 list of things that have disappeared or will soon.

  1. Hub caps and steel wheels.  These are only found on the base economy cars today.  The hub cap and steel wheel combination is heavy and reduces fuel economy.
  2. Spare tire.  Rambler was the first car company to include a full-size spare tire in it's vehicles.  Once again, the steel wheel and tire assembly was heavy and took up valuable space, and so manufacturers substituted the space-saver emergency tire.  Now that is being replaced with a can of sealant and a air pump.
  3. Passenger door lock.  About 10 years ago, the car companies stopped installing a door lock on the passenger side door because of the popularity of the remote key fob.  And to add insult to injury, they made the lock on the driver's side poorer.  Because the key fob battery will last 4-5 years, reserved for driver's door lock has become the emergency access.  The rub is that with the quality of the lock and the lack of use, many won't work when needed.
  4. Window crank.  The electric window has been around since 1948. Only a few budget cars have window cranks.
  5. Cigarette lighter / ash tray.  The lighter appeared in cars around 1925.  The lighter element is no longer supplied, but the  power supply is still there and now used for electronic devices.
  6. Drum brakes.  Drum brakes were the staple for the rear brakes but have slowly been replaced with disc brakes.  I believe drum brakes will totally disappear when we convert to electronic brakes (because disc brakes will be easier to motorize).  Then the master cylinder and related hydraulics will disappear.
  7. Power antenna.  The power and whip antenna will be replaced by satellite radio.
  8. Serpentine drive belt.  The large single belt adds a great deal of friction.  Water pumps and air conditioner compressors have been electric for a while.  Power steering pumps and hydraulic hoses will be replaced by motorized steering racks or columns.  The alternator and starter can be combined with the flywheel.  Electric drives make sense because computers would have greater control.
  9. Manual transmissions.  Computerized automatic transmissions have won favor with consumer, and engineers.  Advanced electronics have improved performance and fuel economy.  And as a society that likes everything at its finger-tips, there is paddle shifting (the manual levers that allow the driver to shift the transmission at will).
  10. Incandescent light bulbs.  LEDs take far less energy and are brighter and faster (LED brake lights reach the eye faster then regular bulbs, giving the the trailing driver more response time).  With so many onboard computers (30 to 209), tLED technology saves them some valuable electrical power. 
  11. Shade-tree Mechanic.  Cars have become complicated.  Virtually every component and vehicle system is being monitored by a computer or sensor.  Gone are the days of bailing wire, hammers and tongs.  Today's technician needs a sound foundation in computers and electronics.  So, the next time you see your mechanic, ask him or herwhen was the last time he or she was in school.  If it wasn't within the last 90 days, you may want to reconsider.

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