The New Money Pit

56
1932
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

I’ve owned several Nissan Frontier pick-ups, including my current 2002 model, which is now almost 20 years old. I’ve decided to continue owning it for at least another 10 years – because it’s a whole lot cheaper to do that than buy a new Frontier.

Because new cars – and trucks – are the new money pits.

The way you don’t save money.

The reverse of the way it used to be, when buying a new car saved you from pouring more and more money into your old car or truck – which had long since become not worth putting more money into.

This happened pretty quickly because cars used to wear out faster and so cost more to keep on the road the longer you kept them. That’s no longer true, either – but in a different way (more on this follows).

The main thing is, it’s often cheaper these days to repair what you have than to replace what you have – with something new.

Leaving aside all the other disincentives to buy almost anything new.

Among the heavies, their creepy “connectedness” to corporate-government interests that are interested in monetizing, monitoring and micromanaging our every move and every inclination.

Without or knowledge or our consent.

I prefer my relationship with my vehicle to remain between us – and I most definitely have no interest in anyone else having any way to listen in on or know about what goes on inside my vehicle.

That means no embedded cameras, microphones, hard drives or WiFi. Which means nothing that’s new, because they all have some if not all of the foregoing and there is no way to know whether they’re on and no surefire way to turn them all off – short of melting the whole works into slag.

And even then . . .

There is also this insufferable “assistance” business – which is nothing of the kind. It is programmed-in pre-emption. The vehicle intervening to chasten/correct you over your driving.

This is nothing less than having an electronic mother-in-law backseat-driving all the time. I’d rather have the mother-in-law, since you can kick her to the curb.

The “assistance” tech, not so easily done.

There is also the over-teched/disposable aspect of new vehicles. They are less and less owner-repairable and more and more likely to be rendered economically useless on account of some critical electronic functional component bricking – without which the vehicle won’t run or won’t run right – that is no longer available or which costs so much it’s not worth replacing it.

A good example of this being the tablet-style touchscreens that one uses to tap/swipe most of the car’s functions. Almost every new car – and truck – now comes standard with these things. They are getting bigger with each new model year and used to control more of the car’s essential functions. Instrument clusters are becoming flatscreens, too. And almost everything in a new car is controlled remotely, via signals rather than directly, through cables and switches.

People are attracted to these glittering, glitzy Ebaubles in the way that seagulls at the beach are attracted to pieces of shiny tinfoil. But ten years hence, these “state of the art” displays will look as cheesy as your 2012 flip phone does today. And like your old flip phone, it is probable your in-car tablet’s OS will no longer be supported long before the car, itself, gets close to what would otherwise have been the end of its useful service life. Which until they began embedding all this stuff in cars was around 20 years- the age my ’02 truck almost is.

And still going strong.

Mechanically – as well as electronically. Because it doesn’t have a lot of electronics, beyond those that run the fuel injection system. It’s pretty simple – relative to anything new.

Thus, it still runs almost as new and will be easy to keep it running for years – even decades – to come.

It will this save me a lot of money – in addition to the money it has already saved me.

An example will convey the point I’m trying to make.

A new Frontier – the one Nissan just transformed from a modestly-sized, modestly priced and not over-the-top-tech’d pick-up like my Frontier into a nearly full-sized truck  – comes standard with a very full-sized price:

$27,840 to start.

This of course does not include the considerable add-on costs of the taxes (there are several) applied to new vehicles, which are all based on the price of new vehicles. Nor the cost to insure a new vehicle, based upon the repair/replacement of new vehicles, which is also maximally high.

But let’s call it $28,000 (rounding off) to run some numbers.

If I had to replaced the engine in my truck, which I may need to do – eventually – the cost would be somewhere in between $1,500 or so for a good used engine and around $3,000 for a new/rebuilt engine (as here). Because it’s a basically simple engine. No direct injection, turbocharging, variable cam timing or cylinder deactivation “technology.”

A going-through of the manual transmission (if necessary) and a new clutch will cost maybe another $2k.

Now the odometer of my truck’s drivetrain has been re-set to zero.

For about $5k, ballpark.

I still have $22k to spend – if I need to spend it. Which isn’t likely because it’s unlikely I’ll need to replace/repair everything – and certainly not now or all at once. 

That $22k is money I can use to make more money – not having paid the opportunity cost of spending it (and then some) on a new money pit.

It is also ample to pay for the as-needed replacement of worn suspension parts, brake parts, exhaust parts – and so on. Keeping in mind that these wear items also wear on new vehicles – with the difference being you haven’t got $22k (and then some) to spend on fixing what needs fixing when it needs to be fixed because you already spent the $22k (and then some) on the vehicle.

I could even have my truck repainted, to look as new – and the interior freshened while I’m there – and still have a tidy sum in my pocket rather than some finance company’s. Plus, the keys (the physical keys)  to a truck that isn’t over-teched, subject to electronic obsolescing and obnoxiously second-guessing of my every move while monetizing and monitoring my every move.

There’s one more perk, too:

Even if rebuilt to as-new it is still regarded by the government and insurance mafia as old – which is a boon as far as the taxes and insurance we’re forced to pay.

That alone saves thousands over the course of ten or fifteen years, which means you’ll have plenty of money on hand to fix whatever needs to be fixed – whenever it needs to be fixed.

I’ll soon be able to hang Antique Vehicle tags on it – and thereby avoid annual registration and “safety” inspections, too.

Now that is an investment – a word that applies to new cars (and trucks) like heterosexual applied to Liberace.

. . .

Got a question about cars, bikes, or Sickness Psychosis? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in! Or email me at [email protected] if the @!** “ask Eric” button doesn’t work!

If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos. 

We depend on you to keep the wheels turning! 

Our donate button is here.

 If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:

EPautos
721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079

PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)

My eBook about car buying (new and used) is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here.  If that fails, email me at [email protected] and I will send you a copy directly!

Share Button

56 COMMENTS

  1. I have a 2002 VW, which runs nicely, partly because my nephew put in a full day’s work or more to make sure it would be reliable. I am SO glad it isn’t any newer–but I wish it were even older because the key requires electronic signaling to start the motor.
    Year by year, the BigGuv requirements grow crazier and crazier. It’s not a one-time thing. It started about the 1970’s.
    In the late ’40’s/early ’50’s the US government tested cars parked near atomic bomb tests. Blew the windows out, of course, but the cars would start afterwards. Not today’s crap.
    Those old cars in good condition cost about as much as a new car–but they can be more reliable, and prettier.

  2. Avis car rental ad from 1970. “If you find a (maliase-era) Plymouth on Avis’ lot with more than 20,000 miles, you can keep it.” Never mind that most of them would never see 20K miles, espeically in a rental fleet. I think the automakers still miss those good old days of buying a new car every two years, look at smart phones and electronics, and figure they can just pile on. Build Back Better!

    https://youtu.be/ykMp2eZ2Qiw

  3. All these reasons and more are why I maintain and drive my 1992 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 five speed stick. Almost 30 years and still going strong. My greatest fear is that some cell phone texting idiot will crash into me one day.

  4. I heard on the AM radio that Mercedes and Tesla have a recall to eliminate the screens from being able to plat video games while driving. And no, I did not make this up.

  5. This article and the comments make me so glad to have my 2016 Tacoma. Nothing fancy about it: no remote entry, no cruise control, no “assists” of any kind. Just a basic pickup. I’ll hold on to it as close to forever as possible.

    • Hi Mike,

      Keeping what we’ve got is a kind of underground tsunami in that it is huge but not noticed – or rather, being reported. For the same reason it’s not being (generally) reported that the “vaccines” don’t immunize and that wearing a pair of your wife’s panties over your face doesn’t “stop the spread.”

      It’s also not just the practical-economic aspects. Every time I drive my ’02 Frontier after having driven a new press/test car, I am am reminded how nice it is to be in control of my vehicle rather than being second-guessed, prompted and pestered by it!

  6. Hi Eric,
    Great article as usual. Reading your blog helps me understand why there were “car guys” in the past. Growing up in the 90s and 2000s, I genuinely didn’t get it. The cars then looked lame and if you had a fast one, you couldn’t really drive it fast or risk getting a bigass ticket.

    With the blog, it’s now understandable why cars used to be COOL.

    Question for you, is there a time or point when you can point to the tide turning? You and others have said the 80s were the last real bastion of normalcy and freedom. Did it change when the clock hit 1990? Or was it a long slow agonizing progression, kind of like when people ask when the US hit high-water and turned. Was it 1957? 1913? 1860? 1787?

    • It has been a downhill slide since 1966. That was the year the Motor Vehicle Highway Safety Act was passed by congress. It mandated states follow the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and placed the first requirements for collapsible steering columns and seatbelts. Those and other features had merit, but the framework on which the regulations have been built have resulted in the monstrosity consumers face. After GM played their high school stunt to entice Ralph Nader with prostitutes to no avail (the guy doesn’t like girls), the automakers saw the writing on the wall. They began a long road in compliance. They did manage to generate opposition in the US congress to additional gas mileage requirements (above the 27.5 mpg cafe standard), but that domino fell in 2007 with the passage of the energy conservation act, which set no limit on what government could mandate. To date, automakers have opposed exactly no safety mandates because they discovered it was better for them to get in bed wit the government.

      This could end in one or two ways. A bad scenario would be that more and more junk be added to cars, the federal government outlaws the production of gas and diesel engines and the cost of a car goes to $100k.

      A better would be if a rebellious red state(s) decides to recategorize what kinds of vehicles are able to travel on their own roads after telling Uncle Shithead to pound sand on federal highway dollars. You could see a resurgence of new vehicles that don’t meet federal requirements but travel to and fro on state and even interstate highways. They would be manufactured here and would be operating under a different classification. The second scenario is the one that resides in my head only. It would be fun to tell the establishment to pound sand into a rathole

      • The MUTCD is a rulebook for governments to follow. Hence they often don’t follow it. It was also corrupted for the red light camera scam.

        FMVSS, the federal motor vehicle safety standard started by cutting and pasting SAE standards. The government took over what had been perfectly fine and progressing with technology and knowledge under SAE. Vehicle safety then stalled out for a several years then started to kick up again as automakers innovated. Innovations would then be mandated. Then after 1989 or so it became things were mandated then innovated to comply.

  7. The good old days (of cheap used cars) are gone for good, claims one observer:

    ‘Philip Nothard, insight and strategy director at Cox Automotive, said used car prices show no signs in reversing as there is no “tsunami of used stock” on the horizon and secondary markets have lost around 1.4 million vehicles.

    ‘He said prices might stabilize in mid-2022 as the market reverts to some normalization but said a new benchmark for used vehicle values has been established and may never return to pre-pandemic levels.

    ‘Nothard said the lack of supply and snarled supply chains of new cars “will, without a doubt, have a bearing on the sector for years to come.” — ZH

    Years to come! Eh, maybe, but I don’t think it’s that hopeless.

    People underestimate how a recession forces some weak hands to sell, and turns it into a buyers market for purchasers with cash.

    Let’s go Brandon … wreck the economy so’s I can buy me another 20 to 25-year-old classic vehicle that your government don’t allow to be built no more.

    Well the good ol’ days may not return
    And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn
    So I’ve started out for God knows where
    I guess I’ll know when I get there

    — Tom Petty, Learning to Fly

    • Jim, I tend to think the used car thing is only going to get worse and worse- seeing as how all of the cars made in the newer cars are unsustainable once out of warranty…and the older newer cars are already money-pits….the older used cars will increasingly be the only viable option…while their numbers are in perpetual decline. Private autonomous transportation is being phased out….. 🙁

      • It’s not just the used market that sucks. It’s also the market for aftermarket and OEM parts. I am noticing shortages on Rock Auto and other sites that I have never seen before.

  8. Reading this blog has convinced me to hold onto my 2009 Honda Ridgeline forever and maybe give it to my son someday (he’s 5). After 160k miles in 13 years it’s depreciated $22k. That’s less depreciation than the stupid BMW X5 I bought used from CarMax and sold two years later. Thankfully section 179 helped ease my suffering on that one.

    I did put an aftermarket screen in the dash for $400 so I could have Apple CarPlay (navigation) which is nice.

    I wonder how long until there are aftermarket kits to “downgrade” from a touchscreen to something retro with knobs and switches. Probably no doable but it would be cool.

    • It’s doable, just not easy or practical. It would require something that mimics the touch screen electrically that takes input from the knobs and switches and translates them into the touch screen signals.

      The easier way would be to add a new device with the knobs and switches on the car’s network and then reflash the car’s software to accept that device with the programming to know what those inputs do.

    • It’s sound policy, Swag –

      Your’09 Ridgeline has all the good stuff, including Honda’s brilliant V6. These can and regularly do go 250k-plus without major problems if maintained and treated well. The rest of that ’09 is also solid. No absurd 10 speed transmission/micro-turbo’d four, etc.

      Hang onto it!

      • Eric, my ’07 WRM has a turbo: First vehicle I ever owned, that had such, with it being a four-speed. Am not impressed with the cross-overs, and would have preferred a six-cylinder. The car has lasted this long, because I left the turbo alone. Apparently, others like to try and “tweak” it, and end up blowing up their engines-whoops. Most rarely make it past 80,000 miles. The last time I was at the dealership for service, one guy blew up his turbo after a mere, 15,000 miles on it. It was going to cost him a hefty $5,000 dollars to get it fixed. I do not know a darn thing about tweaking anything in that car. Hell, I can glean enough speeding tickets just the way I bought it-ha ha. But yes, faithfully getting it serviced every 30,000 miles, I think, has gone a long way towards its longer life span. Now if only the stupid, DOT in these parts would stop putting the brin (adding in “just a little bit of salt”) for the roads, and just stick with the gravel we are used to, maybe the rest of the car’s body would hold up just as well.

        • Hi Shadow,

          Turbocharging greatly increases cylinder pressure, which increase the pressure on bearings, rods and so on. The problem is exacerbated in small engines, which have smaller bearing surfaces to absorb the load. Some of the current micro-turbo’d engines (less than 2.0 liters) are running 20-plus PSI of boost. These things are hand grenades, waiting to blow up…

          The 455 in my ’76 Trans-Am only made 200 horsepower when it was new. But with 7.6:1 compression (very low cylinder pressure) which meant it was a very under-stressed engine that could easily absorb the load. It is why engines like that could last for decades – and be rebuilt multiple times, too.

          • Hello, Eric. Sigh, yes, I miss the days when I could at least do the most basic maintenance. It reminds me of the one comment on this site regarding not being able to do such a thing (I save a lot of the good ones that surface here). I think this is 2.5 litre engine I have. Even, still, early on in my ownership (and when I was still paying the loan off), I ended up getting two new cylinder heads. Which cemented my decision to try and keep this one running until it cannot be fixed anymore, since I shelled out that much money for those. I cannot even change the damned headlight bulbs anymore, and God forbid if the orange park light goes out: It takes the tech 40 minutes just to get to it! Aaah, I remember the old, two-door Valari I had many years years ago. It had a slant-six in it, and sounded even louder when the tail pipe rusted off-ha ha! But I could maintain it myself to a point. I surmise such days with fix-on-your-own vehicles are like good music: We have to look to the past to find either one.

    • I hear ya, Swag. The more articles I read here, the more I want to keep this vehicle I have forever. I have a 2007 WRX, and I just replaced the original clutch (standard) at 220,000 miles-an apparent new record for the dealership where I purchased the car years ago. I am about ready to roll over to 230,000 miles. Providing the supply chain does not completely go to hell, I plan on dropping a new engine into it when this one finally dies. I have no safety crap, no touch screens, no driver-assist garbage…not even the stupid, “hey-your-tire-is-low” nanny, either! And when I rent a vehicle while my car is being serviced, it just makes me appreciate my vehicle all-the-more. Even more of a trip: The last new car I rented did not have a CD player in it. I was stuck with listening to the radio while my car was being fixed, and could only hope a Pink Floyd song came on the station I was listening to…

  9. What about “safe” cars for old farts? I see very well at a anything over three feet (not a meter). Focusing on a stupid screen requires wearing reading glasses and it takes one’s eyes off the road. Some of the sleds require paging between screens so you might as well be texting. Give me knobs and analog any day.

  10. Has anyone looked at ways to disable the telemetry from a car?

    Such as physically disabling any WiFi or GPS? Will the car still run?

    Perhaps a software solution such as setting up a Pi Hole to trap any outgoing data?

    A way to flush all stored data before going to the dealer for service?

    Replacing the operating software with another open source system? Similar to replacing Microsoft Windows with Linux.

    Anon

    • cut the antenna- you will loose the radio, but you should be able to hook up another antenna for the radio itself alone
      If you want to stop the GPS, there are small jammers you can buy to plug into the cigarette lighter, but these transmit at all times with noise and do not stop your car from reporting, they just make your car’s signal untraceable

    • Cut the antenna wire and ground the end that goes into the electronics. Hopefully that won’t cause the onboard computer to gimp the car; probably depends on make and model year.

  11. Great points Eric.

    I have an 04 Frontier 2WD, 2.4L, Manual Trans.

    She has 135k on the clock. 40k of this was Michigan potholes.

    I just went through the entire steering and suspension : Control arms (new control are are cheaper than buying control arm bushings and ball joints – who knew), anti-roll bar bushings and links, leaf spring bushings, shocks, tie rod ends, idler arm, etc.

    I even had to replace the torsion bars since the passenger side welded itself into the control arm from rust. Since not available new – and getting them off a vehicle in a junkyard would be impossible, I went here for them.

    https://swayaway.com/product-category/torsion-bars/tb-nissan/

    Since I had it all apart, I also replaced all brake hoses, rotors, pads, drums, shoes, etc.

    About $1,200 into it. Rides like new – which is not to say smooth – but tight. Engine and clutch are still strong. I’ve seem some 2.4L frontiers for sale with 280k+ on the clock, so these engines seem to be pretty reliable. I’m guessing I’ll need to do the clutch someday – but not today.

    If you ever dive into the suspension on yours, know that the lower control arm bushing is in the frame – not the control arm. It is an absolute beeeeotch to remove. I had to have a bushing press adapter made on a lathe to get it out. That custom machined adapter cost me $110 and I’ll likely never use it again.

    I’m guessing your 02 is the same setup. If you dive into the job, you are welcome to borrow the bushing press adapter. You’ll need a very good impact wrench – or 2 days and a huge breaker bar. I’d highly recommend a good impact wrench.

  12. I’m going to look at a 60 year-old tractor today. It’s said to still have great oil pressure, and everything works as it should. And why not? They were just simple machines- a basic diesel engine; a mechanical no-nonsense tranny…..absolutely no electronics, internal solenoids, emission controls, computers, plastic, turbo chargers….. They lasted because they were designed to be as simple as possible, and were built like tanks…so they’d work until something major wore out…which, if treated properly and maintained could take the better part of a century. -As witnessed by the tractor I had when I first here to BFE – a 1949 model, which could still put in a full day’s work without breaking a sweat, and out-perform any modern tractor of similar size and power.

    We had the ability to do this…with tractors..with cars..with appliances- virtually anything- but we threw it away because we let them throw away our culture and heritage which had gotten us to that lofty pinnacle….and now we clamor for shiny baubles and the ‘privilege’ of lifelong debt-servitude to pay for the never-ending stream of their short-lived replacements. 🙁

    I don’t know who to pity more: The young, who will never the world which we have lost; or those of us who have experienced the tail end of that point in history when things were at their peak, and thus know what we have lost, and that such will never be regained.

      • An old IH B-275, Mike. Cool tractor if you can live without power steering and hydraulic remotes (No problemo!)- Unfortunately, this tractor had been abused and jigger-rigged and was a piece of crap. Guy couldn’t even get it started! Engine was covered in oil. Original 6V starter with like a 10 gauge wire to it, which in turn was hooked to an old battery cable that was almost shorting out on a tie rod…yada yada…LOL.

        This is why I refuse to drive more than about 40 minutes to look at anything. Had fun though…I towed it through the guy’s fileds with my truck as he tried to pop the clutch…..the only sound was my muffled laughter. (Luckily, it was only 10-15 minutes from where i had to go to run some errands today, anyway.)

        Guy: “If you wanna give me $1000 deposit, I’ll get it running and that way no one else’ll get it”.
        Me: “Uhhhh….I’ll take my chances”.

    • Never is a long, long time Nunz. These things run in cycles. What we are seeing is the end result of the “If you aren’t growing, you are dying” nonsense. Anyone who has any common sense (which lets out most people these days) knows that unlimited growth isn’t possible with limited resources. But various new technologies may hold the key to picking up the pieces, when the inevitable collapse takes place. Its no longer a question of if, but when. The entire debt based, fractional reserve, fiat system is heading for a hard crash (some speculate this was planned more than a century ago…). What comes after that is supposed to be the Great Reset™. Global central bank digital currency. But there are several flaws in that concept structure. DiFi (Decentralized Finance) being just one. The rise of various crypto currencies being another, Yet another is the on going spread of decentralized mesh net works. Yet another is the Open Source Everything movement.

      https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Open_Source_Everything_Manifesto

      Then of course there is the rise of 3D printing, which is making it possible for the return of craftsmanship and pride in ones work. This is the natural step beyond traditional mass production. If we can just keep the various monsters from starting WW3, we have a chance of putting things back together again. Its likely to take decades, but its entirely possible.

    • My granpaw bought an Allis Chalmers tractor in 1959 the year I was born. I drove it a few times, fun to change gear, I think they were high-low-back up! My Dad got it, we used it to haul wood a short distance. Dad kept it for nostalgia. When he passed in 2015 it still ran good but had never been painted or anything. I need to find out what happened to it.
      BTW, I don’t know cause I live in Scotland and my Dad’s family live in western NC and I don’t talk to them thevin, lyin no good varmits any more!

  13. “…Like heterosexual applied to Liberace.” Bahaha!

    “I’ll soon be able to hang Antique Vehicle tags on it – and thereby avoid annual registration and “safety” inspections, too.” Wish something like that was available in Az, but no. You can get antique or “historic vehicle” plates, but they are purely ornamental.

    • Bad,
      It’s not so great (So I hear)- The antique plates. If you drive frequently and or drive something that doesn’t look like a show vehicle…they will ‘crack down on you’ no-a-days- and the more so if you carry the ultra-cheap classic insurance, ’cause these things are intended for very limited use…like traveling to and from car shows and mechanic’s shops.

      The few dollars you potentially save isn’t worth it for the increased chances of having to deal with the armed goons, or getting tickets/impounded/etc. Sad thing is too- other motorists will spur the pigs on if they see any ‘abuse’ of antique or farm-use plates, because “He’s not paying his fair share of taxes!’.

      T’is better to look like a German and not a Jew when living in Nazi Germany…..

        • One for every day of the week works pretty well for me. Not only does it rotate the tags in public, but it keeps the “gas” fresher and the carbs functional. And everything moving freely and circulating. And avoids excessive mileage on all of em. Plus, fun.

  14. As these mandates go into effect, we might become more like Cuba in response that most of us will not pay for this electric BS and will keep our old vehicles on the road. They will then have to pass the *Motor Law* as Rush once sang to end it all.

    FJB

    • Hi X,

      Yes, but there’s a weasel word embedded in this diktat. It applies to “light duty” vehicles. Thus, the Dear Leader and his entourage will still have their V8-powered/armored SUVs and limos..

  15. It’s a double edged sword. My 21 year old Sierra with 286K miles had the transmission rebuilt this year. The rear hubs were replaced as well. The rear end is shot & needs replaced as well as carrier bearings. And just within the last couple days the front right is grinding when turning right. If I’m lucky it’ll just be a rotor. If I’m unlucky it’ll be the final drive, transfer case, or CV joints. Oh and one of the cab mounts broke. All of this costs time and money –yeah it’s sure as hell less than a new $80K truck but damn it’s one thing or another. I haven’t figured out the point of no return yet.

    FJB.

    • Yes: The point at which you get rid of a vehicle. However with all your fixing, you will have gone over it bumper-to-bumper! That was the case with my 95 Subaru (to which I should have held on…) but oh well. My criteria are: I don’t wanna throw good $$ after bad. I don’t wanna be nickel-and-dimed, I wont put up with spooky electrical problems. YMMV

  16. The tablets are cheaper than individual controls with all the custom injection molds, encoders, wiring harnesses and circuit boards. Do it all with software. Use the same part across all your production lines, maybe a larger one for the Cadillac and a smaller one for the Pinto but otherwise the same. Add and remove “features” at the click of a mouse on the build sheet. QC can just do a simple “touch the target” test instead of trying every control on the thing, and the processor can just do an internal wiring diagnostic test for all the actuators and probes. If marketing makes it sexy, that’s just a bonus.

    • That’s true, RK –

      But if they used the same tablet for them all, it just further the trend toward homogenization and the UTA, the Universal Transportation Appliance…

      • Unfortunately that seems to be the trend across the board these days. There’s two products: Ultra specialized and super-generic. Take your choice. Even home appliances and furniture are falling into these two distinct markets.

        And I can see why. Most of us are only willing to do research on a few products we buy, given the lack of real salespeople at low and mid level retail. Example: I need a new couch (or just need to stop using the one I have). I can choose from any number of retail establishments, from Goodwill to custom designers. I can tell by looking at a store how I’m going to be treated, not just because of price, but because some people put much more effort into home decor than others. The people who care about such things are going to seek out smaller high end retail, while those who don’t will be happy enough with American Furniture Warehouse, at least until the cheap crap falls apart. I have basically decided to wait out my parents inevitable parting with their house and will aquire some of their furniture. Not because my mother has such a great eye for home fashion, but because they have well built basic peices that are pretty much timeless. Something that has become a high end product these days. What is interesting is that one of the best furniture stores I found is the Habbitat for Humanity store in Glenwood Springs, just outside Aspen. Seems they get a pretty steady supply of retired furniture from the various up-valley remodels. Most of it is very high quality like what used to be normal for department store retail. It’s not cheap and there are probably a few scratches and dings, but still far better than new in most cities. Bringing it back to cars I wonder what will be the equivalent in a decade? Mercedes’ engines are so complicated now and will never see the longevity of the 240D, nor the timeless look. Maybe Toyota? They seem to be sticking to their guns, at least until someone figures out the hydrogen stuff.

  17. For the price of a new Frontier, you could put yours in new factory spec condition, including paint, and upholstery. Such was not the case years ago. When a new engine and transmission were far closer to the cost of a new vehicle. Because that’s what made the car go, not its electronic suite.

  18. ‘I most definitely have no interest in anyone else having any way to hear, listen or know about what goes on inside my vehicle.’ — eric

    If the van’s a-rockin’, don’t bother knockin’, as I used to say about muh old Chevrolet G10 hippie van with its stovebolt pushrod six and three-on-the-tree.

    Although my Fronty has a higher-tech KA24DE engine with fuel injection and overhead cam, in most respects the Fronty is a brute-simple mechanical beast like the old Chevy van.

    As Eric noted, you can’t even BUY a new compact pickup anymore. Pickups have morphed into gigantic semi-truck wannabes, straight out of the pages of a superhero comic book. It’s hilarious watching folks of smaller stature awkwardly scale their sides like a monkey climbing a banana tree to reach a drivers seat perched four feet off the damned ground. Cuckoo!

    If your aesthetic sensibilities were shaped by vehicles of the 20th century, you’ll recall that NOT ONE of them had a giant touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. A car needs a touchscreen like a fish needs a bicycle, to subvert an old feminist saying. Eric said it best:

    ‘People are attracted to these glittering, glitzy Ebaubles in the way that seagulls at the beach are attracted to pieces of shiny tinfoil.’

    Which reminds me of how William Faulkner put it ninety-odd years ago in The Sound and the Fury:

    ‘T.P. Who wore on Memphis’s Beale Street the fine bright cheap intransigent clothes manufactured specifically for him by the owners of Chicago and New York sweatshops.’

    Don’t be a fashion victim.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here