Stockholm Syndrome

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If four-year-old Chevys, Fords or Toyotas were bricking – going inert, not moving – and needed thousands of dollars of repairs to get going moving again – the people who owned them would demand a recall and other people would never buy a Chevy or a Ford or a Toyota, for the obvious reasons.

The government might even get involved!

But when it comes to electric cars, there’s a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. No matter how outrageous the defect or inherent the flaw, EVs remain the object of doe-eyed reverence and limitless apologia. They can do no wrong. Or rather there is – apparently – no amount of wrong they can do that the people who own them aren’t willing to abide.

The latest being as above. Teslas less than four years old (which is almost all of them, as the company didn’t sell – offload – more than a handful of them until about four years ago) are going inert because of a burned-out chip, basically.

But it’s a critical chip. One of many such that determine whether these 4,000-plus pound cell phones work – or don’t.

Something called the eMMC, which is soldered onto a motherboard called the MCU, or Media Control Unit (there are two iterations of the eMMC – MCUv1 and MCUv2, depending on your Tesla). The chip’s job is memory retention – “flash storage” – of data accumulated about various operating parameters. The memory is overwritten as it fills up, to make way for new data. Over time, the chip becomes Alzheimerian – it loses its capacity to remember.

And then the car forgets things – like how to recharge.

The telescreen display inside the cabin through which everything is displayed (and via which the driver can be monitored) goes dark and with it, everything else. The owner can no longer access the functions whose icons no longer appear.

There is nothing to tap or swipe.

Teslas – and a rapidly increasing number of new cars, including non-electric cars – use telescreens (LCD touchscreens) to both display information about the car’s workings and to work the car’s systems, including the stereo, AC and so on. When you lose the screen, you lose control over those functions.

Not just one.

No screen, no anything.

So – effectively – no car

To get those functions back, you’ll have to replace the fritzed out telescreen/touchscreen – and/or whatever else is wrong with the car’s electronic guts.

The Teslas also won’t recharge when the screen goes dark – which is like having an IC car with a fuel door that won’t unlock.

You ain’t a’ goin’ nowhere, city boy.

Not until you pay Tesla a lot of money.

Replacing the sick chip entails specialist work and about $1,800-$3,000 according to the InsideEVs article which publicized the problem and quoted several Tesla experts, including Robert Coltran – who described the process as follows:

“We remove the MCU from the car and dismantle it completely. Then we are able to extract the unique identifying authentication keys from the eMMC even though part of it is corrupt. These keys are necessary for the car to authenticate against the Tesla network and give the user access to firmware updates and the Tesla app.”

Note the italicized portions.

In order to perform the repair – and not just this repair – the “user” must be “authenticated” before he is allowed to “access the Tesla network.” Back in the pre-telescreen and eMMC days, one didn’t need to obtain permission from Rochester to adjust the choke. And more importantly, Rochester couldn’t adjust the choke for you. 

Tesla has reversed this relationship.

It exerts physical control (via electronic control) over other people’s property. Well, what is at least still nominally other people’s property. The Tesla buyer’s name may be on the title paperwork but if Tesla retains control over the vehicle then Tesla owns the vehicle as a practical matter. The person who paid for it is in a position similar to that of the “owner” of a cell phone that’s “no longer supported” by the manufacturer and rendered useless, just like that. Or which insolently “updates” itself whether you asked for the “update” or not.

There’s another analogy, too.

The Tesla owner is like the “homeowner” who paid off his mortgage years ago but continues to receive demands for money from the actual owner of his home – i.e., the government. 

Which also requires him to obtain its permission to build an addition or put in a new bathroom. In some cases, even to change the windows or exterior color of “his” home. But at least the government isn’t – yet – an electronic presence in your home.

Wait. The “Internet of Things” (not just cars) is coming.

Meanwhile, we have this spectacle to marvel at.

Four-year-old Teslas that stop working – until their owners drop $1,800-$3,000 to repair them. If a Ford or Chevy or Toyota – if any non-electric car – took a dump like this at four years or even eight years out, it’d trigger howls of outrage, rightly so. A car that took such a dump would be considered a lemon. Bad news.

But the news coverage of this business is insouciant. It is No Big Deal. Just roll with it. Or rather, don’t.

And this is just the beginning, probably. Because EVs are enormously complicated electronic devices –  and electronic things just don’t last as long as mechanical things. How many people are reading this article on a computer more than five years old? How about ten? How old is your sail fawn?

EVs are going to develop expensive problems much sooner than their IC analogs. EV motors may be simple things – but the electronics which control the car are not. Especially the electronics which control the battery pack and its discharge/charge cycling. Over time – over hot summers and cold winters and humid days and jarring potholes and all the other things a car is exposed to, every day – chips will fritz, solderered connections will fail, motherboards will crack – and that will be that.

And Elon will smile. So will the other purveyors of EVs, who will be able to charge you sooner (and harder) to unbrick your EV. And then sell you another one.

Mechanical things wear, too, of course. But they still work as they wear until they wear out. Brake pads that have used up 50 percent of their wear surfaces still work perfectly well until they wear out the remaining 50 percent. A chip or motherboard either works – or not. One day the screen lights up.

Tomorrow it doesn’t.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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148 COMMENTS

  1. Eric,

    After reading your interesting article and wading through the voluminous and entertaining comments that follow it I think you and your readers have overlooked a much more profound problem than the ones mentioned in this article. If that memory module is mission-critical then it should be redundant. Hell, don’t just kvetch about not being able to get your eco-ego-robo-buggy out of your garage, think about what happens if the system fails while one of these 4000 pound cell phones is flying down the highway at 80MPH…

    The question you should be asking, and answering for your readers is whether the Tesla mission-critical modules have redundancy and fail-safe capability. It’s one thing to grouch about needless tech where tech actually reduces functionality or increases fragility, but what about omissions of tech where it should be absolutely necessary? The failure of the Voyager spacecraft systems would have been extremely costly and indeed, mission-ending. That’s why the Voyager systems were built to be redundant and able to be swapped on the fly. The consequences of system failure are similarly consequential for a Tesla. It is unacceptable for one to fail in the middle of the highway at freeway speeds or on a busy street populated with other vehicles and pedestrians. Are the mission-critical system redundant? Given a system failure, is the failure mode safe? Do Tesla’s gradually auto-brake to a stop if the telescreen blows its caps and goes dark? Even if we suppose the person in the front seat is at least marginally competent to operate a motor vehicle, if the system is all drive-by-wire there’s nothing the “pilot” can do to avert a crash if the system goes down while the car is moving.

    • Knowing Tesla, there’s likely no redundancy at all. Like I said below, they’re pretending to be a car manufacturer while still acting like a fly-by-night tech startup.

  2. The only thing more ridiculously makework counterproductive than supernatural religions are their secular doppelgangbangers. Like & including, but not limited to, the 501©(3)’s that air castle gov housing project subsidy-residence the “recognized” supernatural religions. When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer, superstition ain’t the way ♪♫♪

    So much more so ridiculous are “in secular gods we trust” that they are like water to fish. “Water? What the hell is that?,” ask the oblivious•chools•caled®ones.

    “You have been weighed, you have been measured, & you have been found wanting.” A M. Knight’s Shyamalan Tale of catch (the schooled minnows) & release (the trained wo\manows)…a tale of self-invasive speciation…& specious spectacle…breaded, deep fat fried in ancient (older than La Brea) oil, & circuscized.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4APbwb3meU

    But unlike water to fish, deifications, secular & supernatural, are life wasting, life threatening, life taking…which, to some, cannibals mostly, is life enhancing – mad cow disease be damned. “Them’s good eatin’.” Whilst them eaten tend to call it all life affirming. Cogdis\respect of reality, either way.

    Value is subjective. Masochists will not be denied their valued sadists. Etc. Humanimal is in codependent “love” with hie(l hitler)rarchies. Yeah, the vowels are commutative. But the sentence, for most, is life – & never commuted.

    “Brooks, Kilroy was here.” Tell me Burgess Meredith’s ancient nose & Kilroy’s ain’t related.

    Musk sucking off, mythmouthamphetaminzing, the Tesla mythos•name does not fit. The nameplate that better fits is Milgram. zzzzzt!

    Subsidized buyers of subsidized authority give – & take – the electric shocks on command. Cuz tongued nature fits the grooved nurture o’ schooled minnows-to-wo\manows *tight* — the one\former begets the other\latter.

    So nature brings its own glue to the glue factory – Stuckhome Syndrome — coals to Newcastle style, squeezes hell outta’ the lumps & proclaims diamonds. Breathe deep, the gathering gluemmm, huff & watch lights fade from every room…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOreMkVIZW0

  3. “But at least the government isn’t – yet – an electronic presence in your home.” Sorry, Eric, but it IS. Smart (electric) meters have the capability to see you walking around in your home and to hear every conversation, just as the New World Order via UN Agenda 2030 want. The meta-data gleaned from smart meters is worth TRILIONS to businesses around the world. stopsmartmeters (dot) org

    • “Smart (electric) meters” can see through walls?
      It would be easy to stop smart meters by requiring that they be UL approved, because none of them are.

    • Tom, I had one forced on me. My meter is 250′ from the house. I put an old round baler right in front of it. Probably it doesn’t see much or hear much but it might well spy on my wifi.

      • The way they spy on ya is by sensing specific electrical loads…. They can tell when lights are turned on or off; when the fridge is running; when the dishwursher is being used; the Tee-vee, etc. By doing so, they can tell if you’re home vs. if timed/automatic appliances are just running; what rooms you’re in or going between etc.

          • Al-Gore-Rhythms…not perfect, but they can cget an idear.

            1000W in the bathroom for 5-10mins?-Hairdryer.
            14W goes off in the bedroom….14W goes on in terlit?= Taking a crap.
            400W on in the kitchen for 25 mins every hour or so?= Fridge….

            Add in “smart” appliance (for those stupid enough to buy ’em), and between the two….they got you surveilled at home…..

                • Nunz, have one on my bedside table…..always turned away from me. LED is harsh and now too many studies have show it to ruin your vision.

                  • I believe it, 8. (That they ruin vision, not that you have one on your bedside table…who’d believe that? 😉 )

                    I notice when I go to Lowe’s, my Mr. Magoo-ism is worse than it normally is; I can hardly see in that store, despite the fact that it’s brightly lit…. I think they switched to LEDs. (Flourescents are bad enough on me….but Lowe’s is 10x worse….and it never used to be- so I can only assume…)-And that’s just the immediate effect…..

                    • Nunz, I know some people are more sensitive to light sources and sounds and what have you. When I was young(and could still hear those high-pitched sounds you can’t hear when you get older, I refused to go in some stores cause they would cause me pain from the high-pitched noise of fluorescent lighting.
                      I still hear high sounds other people can’t although, like right now, it’s in my brain….tinnitus.

                  • 8, I agree about the harshness of LEDs, and they’re being pushed at us from all sides. I’m sticking with incandescents here. Bought a bunch of them to sock away when the gunvermin were threatening to outlaw ’em.

                    For desk and nightstand use I use old Tensor lamps. (Remember those? They have a transformer in the base and use 12V automotive bulbs.)

                    • Jason I remember them and sure wish I could find a couple. We have one lamp with an S base that works well but now nearly everything you find in an S base is LED.

                    • 8, although I have one or two purchased new way back when, I’ve also found some at thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales for a few bucks. You can find Tensor Lamps on ebay too, but most sellers want crazy money.

                      The original bulb used in most Tensor lamps is #93, which is getting a little hard to find. A #1003 will work as well. (Basically it just needs to be about a 1 amp 12V bulb with a bayonet base.)

                    • Thanks Jason, I have a scad of 1003’s I never thought I’d use. I’ll keep looking. Think I have 1103’s too, the latest thing before the latest thing. ha

          • The smart meters have a network called HAN or Home Area Network. This allows the smart meter to communicate with smart devices. However for older things they can measure back EMF. With enough data on old things they can determine what it is that has been switched on. Even if that’s only generically like ‘washing machine’.

            I read a IEEE paper on the process back in the early 2000s.

            Of course if you talk about the HAN or back EMF measurements around normal people they’ll call you a conspiracy theorist because the electric companies have denied most of the features of smart meters exist or promised not to use them. All one has to do of course is read the sales brochures or technical specs from the smart meter manufacturers to learn all they can do.

            • They’re certainly not using them for safety. They damn near burned down a small town’s downtown area where the few stores were left near me.

            • I downloaded an IEEE document about smart meters, and it gives you the straight dope on HANs and everything. The meters communicate with the utility company, big time. Either they communicate with the meter on the pole in your neighborhood; or if out of range, the meters ‘daisy chain’ the transmissions from one house to the next until the data can be transmitted to the neighborhood meter. No matter how you slice it, the smart meter reads your data, and sends it to the utility company…

              • They claimed they only sent data every few minutes. In every test I’ve read they say they send data every 5-6 seconds.

                Mine sends it 1/2 mile prompting the baler in front of it. Glad it’s 250′ from the house. Underground service was the best move I ever made.

              • The IEEE doesn’t produce documents about specific products. They just produce documents about their own standards. As to whether any particular smart meter meets any particular IEEE standard, you’ve have to ask the manufacturer. Even if the individual smart meter is compliant with a particular IEEE standard, that provides no certainty that any network it might be operating on is as well.
                Just because you are paranoid is not an indication that there is a smart meter out to get you. The only way to know what any particular digital device is capable of is to get on the network with it and attempt to make it do whatever you want or don’t.

      • There are plenty of other things that can spy on your wifi if it can’t spy on itself.
        Removing the battery from your cellphone is like putting it on airplane mode. It will remember everything it is programmed to and transfer the data as soon as it is in contact with the network again.

        • Ya use wi-fi, sailfawns, The Cloud, Kindle, etc. you do so with the idear that there are prying eyes…and gatekeepers, etc.

          Even my wired inty-net connection…..it’s less than the others…but of course, nothing’s truly private.

    • I don’t know if a smart meter can see you, but it CAN tell what you’re using inside your house. Each device impacts the AC differently, and the smart meter can see how the AC is impacted. Therefore, based on the info of what’s being used & when, the can definitely know when you’re home

  4. This reminds me of household appliances like washers, dryers and refrigerators which once were purely mechanical devices that never failed. Now they are burdened with a profusion of microchipped circuit boards that are the weak link in the device. It costs as much to have it repaired as it does to buy a new one, and you’re lucky if it runs five years. I’m wishing I could still buy a washer with a wringer and an agitator you fill with a hose like grandma had in her basement. Even a new gas stove won’t work when the power goes out. At least my CampChef propane camp stove works without a chip.

    The world doesn’t need human labor anymore because robots are going to take over and do everything. Technology and automation are the future. At what cost? Technology will always be our savior! Technology will solve all our problems! Kneel you heathens at the alter of our god, Technology!

    Having said all that, technology does continue to march forward and has plenty it can point to in the way of progress. I’m driving a 23 year old General Motors vehicle that has electronic fuel injection controlled by an ICU that has never failed. (Knock on wood).

    • Hi Hank,

      A friend of mine and I were talking the other day and this friend pointed out that almost all of this is emanating from Silicon Valley, which “maxxed out” the market for actual computers and so created markets for computerizing practically everything. This has resulted in gratuitous tech. No meaningful improvement in the function or even convenience of the thing; just more complexity/cost – and disposability.

      A good example of this being the proposed elimination of physical exterior side mirrors and their replacement with cameras and images piped to an an LC display. Is this going to improve visibility meaningfully over physical exterior mirrors and the human eye?

      Maybe slightly. Probably not. But it’s a whole big mess o’ tech to do it. To replace a simple, extremely functional apparatus with electronics… for no real reason other than it’s possible now.

      On the same principle, why should anyone have to bother with manually standing up? Should we welcome powered body suits to make it easier? Why have to brush our teeth when it is now possible to stand there – in our powered body suit – and have an electronic device – a toothbrush drone – clean our teeth for us as we stare vacuously at the Telescreen?

      • eric, that stuff is cheap and cheap to install. Lots more stuff to make and install on electric mirrors. Now that China isn’t recycling our glass and plastic I’m waiting for that cataclysmic load of garbage that led off Idiocracy.

      • Heh, Eric, I drew a cartoon, probably in the early 90’s, of a car with no windshield- just sheetmetal where the glass should be, with a lends mounted in the middle.

        Sadly, the idea doesn’t seem at all far-fetched these days. At the time it was a statement of absurdity; now…I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were to come out on next year’s models……

        That’s the point of absurdity this world has come to.

      • Maybe we should have believed “Thomas Watson, president of IBM in 1943, when he said “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

    • I was passing through a small town and turned on my wifi seeking. I checked it afterwards and the thing that stood out was Samsung refrigerators. They must sell of lot of them and probably a great many people don’t even know they’re a wifi hotspot just looking for a connection. Or as Eddy Murphy infamously said “wookin puh nub”.

      • My phone detected the wifi of a dishwasher a couple weeks ago.

        It’s just nonsense. Then again maybe they are removing the buttons and displays to save money. Make you control it over wifi and use your own device. Then later on they can stop supporting control over your appliances and then you have to buy new ones or engineer yourself a way around it.

                • Mmmmboy, as a Texan I guess I’d love that ludefisk and haggis equally even though I am Scottish. And somebody recently declined to try mountain oysters but that’s not just a smorgasbord of internal parts cooked in a stomach. They were hungry for a while to come up with either of these dishes. I remember when Cotton and Bobby chowed down on the ludefisk and Bobby burned down the church.

                  • Haggis, my friends is sheep’s stomach stuffed with heart, lungs etc and some fillers…..the first time I was in Scotland there was an article about a man who was sacked from his job at the frozen haggis factory for bowling with the frozen haggis….
                    OTOH, lutefisk is a salted, dried whitefish stuck in a can with lye until it swells up and becomes gelatinous…I was offered and declined to taste said when I lived in Sweden….I figured it was the Swedish national joke on foreigners, but in reality it is part of their christmas tradition…..

                  • offal
                    (ˈɒfəl)
                    n
                    1. (Cookery) the edible internal parts of an animal, such as the heart, liver, and tongue

                    pun
                    (pŭn)
                    n.
                    A play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on the similar sense or sound of different words.

          • Saw a young kid just out of college, majored in Cyber Security, driving a perfect 95 Chevy pickup. Said he wouldn’t have a new one as I did. His dad has a new Chevy. He plugged a bluetooth dongle into his lap top….unlocked the doors on his dad’s pickup, started it up and put it in reverse. We talked locks for a while. I had a key to fit his toolbox. He’s up on cyber security but not physical locks.

              • Watch Lock Picking Lawyer on Youtube- Even an amateur can breach just about any lock- key or electronic- but the electronic ones/fingerprints ones etc are usually the easiest.

                My nephew decoded a 4-digit combination lock in about 2 minutes when he was a teenager, and he’s a freaking idiot.

                • after watching LPL I’ve realized my security idea of multiple locks of different brands etc is probably the way to go. Now none of the locks will stop anyone with skills by themselves but each one will take time.

                  • Thing is too, Brent, unless we’re talking the cream-of-the-crop top professional burglars who burgle real high-end places, the average run of the mill burglar probably doesn’t have the skills to thwart the better locks. (Unfortunately, now they can learn them on Youtube 😀 )

    • I bought an Icom IC-R70 communications receiver second hand in the early 1990s. It stopped working a couple of days later, under the store’s warranty. They gave it to a datacom genius, who fixed the problem permanently, at no cost to me. It has worked flawlessly ever since.
      It has a microprocessor on every one of its circuit boards, having an internal intranet.
      Those products that are properly designed with intrinsic embedded processors can easily outlast and outwork those without any solid state components at all.
      The problem is not in the design but in the designer.

  5. Eric’s column here today is one of the best examples of why he should be read regularly. Sure, he has his issues which get overblown (mandatory car insurance is for liability coverage if you hurt others, not property damage to your car, that’s optional), but generally he digs up nuggets of information otherwise overlooked.

    The Tesla EV chip failures are a good example. We all know how modern electronics work. Zero or one. Not much in-between. And four years is nothing for a normal car purchase lifespan. So aside from the electrical storage problems, EVs have this dramatic die off problem. Zero or One. One is great on day one, but on day four years plus one, you might get that Zero. Then you have a costly pile of batteries to dispose of.
    Thanks to Eric we can learn about these problems before hand. Elon ain’t going to tell you, so who else is?

      • Amen, Ernie!

        The chief moral argument against mandatory insurance is that it punishes people for harms they haven’t caused; the chief practical argument against it is that by mandating it, it becomes much more costly for responsible people to buy it. Hell, I’d pay for reasonable coverage without a gun to my head. But because they do put a gun to my head, the cost is extremely unreasonable… which is a thing most of the people who favor mandatory insurance still don’t grok.

        • Amen, Eric!

          They make those of us who have never hurt anyone nor damaged anyone’s property, pay and pay….over decades! We continue to drive without causing harm…and yet the price of the insurance goes UP over time! And we get to pay this all of our lives!

          And even though I’d personally carry liability insurance even if it weren’t mandatory….just think how much cheaper it’d be if it didn’t have government guns behind it?! -Not to mention if companies could insure drivers vs. every individual car you own!

          Car insurance I have to pay more for but have never had a need for..
          And now they want to force me to buy health insurance also that I don’t need?!

          What’s next? [I’m afraid to ask!]

          Oh..and I sent ya an email, Eric.

        • I’ve thought about this mandatory insurance bullshit and thought, would it be cheaper if it was done in a not for profit way? I know it would never happen, but if the legislators that made the laws has stipulated that it had to be not for profit, would it be better? It would be cool if the only thing that can determine your premium and what you pay is if you have crashes, I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud here, I know, it’s all a fuckin’ fantasy.

          • Hi Adam,

            My cure for what ails us (as regards insurance) is simple: Leave people free to say no. The cost of anything you’re forced to buy is naturally going to be higher than anything you don’t have to buy – because of the market pressure applied by no.

            Insurance companies would have no choice – if they wanted the business – to offer rates that buyers considered worth the expense. Imagine that!

            People who have never had claims filed against them would – and should – pay practically nothing for “coverage” they will almost certainly never need. But thousands of such paying say $100 annually would generate a sum ample to deal with the very occasional incident. It would be a good deal – for the responsible/competent.

            Shouldn’t it be so?

            Certainly, some people would drive without insurance if they were legally able to do so. But the fact is, plenty do so now anyhow. The difference under my scenario is that responsible people would pay much less and so have more money to deal with potential damages that might arise as a result of the irresponsible actions of uninsured people. I added it up once and if I had back all the money I’ve been forced to pay to the mafia over the past 30-plus years, I’d have more than enough to buy myself a new car – or pay to fix someone else’s.

            Of course, risk will still exist. That, however, is the price of freedom.

            It’s one I’d happily pay.

          • Eric,
            I’d rather everyone take care of their own business and responsibilities.
            The problem is that there a direct correlation between the likelihood of someone skirting their responsibility and their likelihood of getting away with doing so, due to the corporations that the writers of the Constitution lacked the majority to vote out of the document.

        • “How else would you make certain that everyone has insurance?”

          How is done now? It isn’t really, is it? Lots of people still drive without insurance, without license, while prohibited anyway.

      • A few points that support your point on insurance. A friend of mine, was rear ended by a drunk driver at a red light on her drive home, second shift RN. Less than a year later a drunk ran a stop sign, in front of the cop who happen to be behind her, and the drunk hit her front fender. Both times the drunks were convicted for drunk driving. Her insurance company dropped her for being an, unlucky driver. Seems to me that luck and voodoo are one of the same. So by law, drivers insurance rates can and at times are set by voodoo.
        I have never had a ticket or an accident, over 45 years of perfect driving. Yet my driving record isn’t the main game to set my rates, statistics are. But when there is actual data that is backed up by decades of real facts, statistics are needed to create a finding, to charge higher rates.
        Years ago the state of CA were looking at charging liability insurance at the gas pump by adding on X amount extra per gallon of fuel. That insurance was going to be no fault. The lawyers shut it down like greased lightning.

        • Isn’t it funny?! Your GOOD driving record doesn’t count FOR you; but if you so much as got a ticket or two, suddenly your “bad” record would most definitely count AGAINST you.

          How can they have it both ways? Rate you on statistics if you have a good record; rate you by your record if you have a bad record!

          • Morning, Nunz!

            Precisely. I’ve got a record of decades of accident-free driving but even one traffic ticket (which isn’t an accident) and the bastards will force me to pay more. I’ve established – by my actual record – that I’m a “safe” driver, no matter my tendency to drive fast and pass Clovers as needed and not fully stop at every stop sign, paying obeisance to it like a savage addled by cactus juice. But the fact of my record – and the extremely low risk profile it implies – doesn’t matter. I still am forced to pay and pay and pay… and pay more, if I get a ticket or two.

            • Couple of years ago a friend rear-ended a group of illegals at night with no lights on. There were witnesses corroborating her story but the cops just cut the illegals loose since they had no DL. That’s a big problem for everyone in Texas. Two sets of rules. She had to “eat” that car.

              Back before mandatory insurance due to the plethora of Mexicans in this country, we always had “uninsured driver” on our insurance for several vehicles. It cost about a dollar or two per vehicle.

              Then mandatory came along and we had to choose which pickups to keep because of insurance.

              You can be unlucky or not paying attention. With a CDL and 3 non-fault wrecks in 2 years and nobody will hire you. Mostly 2 at fault accidents in 2 years and your job prospects are nil….3…..no way.

              • I haven’t ever had a chargeable accident or a moving violation since I got my CDL in 1990. Nobody wants to hire me because I want to work what is considered part time for truck drivers, 4 or 5, 10 or 8 hours days, respectively. I’d go longhaul if I weren’t afraid of my employer winding up like Arrow Trucking, several of whose abandoned trucks I moved to auctions after Daimler Credit killed the company.
                Only 650+ trucking companies have failed this year, so far.

            • And ya know what really kills me, Eric? All this fuss they make about the evils of “profiling”- and yet, they can profile us when it comes to forced insurance, even in spite of readily available “official” record which PROVES our actual performance, and is contradictory to what any profiling might suggest!

              So apparently, the only reason for even keeping a record of our driving, is just to punish us and reward the insurance companies for our transgressions of arbitrary rules; but when that record proves our competency, it means nothing…..

              This is probably the most common and familiar example of fascism one could ever even imagine.

              • “So apparently, the only reason for even keeping a record of our driving, is just to punish us and reward the insurance companies for our transgressions of arbitrary rules; but when that record proves our competency, it means nothing…..”

                Story of my life and career. That’s how things are all over. Find some little arbitrary flaw to justify ignoring everything good.

        • Hi Mark,

          On insurance: It’s generally a great bet for the house. I figured that out a long time ago. Certainly, risk attends driving, some of that risk out of your control entirely. But the majority of the risk can be mitigated by competence and responsibility. This is demonstrated by the fact that many people who’ve been driving for decades have never had a claim filed against them.

          But even risk isn’t the fundamental issue. It is freedom to assume it.

          The premise behind mandated insurance is authoritarian. That it is acceptable to punish people not for harms caused but because of harms they might cause. Once this principle is accepted, freedom no longer exists in principle as well as fact. If you can be forced to hand over money for harms you haven’t caused with your car then certainly you can be forced to hand it over for harms you haven’t caused with your gun. Or because you yourself might… somehow. Intellectually – as a matter of principle – there is no limit to it. This is precisely why we are now forced to buy health insurance. This would never have happened had the precedent set by mandatory car insurance not been established.

          Having established the principle, I fully expect it to become mandatory for people who have paid off their homes to buy home insurance; also life insurance – and gun insurance, too. I can see no reason why not. All it will take is the expression of “concern” – and a media campaign – to get the job done.

    • I live in a mandatory insurance state. Yet I’ve been hit by the uninsured more than once. I have to pay for uninsured motorist coverage. It’s a worthless to regular people selectively enforced law for the benefit of corporations that paid to have it.

  6. They could use military/ satellite grade components and guarantee another 5-10 years out of warranty. For about another $15,000 upfront. Which is the price of a new IC Mitsubishi 44 MPG 3 banger, that comes with a 10-year 100,000-mile warranty.

    • The warranty on anything seldom has anything to do with what “grade” its components are.
      The extra cost goes towards covering the extra claims that will, inevitably, occur in a longer warranty period, regardless of what the warranty covers.
      Most of the higher grade of military or space components is based on their actually being tested more than actually being more.

      • T’is true! I bought my pool from a guy who used to own a chain muffler shop- He said that the “Lifetime guarantee muffler” was actually the crappiest cheapest one- same- same as the $19 muffler…..but since the warranty was only good for the person who owned the car when the muffler was put on, and most people don’t keep their cars but a couple of years, even if they had to replace it once or twice for free, it was still quite profitable at the $149 they’d sell it for.

        Lesson: Just because you’re paying more, doesn’t mean you’re getting better quality.

        We had gotten into the discussion because when he mentioned the pool warranty, I said “Those things are meaningless”. I bought not the cheapest, but the next step up pool. Just had my 13th season with it, and it’s still going strong. Best $1700 I ever spent!

        • Nunz, when I was in the roofing bidness I asked what the difference was in hide with a 10 year warranty and hide with a 20 year warranty. None, said the factory rep, just the warranty. Of course the 20 year hide costs more……for the warranty.

          • Yeah, 8….and I’d never pay more just for a warranty, ’cause when ya read the damned things, they always have more outs than a walk-in closet in Greenwich Village.

          • Kinda like my Hitachi weed-eaters. They awesome weed-eaters, but the 7-year warranty is a joke. Like if one breaks, I’m gonna drive 50 miles to “the authorized service center”, drop it off; come home; go back 2 months later when it’s fixed, and home again? 200 miles to fix a weed-eater?

            I bought ’em based on the good reviews, with the idear that if they break, I’ll just fix ’em myself and eat the cost, ’cause that’s usually the way it is anyway. Lucky, they ain’t broke!

            Funny though, One did come with a busted plastic part- the li’l cage around the muffler. I calls up Hitachi, and ackses them to send me a new plastic piece- and they start giving me a schpiel about the service center and all- so I tell ’em, “Well, if you don’t send me one, I’ll just return the damned thing to Amazon….” That did the trick! The guy was all lioke “Oh, we’re not supposed to do this…but…” He was all worried that unscrewing four screws and replacingf the simple non-mechanical part might be a little too much for the ignurnt consumer…..

              • How much more would I lose if I did exercise it?! (If it ever breaks within the 7 years…I’d be perfectly happy if I could just get them to send me the parts!)

                By-the-way, any of yous looking for good weed-eaters…these Hitachi (same as Tanaka) are amazing! Very light for a gas weed-eater…and I have about 5 years of heavy use on ’em, and they’re still as good as new! [Doesn’t apply if you can drive your residence a few feet away if the weeds grow under it]

                • The Hitachi blower I have is the best I’ve ever owned. I was interested in their weed- eater, but Home Depot and Lowe’s apparently discontinued them the year before last. I ended up with a RedMax. It’s fairly lightweight and balanced. We’ll see how long it lasts!

                  • No experience with RedMax, but I’ve always heard they’re supposed to be good.

                    I got my Hitachi’s when they first came out (I always buy groundskeeping stuff in duplicate!)- Only cost $184 on Amazon at the time, but then they went up into the 200’s….

                    But yeah, these things are great! I used to hate weed-eating, (And I usually do it for 5 hours at a time, and that ain’t even everything), but now I don’t mind it at all.

            • Nunz, there was a Sears store in Sweetwater Texas I bought a new chainsaw from . Took it home and used it for 30 minutes per instructions and waited till the next day to continue. I pulled the rope and it got about half way out and stopped me with a jolt.

              I had no doubt it had lost the rod bolts so I took it back and they wanted me to talk to the manager. Being a woman in charge of an entire store, she was a real ball buster(her reputation everywhere she workd)and told me they’d have it repaired. I said I had just bought it the afternoon before and needed it and wanted a new one. She repeated what she said the firs time.

              I want my money back then. So she had somebody start writing a check and I stopped em in their tracks and said No, I paid for it in cash and want my cash back.

              Back then they had to do that so they sullenly got the money out and counted it out to me. My good friend was right behind me. I turned around and gave him the money. He then said “I want to buy that chainsaw” and pointed to a saw identical to the one I got my money back on. She got it for him(we’re getting hate looks by the boss), told him what it would cost. He counted out the cash she’d just returned to me and we walked out with a new chainsaw. We could barely walk we were laughing so hard. To this very day, when someone pulls one of those shitties it always reminds us of that and we have a good laugh. “I’ll never forget the look on ol Dotty’s face” ha ha ha ha.

              • HAhaha! Now THAT is a great story, 8! Love it!!!!

                Ironically, I have a Crapsman chainsaw….was getting kinda ragged after 14 years of very light/occasional use, so I got me a new Chinky chainsaw.

                Figgered I’d spruce-up the old Crapsman as back-up…so I fixed up the carb and cleaned ‘er all up good (had already installed new fuel lines last year)….had it running once; it ran like new. Then it never started again. Looks like the electronic ignition thingy took a dump. Gotta see how much they go for…if it’s more than $20, it’s time for it to go bye-bye.

                20″ Chinky chainsaw, now that I learned it’s quirks and tweaked a few things, actually works darn good! $149.

                • Nunz, my Craftsman was a Roper and it was a good saw. I just wore it out. It had to go through that 83 winter when we had a month of 5 degrees to -5 degrees for a month. It killed some of everything including people. Wish I had a vid of the day I cut down a big mesquite tree and grabbed it by the top that was good sized to pull it around to some level ground and no rocks when it broke and I ended up on my right side in the middle of a prickly pear patch, still holding the running saw. Didn’t think I’d ever get loose.

                  Two hours later when the wife got home I was still sitting on the pot buck naked pulling spines with tweezers. Took me a while to get my jeans off since they were stapled on. I got a bit swelled up on that side and it hurt for a couple weeks. When she got there I put her in charge of getting those I couldn’t see on my back. Shit happens.

        • The other part of the “lifetime muffler” scam, Nunz, is that only the muffler is covered. Pipes and other parts are not, and usually by the time the muffler is shot other things will require replacement as well. So when you go back to claim the lifetime warranty you’ll get another crappy muffler for free that cost the shop next to nothing but get charged out the wazoo for everything else.

          In the mid-1960s AMC offered a lifetime warranty to the original owner on the entire exhaust system, which was ceramic coated. Needless to say it didn’t really work. Back then people usually only kept a new car for a few years though so I don’t think there were many claims. (I guess if there’s anyone out there that still has a Rambler they bought 50+ years ago they could try going to a Fiat-Chrysler dealer to claim a new exhaust system for freebies. 🙂 )

  7. EV or ICE, the very idea that they gimp everything by replacing simple mechanical or electro-mechanical controls with computers and touch screens….and that people line up to pay for it, is pretty much a microcosm of what’s wrong with the world.

    Imagine how simple an EV could be? Imagine how simple an ICE car could be; how simple they used to be! But now, even on BICYCLES, the latest thing is “electronic shifting”, where, rather than merely shifting gears via a lever and a cable attached to a derailleur, they now have a rechargeable battery, computer, electronic switches and servos…just to accomplish a simple mechanical task….. And people buy this…voluntarily…..

    I wish Mark Twain was alive to comment on this BS! I can only imagine!

  8. Watched this YT video the other day by two soyboy Tesla suckers. I laughed out loud when one triumphantly explained that when he got his notice from PG&E his power would be turned off, he got it at the same time on his Tesla. Oh boy, a dead car in the dark for a few days….but he was ecstatic. Got that message right off the Tesla. He didn’t mention Driving that Tesla while the power was off. You gotta wonder what’s in the water in Ca.

    • Eight, that reminds me of video I saw where a reporter rode around with a city enforcer (in Taxachusetts, if I remember correctly) looking for unlicensed scofflaws “preying” on homeowners after a severe storm. They pulled up in the nick of time to a house where a tree had fallen on the garage. The owner of a rigging company was directing his neatly uniformed crew as they prepared to lift the tree with a crane that appeared to be brand new and more than up to the task. Not so fast, buddy boy! Let’s see your license! The owner explained that although he was not licensed to do tree removal, he was in the rigging business and knew how to lift heavy objects.
      Nothing doing! So the crew shook their heads and started packing up. Later when the reporter stuck her microphone in the homeowner’s face, he thanked the city “worker” for saving him from certain ruin. But when he turned to look at his house, the expression on his face was priceless: “Ah crap: there’s still a tree on my garage!”

  9. My old 2010 Samsung flip phone is the only phone I use. I am writing this on a 10.5 year old laptop, with a few fixes along the way to keep it going. Still, I have had numerous electronics crap out and fixed a few myself, but some were to far gone or parts were not worth the cost, if they were even available. I will never trust the electronics in cars to last very long. Like Eric states…it either works or doesn’t. I imagine like most electronics, they will work most of the time for most people. But when they don’t it can be a major pain. It’s pretty much the luck of the draw as to if you will get a lemon. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in many instances, a certain percentage of these things were designed to fail…just to keep the profits rising on repair bills. Having closed systems means that the manufacturer becomes the repairman of choice (actually there is little choice) and thus the money rolls in. Just like the drug industry, it doesn’t pay if everything works and people don’t get sick and cars don’t break down.

  10. “but but but EVs have so many fewer parts than smelly ICE’s and they wont break down!”
    -some idiot on teslerati or electrek

  11. Heh, here where I live these RAD bikes are all the rage. Big fat tires lots of framework, etc. Lots of mods like cargo racks, baby carriers, etc. Was talking to a friend who has one and he tells me they go like stink and can go “anywhere.” So, I ask what happens when a battery dies or a wire breaks or a controller dies I ask. Pray you’re close to home cause pedaling this thing is a bitch he says. Hmm thinks I.

    @BrentP yeppers, dropped my blackberry Blackberry in the water a few years ago
    Thought it was a goner, even did the rice bag trick. Pulled it out last week, thought maybe I could access the data. Darn thing fired right up. Sure it’s no Motorola but pretty cool. No androids ever done that for me and I’ve got a stack of them. Funny story, a co-worker years ago was headed out to work in a helicopter. Door off, HP Tough book on the floor next to him. 100 ft up, he turns, kicks it out. Bounces off the skid, lands next to the interstate. Damn!!! Vendor supplied laptop with all our and their data. We are SO in trouble! Land, grab it. Fired right up! Yep, you can design things with MTF in mind but most don’t anymore. I shudder to think of the state of military and infrastructure hardware. I’ve got a old two cylinder Isuzu diesel boat engine I got for helping repower a friend’s boat. Was going to sell it but thinking now I might keep it, turn it into a generator someday or use it to power something. Way better to keep it around than some modern engine that may go fzzzzt first use out of the box me thinks.

    • Bought two Toughbooks used and both work great in less than ideal conditions. Could not afford a new one but the used ones are a real bargain.

  12. Pardon me for asking a stupid question, but why isn’t this covered under warranty? I just checked TM’s website, and their coverage is 4 years/50K miles, whichever comes first. These cars should be covered!

  13. This is just another form of incompetency or planned throw-it-away-ism by Tesla Motors. They quite obviously never put this unit through accelerated life testing. Electronics can be made to last close to forever, but simply aren’t for many consumer level things. Ask Motorola about how designing cellphones for the long haul turned out for them. They used to be proud of phones that lived through fires and were used to chuck railroad cars. Someone I once knew lost his phone where he street parked his car in Chicago in the winter. When the snow started to melt a week or so later he found it. Damaged. It still worked. It had been run over by car. Try that with today’s smart phones.

    Things last if they are built to last and built thoughtfully. High end computers work for a very long time. But they also cost thousands of dollars brand new. I buy them used. They run and run.

    But back to TM. If TM did a proper accelerated life test that memory chip problem would have been discovered. My guess is they didn’t bother doing the test. When I worked in consumer electronics a failure like this would have been detected.

    • If true this is par for course given what we know about Tesla. The vast majority of the problems with their cars come from not thinking things through and just plain not giving a rip about anything. They’re trying to be a car company, but they operate like a fly-by-night tech startup – “Hey look at this shiny new thing, now let’s slap ’em together and move on to the next shiny new thing.” They’re like a rolling metaphor for Keynesian economics – a fancy, shiny exterior hiding slapdash inner workings.

      When the first wave of EVs starts to “age out” and you start to see batteries going EOL, well, I’d lay money that Teslas will be some of the first to become effectively unusable.

    • I dropped my old Motorola flip phone in to water. I opened it up, and laid it on the dash of my car on a sunny day. It was dry and worked when I got back from my bike ride. Motorola used to build some TOUGH phones! Motorola phones were the ONLY kind I’d use. The only reason I stopped using them is that they don’t make cell phones anymore… 🙁

  14. We’eve been through this similar concept with products we sold 10-20 years ago. To make such products cheaper but still work, they started putting circuit boards in place of many multiple relays. Worked, but what all the owners found out 5+ years later is the circuit board wasn’t made anymore making their products worthless, without many workarounds. If you could do a workaround it was big $.
    So we worked with some E-Engineers to design a totally non-proprietary system, using all relay logic. About 30% more up front but it will last almost forever. And you never have to worry about a part becoming obsolete.
    Only the smart people get it which are the customers we want.

    So Eric, you could say we re-designed your Trans AM and sell it today brandy new. haha….
    The masses are so screwed with this new stuff and they don’t know it yet.

  15. There is a reason ev died 100 years ago. This game of musical chairs will end soon. Get some popcorn it will be a fun ride to watch.

    • Amen, Stephen…

      It’s a kind of Tulip Mania that also speaks to the power of social pressure, manipulated by an inbred oligarchy that has effective control over almost all major media outlets.

      • I ignored the social pressure during the Dot-Bomb era. I scooped up some cheap eBAY and Amazon stock out of the debris. Stupid me, I sold them when they quintupled in a few months.

  16. Musk is doing this to save the world not money. We all know that newer teslas save more energy and will revive the planet. How dare you question his motives. Tesla is the best car company out there. I never have problems with my tesla that can’t be fixed after waiting in the shop for 6 months for tesla parts. I enjoy paying my monthly car loan while renting another car waiting for my tesla to be fixed. I enjoy waiting for my 35k model 3 to be ready for pick up that is now 36.5k. You ICE lover make me sick

  17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wear_leveling

    EEPROM and flash memory media have individually erasable segments, each of which can be put through a limited number of erase cycles before becoming unreliable. This is usually around 3,000/5,000 cycles[5][6] but many flash devices have one block with a specially extended life of 100,000+ cycles that can be used by the Flash memory controller to track wear and movement of data across segments. Erasable optical media such as CD-RW and DVD-RW are rated at up to 1,000 cycles (100,000 cycles for DVD-RAM media).

    Did they cheap out and use craptastic flash? Did they cheap out on RAM so that the OS has to page out excessively to virtual memory? Did they cheap out and use lousy programmers who don’t know how to optimize code in a limited resource environment?

    I have a bunch of Raspberry Pi computers around the house. They all run on micro SD memory. The recommendation is to use 8 GB cards for most tasks. I get Sandisk 32 GB SD cards at Costco fairly cheap so I usually use them. The nice thing is that they wear level over a much wider area so they last much longer. When I was using cheap and small cards they’d die in a year or so (and I turn off most of the logging stuff too because it isn’t all that necessary). I have devices that have been in constant use for 4+ years without a problem. If a cable guy can figure this stuff out, what’s the problem?

    • I don’t understand why higher capacity SD cards would wear out at a lesser rate than smaller rated ones. You would think that because the smaller ones have lower density storage, it would require less to keep them going. Enlighten me, sir.

      • Wear leveling causes a rewritten block to get written elsewhere on the storage medium. With a larger medium, there are more blocks that are potential targets for any given write. 1 billion writes to a device with 1 million blocks means each block is written 1000 times. The same billion writes to a device with 10 million blocks, OTOH, means each block is only written 100 times. It’ll take another 9 billion writes to the larger device to get to the same amount of wear.

    • That’s EXACTLY what they did, go with cheap flash because Elon is only paying for offshore script kiddies to do his electronic design, I would bet money. They have no earthly idea of the real world consequences of design choices. If MATLAB don’t tell them, they have no clue. As my father would have put it, “that chemist is too stupid to know to shake the flashlight when it quits working!”.

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