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A glove compartment or glove box is a compartment built into the dashboard of an automobile, located over the front-seat passenger's footwell, and often used for miscellaneous storage. The name derives from the original purpose of the compartment, to store driving gloves. They were sometimes in a box on the floorboard near the driver, hence the word "glove box". In most vehicles, the glove compartment closes with a latch, with the option of being locked with a key (often desirable when using valet service, when parking with the convertible top down, or when the compartment contains a mechanism to open the trunk).
Other local names
In Barbados, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, as well as parts of southern Minnesota and northwest Wyoming, the glove compartment is commonly referred to as a "cubby-hole" or "cubby".
Driving gloves were considered necessary equipment in early cars, many of which lacked a hard top, to prevent the cooling effect of fast-moving air from numbing drivers' hands. Gloves are still considered necessary equipment on motorcycles for the same reason, although, unlike cars, most motorcycles do not have glove boxes.
In some vehicles, the inside of the compartment's door may have an indented area for holding cups when open, and a section for holding a pen or pencil. In some newer cars, the glove compartment is temperature controlled, so that it can be used as a cooler. In others, such as the Toyota Yaris hatchback, multiple glove compartments are provided.
According to the BBC Four program Penelope Keith and the Fast Lady (Aaron Syer), Dorothy Levitt first coined the phrase glove compartment as she advised motorists to carry a number of pairs of gloves to deal with many eventualities.
In the past, glove compartments typically contained an internal light. This light automatically turned on when the box was opened, helping to search its contents. From the 2000s, many manufacturers have not provided this light, to cut costs, even in luxury vehicles. To date, aftermarket parts manufacturers have not provided solutions for this omission.
- Eschner, Kat. "Advice for Drivers From Dorothy Levitt, the Pre-War Racing Record Breaker You've Never Heard Of". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
- "Glove Box Light or Lack of One". GM Inside News. 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2012-09-25.