The End of Buying Used?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Buying a used car has – up to now – usually been a good way to save money. You avoid the new car mark-up …  and you take advantage of new car depreciation – which can be as high as 30 percent off MSRP “sticker” after as little as two years. But, the balance might be shifting in favor of new over used for the simple – and depressing – reason that the stuff they are putting into new cars to make the government happy is not likely to live a long and largely trouble-free life. And when the new car warranty runs out, that could mean a lot of trouble for you.

For example, turbochargers – sometimes not just one but two of them, staged in sequence (as for example Ford’s new line of  “EcoBoost” engines)  are becoming a fairly common feature in run-of-the-mill cars. Family cars – even economy cars. Turbos used to be found almost exclusively in performance and luxury cars. Because turbos – which provide an on-demand increase in power – are expensive. So how come they’re being used more and more in  economy-minded and family cars? Because they also provide a fuel economy benefit – the flip-side of on-demand power. They permit the use of a smaller-in-size (and so, more economical) engine, which makes the government happy.  The on-demand power (as when you want to accelerate quickly to merge with traffic) makes consumers happy – and more, tolerate an engine that would otherwise be too small/weak.

That’s the upside.

The downside is the expense. The down-the-road (and out-of-warranty) expense. Replacing a crapped-out turbo can easily be a $2,000 job. And if the car has two turbos… .

Turbocharged engines are also hotter-running, higher-stressed engines.  This – historically – has also meant shorter-lived engines. Maintenance – such as oil  and filter changes – is also a much more critical factor with a turbo’d engine. Reportedly, the latest designs are much-improved in terms of long-haul durability. But the key word to draw a bead on is reportedly. The truth is we won’t really know how well these new-design turbo (and multi-turbo’d) engines hold up until a large enough number of them have been in circulation for a long enough period of time – at least five or six years. Long enough for them to be out of warranty.

Then, we’ll see.

Same goes for the new Auto Stop-Start feature several new cars now come with – again, to try to placate Uncle Sam and his ever-escalating demands for more fuel-efficient cars. Like hybrids, the engine automatically shuts down when the vehicle is stationary – as when it comes to a stop for a traffic light. When the light turns green and the driver presses down on the accelerator pedal, the system automatically restarts the engine. If you drive in a heavily congested area – and do a lot of just-sitting-there – the feature might save you a noticeable amount of gas. Upside.

The downside may come six or seven years from now – when the car is out of warranty – and you’re on your own. Starter motors – up to now – were designed to start the engine maybe four or six times or so in a given day. What happens to their long-term durability when the duty cycle is much more extreme (perhaps dozens of start-stop cycles every day)? How much will it cost to replace one of these starters?

Several automakers are putting “automated manual” transmissions in their cars (for example, the Direct Shift or DSG transmissions used in several new VW models)…  also for the fuel efficiency benefit. A computer operates the clutch – and the transmission functions as a conventional automatic, as far as the driving experience is concerned. Just put it in D and off you go. These transmissions are amazing from an engineering/technical point-of-view. But they are also very complex – and when they fail, very expensive things to repair/replace: about $2,500-$3,000 is the current going rate.

The government has also recently required that all new cars be equipped with tire pressure monitors – and soon, back-up cameras.

More such stuff is in the pipeline.

It’s all neat – but it isn’t free. And when the warranty runs out, it’ll be left to you to foot the bill for repairs. Since some of these things are mandated by law (such as the tire pressure monitors and back-up cameras) you will have to get them fixed, if they stop working. If you want to make it through state “safety” inspection, that is.

And while there’s no law (yet) requiring that a car’s turbocharger be fully functional, if it’s not fully functional, the car won’t function very well – if at all. Which means – again – you’ve pretty much got to get it fixed.

Or get a new car.

The bottom line could be that we are finally on the threshold of something many (me included) have feared would eventually come to pass: The era of the throw-away car. The complexity of new car design is reaching a kind of apotheosis – a point of no return as far as what you might call economic fixability is concerned. You buy it, it works great for a period of time. And when it stops working great, you throw it away. Because it’s just too damn expensive to repair it.

It’s entirely possible, I think, that warranty coverages will reflect this. The industry-best is now 10 years/100k. That will probably become the de facto standard.

And after that, it’ll be time to throw it in the woods.

Share Button


  1. Boothe, maybe you can tell me what the ’72 Kawasaki a friend had, a 3 cylinder, 2 cycle, really mean bike. I forget what it’s moniker was. I rode it and it was awesome back then. The thing would scream. I rode a ’68 Zuk 250 onroad-offroad bike in ’68 that was a champion bike in its class. I took off from the dealers and didn’t realize the RR tracks were there, way up a steep bank. I jumped the entire thing, landed out there like I was a motocross rider(not)and kept on going. Seems like somebody had a helmet back then but I forget who it was. I had forgotten the H2 was 2-stroke. I never rode one, was into big 4 cycles by that time.

    • Hi Eight,

      It was probably an H2 750 – the larger displacement version of the H1 500 that (IIRC) first appeared in 1969. These bikes were called “widowmakers” because of their vicious – and sudden – power spikes (unexpected throttle wheelies), atrocious brakes and flexible flyer frames.

      They were capable of mid-high 12 second quarters, which back then put them in a class all by themselves. Literally nothing could touch them, except maybe a few very high-strung bracket racers.

      When the Z1900 came out in ’73, it gave similar performance, but in a much more controlled and reliable way.

      Those old two strokes are animals!

      • I remember it was a 500, weighed nearly nothing, was awesome for skinny guys like us. He eventually ran into an S curve for a RR, lost it and went for a ride over a cotton field that luckily had been plowed. Friends saw him and rescued him in pitch black that night. He went to the horspital and the bike went to the scrap heap. It started squirreling out on him, per his story but I think he was just too high to be doing that….in the dark. They weren’t the best on high speed stability, the downfall of nearly every bike at high speed.

      • Yeah Eight, Eric’s right; if it was a triple 500 Kaw it was an H1. They definitely had a specific RPM range where they turned on and if you weren’t familiar with how to ride one of these bikes, heaven help you if you got happy with your right wrist. Sounds like that’s what happened to your compadre. My old buddy Bill could roll the throttle in 3rd gear on his H2, pull up on the bars (and not much at that) and up she came, pretty as you please.

        Although my RD350 was no where near the beast that the H1’s and H2’s were, it was still called the “giant killer.” In stock form it was a 13.5 quarter mile bike. I let couple of guys I knew ride it (both fairly experienced riders) and it scared them so bad, neither of them ever wanted to ride it again. After the second near death experience, I wouldn’t let anyone else ride it.

        Those 2-stroke engines were tuned to be very tractable, in fact almost anemic, in the low range. It was easy to stall one coming off the line in first if your were used to four strokes. But once the RPM’s came into the power band it is simply incredible, even on a stock bike.

        A funny aside is I don’t know how many times I heard guys say something like “Yeah man that bike will really run. It has a power-band in it”, like it had a turbo or nitrous set-up. I’ve tried to explain more than once, that no, the “power band” is the RPM range where the engine is tuned to put out maximum power based on porting and pipe or expansion chamber tuning. I’ve had guys argue with me, tell I was wrong and it was some kind of performance part. When I pinned them down, they never could tell me what it was, but by gawd it had one!

        Yeah Eight, Eric’s got me all fired up about 2-smokers again. I’m thinking I’ll have to get another one this coming year (maybe two). He’s such a bad influence on me. I bought a KLR-650 and a Z1000 this year and it’s all his fault. 😉 Now if I can just find a serviceable H2 engine and a late model Ninja rolling chassis with a blown engine…

        • Boothe, it was a bad boy, hit that 5 or 6,000 on the tach and off to the races. My buddy was at triple digits and was staying in that sweet area. I reckon he didn’t realize how fast he was going when he hit those curves. That bike got pretty squirrely at high speed. Sounds like you are really rolling bikewise. I’ll keep my ears open for a H2. Do you sleeve those worn out engines?

          • No Eric, but I remember when they came out and wanted one pretty bad. I even considered a pristine Kenny Roberts signature RZ I saw for sale last summer, but whew, mucho dinero! If I’d bought it those cats would have to go.

            Then a really nice RD500 (I presume bought down from Canada) showed up on Craig’s List near here for “only” eight grand (sigh). But I figured if I bought that bike, I’d have to turn right around and sell it again just to pay for the divorce. 😉

            • Ha!

              I’ve had the same conundrum, which is why I got the S1. Now, granted, I got a sweetheart deal – $50 for an intact – though really tired – bike. With a title and a not-locked engine. But still, the lesser-known S series bikes can be picked up for reasonable amounts of money.

              A “runner” shouldn’t set you back much more than $3k at the outside – and $1,500 or so can buy a decent/fixable one.

              The S3s are considered the best of the bunch – very street ridable, but still with the punch that makes a Kaw triple so much fun.

              I want an H2 badly. But finding one that’s not a complete basket case for much less than $10k is really, really hard.

          • You know Eric, I missed the reed valve part of your post. The 73 through 75 RD350 was a factory reed valve engine too. It’s predecessor, the R5 was the piston ported engine. In fact one of the popular mods for the RD (along with porting and chambers) was to install Boyesen dual stage reeds. I never saw the need since I thought the bike was fast enough. Of course that was before I experienced my Zed. I’m still hung up on putting an H2 engine in a modern Kawi chassis; that would give me three Kawasakis. Three in Biblical numerics means spiritual completeness…hmmm. I think that’s a sign I should build that bike. 😉

            • I didn’t know that about the RDs!

              On the H2: With a little work, you can get 120 hp out of one – right close to what your Z1000 makes, but in far less civilized manner!

          • Eric, motorcycles are just like life in general; sometimes civilized is the better choice and sometimes there’s no substitute for raw unbridled savagery…especially if you’re a freedom outlaw. Now a 750cc 2-stroke triple stripped down to about 350 lbs. dry weight with a modern frame and suspension tuned to 120 BHP would be approaching TZ750 performance if I’m not mistaken. Sure, it wouldn’t be a Hayabusa, but would be lot simpler and talk about a savage street-fighter; “Catch this Officer Doughnut!”

  2. An automatic manual transmission????
    Hey auto manufacturers, here’s an novel idea: JUST SELL ME THE DAMNED STICK!!!!

    I read your review on the Ford Transit recently, and the first thing I thought was, “Gee, that’s a shame – if it came in manual I’d probably be looking at one tonight, because I know for a fact that Ford auto transmission SUCKS.”

    Of course, I know why they don’t sell them: because nobody will buy them. But then I’ve been driving stick in Northern Virginia traffic for 22 years and still don’t understand what the big deal is… so I guess we can chalk this market up to simple unwillingness to learn.

    • C’mon Joe! You know we’re not competent enough to shift our own gears…or avoid collisions…or apply brakes without ABS…or back up without a camera. For that matter we shouldn’t even be driving; we might be tempted to drink coffee, talk on the phone or text. We really should either take the bus or walk or even better, just stay home. It’s for the environment Joe and for your safety. Plus it’s good for the children (somehow). Think of the children Joe. (gag)

      • Boothe,

        The Nanny-Statists prefer the strawman/ad absurdam technique too; so rephrasing your objection to Joe’s dangerous liberty-mindedness:

        “Joe! You must want people to have wrecks caused by gear-shifting distractions. And do you LIKE people dying because they don’t have ABS? Do you know how many thousands die for lack of ABS? And Joe–you must hate the environment because you insist on driving everywhere. Why do you hate the environment so much, Joe? And children! Why do you HATE CHILDREN, Joe??

      • Right – it’s a safety thing. Got it. So in the name of safety I’ll just go get rid of my little 35mpg 4-banger stick that does just fine in up to 4″ of snow and buy a 4×4 SUV just for the 2-3 days a year when I need to get to work in bad weather. 😉

        • Your post reminded me of a 1969 Fiat 850 Spyder I owned during the Carter malaise. Since the little 900cc engine was in the rear it handled the Western NC winters just fine. It had a 4-speed, could take off from a standing start in 2nd gear with judicious clutch work, and had a heater like a volcano.

          LOL..That engine was 75% of the displacement of the motorcycle I own now.

          • Great car!

            I’d have to look it up to be sure, but I would be willing to bet its curb weight was not more than 2,200 lbs. Which is why it could get away with such a small engine.

    • The political terrorists will allow you to have a stick if you promise to shift from 1st directly to 6th at all times…Like the way they program the automatic trannys these days. It is a joke how fast the autos shift to top gear…and a real joke when you need it to downshift and it refuses…joke??? dangerous more like it.

      The stick shift is being regulated out of existence using EPA MPG and emissions laws.

  3. Eric, you are so right about not having open borders while we have a welfare state. I like to use a rather crude, but one the mark explanation.

    Some things need to be done is a specific order, or it won’t work out well. For instance before you take a shit, you must pull your pants down. If you don’t, you have a steamy mess in your pants. It is the same with immigration. We must end the welfare state before we can even consider opening our borders, or we will have the sinking mess that we are currently suffering with.

    • Hi Cog,

      Exactly so!

      It’d be nice if the Great Libertarian God snapped his fingers – and just like that, no one could live off anyone else using the force of government. But what exists now is a sprawling welfare state prepared to “give” anything and everything to anyone from anywhere. Bad enough that the “givers” have to subsidize millions upon millions of native takers. It’s egregious beyond words to expect them to not object to something (or anything) that encourages more takers to get in line.

      • From my Meagvote email on the latest legislation passed in D.C. comes refreshing rhetoric from a rep in Tx, Louie Gohmert. He says in regards to legislation regarding the word “lunatic”:In its final action of the week, the House cleared a Senate bill that would remove the pejorative “lunatic” from the United States Code. The lone House dissenter was Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, who insisted that lunatic should be retained, pointing to his fellow Members of Congress as living, breathing examples of the term. The bill awaits the president’s signature.

  4. Hi Eric and friends:

    Curious: Were rotary engines any good? Never had one but the idea of less moving parts is intriguing. I think Mazda discontinued them.

    • Hi Bill,

      Yes – and no.

      Rotary engines have several advantages, including fewer moving parts and a very compact design and high power for the displacement.

      The main problems – historically – have been excessive oil consumption (and high emissions). Ceramic seals and other fixes have been tried, with some success. But as with two-stroke engines, getting a rotary to operate as cleanly as required by modern emissions standards (and durably, for 100k at least) while also being cost-competitive with conventional piston engines has proved to be a real challenge.

    • Rotary engines were a good idea that didn’t quite deliver what was promised, but which were sometimes worth while even so. Wankel’s idea was to have something perfectly balanced that could run at a high, even angular velocity without any unbalanced masses being thrown back and forth. Unfortunately, as an engine it hit two practical problems straight away:-

      – It had to be set up in an unbalanced way to allow for inlet and exhaust, and because of problems with cooling if everything was spinning rather than having a static housing. (Unlike reciprocating engines, certain portions of the housing ended up at a much higher temperature as they didn’t get cooled during expansion – and this affected the second problem area, too.)

      – Like all rotary designs, it had serious sealing problems because of the high pressures and the way thermal expansion opened up the seals at hot spots. With most engines, piston rings can cope, but the Japanese had to do a lot of R & D to come up with something that made enough of a dent in the problem, and even so it needed a lot of lubricating oil to do it. That made for poor oil consumption and a smoky exhaust.

      In my view, once certain advances in materials and technology arrive, it will be practical to make a rotary engine based on the Lysholm pump by suitably varying its screw pitch along its length, and right now it is probably practical to adapt Beauchamp Tower’s nineteenth century spherical rotary steam engine into a two stroke engine. Even the steam engine had sealing trouble, but it was manageable because it could use something close to proper piston rings as it had spherical surfaces – it didn’t fit into Wankel’s classification of possible rotary engines, as it moved in three dimensions. That engine was based on the principle of the Hooke or Cardan universal joint, so although it was balanced it didn’t have a completely even angular velocity. Still, even with its shortcomings it was worth it to get the high angular velocities needed to run dynamos during the brief period after they came along and before steam turbines became practical.

      However, as things stand, currently the best role for rotary devices is for pumps and compressors, not engines, since those have lower pressures and negligible thermal expansion. Even Wankel’s original design was first used, very effectively, as an improved scavenge pump/supercharger for a two stroke engine (I’m guessing the engine had a rotary valve in the exhaust to let the supercharging work).

        • eric, you can look for one on They’ll let you give your email and send one when one is found. Lots of bikes for sale posted there.

          • I have this thing for early-mid ’70s Japanese bikes… I can’t explain… it’s like some people are into S&M, which is more or less the same thing!

          • Yeah Eric, I know what you mean. You had me all fired up for another mid 70’s oil burner. But then I started cruising down memory lane. Like that time the diode bank on my TS-400 failed in the middle of an Air Force reservation and I had to push it 5 miles to pavement…through Florida’s finest sugar sand. Or the various times burnt points, timing or fouled plugs had me pushing my RD350 or (shudder) being towed home. Or all the times I towed my buddy Bill to the nearest gas station on his H2 because we dared take a road trip longer than about 35 miles, after a few wheelies the gas mileage was in the teens. And we both always carried tow straps, ’cause those 70’s bikes were soooo reliable. Yeah. Those were the days alright.

            Then I climbed on that 05 Zed and realized just how damned slow my RD, Bill’s H2 and even Paul’s old Z1 really were. Plus you just set the enrichment circuit, hit the button and she starts every time; same with the KLR. I still remember kicking, kicking and kicking MAO, just to get a 70’s bike to limp home. Then I’d get out my points file and the Micro-time and spend the afternoon adjusting everything…yeah…just so it could do it to me again in a few hundred miles. That being said, if I run up on a restorable H2 or even an RD350 for a decent price I probably won’t be able to help myself. It’s kind of like that moth heading for the beautiful light inside the bug zapper; you know you’re going to get burned but you just can’t turn away. I’m thinking it’s heavy on the M part of S&M. 😉

            • I think the way to go is to have both. Or – even better – several!

              I am in the middle of doing a front end job on my ’76 Kz900 – which by the way is actually a very reliable old beast. But it’s mostly a garage queen (it and the ’75 triple). I take them out for pleasure rides once every few weeks.

              For serious rides, I have the ’03 ZRX1200.

  5. Greetings, Eric.
    In reading the comments (always interesting), it seems that most people have no grasp of the overall subject of which they speak.

    Back in about 2007, ‘Car And Driver’ described the NEXT GENERATION OF On-Board Diagnostics that ‘certain groups’ were pushing to get past Congress. While it DOES include two-way GPS locators, and has the ‘added ability’ to collate information for a ‘per-mile tax’, it ALSO has the capability to allow a REMOTE HOST to SHUT DOWN the vehicle. This was advertised by the propaganda rag as being part of a ‘comprehensive EPA strategy to force compliance with ‘pollution control mandates’ (like, if your ‘check engine’ light comes on, and you fail to repair the issue, in the name of ‘clean air’).
    WOW, I read this article in the bathroom in about 2 minutes, while doing what most people do in there, before returning to work (repairing one of those plastic/microchipped ‘supercars’ that seem to be SO EXPENSIVE to fix, and break QUITE FREQUENTLY).

    AH, the ‘old days’ of Beetles, Corvairs, and small-block Chevies is LONG-GONE! A couple of months back, I did a turbo on a ‘New Jetta’. YUP, 3 grand or so. 130 K on the odometer, and book value was less than the repair (at wholesale). It’s FAST, but built CHEAP. All the little plastic gizmos are easy to break, and it leaks oil (like they all do). Waiting for the transmission to fail (inevitable, as it is high tech, but LOW QUALITY). I figure another 3K for a USED tranny in this AWD ‘poor-man’s supercar’.

    The ‘disposable car’ has been MANDATED, and has been produced globally for several years, SO THAT the NEW paradigm of ‘TOTAL TRACKING’ by the PTB can be initiated. I could go into great detail about the various aspects, as a professional mechanic working with 32 years under my belt (as well as sales, parts, manegerial, auto machine, etc. experience), but most on this comment board would try to berate me by telling me that I should buy a Beetle or an M.G.. OH, FOR GOD’S SAKE!
    ‘If man builds it, he can fix it’ DOESN’T WORK ANYMORE. FOR EXAMPLE, Hyundai uses .28-guage wiring. TRY to find the broken wire in an engine harness (without breaking the other fine and delicate hair-like copper strands that have been exposed to heat, water, vibration, cold, trans and engine oil, ETCETERA!). CHEAP, yes. ALL the manufacturers are doing it now.
    I am very good at what I do, however, and my services are in demand (I do not take payments from the ‘government’ ‘Military-Industrial Complex’ that forces the AVERAGE person to retreat when faced with REALITY like Eric’s fact-based article).

    I’ll be over at Zero Hedge, calling you the SUCKAHS that you are!

    • I rolled my ’93 Chevy ext. cab diesel pickup. It needs a complete new body, maybe not the bed but everything else. It still runs great, ac cold as hell, drives fine. I’m sick. What to do? Where do you find a body and front clip? No computer, completely mechanical, just right for me.

      • For something that extensive it’s likely best to look for a donor truck for sale on craigslist and various chevy truck forums.

        But if you can’t do the extensive work required to make one good truck from two I can’t think of way to accomplish it economically.

        • I can do the work. It’s finding a decent body that’s the trick. I’ve been lookig for months. Thanks for the suggestion. I hadn’t thought about craigslist. I have looked a lot locally, ear to ground thing, truck country here in west Tx.

          I had a reg cab given to me but my dog wants an ext. cab….really. He’s a pitbull and everybody wants to look at him. I’m afraid he’ll get stolen in a reg cab where he can’t hide.

          The back seat of Blackie was blacked out by windows and no one could see back there.

      • Hi Eight,

        In my area (rural SW Va.) you’d probably be able to find a compatible “donor truck” by driving around and looking… for one that has a dead engine or some other problem, whose owner can’t afford to fix it and so parked it in his field. Brent mentioned CraigsList – an excellent suggestion. Probably you can go as far back as the mid-late 1980s and as recent as the early 2000s (but look into this first to find out what fits what).

        Another option is to check salvage yards. In my area, there are many of these and I’ve seen bodies. front clips, rear clips and so on.

        • This is truck country. Everybody drives one but so many trucks like mine are heavily sought after. People tend to hang onto them and fix them when a major component goes bad. A new diesel is twice what my house cost new. I’ve spoken with several people recently who are considering not buying another diesel since gas engines(mainly GM) are so torquey and the hickey is $12-15,000 for a diesel above a gasoline engine truck, gas engines rival diesel for economy and diesel is $1 or more higher at the pump.

        • eric, I took your post to heart and found a very clean middle 90’s ext. cab body on a 1/2T frame for $1400. It’s been cold and I can’t get both trucks in my barn but when it warms up in a couple weeks I’ll see what can be done. I found it looking for an outside door handle for the wife’s car and just happened to ask. It was sitting out front, a vehicle I thought someone was driving, far out. I looked on the web and found a brand new door handle assembly for $33.18 from It fit nicely. I got the part in 3 days week of T-giving, couldn’t believe the speed, service and great quality part.

          • Hi Eight,


            I was hoping something might pop up… speaking of which (on my end) something caught my eye a few days ago: What appears to be a late ’60s or early ’70s high-pipe scrambler (bike), not sure of make/model… but just sitting toward the front part of someone’s front yard. No “for sale” sign, but I’m thinking it’s parked where it is because the owner isn’t very interested in it anymore. I plan to stop and take a look – hopefully this weekend (if it’s not snowing)….

            Glad to hear you found yours!

    • Mr. Scott!

      (Excellent handle… )

      You’re exactly correct. Thank you for bringing up such things as the wiring in new cars. Another, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, is the way they cut costs by using the absolute minimum length of wire between two points. Virtually no slack, so that repairing/replacing a component is much more difficult than it was in the past when there was usually slack to work with. Plastic intakes. Allows unusual shapes to be made cheaply. But long-term durability is inherently less. Cast iron and alloy manifolds can and routinely do last 40, 50 years and more.

      They have massively increased the initial lifespan of the average new car – which can be counted on (usually) to run reliably without requiring much more than routine maintenance for 10-12 years or so and 150k-plus miles.

      But after 15-20 years, at the outside, they’re throw-aways.Many become “not worth fixing” before they are tend years old. Who puts a $3,000 transmission in a car worth $6,000?


      • There isn’t as much wiring in a modern car as you would think.

        To solve the issue of too much wiring there is the in car network. Essentially all the gizmos are networked to prevent excessive amounts of wiring.

        Mazda has been using no-slack wiring since at least the 80s. This is nothing new. It’s one of the reasons that working on mazdas test my patience.

        Plastic intake manifolds not only give you the shapes but internal surface finishes castings cannot. To get an equal performing manifold out of metal you’d need to pay some guy hours and hours and hours to either polish the casting or carefully hand craft it out of tubing. The failures of plastic intake manifolds were that initially it was thought that coolant could be run through them long term successfully. Since that didn’t work out so well it is no longer done to my knowledge. The coolant is carried by aluminum, not the plastic. When carrying only air or fuel-air mixture the plastic manifolds should last decades.

  6. I personally love turbos (and superchargers). There is no cheaper way to get more performance out of a motor than simply cranking up the boost of a factory-installed turbo. I also love being able to tune my ignition and fuel system with a laptop. So much easier than dicking around with a mechanically overly-complex carburetor. Bring on the technology! 🙂

    • Hi Mashuri –

      Sure, it’s easy to dial up the boost (and increase the power) of a turbocharged car.

      The problem is the up-front (and down the road) costs. The typical turbo/supercharger costs around $2,000. That’s just the unit itself, not including the special exhaust plumbing and other modifications necessary.

      Historically, turbo and supercharged cars have not been as reliable (or long-lived) as engines not force-fed. Part of the reason is probably that they tend to be worked harder. But that’s also almost inevitable given the typical turbo/supercharged engine is smaller than it would otherwise be (to make the same power) so it’s got to work harder to make the same power.

      This is why – for the most part – such engines have been used in performance cars. For A to B, basic transpo kinds of cars, I don’t see that they make sense, except as a way to meet the upticking federal fuel economy mandates while still providing acceptable on-demand power/performance.

      Just my 50 –

      • Turbocharged engines require proper care to live long. They will last just as long but they are less tolerant of the lack of care that is all too typical.

        The only turbo charged car I have long term experience with an ’89 mazda. It lasted well over 190K miles and was done in by malfunctioning TPS that resulted in a clogged catalyst that led to severe over heating. (no, I wasn’t driving it, just fixing it) The end result was that after replacing the fried turbo, the TPS, and the cat was that the piston rings wore away causing oil burning. Compression test before touching the turbo was good, but I learned overheating can result in annealing the rings resulting in rapid wear so the compression is good and it shows up after the repair.

  7. Cars that turn off in traffic don’t use the starter motor to do. The restart is accomplished through the use of the eletric drive motor that is part of the hybrid system or in some cases an alternator/starter (GM Mild Hybrid).

    It would be cool if somebody took a ubitquitous car today such as an Accord, Camry or Focus and did a paper showing us how much the car would cost if there were no government regulations controlling the list of standard options.

    I would caution however that it’s the insurance industry that tends to drive the safety equipment list and not the government, not to mention the market definitely comes into play. Remember, Ford put laminated safety glass in cars long before government regs or insurance company pressures existed.

    • Your comment is true in the case of hybrids. But that’s not what was referenced here. They are talking about stop/start of “standard” vehicles.

      • I work in the Auto Industry and I know of no automobiles currently on the market or ready to come to market that use a standard flywheel engagement starter to restart the vehicle from an auto-top (fuel saving) shut off.

        Forgive me if I am mistaken.

        What models are equipped with such systems?

        • Don’t ask me – Eric is the one that mentioned them in his article. Or did I “misinfer” something from his statement “most of them, LIKE hybrids”?


            I don’t know how accurate this is but it raises some interesting questions about the value of the auto-stop systems.

            From the link;
            “Gen1 AGM and enhanced flood batteries perform poorly, leaving future market share in doubt. The start-stop battery cranks the engine 10x more than a traditional battery, and the lead-acid chemistry is simply unsuited for this workload. Current AGM and EFBs degrade rapidly, with AGM batteries losing half of the charge acceptance within two weeks after first use (i.e., it loses half of its fuel-efficiency gains). They are not good at holding steady voltage during a stopping event (e.g., car stereos/windshield wipers may not work when the car engine turns off).”

  8. This is a country of thieves. The governments of Europe deported all their thieves and murderers here(1700s). They had children. Their children had children.
    Thus you have two sets of laws. The one set is for decent, fairly duty bound assembly line workers and factory workers. In other words, most of the middle class of this country. The other is for the wilder element in our society.
    Which class of laws do you belong to? Do you have illegal copies of a movie? Do you break the speed limit? Do you occasionally end up running a red light because the yellow is set to flash by at 3 seconds or less? Do you fudge on your taxes? Then you too are members of the illegal class.
    The reason Pedro is here is illegal immigrants work for less money than you or I would work for.
    There are millions of Pedros. None of which are paying their fair share of taxes or anything else. Again we have a dual standard of conduct. You and I are much easier to keep track of by members of the Income Tax bureau.
    It costs approximately 40,000 dollars a year to arrest and keep someone in a public jail. Maybe that is a reason not to arrest them for Income Tax evasion. Last I heard any law on the books that discriminates between one set of people and another is unconstitutional! That of course is unrealistic and our courts show their bloomers every time it is suggested. So the IRS rules stay on the books.
    How can they service agricultural jobs in the deep south if they are in jail? Of course, just because we have laws against slavery doesn’t mean they are really enforced. We just changed from one set of slaves to a more efficient group of slaves of willing workers. Go Pedro! This group is protected from prosecution because it is economically unfeasible.
    The reason Detroit is a disaster area is the Detroit engineers designed cars to fail. The Japanese, Korean, and multiple other engineering staffs designed cars to last a little bit longer. So economic factors bankrupted all our usual car manufacturers. No one wants a product that fails before the payment schedule runs out.
    The forty thieves strike again!
    So now they design cars that no one can fix. I feel someone stealing my wallet all ready. They are collaborating with the US government to do so! The EPA has rules. To read all the rules you would need close to three semitrucks delivering regulations to your doorstep. I suspect there are rules for everything. And each of them conflict with some other rule. So how is this constitutional? Pick which rules at random that you wish to enforce?
    Again, the forty thieves strike again! Ali Baba and his forty thieves are alive and well and practicing law in this country.
    I suggest that law has to be simple enough for everyone to understand. That excludes most of the IRS laws and the EPA laws on the books.
    The forty thieves now want to make sure that none of your household appliances last more than 2 years. I have had a Kenmore Washer and Dryer that I bought in 1970 last 24 years with repairs. That will never happen again. The forty thieves strike again!
    The reason government does things is to insure that new cars are the only real choice. Too many of us have old cars that we find cheaper to repair ourselves than go for the newer more complicated EPA compliant cars. The forty thieves strike again!
    Maybe it is time to look at the entire system and come up with ways to fire the forty thieves. Lots of luck with that endeavor. I think they have infiltrated every aspect of our society.

    • Just listen to the dweebs on the “tech” forums talk about the latest desktops from Apple and you’d swear that anyone who complains about this constant three year upgrade cycle are neanderthals who “don’t get it”. Yeah, I don’t get it either… why should I be raped for upgrades just so someone can live with their head in the “cloud” or better yet up their collective ass!

    • As a Theocrat (a la Gary North) here is my take on what laws should be like.
      Nothing should be illegal unless it is immoral. But not everything immoral should be illegal. Read the book of Exodus. Some of the ‘commandments’ have penalties attached to them. Thus, they are expected to be enforced by “civil government.” But many of them are simply statements of what should be done. These God has reserved judgment on for Himself, and it is no man’s business whether “his neighbor” is keeping them or not.

  9. What annoys me to no end is that engineering a design *for serviceability* is every bit as valid of a design practice as all the other conveniences (bells/whistles) on a car.

    • If you were to design and advertise a car for that, I’d bet my every cent I own that people would start crawling out of the woodwork within months with claims against you for injuries sustained while doing something stupid in the process of maintenance. Such is the world we live in.

  10. The government damaged the used car market several years ago with their incredibly stupid “Cash for Clunkers” program. They mandated the destruction of thousands of functional used cars, decreasing the supply, and therefore increasing the price of used cars. They even forbade using the cars for parts. At the same time, they encouraged people who had used cars which were paid for to get trapped in long-term loans on new cars, decreasing their monthly cash flow by hundreds of dollars in loan payments and increased insurance premiums.

  11. If the used car market goes, doesn’t take the new car market down with it? Most new car sales contemplate getting more than scrap for the current car. So maybe taxis and renting is the future. Which is a problem for dog owners and smokers.

  12. The downside may come six or seven years from now – when the car is out of warranty – and you’re on your own. Starter motors – up to now – were designed to start the engine maybe four or six times or so in a given day. What happens to their long-term durability when the duty cycle is much more extreme (perhaps dozens of start-stop cycles every day)? How much will it cost to replace one of these starters?

    Oddly enough, this technical problem was actually solved many years ago, in a different application area. Tugboats had heavy duty diesel engines, and they often had to manoeuvre in reverse. But a reverse gear was bulky, awkward and expensive, so the manufacturers went for two stroke diesels that could be quickly, easily – and frequently – stopped and restarted in the opposite direction (as diesels, they didn’t have the size/waste tradeoffs of two stroke petrol engines). The manufacturers managed it by using compressed air starters. So there is no fundamental problem but only the relatively minor R & D issue of providing that on cars (I think it comes down to not being able to save that much on electrics since they will still be needed for other things; you can drop the electric starter and make the battery smaller, but you can’t eliminate as much as on tugboats).

    • Building a starter motor that will last has been known for decades. It should not be an issue if done properly. It should only be a tiny cost up for the starter.

    • Ah, that brings to mind something I read about the BMW 7-series V-8 about ten years ago, when they first introduced their variable-valve-lift system, “Valvetronic”. The engine computer can force the engine to stop at a particular angle, with one cylinder just post-TDC and the intake valve open. To start, it just squirts a bit of fuel from the injector and lights off that cylinder.

      I don’t know if I read it correctly, but it sounded to me like a starter-less start.

      I wonder if any of them are doing a trick like that…avoiding the starter motor.

      Funny enough, similar to the way they used to start those massive aircraft radial engines–with a blank shotgun shell!

    • A friend is driving a heavily overloaded truck with a decidedly underpowered Detroi Diesel up a very steep hill. It grinds to a halt, goes backward in gear, voila, backward running engine. Emergnecy stop! D’oh!!

      Another friend with a Detroi strugglng up hill and dale with an overload of grain(milo), gets to truck stop, complains about not enough power. Old trucker tells him “put some gasoline in the oil bath breather, picks it right up” and leaves. Kid does what he says, watches tach go beyond 3500 rpm, Emergency Stop. Live and learn…hopefully

  13. Emperor Hussein his imperial majesty is going to pass a law requiring all new cars to have a black box recorder so older cars will be the way to go. Some glorious socialist utopian blue states are going to propose by the mile taxes on driving. All in the name of the glorious Euro-Collective utopia which will be a hell on earth.

    • Upwards of 90 percent of all current/recent model cars already have them. I agree – that the plan is to impose “drive by mile” taxation and also universal control/monitoring of when you drive, where you drive – and even if you are allowed to drive.

        • If that were a 2000 engine, you’d have hell with them(maybe, if they were smart enough)but since it’s a ’78, no hope. I just wonder why they didn’t use an 1100 ‘Zuk engine and be done with it? I pulled up to a dealer on my 1000GSL and tried out the new 1100. I damn near killed myself, almost shed myself off the back of the bike being chilly and not holding on tight enough to realize that low first gear(new tranny, extra gear, badass motor too) was a monster off the line. All over my face, sure enough. Taught me to be “cool”.

          • Eightsouthman, if you’d ever ridden an H2 you’d know exactly why they used that engine. Oh, there’s stuff out there now that’s a lot faster than that old oil burner, but there is nothing like a 2-stroke street bike when it “comes on the pipe.” It’s almost like an afterburner. You must try it sometime, trust me on this.

    • Just means the market for replacement, “off-road-only” engine computers is gonna be booming. They’ll pass the E-checks and such easily since those codes are govmint defined.

      And the tracking information will have to look like it was corrupted by a bad sensor or maybe poor OEM programming…

      Technically the only problem is that the EPA sez it’s a felony to drive an aftermarket engine computer on the road…. Enforcement of that one is non-trivial however.

      First they have to tear things apart enough to determine it’s not OEM. And so far, I have been far less than impressed with any law enforcement agencies technical investigative abilities. (TV shows are pure fiction in that arena) They have the bully tactics down, but your average cop couldn’t find an engine computer let alone be able to determine whether it’s an OEM or not.

      Maybe reflashing the software in the OEM engine computer is the answer. Then, who is to say where the software bug that trashed/disabled the black box features came from???

  14. Get a Vee-Dub vintage Beetle (still relatively affordable) fix it up and learn how to set points, timing, and adjust the valves and
    idle mixture. Hitler DID have the right idea!

    • Indeed!

      Also, Corvairs – if you like the VW concept. They’re share most of the VW’s virtues (air-cooled, rear-engined) but have the additional benefits of adequate power and a roomy, comfortable interior. The heater works much better, too.

      • That rear engine is a mixed blessing. Although it allowed the Volkswagen to dispense with a lot of things, it put so much of the all-up weight so far back that handling was adversely affected.

        • I dunno, PM –

          I’ve owned two myself and while rear-engined cars do have their own unique issues, unlike the Corvair (or early Porsches) the Beetle was so low-powered it was pretty hard to get into trouble with one unless you really tried hard!

          And the upsides were: Superb traction in snow (helped by skinny but fairly tall tires) and very easy serviceability. I pulled the engine once in about 15 minutes with a floor jack, a piece of wood and a cheap socket set….

          • “… so low-powered it was pretty hard to get into trouble with one unless you really tried hard”? You mean, like the man who avoided being murdered by committing suicide? Like I said, rear engines make for a mixed blessing. Sometimes it’s a different mix, that’s all.

            • I’d say that’s a bit much, PM!

              The Beetle was not a performance or even performance-minded car but rather a basic (really basic) economy car. I drove one for years, in all conditions. It was not an evil-handling or unpredictable car. I suppose if you really pushed it – took decreasing radius turns at high speed and then lifted off throttle mid-corner – you could get into trouble. (And even that was hard to do – because it’s not easy to get a car with 40 hp moving quickly.)

              But then, you’d be an idiot, wouldn’t you?

              I also owned an early Corvair, incidentally. Now that car’s handling peculiarities were more apt to manifest simply by dint of the fact that the car was more “sporty” and considerably more powerful (my ’64 Monza’s engine carried a 110 hp rating) and so could inadvertently be driven too fast for the readiness/experience/skill set of its driver. This in fact did happen all too often. It’s why the later cars’ suspension was redesigned.

          • And they’d float. We used to float along the overflowing creek that came into town near the school. Every so often, you’d hear the wheels contact(and feel)mud and it would propel you along till you contacted ground again. I’ve been a quarter mile in water and only contacted ground a couple times but rode the current to ground and pulled out and gone on. On the downside, VW’s and Texas heat don’t mix too well. Pounding along over the hot prarie all day tends to melt them into a single piece. They’re great when the weather cools down though. I’m sure they lasted much longer in Germany.

    • Try a Nash Metropolitan instead. They are still cheap in workable condition, most trim is available, and the drive train is entirely MG, so mechanical parts are inexpensive and available (not as inexpensive and available as a beetle’s, but close enough); add on 50 years of enthusiasts with in depth knowledge of that drive train and the situation is golden.

      Plus, the tires are the same size as a beetle, the car is about the same size as a beetle, and the the engine is in the front and the drive wheels are in the back.

      It’s basically all the things many old american car enthusiasts claim they like about the beetle, without the things they dont.

  15. I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot lately.

    Cars, TV’s, computers,… all just appliances… [cars as appliances, thanks, EPA,.. er, sort of… – such a blue pill moment] and all designed to need $ervice soon, or else!… Or else it’s the trash can for You! You P.O.S.!!! If even then?!

    While looking at some older 4×4 forums I noticed a photo of a Sears Diehard battery, the warranty was like 4 or 5 years,… it’s only three now.
    Is this the “industry standard” now? (And wHAt happened to Diehard?)
    Is that how they nickel and dime you to death even though cars have a 100,000 mile warranty?
    I’ve never had a 100,000 mile warranty, is it dependent on getting regular $ervice work by the stealership, or else it’s S.O.L.?

    On top of that, goberment motors, et al,… will (is?) probably be like Mac computers: Apple wants you to have them (!) replace the CMOS battery – and the main battery – they want this so much – why – they glued the batteries to their laptops. Ha! …Or so I’ve read, anyway. And yet, I may still buy one.
    I feel funneled. And limited. Like my Dollar stretching abilities are being countered or something?
    A stacked deck?
    Maybe I should just do nothing and save?
    Why do I feel like buying gold is not saving? Mega-conditioning?

    I was working out in the garage (done, just testing waxes – what is the best?) with the garage door open.
    I noticed a new neighbor had stepped outside to have a smoke on the front step.
    I almost [ this close () ] walked over – with my bottle of beer – to introduce myself.
    About the time I would have been standing there on the sidewalk with an open container in my hand and a pistol in my back pocket, a cop in a $40,000 SUV pulls up.
    It’s dark outside and it looks like the SUV has a 52″ flat screen on the passenger window,… it looked like multiple high definition public cameras were on the display.

    Talk about Voyeur city, yeesh.

    Totally 1984 surveillance state creepyness – in high definition.

    Screw scary movies at the drive-inn, this was minor for sure, but you Never Know how cops unwind shit.

    I thought of you guys (some anyway) and I slowly shut my garage door.

    Now I’m in the house, done with the day, and there’s a cop outside across the street.

    Wow do I ever miss living in the country.

    Do you think drones gonna change all that, out in the country?
    Until, ‘The Wall’ crumbles, anyway?

    ~Shit! Did you guys hear that?

    Car doors slamming! …I feel just a little bit safer now.

    SUrest sign ever of the bastards: they don’t give a hoot about the cars they drive, they Always slam their doors, hard.

    I wonder if they took the new neighbor with them? I heard three doors slam before they gunned the engine and took off.

    I know Don would’ve said I should get out there and mix it up,… just butt my nose into that guys business and ward the bastards off,… like that’d work,… or work out well.

    Hope that wasn’t too bad of a rant, I keep breaking that ‘Don’t Touvch The Keyboard After You’ve Been Drinking’ bit,… sooner or later I’ll be silenced, eh. As will we all? For awhile?

    All I know is, I’m glad I can read this webpage, three days in a row now,… I wonder how long that will last.
    When I couldn’t connect I kind of wondered if Eric was being swatted or something. Most likely it was just an extension cord someone tripped over, right?

    Things I wondered:
    What do you guys use to light up your garage?
    I just bought my first hand-held florescent trouble light.
    13 watts, $10.
    If I get seven years out of it… ?

    I noticed Duracell now has white labels on some battery packs that say they last 10 years in the package, wow.

    ON an L.E.D. shop light it said it should last 10 years.

    Is 10 years the other new “industry standard” now? For some things, anyway?

    Yes, I see the guy in the background saying something aloud about roofing warranties.

    …Friday Night Rock and Roll,… the new old style. ?

    I tried to make my garage half-way cool on a budget.
    I never had a garage that had the potential to be cool before.
    It also had to be low watt, all the power comes out of one one outlet.

    No fancy high power fun toys for me, what do you guys use as a compressor to inflate a tire?
    I once had an air pig.
    SOunds like a bad joke, or come on?
    I like those DC compressors, saved the day many times.
    I’ve been thinking about getting a 110 Volt compressor with a tank to inflate tires, what do you all use?

    … Ah, I’m ranting and blog-hogging,… and oh no, now I hear multiple car doors slamming.
    Theyy’rrree back? …Just another day in Police State Amerika and I feel like I’m trying to re-enter Dreamtime when I talk/think about things like shop lighting. … As if I shouldn’t be wasting my time with such trivial things when I should be investing in _____ instead. IDK. SNAF. … Slog on.

    • It’ll take a bit longer for this kind of thing to leach out into the countryside, but it’s coming. No escape – unless we shut down the beast.

      No criticism meant here, but one of the things to do in the situation you describe is video the event. Discretely. If the cop hassled your neighbor, you have the evidence. Put it up on YouTube. This is one of the ways we can fight back without actually fighting physically.

      And go say hello to the dude!

      • Sorry to hear that situation. I just came in from talking on the cell, had to get on the tank dam to get service. While I was there(5:40pm)I heard all this noise over myself and it was countless hogs(not pigs)coming to water. If it weren’t so damned cold I would have shot one field dressed it and hung it up overnight. Wild hogs are mighty fine eating. I agree with eric, video what you can w/o exposing yourself.

        Hey, that wall plug can be added onto. Go into the attic and find a junction box, take a couple (white and black and bare(ground)wires and drop them down inside the wall and have another outlet. Most circuits are 20 amp and that will give all the light you need or want. Get a double tank 120 V compressor at Sam’s club and you’ll have plenty air, cheap. I’d be in the garage if I had one. I have a cold-assed barn right now. It may be hot in a few days. Not much of a winter so far….and I don’t mind. Hate cold, Texas boy. Get back me back to beer drinking. It’s Miller time.

    • What makes things non-serviceable is making them cheaper. What can be done in a factory with tooling, with automation, with machines can’t be done by the end user in most cases. That’s the quandary. But for me to make price point, even on things that have to be serviceable, I’ll have to make it such that the service part is an assembly. In this inflationary environment, even without regulation, people couldn’t afford fully serviceable product.

      • BrentP: My grandfather made his living (his entire life) by fixing things. He repeatedly told me “If a man put it together, a man can take it apart and fix it.” He was a very well read, knowledgeable and intelligent man. So being a cocky young buck fresh out of Air Force tech school I challenged him on that. I asked “What about micro-chips?” He didn’t even hesitate “A man doesn’t put those together, a machine does.”

        And so it goes with much of what makes up modern appliances like automobiles. Without a code scanner at the very least, you’ll be hard pressed to figure out what’s wrong with a vehicle in the first place. No matter how bad you may want to fix the subassemblies, in most cases it’s simply not possible. If you manage to pry the cover off the widget, that’s usually the first thing that’s broken beyond repair. Then what you find inside is either completely coated in potting compound or fused together by ultrasonic welding or some molding process. Gone are the days when you pulled apart a widget and rebuilt it. Those of us who still do our own work, even if we want to affect real repairs are more and more relegated to the ranks of parts replacers.

        My next door neighbor managed to buy a decent (i.e. mostly rust free) 1978 Ford pickup with a manual tranny and a 300 I-6 in it recently. He loves it because he can actually work on it . . . so far. But it may only be a matter of time before many of the hard parts just simply aren’t available at any price. One collision and the insurance company will say scrap it for sure. It’s bloody depressing.

        • I disagree with the code scanner. rather than get into long diagnosis stories which were too long after I typed them… I use old school methods most often. I’ve had problems that do not throw codes. Just last month I was looking at dead car and no codes. I used a vacuum gauge just as I learned to do on 1970s hardware. My grandfather was a fan of the vacuum gauge and thus I so became one.

          Something I forgot earlier… some modern product is serviceable if you work at the place they are made ;). Sometimes all it takes is a special tool you don’t have and parts you can’t buy. That’s why there is reconditioned stuff from the factory on the market. Because for them, it’s easy to fix.

          Thanks to the internet sometimes the parts can be found for reasonable prices.

          Another thing I fixed was a co-worker’s dog collar zapper thing. I diagnosed the problem as an open inside the unit. Ultrasonic welded or had blind snaps or something like that. Asked if it was ok to crack it open. Yes. So I did. I was correct. Fixed the broken wire or whatever it was… but then it had to be taped together. Oh for the want of screws.

          • Brent I agree that a code scanner is not a panacea by any means. But if the CEL is flashing, it’s pretty handy to have nowadays. But, yes, I still find myself doing things “the old fashioned way” more often than not when troubleshooting.

            Yeah; crack the cover and then glue it back on or tape is frequently the order of the day for me too. One of the funniest ones I ran into was my supervisor’s climate control unit out of a Mercedes-Benz (back in the 80’s). The cover came off okay, the components were accessible and the board only had a light conformal coating…but all the identifing marks had been buffed off the components! You gotta love the Krauts…

        • What about repairing Bowden cables? Way back during my motorcycle training course I was taught never to try that but always to replace them (and I was taught a trick for doing that with the right cable run, too). I’m pretty sure that Bowden cables weren’t machine made in their early days, too. And you can’t repair a worn and leaky piston a second time, either (the first time, you can knurl it – unless they made it knurled to begin with, maybe to save weight and materials cost).

          • Quite right P.M.; back in the early 80’s the local motorcycle shops carried replacement cable ends you could solder on to repair Bowden cables. For those of you that don’t know what P.M. is referring to, a Bowden cable is a jacketed cable such as the clutch or brake cable on a motorcycle or the the parking brake or throttle cable on a car. Being young and broke, I’ve repaired more than one myself. The best approach is with lower temperature silver solder (IIRC 15%). Fifty percent silver or “hard” solder will so much heat that is will usually ruin the temper of the cable and then break right below the repair in short order (even using a heat sink).

            P.M. Are you referring to knurling a drum brake wheel cylinder piston?

    • I forgot to add, you can get the long life batteries still. You just have to pay for them. The 100 month Motorcraft battery I put in one of my cars is now a year over a 100months. I am thinking I should replace it because the last one died suddenly and without a stable voltage the computer couldn’t make for a drivable car. Anyway I found the old receipt, the the batter was $76. At the same store, now owned by a different chain, the price is now double that. (I can get it for much less at the ford dealer, but still significantly more than what I paid for the last one)

      • Down here in Houston, with the constant heat, you’re damn lucky if your five-year battery makes it past three years.

        I even tried the spiral-cell batteries; not much better, got about four years…not worth the increment in cost.

        I suspect it’s largely due to the constant drain modern cars’ electronics put on the resting battery. I’ve taken to using a trickle charger when the car will be immobile for as little as two days.

        I wonder when the Li ion batteries will be affordable?

        • I hear the heat is worse on them. However in the climate I’m in I really have a good record with motorcraft batteries. 100month batteries lasting me a about decade in two of my cars so far.

        • I’m imagining one of you guys building a cooling pack for batteries for the People in the South.
          [If that turns out to be a Million Dollar idea,… well, send me the sticker.]

          Interesting responses, all.

          Note to self: Get a better camera. …And learn how to use it,… better than your gun.

          I’m-just-not-a-camera-guy, but I’ll add it to my list of things to do.

          Sigh,… with rare and maybe joyous exceptions: “relegated to the ranks of parts replacers.”

          No doubt.

          • A decent video camera can be had for about $200-$400 dollars. It will not be the top of the line, but it should be fine for within 200yards.
            CNET has some reviews.

        • methalymine, I’m aware that heat kills batteries but the beginning of a really cold spell will kill them too so we out in west Texas have hell with batteries. I finally started using spiral cell Optima batteries and had two last over 8 yrs on my diesel pickup. It’s been 110-115 out here the last two years and no sign of trouble. The thing about those batteries though is if they get completely dischargeed, most chargers(electronic)won’t read them and so, won’t charge them. You have to hook a regular battery to them and get enough charge(I tie my charger to the regular battery(lead acid conventional)so the charger will charge them.
          They don’t have ANY corrosion so that’s a great feature and you don’t have to keep them full of water.

          • I’ve got an Optima in my old Pontiac and am very happy with it. Not only because of the things you mention, but also because it starts the thing reliably even when it’s hot (the engine, I mean). Old big-cube Pontiacs are infamous for hot-start issues. You’d sometimes just have to wait awhile for the temp to drop before the starter would turn enough to get it going again…

  16. I am currently driving a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT, V-8, 2 wheel drive, factory tow package. It has 330,000 miles on it. It is the absolutely best car I have ever had. It is even a better tow vehicle than my 2000 GMC Sierra was, or my 3/4 ton Chevy Silverado, 350, heavy duty 4 speed is. It gets better mileage with the car trailer in tow, than either of those beasts got empty and dry. I finally had to put some money into the front end, and an alternator. About 2 car payments on a new one with a 60 page payment book. Since I have not run it into things, it is not beat up, and the interior is just fine. I checked the price on a Jasper transmission–$2,600. I checked the price on a Jasper engine–$3,400. For $6,000, I get a new car that I happen to really like. They don’t make Explorers like this anymore. I have to go to an Expedition starting at $36,000. or a Suburban, for similar money. At age 68, I can probably deal with that.
    What do you mean “the end of used cars”?

    • Hi John,

      Your ’04 is almost ten years old. I was trying to make the point that when the current stuff is old repair costs will probably be much higher, leading to “throwaway” vehicles.

      • In just a few years John will probably find certain nickel-and-dime parts impossible to find new (that is, discontinued and no longer available), with salvage yards by then having few of his model year Explorer to pull used parts from. That’s the flip side to this coin.

        And God help you if the part that breaks or wears out but cannot be replaced is vital to driving the car or enabling it to pass inspection.

        Been there, seen that.

          I have just retired after 42 years in the insurance business. I worked Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri. Details of the individual state laws differed, but essentially, the insurance had to make you whole, including taxes, title and license transfer fees. The adjuster was supposed to provide a phone number for you to call the state insurance bureau if you thought you had been screwed. Making you whole included recent minor repairs, such as tires, brakes, exhaust, paint and body work, and major repairs within 1 year, like engine, and transmission. Jacking you around for an extended period of time can bring a whole world of trouble down upon your claims adjuster head, if someone calls the insurance department and charges you with bad faith.

    • Cause then you will have just put $6K in a vehicle thats worth $2,500

      so when some drunk illegal mexican with no insurance blows a red light and hits you, you might get $2k from your ins co. IF you have un/underinsured protection on your policy.

      • He can drive a new car off the lot and have the same thing happen and lose far more.

        Now, if you drive a car worth $500,000 or something, then you’ll always be made whole. There isn’t much that can’t be fixed for less than that. Provided the coverage is that high.

      • Justin, are you one of the people who wants to prohibit illegals from having drivers licenses, thereby preventing them from obtaining insurance?

        • Nicolas,

          By definition, these illegals have given a big fuck you to “the law.” What makes you suppose they’ll abide by the law requiring them to purchase insurance? After all, it’s a cost to them. Like paying other taxes – which they largely don’t. And which they can get away with not paying because – they aren’t citizens and don’t have much that can be taken from them. Do you really think Pedro – driving his POS ’93 Corolla – working off the books as a construction laborer… living in a rental (and group) home ….is going to buy insurance?

          The real purpose of “helping” illegals this way is to legitimize their presence here – and to encourage more of them to come here.

          And yes, I am opposed to that. As long as there is a welfare state – and virtually limitless entitlements – it is insane (as far as the interests of the American people are concerned) to give these illegals any incentive to come here, much less stay here.

          Of course, it serves the interests of the powers that be extremely well. Which is why (among other things) we hear the calls to “help” the poor illegals by letting them get drivers licenses.

          • One of the distinctive features of your writing is to thumb your nose at laws you don’t like. But then you embrace law and big government when it suits your ideology. Are you a Tory (“obey the law!!) or a libertarian (“flaunt the law!”)?

            Why should government be in the car licensing business? Why should it have any right to tell an insurance company who it can have for customers?

            Whatever one thinks of illegal immigration, it is incredibly counterproductive to prevent illegals from driving legally and obtaining insurance. It’s just stupid. It guarantees that insurance rates for the rest of us will be higher, and that illegals are more likely to flee accident scenes.

            Your political views are so inconsistent that they seem more driven by emotion than reason. It isn’t “help” for government to simply stay out of the way of consensual economic relations, but it does hurt people who get harmed by uninsured drivers.

            Perhaps you don’t subscribe to the non-aggression axiom which is at the center of modern libertarianism. But if you do, there is nothing aggressive about someone crossing a border, much less obtaining a license to drive (which is essentially a license to work), and car insurance.

            • Nicolas,

              If the welfare state is abolished then I have no issue with people moving freely from wherever to wherever. What I take issue with – what any sane person takes issue with – is setting up financial incentives for people to exploit; i.e, entitlements, “social services” – and then encouraging more parasites to partake of them. No one should be required to have a driver’s license to begin with – as a matter of principle. But as things are, they are required – and necessary – to “do business” in this country. By conferring them on illegal aliens, you are providing them with a an incentive. As if we need more leeches – more people taking advantage of and voting for servicios.

              “…incredibly counterproductive to prevent illegals from driving legally and obtaining insurance”…

              Your assumption is that people who live “off the books” are going to line up to buy mandatory coverage like the rest of us tax cattle. But, they won’t – for the same reason they are here illegally. For the same reason they pay no taxes (or far less than we do). They say fuck you to the law. And – as such – good on them.

              Except they also have their hands in my pocket. And fuck that.

              We’re trapped – they’re not. They live on the periphery of society. They have few, if any assets to seize. They don’t give a flip about spending a day – or a week – in jail. We do.

              Bottom line: Get rid of all entitlements – and also all mandatory insurance laws. Driver’s license laws, too.

              Hold specific accountable for specific harms they cause. No prior restraint.

              philosophically consistent.

          • I personally know illegals who had licenses and car insurance, and are now forced to do without both. They also paid into Social Security (poor clods) because they could get the cards that are now denied to them. (So, now people like you can say they don’t pay taxes. How do they also evade sales and property taxes?) If the number of illegals who have car insurance is in the tens of thousands, rather than zero, that is still an advantage. You think all illegals drive junkers, which is how out of tough you are. Having a licensed and insured car is not a welfare handout, and there is no libertarian reason to oppose it. There is a reason to oppose government interference with either licensing or insurance.

            Your point about the welfare state is a good example of creeping statism-socialism. We hear such arguments all the time. For instance, people support helmet laws because “if they get into an accident we have to pay the bills” due to government socialization of medical costs. To be consistent, then you would need to support helmet laws, seatbelt laws, and the myriad of other laws that naturally follow from creeping statism. But you don’t because you are not ideologically consistent. A liberal blogger recently argued against food trucks because they don’t pay the sorts of taxes that bricks-and-mortar stores are forced to pay. He is making the same argument that you are, but he doesn’t parrot anti-statism out of the other side of his mouth.

            The idea that leaving people free to work and buy products is somehow a “helping” handout is supremely statist bullshit, which you are perfectly willing to adopt despite your faux and self-serving libertarianism. You embrace the state when it suits you, just like so many other Americans.

            • Nicolas,

              I consistently oppose all forms of authoritarianism.

              That includes drivers license and mandatory insurance.

              If such things did not exist – and if it were not possible for illegal aliens (or anyone) to force me to pay for their Social Security or anything else – then I’d have no issue with them.

              But the fact is we have a welfare state. The fact is illegals exploit its “benefits.” Massively.

              Therefore, until they cannot do so, I do not want them here.

              Simple – and intellectually consistent.

              You, on the other hand, seem to favor such things as mandatory drivers licenses, insurance and Social Security.

              Who’s the collectivist? Who’s the defender of statism?

          • Your thoughts and reading are muddled.

            I oppose state-issued drivers licenses, regulated insurance, and Social Security. You, on the other hand, want the state to deprive certain people of the right to drive (and work), and to obtain insurance, and you complain that “illegals” don’t pay taxes. (Their “fair share”?)

            Again, getting a drivers license is not a subsidy, nor is being insured, so your point about the welfare state, with which I agree, is irrelevant.

            You didn’t grasp my helmet and seatbelt laws analogies, so you ignored them. Many people justify those laws because we have a welfare state. For instance, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety wants us to know:

            “Studies conducted in Nebraska, Washington, California, and Massachusetts indicate how injured motorcyclists burden taxpayers.”

            Ergo, because of the welfare state they think we need helmet laws for the same reason you think we need laws that deprived illegals of licenses to drive.


            I could provide many other examples. It is frequently argued that we need gun control (or abolition) because the costs of gun morbidity and mortality are socialized. Because we have a welfare state.

            In short, your angle is no different than the most avid welfare state liberal. Here you are advocating government controls on driving, insurance, immigration, and claiming you “consistently oppose all forms of authoritarianism.” By some magic you are able to define the government regulations you support as not manifestations of “authoritarianism,” and that magic is an appeal to consequences of the welfare state.

            The solution to the welfare state problem is not to resort to authoritarian laws, but to abolish access to welfare goodies, just as the solution to the problems of prohibition is to abolish prohibition, not to apply it more efficiently. Many critics of government tyranny have noted how welfarism leads inexorably from one oppressive step to another, but you don’t get it.

            Do illegals have any rights in your view? Surely if an illegal can be deprived of the right to drive, he can be deprived of the right to own a gun or to become employed. Do you also support laws preventing gun ownership by illegals, and those that prevent employers from hiring illegals?

            If all illegals lose rights because some exploit welfare services — and you make no distinction between those who do and those who don’t — what about citizens who use welfare services. Why should they not also lose their drivers licenses, insurance, guns, etc.? Are you not consistently opposed to the welfare state and those who exploit it?

            Almost any deprivation of liberty can be justified by appeal to the necessities of welfarism, or of statism. While claiming to be antiauthoritarian, you support statist measures that rationalize the building blocks of tyranny. If the state has no defensible power, it is sophistry to suggest that it should have that power only in certain instances and in application to certain people. That is a naive step toward serfdom. You want government to prevent people not just from gaining things which are not rightfully theirs, but from perfectly harmless things, such as driving, buying insurance, and working.

            If I’m not mistaken, you are among those consider drunk driving a victimless crime (and therefore not a crime). Yet drunk driving frequently leads to death and destruction. You advocate freedom for drunk drivers, but not for people who simply want to do something indispensable in America: drive a car. You don’t want these people deprived of freedom in a authoritarian way, of course, but in a cuddly and libertarian way.

            • Nicolas,

              If you oppose such things as drivers licenses, mandatory insurance and all the rest of it, we are in agreement.

              The bone of contention here has to do with the fact that the US is a welfare state – and the fact that illegals add to the burden on the people forced to finance it.

              I’ve said it several times already, but here it is, once more: Get rid of all transfer payments, redistribution, entitlements – and the problem disappears.

              I have no issue with anyone who is paying their own way.

              Unfortunately, that’s not the case as regards illegals. You cannot have a welfare state and open borders. It is madness.

              I would prefer (and support) a society in which anyone can come and go – and work and live – wherever, whenever… in which there was no such thing as “legal” or “illegal” (as regards resident status)… but without the ability of any person to use the coercive police power of the state to compel others to provide them with material benefits.

              You continue to make the claim that I support statist measures – which is just baffling. I’ve consistently opposed statism in principle at every turn. And have done so in this case, too.

              Get rid of mandatory driver’s licenses. Get rid of mandatory insurance. Get rid of all forms of coercive redistribution

              You reveal yourself, incidentally, by making statements such as: “If I’m not mistaken, you are among those consider drunk driving a victimless crime (and therefore not a crime).”

              Sweeping generalization – faulty premises. Group guilting. Prior restraint.

              A crime (properly speaking) only occurs when someone has been victimized.

              Not before.

              No victim – no crime.

              Your position amounts to a defense of pre-crime. The notion that if it can said “someone” – not even a specific individual, just a generic “someone” – might cause some harm, then it is ok to treat everyone as if they had in fact caused an actual harm.

              This is the essence of Cloverism – of statism.

          • Eric, there really is no point in arguing back and forth with leftist/modal “libertarians” such as Nicholas. As you stated, you can’t have open borders with a welfare state and a government alienating people all over the world with its bellicose foreign policy. But the modals don’t want to hear that. Thus the welfare state continues to expand, more parasites flood in, and then there’s good ol’ Nicholas who opposes anything to stem the tide. What’s so funny is how the brain damaged modals never see that the issuace of MORE driver’s licenses is in fact the instantiation of MORE statism. Never mind that the increased tax burden to take care of his cherished illegals is as well. These guys can’t even see their own statism.

            • Hi Dave,

              Agreed. I just posted a reply to HR along the same lines.

              There is nothing “intellectually inconsistent” (as Nicholas accuses me of being) in supporting measures that make it harder for people to obtain more Gibs Muh Dat. For instance, I see no problem in requiring native born Takers to accept birth control as a condition of taking a welfare check.

              As far as illegals: Nicholas refuses to acknowledge the statist elephant in the room – the massive non-market, not-free incentives that all the various Gib Muh Dat entitlements (everything from “free” health care to “free” education) provide to encourage more parasitism. Millions of illegals come here to a great extent because life here is so much better – and it is so much better (from their point of view) because of all the “free” things that they can obtain which are unobtainable in their native lands. Certainly, they also come to work. But to deny that they’re not also coming because they know they can get “free” education (and health care) for their kids, as well as “free” food (much better food than what they could get back in Mexico) is both dishonest and fatuous.

              And to accuse me of being “intellectually inconsistent” for objecting to it is ridiculous.

          • I understand your point on Pedro and the welfare state. It not right in my opinion to not pay for a service you receive unless through personal charity, otherwise it is probably theft. Its especially theft when the guns of state are used to extract that money from another member of society. The larger question arrives does it help or hinder our cause when say a libertarian or anyone else takes benefits from Social Security or any other tax scheme. I’ve heard Ayn Rand collected more SS benefits then she put in. Of course one can’t directly accuse her of malice since it was that generation the beginning of the SS con game that came out smelling like roses. I think Ayn Rand saw nothing wrong with taking it as given in my reasons below in the next paragraph.

            Some libertarians think that the best thing that can happen is to take the government on all the handouts to help bankrupt it sooner. I’ve known several anarchist, liberatarians, and anti-government people that use a government toll free number 4-5 times a day just to cost the government more money. There point is that a bankrupt government is weakened which means more freedom. Of course this logic may only be true if the government isn’t able to coerce more taxes from the population itself. Therefore in these people’s minds the quicker we get there to bankruptcy the quicker freedom day arrives, and they think that rising taxes too will well up rebellion which is great for freedom long haul. If they gain from economic of taking in the process they calculate that only makes sense to take economic advantage of something free (infinite demand regardless whether its them taking or not). I’ve asked these people how they feel that the stuff they get is often coming from others at the force of a gun, their answer is not usually sympathetic. I’ll paraphrase it as something like its their own fault for not finding employment where they can avoid those kinds of taxes. Of course this sentiment turns me off because I was a tax cow most of my life, and sometimes you have no recourse but to pay high taxes or be thrown in the jail pit.

            Preferably I love being (self employed) instead of paying high taxes and being a slave to the system, and I try to convert as many good people as I can to self employed (low tax category). Again I think the question is does taking more from the state give it more validity or does it lead to bankruptcy. And is it good long and short term to freedom if say in the meantime the government is able to coerce more taxes from people that have no choice but to pony up.

            From an ethical standpoint I can’t say I personally follow this advice that I help myself to government service to help bankrupt and thus create freedom. Something just seems evil about taking something you didn’t pay for when others often times have to foot the bill with a gun to their head. But, I’ve also been on the paying out scheme for a number of years as companies trained me as an employee I had few if any tax deductions. Therefore I refuse any and all government services that I have the choice to avoid because I don’t want to be a dependent on some young guy with kids trying to just feed his family. If I didn’t pay that amount of taxes I want no part of the distribution scheme. Well actually I still use the USPS so that isn’t quite true either, I suppose all of us have to be a bit flexibility where we use subsidized crap service. But the point is that I want to pay as little into the POS and leave no footprint of a bill for someone else to pay.

            I use tax avoidance, but I don’t condemn anyone who rightfully wants to starve the machine out in the most inventive ways. To me its economic justice to ask for no less and nor more than you give. Coincidentally, I hate SS and though I’m forced to participate into it I will purposefully choose to not collect. My personal belief is that by using it that I’d be giving credence to a system I hate. Then again I still don’t judge anyone who wants to try to get out what was taken from them. But what about people that take more out then they contribute, are they being takers good or bad for freedom? I’m not conviced either way. Logically it seems most of the uneducated illegals are not doing the handout collection from a moral calculation, like lets see if we can bankrupt this system to bring about freedom. Unwittingly they might cause that by their actions which would be welcomed by me. But who ultimately wins when the bankruptcy comes? I’d say not the illegals who depend on the handout to survive. And that brings social issues because how do they vote or worse yet take up arms against what they think are sugar daddy’s? No doubt the illegal issue is going to be a problem as cultures of the settled and the immigrated either melt or boil.

            My biggest concern is culturally most latins lean more collectivist, there is a reason of course for this but it doesn’t help our cause without reaching them. I’m not a Pat Bucanaan fan myself, he even said something rather irritating in a recent LRC article like “what libertarian movement ever founded a nation”. Which I have to say he obviously hadn’t heard of our first revolution. I especially don’t like his strong conservative republican views, but I do agree that the illegal issue is very concerning for the U.S. as a culture of the settled is challenged by the newcomers. My worst fear is that we are being invaded by a culturally different and possible resentful people’s to my own. My best feeling is that the very attribute that scares me about their culture is also their greatest attribute. For example, many people hate the lawless behavior they bring with them, but they are also very civilly disobedient population which is very needed by our country right now to secure our freedoms. We could learn a lot from them how to be civil disobedient and win against a controlling government. I don’t like that I have to pay for SS that goes mostly to a people not even contributing to it though. This is a fact that illegals are the biggest takers of and lowest contributors of the tax cow system. From a personal perspective I know I’ve walked into SS office to pick up some tax cow forms to find that all the people waiting for handouts were latins. But who’s fault is it other than people like my own kind who have enabled or been pacified to accept such a failure as SS and I can’t put the blame on Pedro there.

            One thing is for sure the government and its social programs is the cause not the cure for a problems between our cultures. It never helps to soothe relations between two groups when the government practices a zero sum redistribution game from one group to another. By the same token the same government often times treats the receivers of these handouts as non people and blames the redneck as they call us for doing so. Personally, I’d love to see Latins enter into our fray as many of them are for the voice of freedom and economic independence. Its happening believe me, but they too are a minority in their own culture like we still are in our own. Even there bad cultures here and there can be overcome by good discussions and logic and absent government coercion. Otherwise a balkan states of hate and war will most likely result, which will drain freedom and give power to the mobs of government. So far this seems to be the course we are on.


            • Good, thoughtful post, HR –

              This (illegal immigration) is a very tough issue – for all the reasons you’ve laid out. And which I pretty much agree with.

              I harbor no ill will toward “Pedro” – but rather toward the powers that be, who are using Pedro to accomplish the following:

              * Increase the number of people dependent on government.
              * Increase the number of people who will vote for more government.
              * Exacerbate ethnic-racial tensions (see points one and two above).
              * Provide a pretext for yet more laws that take away yet more of what’s left of our liberties.

              If we had a genuinely free society (and economy), there would be no issue. But the fact is, we don’t. Millions of illegals come here to a great extent because they know they can get Gibs Muh Dat not available in their native lands. A fact that cannot be disputed. To not object to this – as one of the tax cows – is a form of slow suicide.

              The ideal solution would be – establish a free society (and a free market). But if we can’t have that, then it’s not irrational (or immoral) to support measures that make it tougher for illegals to obtain their Gibs Muh Dat. Such as measures requiring one to be a citizen before one can legally obtain a driver’s license. Or vote. Or enroll their kids in government schools.

        • I’m not going to read all of this. I don’t have to. I live in Texas, a right to work state, where legals and illegals both abuse the sytem(sic). The illegals, for the most part, are doing the bidding of the rich cotton farmers or other well to do people. While they may not have a car of their own, they do have a license to drive one for their employers. The legals, people whose people have lived here longer than my ancestors are the big problem. Why, because they use the “hispanic” clause of the system to screw us all. They are the ones who don’t buy insurance. They buy it, for a month, and then make no more payments. Don’t think that guy(actually, mainly women)who hit you and didn’t have insurance is even remotely illegal.

          I had 3 friends killed in one accident. The irony was they were all hispanic but had been here longer than my people had. They were victims of an green card fool with a pickup owned by a rich(really)cotton farmer who had lined him up with a hay buggy that didn’t fit the ball on the pickup or either hadn’t taught him properly how to hook it up. The bale came off at highway speeds because the bale buggy came loose, the bale continued on down the road right at a truck hauling a trailer house. The driver tried to avoid it but ended up having the trailer home jackknife. The 3 friends were pulling a trailer with another Chevy pickup on it bound for the transmission repair shop. They couldn’t avoid the trailer home as the driver couldn’t avoid the bale of hay and they ended up in a creek off the highway with the pickup they had on the trailer on top of them. Another buddy who owned the wrecker service said he’d never been to a wreck that bad, nothing but guts and detriment left after the big fire in the town vehicle. My buddy is puking his guts up, the green card guy is not even involved in the wreck except for losing the bale and the big benefactor in all this, the rich cotton farmer isn’t anywhere near. The truck driver loses his truck, my friends lose their lives and the green card(no speak English)goes home while the rich guy does what? Who knows? This entire situation is the fault of the govt. I’d tell you about having a wreck with a non-insured person but I’m already sick of this subject. Needless to say, I got screwed. Who’s insurance went up? Not the guy without any. It’s the people(mostly hispanics who were born and raised here and use hell out of the system)who use the welfare system who benefit, all the way around. I have worked in a house, belonging to the local coke dealer(hispanice, old man)where all his childred were sitting around the kitchen table comparing notes how to work the system, which they did and do to their extreme advantage. I was appaled listening to this since I was busting ass, installing them central air, while they sold dope, worked the system and all drove brand new vehicles while I and my buddy were busting ass to make a living. Of course, the local sheriff was part and parcel of this whole thing, protecting the dealer. The old man told me how when the state and DEA would come to bust him, he’d already had a phone call the day beore telling him to get clean. Disgusted. the govt. doesn’t have the right to tell use what we can or can’t put in our bodies but oh, that law that lets them take everything you have is so sweeeeet for LE everywhere. Can you day “thugs with guns”?

  17. The turbos, transmissions, and (especially) the tire pressure sensors don’t worry me too much. Cars have always had, and will have, weak links in one or the other complex component. Granted, these components are getting more expensive. But longevity seems to be increasing too, and to some extent, this will offset increased replacement costs.

    What seriously concerns me are the auto stop/start features. I’m sure they can use heavier duty starters. But these constant re-starts have got to significantly increase stress and wear on almost every engine related system….lubrication, radiator, air conditioning, auto transmission, battery and electrical components….and more.

    Hybrids may be custom designed to minimize or accommodate this repetitive stress. At this point in time, the non hybrid gas engines that are getting auto stop/start were NOT designed to take it. It is going to screw them up…a lot.

    • Hey Mike,

      I’m completely with you on avoiding the auto start-stops at any cost.

      Pull up to a light, engine stops, oil pressure starts to decay (while coolant temp is rising)….. Light changes, stomp accelerator, start engine and accelerate….. All while oil pressure is building back to operating pressure. Rinse and repeat many times in city traffic and…..

      That’s a recipe for some rather severe engine wear in a short time. Not to mention possible severe overheating with blown head gaskets, etc. I’d want to see how start-stop engines do in a fleet of NYC taxicabs before I’d ever consider buying one.

      They are now wear testing starters for heavy duty cycles…. 100,000 start cycles is the goal.

      • Shaz,

        You bring up a very good point in re the loss of oil pressure during the “off” period. And the second (or several) it takes upon start-up to build back to normal. Meanwhile, load is being placed on the engine…

        Probably, the oil film (and the high quality of modern oils) is enough to cover the gap … but I’m not interested in being the proverbial guinea pig.

      • Hot starts aren’t too demanding on an engine, but there should be ways around the problems at some cost. This is why I see the future quite possibly being where productivity can’t keep up.

        100,000 sounds a little low even for regular starters. I don’t know the internal test requirements used in the industry but for something used at least twice a trip 100K sounds rather low for a test requirement to me. (yes I know how long it would be in real use, it just seems kind of tight for what I am used to) Perhaps they have their distribution tight enough and testing accurate enough they can cut the cycle count down without worry.

        What bothers me about auto-start is not the technical challenges but that it will do two things:
        1) Probably be the end of manual transmissions if this becomes a forced solution. I think it will always be annoying in an MT car.
        2) Make traffic worse, causing more fuel to be burned. Americans are asleep at the switch at traffic lights. They are taught to drive this way. Now there’s going to be a slight delay before their car is even running. Now they will wait for the light to turn green, wait three seconds -after- the driver in front of them has started moving*, make sure their engine has restarted… and finally go. Then wonder why intersection queues aren’t clearing.

        *yes, this is a government teaching.

      • The “starter” sees no use during “auto -start” When a restart is required, the belt -driven alternator, is now the “belt driving” starter. There is no starter motor engagement, just an energized generator/ starter assembly, that costs 5x the cost of a conventional starter.

        • I imagine the cost is because the BAS also provides motive power assist. It’s asking a lot from a single device. Motors can be generators and generators can be motors but I believe there differences in design details to make each of those tasks get done well.

          I have a feeling this thing will end up in the automotive oddities dust bin. But I could be wrong.

  18. Eric, we’ve been there for a little while already. Decided to junk my ’98 Taurus wagon, Duratec 3.0 V-6, after it overheated (failed thermostat) and apparently cracked the head—or maybe even the block. Too expensive to pay to get fixed, too damned complex to even begin to do it myself.

    Replacement engines and transmissions + labor to change them have been incredibly expensive for some years now, with transmissions having the higehr cost. For over 10 years a typical price on a front-drive automatic transmission is north of $3,000. Safe bet is that more vehicles get junked over failed trannies than engines.

    A side issue is that cars have become more complex anyway. Those power wondows, power locks, full-tilt stereos, nav systems, etc., etc., are all just extra stuff waiting to fail—or at least that is how many of us who have been around view them.

    • Yup –

      Also, there’s the “labor factor.”

      Almost anyone with basic mechanical skills and some basic tools could remove/replace the transmission in a circa 1970s (or even 1980s) RWD car in a couple of hours. Very straightforward job. But pulling the transaxle from a modern FWD (or AWD) vehicle is much more of a challenge – and mostly beyond the skill set and tool set of most people. That means paying the current almost $100/hour labor rate on top of the cost of the parts.

      Just getting to the rear bank of a transversely mounted V-6 to change out spark plugs is a tremendous PITAS. God help you if you have to remove the cam cover to get at the valvetrain…. replacing a water pump on a modern car can entail major disassembly (of often very hard to get at components requiring special tools and skills).

      I especially dislike ABS brakes. Bleeding them is a PITAS – and the cost-additions are just obnoxious. An ABS pump, for example, can set you back $500. It’s crazy.

      If you know how to drive, you don’t need – and probably don’t want – ABS. But it’s impossible to buy a new or recent vintage car that doesn’t have it.

  19. Eric–is that torn-down engine a Nissan?

    As far as throw-away cars: Yep.

    And there’s another place for nullification and secession. From now on, the State of Texas follows Kentucky in its gun laws; a gun made in Kentucky and sold to Kentuckians is exempt from Federal laws.

    Overnight you’d have a dozen car manufacturers in Texas selling anything from super-cheap Lotus 7 knockoffs to exotic hypercars (think Saleen).

    Very quickly you’d have a choice of more pedestrian cars as well.

    The market would equilibrate around customer desires rather than government dictates.

    Listen, if Colorado and Washington can outright legalize cannabis, we can do the same for guns and cars, n’est-pas?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here