The Age of the Disposable Car Is Here

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
edited March 2014 in BMW
I was reading the technical information on the new BMW 745i. It is a beautiful, awesome, expensive and really, really complex machine.

And I got to thinking........

Who the HELL is going to fix this car when something major happens to it out of warranty, and who is going to pay for it?

Here in California, shop rates are already at $90/hr and heading fast for $100. Can you imagine pulling the V12 engine out of an early 90s BMW 850 coupe and what that would cost? Or even the engine on a 560SL Mercedes, when the car is worth $22K and the engine rebuild alone will cost $15K?

Can you imagine even a electrical harness fire in a '97 Corvette that say wiped out just the wiring, the computers and melted a bit of fiberglass? Or a blown engine on a Chrysler Sebring 5-6 years from now? Worse yet, all these scenarios 10 years from now?

I really think manufacturers are aware of this, and this is why we are getting more and more toward a very precisely built, very low-maintenance "please don't touch it yourself" type of car with extended service intervals, 100K tune ups and 7,500 mile oil changes.

What the automakers are planning for, I think, is the eventuality of building a car designed to go about 150K trouble-free miles, that is then junked at the first major repair, regardless of condition.

Doing major repairs on just about any 2001 car will be prohibitively expensive in 5-6 years. The technology will be obsolete, the labor rates even higher, the complexity staggering, and the talent pool to fix them smaller than even today (how many bright young people you know declare at age 18 that they want to forego college and study to be automotive technicians?)

You are still skeptical? Well, think about how dealers are struggling to fix almost NEW cars? How will they deal with old ones? Who's going to remember all the specs and TBS bulletins and keep all the old scanners, once we've gone on to OBD-V, 48 volt electrics and component multiplexing?


  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    We're already there. Lincoln Town Cars have been multiplexing the processors for a while. Eliminates the cost and weight of 150' of wiring.
  • amoralesamorales Member Posts: 196
    Growing up in Southern Calironia i have seen it happening already. The affluent will continue to lease vehicles every 3-5 years no matter the cost. The do it yourselfers will continue to fix as best they can their used high end vehicles. Payng 8-15 grand for parts, engines etc. The un-mechanically inclined will be at the mercy of the repair shops, dealers and scam artists and get gouged in a big way. You pay $40,000 to $50,000 at the end of 5-6 years for your SUV, TRUCK, CAR and unless you perform or have someone perfom the highest maintenance possible, you will pay exorbitant prices for replacement of failed components be they simple parts or electronics. You may pay regardless of the extra maintenance.

    It happened to me already with a '91 S10 4X4 TAHOE 4-door 4.3L V6. In 1996 the Vehicle at 79,000 miles had the ABS system self destructed to the tune of $1700 big ones. Iam fairley mechanically inclined, however when i inquired about replacing the burned up ABS housing module, all the parts houses, stores said it was a dealer item. Go see the Dealer. The Dealer was very sympathetic. Of course Consumer's Union had already adivsed to avoid buying these vehicles...

    Regards to all vehicle loving people...
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Two points:

    "The un-mechanically inclined will be at the mercy of the repair shops, dealers and scam artists and get gouged in a big way."
    This will happen to some people. Others will have their vehicles serviced/repaired by qualified professional tech's at a price commensurate with the complexity of the repair. Please do not make derogatory blanket statements like that. They offend all honest, competent tech's.

    "In 1996 the Vehicle at 79,000 miles had the ABS system self destructed to the tune of $1700 big ones."
    How many times had the moisture contaminated brake fluid been flushed prior to the failure? My guess would be zero.
  • amoralesamorales Member Posts: 196
    AL, I did not mean to offend you or any other honest mechanic. Honest mechanics will not be offended because they will continue to get repeat customers. Do not make statements yourself of something you know nothing about. I have indeed flushed the brake system. However if you had researched the vehicle in question you would have found out the factory had a long run of defective components. I grew up repairing and tinkering with vehicles because i enjoyed it tremendously.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Which is why I'm a maintenance nut and encourage all owners of new-ish cars to spend a little more now or a lot more later.

    Another startling reading: A noted Ferrari expert is advising people that the ten-year old or so, mass-produced Ferraris, (Testarossas) once they hit about 60,000 miles and need a major service, are best thought of as "parts cars" worth maybe $35K for the pieces.

    Some 1994 & 95 cars are already worth less than their engines.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    it seems to me that if you can't keep the module prices down for replacement, you should expect to see your brand die. and rightly so. how in'ell do you get up in the $1700 range to rebuild a 91 tahoe's ABS, anyway? it couldn't have cost GM more than $200 to put on the car. show me one module in which there is any justification for more than $200 retail, just one. I am not talking about opaque epoxy potting to hide the parts, or connectors from Hell that are plated with mithril and delivered by unicorns. the parts list in the ford EEC-IV is about $45 max, and that ought to be buildable on whichever island is above water this month for five bucks more in ten-thousands quantity, which hits the dealer's parts counter at $200 if Ford Parts and the dealer both make 100 percent profit.
  • kinleykinley Member Posts: 854
    A $10,000 car needing a $1,000 repair is worth it because to replace the car, it will take a lot more than the $1,000 at the time. It gets worse than taking money out of savings or investments to replace when you have to also buy the money to purchase the car. Interest free loans are not available to everyone. Only those with exemplary credit history qualify for the interest free loan.
    When your ride needs a major repair, fix it as it can't be worth much needing the repair when trading it in. After it is repaired following your having traded it in, someone else is driving it so it might as well be you doing the driving.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I finally got pushed into buying my '00 explorer because at 130,000 I had developed a major oil leak on the rear main seal of my 4-banger '90 ranger. that's an engine that would have needed a rebuild in some finite few thousand miles more, and to pull the mill, swing it around, bang in a seal, and put it back you have spent half the labor and done none of the hard work, and still will be paying more than chump change for the fix.

    the shop can use it as training time for some newbies at wherever the auction house sells the truck to, or somebody could buy it as a mechanics' special and do it for two doctors' visits for stitches and shots and maybe $400 of parts and some machine time at a full-service machine shop, and have a good deal.

    for me, no shop and no second car to get to work in, it made no sense. for Bob Boltworth out there in shop at County Vo-Tech, it's a major find, and he's making out like a bandit on my trade-in. we both win, and I do like my exploder.

    to make the 2002 Belchfire unrepairable in practical terms is a crime that needs to be exposed.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think it's the labor costs that are driving this disturbing trend. The replacement ABS unit might be cheap enough, but tearing half the car apart to get it in there is the killer.

    Now I understand the California is not the United States, but someday the rest of the US will catch up to these labor rates (some places are equivalent).

    So do the math.....pulling an engine on a complex modern car, fixing it or getting a rebuilt short block ready for installation and then reinstallation is a LOT of hours, at $90-100 per parts + machine shop work. And remember, once the engine goes in, every little electrical part will work perfectly first time, right? HAH!
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    Remember, electronics has been there for years. It is usually not cost-effective to repair a vcr, microwave, (old)computer, etc.

    There may be some hope if we move to serial hybrid cars because it's possible to design those modularly.

    My last car i treated as a throwaway.. It got to almost 100,000 with no major repairs, but there were a bunch looming, and the car was no longer tight, burned a lot of oil, etc, so i dumped it and moved on.

    Really, if cars could generally reach 150,000 trouble-free and low-cost, i'd think it's fine to chuck it and get a new one.

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    the age of the disposable car arrived with the advent of the 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission in the early 80's. I've had two rebuilt 3-speed automatics in my time, and they were each around $650-700. That's not too hard to swallow, especially since a tranny replacement doesn't come up that often. At least it shouldn't! But suddenly they were up there around $1500, which is a bit tougher to swallow. I've heard that if the tranny on my Intrepid decides to bail, it's about $2500 for a new one! Worst repair bill I've ever heard was something like $3600, for a '97 or so Subaru Legacy Outback.

    The two cars I replaced trannies on were an $800.00 Cutlass Supreme and a $250 Newport. Throwing another $650-700 into them wasn't too big of a risk...if I got two months out of them, I figured I'd roughly break even compared to a typical car payment. But now once I get my Intrepid to the age and point where it's only worth a few hundred $, it's going to be really hard to justify dumping $2500 into it.

    It's not just transmissions that brought us into this age, but they were a big help!
  • rbruehlrbruehl Member Posts: 85
    I remember reading about the Yugo back in the 1985 before its introduction to the USA. The article termed it the "Disposable Car" because of its cheap price. What Yugo didn't tell you is their cars would wear out quicker than a Bic disposable lighter.

    Had a friend who bought one brand new. Had nothing but trouble with it since the day he drove it off the lot. Repairs he figured cost more than the car and that is when he had it towed away. He had to pay someone $50.00 to tow it away since no junk yard wanted it.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    couldn't you just set it out at the curb with the rest of the trash? That's sad though, when a junkyard won't even take a car off your hands! I had it happen to some friends of mine though, that wanted to dispose of a '76 Hornet wagon. No junkyard around here would even TAKE it! It still ran too, although it leaked oil like the Exxon Valdez. In fact, it made the 90 mile trip to Leon's junkyard down in Culpeper, VA, who has about 150 acres of old cars. They got a whopping $90.00 for it.
  • pjyoungpjyoung Member Posts: 885
    that the "disposable" car was around in the 70's, only it was called "planned obsolesence".
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    ...that cars like the early Ford Falcon and Chevy II/Nova were considered "disposable" cars. They were built cheap and simple, with a minimum of technology or innovation, designed to run their course and, in the end, junked. I think the Chevy II even had single leaf springs in the back for awhile. Very cheap to manufacture, but they'd also snap pretty easily.
  • crosley4crosley4 Member Posts: 295
    As the early disposable car. Crosley started in 1939.

    They left out front U-joints on the drive shafts to save a few pennies and the drive shaft would shake the engine mounts loose.

    But then it was an air cooled 2 cylinder motor.

    How about mechanical brkes with a "floating band" of friction material between the brake drum and apply shoes?
  • cyranno99cyranno99 Member Posts: 419
    Yeah, I thought the concept is very old.... carmakers back then restyle cars so often in order to tempt the public to buy newer models. Cars back then didn't make to last more than 100k miles so you didn't see odometers that can count pass 100,000 miles. I don't mind buying a new car every few years, but that is an expensive way to travel.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    Oh they could do it back then, given the right conditions. But remember back in the 50's and 60's, a 100,000 mile car probably represented one that was 8-10 years old or more. It was run on leaded gas, which was much rougher on fuel and exhaust systems than unleaded. Engine oil, antifreeze, and other fluids and lubricants weren't as good back then. Same with rubber parts, like hoses, belts, and tires.

    Even the roads these cars had to travel back then were rougher on cars than they are today. Dirt and gravel roads were much more plentiful, and those old hard concrete highways where you'd hear the thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump as you passed over all those expansion joints at high speed. Homes with garages were more of a luxury item back then too, so the typical car sat outside all year-round, exposed to the sun's rays, rain, dampness, leaves, etc.

    Also, back then, just because styles and stuff changed so much more quickly, a car that was 8-10 years old actually looked old and outdated. In the late 50's, nobody wanted a car with an inline engine and a split windshield, but then in the mid 60's, nobody wanted a car with tailfins. But today, cars don't change that much stylistically. While a lot of engineering improvements have gone on underneath, for the most part, cars don't look much different than they did 8-10 years ago.
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    That you COULD buy a car that was designed to self-destruct at 10 years 150K miles. At that point, the car is worth $0. It's useless.

    The upside would be that until then it would need very little investment and no repair. Maybe tires and 1 or 2 cheap brake jobs.

    Price is in line with normal modern cars.

    Would you get one?

    Seems like fron a pure financial experiment it makes sense, because many people buy new and sell for less then 1/2 of the new cost at under 75K miles.

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    but then where would I find these 250,000 mile Dart to wring another 80-90000 miles out of? ;-)

    From a financial standpoint, a self-destructing car at 10 years/150000 miles may make sense for a lot of people, but at the rate I drive, my Intrepid would blow up not too long after I make the last payment. I sometimes joke about it doing that, anyway though!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I suppose if these cars were highly recyclable, that might work. Of course, it would eliminate the idea of the "classic" or "collectible" car, or at least reduce them to the level of "collectible" TV sets and toasters. I suppose there are such things.
  • slemke7slemke7 Member Posts: 6
    It seems to me like it would make a lot more sense to replace a blown Mercedes engine with a decent used one. As for a Corvette with a burnt wiring harness, maybe it could donate some parts to another Corvette guy that gets rear ended or something.

    These newer cars can maybe be kept on the road after major failures at a reasonable cost, but I can't see people taking the time to restore one. Is anyone going to want to painstakingly restore the ABS system of a Mustang Cobra in 20 years even if parts are available? How long would it take to "restore" a car like that, and at what cost?

    As a side note, recently on ebay I saw a 96ish Jaguar with 150K miles on it listed as being "restored" completely. I am sure that they meant that it has new tires, a new alternator, and recovered seats, or something of that nature. It got me to thinking that it would be pretty hard and cost prohibitive to restore a modern car that had been thoroughly used and/or abused.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    To restore a totally, completely trashed modern car to factory-new specs would probably cost $50,000 on up, even if it didn't cost that in the first place. You can't build a car cheaper than a factory making thousands of them at once.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Today's cars will continue to need their electronic drivetrain management systems as long as they stay in service. However, in time, a costly and/or troublesome SRS Airbag or ABS braking system could junked with no greater safety risk than we faced with cars from the late '80's. Like most people, I dislike the idea of removing a safety system but, is it really so bad to regress to ~1987 safety technology? Many of us accumulated considerable mileage before the advent of seatbelts, collapsible steering columns, and dual-hydraulic brakes.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    We might then have to go back to 1980s death rates, however, which were higher than now, and with fewer miles driven per car. So if all 2001 cars went back to 1985 standards, we miht lose another 5,000-10,000 people a year...double the 9-11 disaster. As for ABS, I don't believe that saves any lives. This has yet to be proven as a safety item that has any great effect on acccidents or injury.
  • cyranno99cyranno99 Member Posts: 419
    just disposable powertrains and other components... as mentioned? Some people do love the way their car looks after a few years with it and they just want to keep it running without worrying about wear and tear.

    I'd love to have a car that you can easily swap out things..... not possible in this day and age though...
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    ...depending on the car. Let's suppose you had a 1996 Caprice, and it was getting on in years, giving you electrical fits and so forth, and the tranny was about to let go and the engine was close to throwing a rod.

    Well, you could rip all that stuff out and throw in just about any Chevy smallblock/automatic tranny combo. Heck, replace the tranny at the same time, and your choices are just about limitless. Just about any GM-made V-8 in the last 40 years or so will fit in the engine bay of a B-body. I know for a fact a 454 will, and so will a Cadillac 500.

    As for safety stuff like dual master cylinders and collapsible steering columns, that stuff has been around since 1967 or 1968. I'd guess that the advent of the shoulder belt, padded steering column, and collapsible steering wheel were probably some of the biggest advances in vehicle safety. I think two of the most common causes of death in the old days were being thrown from the vehicle (not wearing your seatbelt) or being impaled by the steering column.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    And being drunk I suspect!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    ...didn't alcohol used to account for something like 50% of all car accidents? On a somewhat related note, I heard on tv that about 70% of all documented rattlesnake bites involve alcohol! I wonder at what age the snakes start drinking? ;-)
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    On potential thing that could make cars more repairable is modularity. Many systems are going to be decoupled and separatelty powered. For example, in the new BMW's the water pump will be electrically powered and computer controlled. If the water pump fails, the computer should be able to tell you "water pump failed, knucklehead" and replacemengt should be a lot easier, even if the part is a lot more expensive ( it will be ).

    But some systems should be engineerable as commodities in the system. For example, the A/C. No reason a car A/C should cost any more than a home A/C if it's modular and you can make a lot of 'em. So maybe $200 for the whole A/C, and maybe $30 for a recharge.

  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    We could build a electrical car components like a PC. Digitize all analog signals at their source, D/A convert all digital signals at the destination where required, provide 48V power lines and a standard bus system to all components. At the same time, convert as many components to electrical power as possible. Also, seals all these components for life, no tampering allowed. All components register themselves after installation or at startup in a central 'topology landscape' module, which checks the consistent state of the vehicle and contains all the necessary (or vehicle specific) software drivers and deploys them to the components as necessary. What do you think ?


    But back to the original discussion, I don't think a disposable car would be realistic, mainly because of its quick depreciation. You couldn't provide reasonable long-term loans and the residuals for leases would be fairly low, leaving the car buyer with comparatively high payments.
    Or you'd have to be able to produce it cheaper without making it less reliable. But, haven't we been there before ?
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    I know part of the problem with the high-volatage systems is shortability. 12V doesnt' arc that easily, while 42V does. Nonetheless, cars are going to 42V in the near future.

    I think a big part of the problem with modularity would be convincing the manufacturers to open themselves up to competition for high-margin parts.

    Back to the original car mentioned, i had the 745i described to me at a BMW-CCA tech session last night. I'm amazed that the car is supposed to sell for only a few hundred more than the old 7-series. It's amazing technologically.

  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    As far as the high margin parts are concerned, it also has a flip side: You can have your tier-1 suppliers compete for contracts of standardized parts. As a manufacturer, you may be able to source them for less that way.

    I work for a company that specializes in marketplace and sourcing solutions for certain industry groups. Believe me, as a manufacturer, you should be able to save money.

    I would agree. The 745i is an amazing car, even though I still can't bring myself to look at it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I'm amazed more car parts aren't standardized. Do we really need 400 different types of muffler? Why can't more car parts be identical?

    Most electronics are in fact disposable items. Since cars are becoming more and more electronic, maybe they too will be treated like 6 year old TV sets that start to make funny noises...into the dumpster or to Good Will.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    Actually, it really depends on how you design electronics. You almost have a free range from disposable to indestructible.

    I have a friend who is developing automotive sensors for Bosch in Germany. And I can tell you that they those specs include an open-ended lifetime of the component. (At least for the Benz components that his team works on.)

    I've discarded TVs after about 15 years, but mostly because the technology itself advanced. I own 20-year-old pocket calculators, my dad's electric lawn mower has been in service for 35 years. (Okay, that thing is just plain electric.) My mother just junked her 30-year-old washing machine. It was still in perfect working condition, but my mother found an excuse, of course. All of those items were of good quality to begin with.

    All I'm trying to say: As far as the expected lifetime is concerned, electronics are no different than most mechanical components. You have different levels or quality with different expected lifetimes, and you get what you pay for.
  • cyranno99cyranno99 Member Posts: 419
    I suspect that some mergers would help to make more standardized in components, but not anytime soon. Do we really need that many different engines out there? I am sure that only die-hards will want lots of different engine choices and other parts to make their cars unique. Of course, that could be done in a similar way like PCs......
  • nematodenematode Member Posts: 448
    I have no desire to keep a car more than its trouble free life. I do 7.5k oil changes and push all other maintainance to the maximum that the manufacturer suggests. That will easily get most 7 years or 100k miles. Any car that cant reach that using the minimum service requirements probably would not have made it anyway. I guess I already (and have been) treat cars as disposable. I usually pay off cars well within 3 years so that means 4 years of no payments. It works great for car every 7 years (or 1 car generation).

    Cars that are used daily have a finite life and I dont EVER want to own then at the end of it. I did that when I was a kid and I dont do that any more.
  • cyranno99cyranno99 Member Posts: 419
    well... if we really do have disposable cars then it might be difficult for quite a few people to get a good used car... not impossible....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    That's why when people ask me the "market value" of a somewhat modern car with 200K on it, I usually say "it has no value" except the amount of money you are willing to gamble on a throw-away.
  • dhanleydhanley Member Posts: 1,531
    I don't think it would significantly affect short-term resale if repair. Resale at 3-4 years is around 50% on most cars, and there is probably an amount of expected maintenence and work that equals the projected resale at 120K, so if the car blew up at 120K but needed no work until then, you'd break even.

    I certianly don't expect to keep any of my cars past 200K-250K miles. Does that mean i think of them as disposable? :)

  • felixc1976felixc1976 Member Posts: 31
    I work for a major home appliance manufacturer. The management is very crazy about reliability. Each part is designed to last with 0.0004%
    defects, which overall is pretty good, but the design life is ....10 years!!! We don't care if the product breaks after 10 years. The hope is that customers will buy the same brand again, but the keyword is "BUY AGAIN". I don't know what kind of reliability assumptions are used in car industry, but modern products are not designed to last forever! Companies want you to stay in the market - buy, buy, buy!!!
    Muflers, common parts will never be standartized among different companies - they end up loosing money!
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    That really depends. I would agree that many appliacance manufacturers work with something of a 10-year design life. But I've also seen manufacturers who clearly build the products for longer use. (Ever tried a "Miele" washing machine ?)

    Are those appliances more costly ? Yes, they surely are. And they are clearly not for everybody. Most people like to change their appliances more often. But there is also a market for products with an extended lifetime.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    At my grandmother's house, out in the garage there's an old Avacodo green Norcold refrigerator that's about a year or two older than me. (I'm 31). The reason it got put out there was that she got new appliances. After all, avocado green was pretty passe' by 1994! That refrigerator replaced some old 50's era yellow sucker that was from the generation that kids could lock themselves in it. It still worked fine, but we just didn't need it anymore, so we got rid of it.

    Come to think of it, her furnace dates back to 1958, and still runs fine. She's getting it replaced next week though, for something more efficient. I guess this means that we won't be getting another 40 years out of the next one,though?
  • felixc1976felixc1976 Member Posts: 31
    Yes, some old appliances do last 30, 40 even 70 years. We still get letters from people who have our refrigerators since ....1937! But believe it or not, back then reliability was not a concern. Engineers used the BEST parts and designed things to last forever, because they designed to the worst conditions without much regard for the cost. Reliability as a science developed in the late 60s. Reliability design is - getting the most out of product with MINIMAL cost!!! That's the key. Market is very competitive - you need to drive the cost down, while keeping the quality. So, instead of using gold plated parts, tin plated are used; thickness of the material decreased to save money, metal is replaced by plastic and etc. The reliability tests are being run to design a product to last certain number of years, not forever. I can go on forever talking about it. So, what you get is a marginal product which is designed to last a certain number of years, then they don't care. Well, there is such thing as a Bell curve, so some products die at age 0 - called "infant failure" (left side of the curve), some die before the design age (area in the middle, up to 10yr - that's what you mostly care about) - called "active life failure".
    But others are on the other side of the spectrum -"post design life" - that's why you hear stories of some Geo Metro dying at 200K mi, while most of them get thrown out at 70K. I very much doubt you that you will find a 1990's refrigerator intact in somebody's house in 2050 (unless you keep fixing it, which can make anything last forever).
    I'd like to hear what other people in manufacturing industry have to say about it?
  • a_l_hubcapsa_l_hubcaps Member Posts: 518
    This is an interesting discussion about the old appliances and all. I am very much in favor of keeping them as long as they work. A few months ago my parents' 1970s washing machine started leaking water. My mom was ready to haul it out to the curb, but I took it apart, found the leaking fitting, brought it to a plumbing place and got a replacement for $7.00. Put it back together and it works fine.

    I think it's ridiculous how much stuff people throw away that really shouldn't be thrown away. The town next to the one I live in is extremely wealthy, and they have a twice-annual big trash day, where eveybody puts out their old appliances and electronics. So I drive over there on those days and creep down all the side streets at 5 mph, looking for good stuff :-) I got a near new working VCR once, as well as assorted computer parts and other stuff. Never buy what you can get for free out of somebody's trash :-)

    -Andrew L
  • dweezildweezil Member Posts: 271
    I think every generation believes that A:no one is going to want or covet artifacts of our modern era and that B: no one will be able to fix them or will lack the knowledge to repair or restore them.
    That is disproven by history. I remember reading the same thing in an old Ralph Stein Classic Cars column in Motor Trend in the 60s.His reply to the guy who wanted to moth ball a then brand new "Car of The Year" 67 Cougar for 25 years or so then bring it out of hiding as a valuable antique was predictable. The answer was as sneering and arrogant as you can imagine [as it was in columns I've read about cars from the 50s beoming special interest or collectible items]: "You COULD,but WHO WOULD WANT TO?" And "Modern cars are so poorly built with lots of pot metal etc etc etc,and their systems so complicated they'd be a nightmare to restore."And people do it all the time today on cars of the 50s and 60s and 70s.
    That cars will be junked because the computer systems are so complex or whatever system fails, dismisses the opportunity inherent in providing rebuilt or new repro that someone with a little ingenuity will parlay into a very profitable after market business. Witness the Layson's the company that offers NOS,Repro,out of production for decades parts for early Mopar A Bodies[60-66]. Their catalog has doubled in size in just one year.Or the nice little business turbo rebuilding became.What you WILL see I believe is more modular and more easily replaced subsystems that can be quickly upgraded if an older part is no longer available.
    I also believe that we asked for all this complexity. Beyond what is required by law for safety and emissions;who has fueled the demand for more bigger better best more complex sophisticated "refined", but the consumer.
    Unless there is a demand for more simple vehicles,or a boycott of kitchen sink school of options packaging, repair bills WILL continue to climb.
    People want to have bragging rights at the water cooler: heated mirrors, seats, navigation systems,power windows brakes locks 5 speed automatics electronic steering and suspensions, digital odometers [on a CAVALIER for J^&%(U~ sake!]traction control ABS DOHC MPFI.The list goes on.And yet when people try to buy the simplest vehicle they can find for ease of repair and to avoid all the problems inherent in all those sophisticated systems, the cars tehmselves are laughed at derided and put down for being "unrefined" and crude. What price have we all paid for incremental increases in "refinement" [which has become such a buzz word it has lost all it's meaning]. I think we may have reached the area of "diminishing returns".
    Once cars become so complex they're impossible to fix--what did we gain??? I'll bet the guy with the Tres Ultra V6 would be happy to have a Metro after 6 weeks of his dealer being unable to figure out why the electronic steering freezes in the middle of a turn.
  • a_l_hubcapsa_l_hubcaps Member Posts: 518

    Great post. I agree completely. We shouldn't discourage people from preserving old stuff if they want to, because we will always want to look at it in the future. People think I'm weird for meticulously maintaining my 1986 Pontiac, but it looks brand new compared to most other 1986 cars still in existence, and its uniqueness will only increase over the years.

    As for the extra electronic options, sometimes I don't get it either. My Pontiac has power locks, which are helpful, but not much else in that category. The only things I miss are air conditioning (I have it, but it blows warm air...that's the only problem with the car!) and a tape or CD player (I only have a radio). Other than those two things which are both standard in virtually every new car, I don't feel that I need any additional electronics.

    -Andrew L
  • dweezildweezil Member Posts: 271
    Sorry I was so long winded.Sort of sells people with skill and a head for business short.I'll tell you I AM grateful there are new parts being made for my 63 Valiant. I thought they'd always be around!! And I read that article years before I was old enough to drive. It bothered me THEN-[1967].
    It's funny; I get excited when I come across a new car with NO options.[a Malibu once...but it's fully equipped anyway, a Hyundai Accent, a Cavalier], but I am honest enough to admit that no one wants those cars unless they are a little bit off!!!
    Amenities are nice.I had no power steering, power brakes and a 3 speed manual trans[on the column!] as a daily driver for 10 years.But comes a time..... Auto. trans reduced my stress level by 1000% [L.A. Traffic!].I don't think I will EVER need [nor want] power windows, mirrors locks etc.
    The least complicated I could find [a 99 Cavalier...yeah I know the ULTIMATE THROW AWAY CAR!!!]came with 4 speed auto.ABS, traction control, power steering, power brakes,air, etc.[and that damned digital odometer!!!]. But I can still recognize whats under the hood, anyone can work on one and parts are cheap and plentiful should I need them [I haven't], which will keep it on the road for a LONG time.
    All theory at this point, we'll see what happens, but the oil gets changed every 3 months and other service is by the book...but there's still a part of me that wonders how a new Altima would feel, or Impala, or Saturn L Series or the new Camry..... Different strokes, eh????
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Member Posts: 5,760
    My family owned a 1969 VW bus for 15 years that went through three engines. It was a nasty air-cooled little underpowered thing, but every 70,000 we had a guy who specialized in VW's who would rebuilt it for $1000. I was on a trip in my 00 Ford Focus going up fairly steep interstate 70 mph, and it didn't even seem to be straining. I remember that a similar hill in the VW bus I'd be floring in in 3rd at 35. The Ford ZETEC engine would probably cost 3k to rebuild, but it will (I hope) last more than 100,000 miles.

    Re: power options, I think two cars right now with that can be had with the bare minimum of options is the Accord DX (manual windows and locks, 5 speed manual trans, etc.) and the Saturn SL. I've never had a manual window break on me, and I wonder what will happen with my Ford's power everything down the road.

    Very interesting about the design life of appliances. Cars are probably also designed with certain perameters. I've suddenly notices that Honda Accords of the 86-89 generation, which a few years ago were everywhere, are suddenly very rare. Did they all reach their design life and die on cue?
    2018 Acura TLX 2.4 Tech 4WS (mine), 2018 Honda CR-V EX AWD (wife's)
  • a_l_hubcapsa_l_hubcaps Member Posts: 518

    GM J-bodies are pretty solid cars. My friend's dad drives a 1986 Cavalier TYPE-10 that still runs even after having been sideswiped by a school bus! It now has the "yellow accent paint" accessory :-) The new Cavalier is pretty much unchanged from the 1980s versions except for the styling, so I would expect it to last a long time.


    Interesting observation about the Accords...I have to say you're right, I don't see too many of those. There is someone at my college who has an older generation Accord SE-i (I believe it's a 1989), but it's not exactly mint. They have a brick duct taped to the top of the trunk lid to keep it closed. I still see plenty of the 1990-1993 Accords on the road, though even some of those are starting to look a bit clapped out. The GM 1977-1990 B-body station wagons like my Pontiac are becoming quite rare, as most of them were high mileage vehicles that either fell apart after many hundreds of thousands of miles, or were bought cheap and entered in demo derbies. I'm starting to get a lot of compliments on my "mint" wagon :-)

    -Andrew L
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