Embracing Disposability

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Americans who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s – which lasted into the 1940s – learned through hard necessity about the value of frugality. About not wasting money on things they didn’t need. Especially things that caused them to waste more money.

What is styled “keyless” ignition (and door unlocking) is a modern-times example of this. One of many, unfortunately.

Until circa the late 1990s, you unlocked the door of a car by inserting a key into a slot and turning the lock open by hand. Similarly, you would start the car’s engine by doing essentially the same. Insert key into lock, turn – and hold, completing a simple electrical circuit that caused the starter to rotate the engine. When the engine fired up, you released the key – which remained in the lock – and drove until you reached wherever you were going. Then you turned the key to shut off the engine and removed the key from the switch, which locked the steering column to deter theft.

Simple. Easy.

Then along came gimmicky. The physical key was replaced by an electronic fob – and electronic push-buttons. The door unlocked automatically, just by touching the handle (the electronic lock recognizing the signal emitted by the fob). The engine was started by pushing a button – which registered the signal emitted by the fob and sent a signal to the computer to turn the starter, which turned off automatically once the engine started.

What has been gained? And what has been lost?

One no longer needs to reach into his pants pocket (or her purse) to find the key to unlock the door to the car. One no longer needs to exert the effort of putting a key into the ignition lock and turning it.

Are you not entertained? 

As result of this entertainment,  it is no longer possible – if you own a new or late model car with “keyless” ignition/locks – to replace what’s no longer a key for about $10. A key that could be run through the wash and just be clean when it came out that  would likely last the life of the vehicle – because it is not electronic. It emits nothing. It contains no transistors or resistors or anything at all. It is a roughly serrated piece of metal, that’s all.

The lock that used to be in the door is a simple and discrete (i.e., not connected to anything else) mechanical mechanism that is much simpler than the sensor-based system of unlocking a door automatically, that adds electronics and computer controls into the mix. Multiple additional potential failure points, all of them expensive and not easily remedied by the average person equipped with basic hand tools, some common sense and patience. The same with the push-button that electronically controls the ignition. It was easy to enough to replace a not-working ignition lock cylinder because it was just a simple mechanical device with a few basic complete-the-circuit electronic connections. There was no computer involved. Everything was directly and so comprehensibly connected.

What has been gained by replacing the latter in favor of the former?

Well, the manufacturers gained “plug-and-play” assembly during manufacturer, which reduces their manufacturing costs and increases their profits. They sell you a gimmick that costs you money – on the front and back end. Anyone who has had to replace an electronic key fob – perhaps one that was inadvertently run through the wash already knows all about it.

Americans who lived through the Depression – a time of scarcity – were wary of such gimmicks and what they cost. Few would have considered it worth the cost – of the “convenience” – to have a fob (and a button) rather than the key.

Unfortunately, their children and especially their children’s children grew up in a time of seemingly perpetual and easy prosperity. Such times encourage a cavalier attitude toward what things cost and the price paid for them. A glib fascination with gimmicks over substance, which they buy because they think they can afford to.

Is it coincidental that the latter mindset coincides with a degree of general indebtedness never before seen in this country? It is said that eight-out-of-ten people could not pay – in cash – for a suddenly necessary expense, such as needing to replace a refrigerator that unexpectedly broke down. A refrigerator that, by the way, is more likely to break down – and not be worth fixing – for the same reason, essentially, that electronic key fobs are more likely to suddenly stop working and not be worth fixing, either.

One that eight-of-ten people can’t afford to replace, either – because they were glib about wasting their money on gimmicks such as “keyless” ignition.

And that’s just one of many such – but it makes the point, which I hope gets through. Especially to young people who have no idea there was such as thing as the Depression, much less what it was like to live through it.

My guess is they’re going to find out first-hand.

. . .

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87 COMMENTS

  1. Man, talk about, “planned obsolescence”. Today, my Brave browser decided it will crash if I open articles at EPautos or go to Youtube and a few others. Downloaded a diff browser & now I can’t copy words & paste them. Weirdness, all around.
    I looked at the updates available for Firefox, it says after this year they will no longer support the operating system of my computer. ….Crap! It seems like I may need to buy a new computer! …Is this what it will be like to own a new IC car or EV a few years down the road?
    Fun times. Just, Fun time$$$.

  2. My parents both grew up during the Depression and they instilled thrift into my dna. Things like “Pick N Pull” or Thrift stores wouldn’t exist if there were no more thrifty people around to patronize these places.

    Batteries don’t last that long in these key fobs either. I finally stopped replacing them. My fob allows me to retrieve a key to unlock the door and insert the fob into a receptacle which allows me to successfully depress the on/off starter button.

    There also used to be a plastic button on the clutch lever which when depressed pushes a button which allows the starter to engage and start the car. After that cracked and fell off, I simply started reaching down with my arm and manually depressing that button. It keeps me limber and anyone who can hack into my car will probably assume that they can’t start the car because of some technological ‘hack’ of my own. How many hackers would think that the plastic spacer on the clutch lever is gone? How many of these modern day hackers can drive a stick shift?

    Now the alarm system is on the fritz. It will periodically start flashing the hazard lights and the horn will beep 30 times. Quite annoying so I just removed the fuse for the horn.

    I can put the fuse back in when I’m driving, but I’ve discovered that I’m not as aggravated by absent minded people sitting at green lights in front of me. I can’t honk the horn so I just accept life as it is, and let someone else honk their horn instead.

    • ‘How many hackers would think that the plastic spacer on the clutch lever is gone?’ — shnarkle

      Yep — that plastic button on top of the clutch lever shattered and fell off, immobilizing my 1998 Nissan Frontier. I replaced it, but then found that other circuitry downstream of the clutch interlock was causing an intermittent no-start problem. So I jumpered across it in the relay box.

      Now, just like pre-1990s vehicles, there is no clutch interlock. If need be, I can crank it in gear with the starter motor to move it a few feet … as I actually did years ago with an old three-on-the-tree Chevy van.

      The hard-wired necessity to start automatic-trans vehicles with a foot on the brake, and now-rare manual trans vehicles with the clutch depressed, assumes that the driver is incompetent. Not being incompetent, I don’t require this nanny tech. I relish defeating it, and the saaaaaafety nazis who imposed it.

  3. I always enjoy your thought provoking articles. I’ve been an automotive tech for almost fifty years now. I still enjoy what I do. I find it interesting how many parts for late models are not available, but I can order literally anything that I need for my 1971 GMC.

  4. I recall first hearing the phrase “planned obsolescence” early in my second decade on Earth (I am now >70). It survives and thrives to this day: brought to you by the same people who are planning and carrying out our human obsolescence…and ultimate extinction.

  5. My opinion (being an IT professional for 20+ years), is that the electronic “rot” will be and is the biggest problem with modern cars. All of those touchscreen head units will look very dated in 5 to 10 years. Its like looking at computers from 10 years ago, and going “wow, that thing looks so dated!”. Also, they are very expensive to replace. Also, who is going to even be able to repair any of this electronic stuff decades down the road? All of these vehicles now, with few exceptions, are going to end up in a junkyard. Who in 100 years from now would even want to restore such vehicles? Part of the allure of “old” vehicles from the 20th century was their much more mechanical nature, and thus more restoration friendly and workable nature. I wonder how many times more rare earth minerals are used now in current car designs, due to all the electrical requirements. Talk about a crazy mount of waste!

    • My car has a primitive touch screen as well as a key fob and a few other irritating technological features which I’ve recently discovered can be removed and still allow one to operate the car safely. You can find online groups for practically any make or model of car and within these groups are young kids who know how to modify their cars to run more efficiently, faster, etc. If you’ve ever looked inside of any modern day stock car, you’ll find that NONE of the modern day gizmos or gadgets are there. They’ve all been removed.

      These online groups openly provide step by step instructions on how to remove air bags, CO2 censors, disable traction control, replace computer chips for better fuel consumption, etc. etc. etc. It’s basically become a cottage industry to remove these so-called modern technological conveniences from cars, boats, motorcycles etc.

    • So right. BMW has an interesting bike the R1250RS which has a TFT instrument panel but what is wrong with plain old dial instruments? The TFT screen will die long before the bike which otherwise looks fantastic. Maybe I’ll just keep my 2013 VStrom

      • Hi FK,

        Yup. I test drove a new BMW bike last fall with the TFT display; great bike but I’d never buy it or one like it as I like bikes I can fix myself that will last for 30 years or longer. I have a 40 year old Honda that is still as reliable as an anvil and that I can fix myself, if it ever needs fixing.

  6. Here’s a fob trifecta: First, I can no longer keep a spare key in my wallet. Second, when changing the lithium battery the fob wouldn’t close properly — and it didn’t work. I tried again and again, then the keys fell out — along with other components — and I threw the damn thing against the wall. (Replacement cost: $300.) Third, it turned out that the lousy battery (from China, of course) was a few microns too thick to fit.

  7. Just to put things into perspective, that $100 the man in the 1929 photo is selling his car for could, at the time, get you 5 x 1 oz gold coins. So in today’s kleptocurrency, that amounts to about $10k.

  8. The mechanical apparatus takes many parts and those parts come from vendors. Vehicles cars/pickups are not manufactured by the big 3 but are put together at, assembly plants. Parts come in from many places that manufacture such parts. Which cuts down on a need for Human Resources and everything attached to operating a human workforces. The Bean Counters justify it so it becomes our reality. The days of caring about our country and its employees and their families can no longer be found in most of the corporation’s boardrooms. A reporter asked Henry Ford why he paid his employees so much. Ford’s response was, “so they can buy cars.” Gotta love it! Yes it makes sense to use a key but the combo of manual and auto door locks makes opening the passenger door from the inside easy and more so with buckets and a console. However, I like the FOB that stays in my pocket, it makes things convenient and simple. Understand, I build hot rods as a hobby keys and ignition points and or HEI. However we live in a wasteful aka: throw away society, fact of life. I believe a big chunk of the accepted throw away mindset came from plastic throw away pretty much our hands touch. But hey! It’s been said, no worries because it’s recyclable. When in truth only about 10% of plastic is recyclable.
    We have been had because most all of the large manufacturers work for the controlling stockholders and those stockholders want ROIs. Take when the Ford Pinto was susceptible to gasoline explosions in rear end collisions. The internal memorandum was discovered which said the cost of a recall to fix the problem of rear collisions causing explosions would be more than to payoff the lawsuits. That was clearly one of the turning points of profits over human life. And the ultimate middle finger to loyal customers. Money talks and anything outside of money is just noise, so that walks like BS walks.

    • There is a Canadian who lives in Panama who recycles plastic bottles by using them to build columns for structures. He makes a cage with wire cloth, makes a cover, fills the rectangular 3-D with crushed plastic bottles, stands the cage on end and begins to fill them with concrete. The crushed, stepped on, plastic bottles insulate the structure.

      The columns have a smooth concrete finish when completed. Each column is probably 2 feet by 1.5 feet by what looks like 10 feet tall. It’s a good way to recycle plastic and have new buildings that can also solve a problem.

      The building method is on YouTube.

  9. My beloved Sony XBR flat screen TV from 2008 finally bit the dust. Two circuit boards, both N/A after 16 years. New top end Sony arrives, meh. The old one had the best picture quality of any TV I’ve ever seen, about 6 adjustments to get the ace picture.
    New one has about a dozen, I’ve been tweaking but still not going to match the perfect rendering of the old one. Progress!

    Re: ignition keyed cylinders, beware the aging GM column units. I’ve had them come apart internally where you can’t insert or if in place, not turn the key due to the tumbler pins and springs out of place due to wear. Fixable though!

    Sparkey is a wiring bypass believer – one day the ‘79 Pontiac no power to the HVAC fan nor the A/C clutch. Finally figured out the power supply wire to the control unit was gone. That wire disappeared into the upper dash behind the instrument cluster. Nope, not doing dash surgery for that renegade wire. Still an open switched spot on the fuse block so in a couple minutes hooked up a #12 wire, zip tied a few spots, fan and A/C good to go. Good luck doing that on a new car!

    • Good morning, Sparkey!

      So far, I’ve had no electric issues with my ’76 TA. But that’s probably a function of the fact that I’m the second owner and have owned it since 1993 and bought the car with 54,000 miles. It has accrued maybe 10,000 more since then. Even so, as you have explained, the wiring is simple and easily worked with as necessary. Here’s an example: The clock in the main gauge cluster doesn’t work anymore. This is a common problem with these clocks. The fix is easy. Remove the main gauge cluster and then remove the clock assembly from the main cluster. It is secured by a pair of small nuts and there are two wires to unplug. Remove the clock and send it out to a repair place.

      Good luck getting the app for the clock on the LCD touchscreen in a new car to work again once the LCD fritzes out.

      • A general watch item for aging “before time” vehicles is any connector in a high amp load circuit. The ‘91 Silverado also had the HVAC failure, no power. It has an early generation electronic control box with push buttons, thought the box was the issue(fuse was OK) till I looked this up online. Thankfully the place to start – there is a “big red wire” behind the glove box in a multi wire connector. Yep, connection fried the other four wires OK. Clipped the red wire off and reconnected it outside the plastic piece with solder, a wire nut, and tape. Functional test, full loads, never even warmed up, whew.

        Another is the column mounted headlight dimmer run by the turn signal stalk, that switch at the base of the column connector fries too. Last one on the ‘79 Pontiac I soldered the wire directly to the switch after the third fail in 15 years.

      • Back in the 1990s someone was offering Quartz movement replacements for those old clocks. Learned about it from an Advertisement and High Performance Pontiac magazine. It was an easy DIY install. Worked great for many years until I sold the car. Don’t know if those things are still available.

        • Thanks, Wayne!

          I’ve found a company that does the work but none that just sell the necessary parts. The turnaround is several months, which is too long for me to wait. So I’ll just leave the TA’s clock as it is for now.

  10. On cold days, electric window motors tend to not work as well.

    Just like everything else, when it is cold, you tend to more or less hibernate like bears.

    When it is super cold, the engine stays running, never shuts off. Just pour in more fuel.

    In the beginning refined oil yielded kerosene, gasoline was a byproduct and was dumped by the hundreds of thousands of barrels around Cleveland.

    Along comes internal combustion engines, gasoline surpluses solved.

    Whale oil became history. Happy whales, happy life. Go Petroleum!

    Eventually, crude oil by-products found markets, thanks to John D. Rockefeller and a little help from his friends.

    Here we are in the post-modern era! Thank God! Thank God for crude oil and distillates, can’t be beat. Energy and resources, can’t live without either.

    We are all still fussing and fighting, but that never stops. Hey, you, stop it!

    Jesus Christ was crucified on this day 1991 years ago, if the story is true. The crowd chanted ‘crucify him’, not long after that, Christ had a cross to bear. Hanging out on Mount Calvary can be deadly.

    They call it Good Friday. Okay.

    If there is no God, doesn’t exist and never has, you then have no God-given inalienable rights, no God, no rights. Easy deduction, somebody here will tell you what to do, not God, He ain’t even there.

    Another disposable, aka, deplorable; close enough to what you are. If there ever was a disposable deplorable, God is the first choice. Have to act like God never existed. Humans are an existential threat to God!

    What right do you have to say God exists? Rights do not exist, you have zero free will. You just think you can think for yourself.

    Screw your rights says the evil human Arnold the Barbarian. Get the clot shot and wear your mask. Independent free-thinking people doth protest too much.

    Thinking is probably anti-Semitic, jail time for thinking, doesn’t matter if your thoughts are right or wrong, thought is always a crime.

    In 1997, the temperature on this date was about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, today it is barely 30 degrees and there is a new snowfall. Also, on this date in 1997, the comet Hale-Bopp was close enough to see the tail and all. It is a cool comet.

    On February 26th in 1979, there was a total eclipse of the sun.

    All of a sudden, the sun becomes a black hole for a couple of minutes.

    Comets, eclipses, solar systems, planets, galaxies, novas, humans can observe, but can’t create anything like a universe like the one that is here.

    The Universe, where it’s all at.

    Must be like Moments with the Master in the Upper Room.

    What would Jesus do?

    Starve 2,000,000 Gazans or feed 2,000,000 Gazans?

    Any of you out there without sin can cast the first stone.

  11. ‘young people have no idea there was such as thing as the Depression, much less what it was like to live through it’ — eric

    A real estate bust in Florida in 1925 was an overlooked precursor to the Depression that kicked off in 1929 — a distant early warning. Is this another one?

    ‘Brooklyn Tower, a 1,066-foot building sometimes called the Eye of Sauron, is the tallest in all of Brooklyn. Silverstein Capital Partners has scheduled a foreclosure auction for 9 DeKalb Ave, the address of JDS Development’s Brooklyn Tower.’

    As investopedia explains, ‘The skyscraper effect is an economic indicator linking the construction of the world’s tallest skyscrapers with the imminent onset of an economic recession.’

    Brooklyn Tower never made the world’s tallest list. But it’s the tallest building in New York City’s most populous, and arguably most trendy, borough. And now it’s gone bust.

    Put your ear to the ground. Can you hear the downbeat message of the concrete jungle telegraph?

  12. Here’s a funny…. Some “Newcomers” were complaining about not getting THEIR money. Seems the funds were stolen by those dispersing the funds.

    So we have “Newcomer” thieves calling others thieves! Only in America.

  13. ‘Manufacturers gained “plug-and-play” assembly during manufacturing.’ — eric

    Now the full horror emerges: What Is a Software-Defined Vehicle?

    ‘A Software-Defined Vehicle is any vehicle that manages its operations, adds functionality, and enables new features primarily or entirely through software.

    ‘SDVs are the next evolution of the auto industry. They are the foundation of many other advancements, including self-driving and connected cars. They ultimately reflect the gradual transformation of automobiles from highly electromechanical terminals to intelligent, expandable mobile electronic terminals that can be continuously upgraded.

    ‘The SDV is also integral to realizing Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology. V2X enables vehicles to benefit from urban smart city Internet of Things sensors and data while contributing information from its sensors to central repositories.’

    https://blackberry.qnx.com/en/ultimate-guides/software-defined-vehicle

    ‘Mobile electronic terminals’ — GAHHH!

    Some of us shuffling grayhairs grew up with time-sharing terminals — a desk-sized contraption with modem cups for a phone handset. You could enter a FORTRAN program on paper tape, send it off to a distant IBM mainframe, and (by and by) get the results of your batch run.

    Those stinking dumb terminals queered me on computers for a long time. I DO NOT WANT A FREAKING TERMINAL ON WHEELS.

    *angrily shakes fist at Canada, home of Blackberry QNX*

    • > modem cups
      LOL.
      Ah, yes, good old acoustic couplers on dial up line.
      Dial the number, listen for the squeal, place the handset firmly in the padded foam cups.*
      A whole 300 bps, IIRC! 🙂
      >FORTRAN program on paper tape
      Teletype! With wide carriage fan fold tractor fed paper. 🙂
      Or a modified IBM Selectric with the twitchy round type ball.
      EBCDIC vs. ANSI, i.e. IBM vs. everyone else.
      RESTART NUR@PN@
      CP/CMS
      And then came the Great Advance of the PC, where you could write your FORTRAN IV to a text file and send it to the mainframe using your trusty Hayes 1200B, later to be upgraded to a 9600 baud Zoom modem. 🙂
      ———————————–
      *No, not *those* padded foam cups. 🙂

    • Jim H: “You could enter a FORTRAN program on paper tape, send it off to a distant IBM mainframe, and (by and by) get the results of your batch run.”

      You had tapes? I remember carrying boxes of punch cards. Overnight turnaround. Bug? Forgot to cross that Z and keypunch operator entered a 2? Another day shot.

      The development of computers used as computational devices in the strictest terms has been phenomenal. I don’t know where it started to fall apart even there though. Ada, a government decreed “improvement” to Pascal? Subscription software because companies can’t sell new copies to a static user base?

      But the use of computers in the form of “devices”, particularly automotive devices, has certainly been a “love/hate” thing with me. I admit I like some features of my “experenced” 2013 Fusion. I like being able to open all the windows of the car as I approach it in a parking lot on a 90 degree day. I really hate the turnsignal as an on/off toggle switch. (Personal habit developed from Driving: Day 1. Manually check that signals are on before proceeding through an intersection. In the Fusion that turns them off) Video screen control is a total distraction and likely the item that ultimately fails on the car that will send it to the knacker’s. Can’t push “buttons” that you can’t see.

  14. Man, good article, & equally good comments.

    A decade or so back, my nephew was telling us how he & his friend became stranded in a MacDonald’s parking lot because, when the pushed the, “ignighter”, the car wouldn’t start.

    Took me forever to understand what the hell he was talking about when he said, “ignighter”.
    His only recourse was to call for a ride & a tow. … All the many times similar happened to me at his age, just pop the hood & find out what went wrong & fix it there,… gone, are those days.

    • Ah…you just reminded me of a night in the early 80’s when my old 62 Chevy II quit running at 1:00 am on a lonely country road. It only took a few minutes to isolate the problem. I walked until I found a house with a light on, used their phone to call my teenage brother who showed up a half hour later with an ignition coil he scavenged off of another vehicle. Five minutes later I was on my way again.
      Boats have buoyancy and something called reserve buoyancy that allows them to resist capsizing even as they roll heavily to one side in rough conditions. Older and more simple automobiles may breakdown somewhat more frequently than their modern cousins, but when the simple cars do breakdown they can be fixed much more quickly and cheaply. I’d call that ‘reserve dependability’.

  15. > a simple electrical circuit that caused the starter to rotate the engine
    Not so simple, Eric.
    As I discovered last year, when the steering column mounted ignition lock on my 1989 F150 failed. But more on that in a moment.

    In the Before Time, things really were simple. My 1960 MGA (first car I ever owned) had a push button ignition switch, mounted on the dash. It had a simple ignition key, also mounted on the dash. Startup procedure was very simple. Turn key in ignition switch, hear familiar click-click-click from electric fuel pump building fuel pressure (no waiting required). Shift transmission to neutral. Depressing clutch pedal optional, as there is no ignition interlock switch on clutch pedal. Also no key lock for the steering column. Push large button on dash to engage starter.

    No door locks, or door latches either. Doors operated by a cable in pocket on inside of door which is pulled by reaching over the door. If cloth top is up and Perspex (Plexiglas) side curtains installed, slide side curtain open to reach door release cable. Simple (and simple to steal, for those so inclined).*

    Now comes American “innovation.” Ignition switch cylinder is mounted to the steering column, with a complex mechanical assembly which connects the lock assembly to the actual ignition switch, which is located deep inside the steering column. Don’t believe me? Get yourself a repair manual w/explosion diagram of steering column and Czech it out. Lots of Mechanical Shit going on inside the steering column to engage a “simple electrical switch.”

    And of course, probably for “safety,” wir mussen haben eine Steuersäuleschlossgerät (steering column locking device), which makes it impossible to turn the wheel unless the column mounted key is turned to “on” position. Which obviously will be impossible if the lock cylinder fails, as it eventually will.

    Now come the fun part. When the lock cylinder failed on my 1989 F150 last year, a competent local repair shop required nearly a week of f*cking with sh*t to get a replacement cylinder to work properly. Not simple for them, or cheap for me, but eventually a replacement cylinder candidate made kumbayah with the existing mechanical parts, and my pickup is back on the road again. Whew!**
    —————————-
    * “Mostly Garaged”s from that era had certain other, shall we say, “idiosyncracies,” but that is another rant, suitable for another time and audience, mainly former owners (a.k.a. caretakers) with not-so-fond memories. 🙂
    ** Of course, when the electronic key fob for my 3 series BMW was stolen, it cost $1800, and took a week, to get a new one (OEM only) shipped to California from New Jersey. Fortunately, it did not have to be shipped from Germany, or it might have taken a month.
    Nice car, but God help you when it breaks. “Bring More Wallet” indeed. 🙁

    • “my 1989 F150 last year, a competent local repair shop required nearly a week of f*cking with sh*t to get a replacement cylinder to work properly.”

      Been there…the ignition switch wouldn’t engage the starter motor…

      Test…turn ignition to on position then connected power…a wire from battery positive terminal…to starter…it started…so the start position on the ignition switch was toast….

      solution…rig a starter button to the starter…turn the ignition on…push starter button…it starts….still haven’t replaced the ignition switch….

      • >solution…rig a starter button to the starter…turn the ignition on…push starter button…it starts
        Yes. That is what the shop proposed in case they failed to make it work as “designed,” Fortunately. “let’s give it one more shot” worked, but I would have been perfectly OK with Plan B, there being a blank panel of adequate size on the dash in just the right location, right of the steering column.

        • The solution I installed cost under $10…I have the replacement switch…but it is a pain to rip it apart to install it…so it could be awhile…makes the car more theft proof anyways….I like improvising things….took 1 hour not a week….if you are not rich…better learn how to fix stuff….

      • Yes, that was plan B, as noted above by anonymous1
        Bypass the electrical switch deep inside the steering column, and b done with it.
        Not stock, but who cares? This is not a show truck.

      • We did on at least 2 cars. As kids we fixed up discarded Honda’s from the 70’s cause the ‘fixes from the dealer’ where more than the car was worth.
        We got lots of them for pennies. One of the early problems with honda’s was the ignition mechanism was very weak, like pot-metal, and failed often, so we rigged up a simple push button from radio shack, and just locked the door, or not even that, no one wanted to steal them anyway.
        The first push-button starters!

        • What’s old is new again! In high school my buddy drove a ‘50 Ford. Key turned on the ignition, then a nice chrome push button engaged the starter.

          Mom’s ‘58 Buick had the gas pedal starter. Turn on the ignition, push down the gas pedal starter engaged then engine vacuum would open a switch once running.

    • As I recall in the 89 F150 the starter switch was inside the cab down near the base of the steering column. The key switch just ran a rod up and down to actuate the switch- bypassing that setup is simple indeed. I could be wrong- it was about that vintage that American cars were using that setup.

  16. Back in the 90’s when I was a teen working at a grocery store, I lady locked her keys in her car. A man came up to her and told her that he had the same model car and he could try his key. It worked! Unlocked the door she was able to retrieve her keys.

    I wonder what her odds were that day that his key would fit into her keyhole? Chuckle

  17. To lift a quote from the 1967 movie, “The Graduate”…”One word…PLASTICS”.

    When we had cheap oil (and even cheaper coal tar, which is actually the base for most plastics), oh, what to do with what wasn’t refined into gasoline and diesel? Most common appliances came to be made of mold-injected plastics, primarily urethane, simply because the processes were far cheaper, not only to mold them, versus stamping sheet steel, but also finishing (the color can be built right in with so many plastics), fastening (simply snap together, no need to crimp or drill holes and use sheet-metal screws), and the varying shapes are more readily obtained. Of course, these assembles made with plastic casings were never meant to be taken apart, but they would usually last well beyond the warranty period, so…

    The other factor that led to disposability was simply the far higher cost of labor to “fix” things, along with the loss of that critical talent, the ability to diagnose problems with most gadgets and, where simply parts replacement isn’t feasible, improvise a repair. “Fix-It” shops were common all over the place, often some old guy who was not longer fit for hard factory work, but had acquiring “skills” over the years. It helped also if you had the occasional “Illegal ALIEN”, no matter how funny-looking he was…

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

  18. The way keyless entry works is complex and runs down your battery. There’s no magic way to detect the presence of a keyfob; the car has to constantly broadcast a weak radio signal and the keyfob responds if it recognizes the car’s secret code, so it’s always got to be listening and using battery to do that. There are lots of tricks to minimize power usage, but there’s no such thing as a keyfob and car that can stay unused for a while and then start. The fundamental concept is less reliable than a key.

    Wireless entry opens up new security problems as well; thieves can spoof your key and steal your car without breaking anything, or they can use a radio relay or signal booster to have the keyfob in your house think it’s near the car, and vice versa, and the car will start for them and they drive off. You can’t have cars turn off outside of keyfob range because these things glitch all the time or get affected by radio interference and you don’t want the car randomly stopping.

    • ‘There are lots of tricks to minimize power usage.’ — OppositeLock

      One such trick, used by an Oregon Scientific clock/temperature unit, is that its outdoor temperature sensor broadcasts an update every 40 seconds. This allows the sensor’s battery to last for a year or two. But communication glitches still occur sometimes, resulting in “– — — –” as the indicated outdoor temperature.

      Updates at 40-second intervals are fine for this non-critical application. But for access to vehicles, the pulse interval needs to be short — probably a second at the most. Consequently the battery will drain fairly quickly. It’s needless complexity, introduced by designers who don’t grok that ironclad reliability in vehicles is valued above superficial, gimcrack ‘convenience.’

  19. It’s utterly depressing how such electronic bells and whistles have come to dominate so many consumer products. I have a friend who’s husband is totally enamored with such gadgetry – on his car and elsewhere. Not surprising as he is a computer programmer. He could not understand my frustration with such.
    Once I told him how boiling mad I was when I discovered I could not longer just simply buy Adobe Photoshop. He then went on a spiel about the advantages of the subscription method, and how I could just buy a month or two as needed. Um, no! When I buy a product (or certain software) I want something I can pay once for, and then, if I want, upgrade it – or not.
    He also seemed quite happy with his car that he can start remotely. Not long ago his car got hit and he seemed upset that so many of the cameras and sensors were damaged and had to be replaced. Which took longer in the body shop. His wife has little love for all of that gadgetry.
    I have yet to ask him what happens when his glorious remote start fob quits working…no doubt he will probably find some way to excuse it.
    Luckily both of my vehicles still have an actual key. Both do have the fob part to open the the doors and lock them, but that’s about it. That part stopped working properly on my 2011 Ram and so I just took the battery out and I can still unlock and lock the doors manually.
    Give me a plan old key any day! The lock/unlock function is OK, as long as I can still do that the manual way.

    • Re “the [bogus] advantages of the subscription method”: The only advantages are that software vendors make more money, improve their cash flow, and they can increase it at any time. One good example is Intuit’s campaign to move its QuickBooks Desktop accounting software from my PC to “QB Online” in the cloud. The latter product is crap, and at this moment costs $15 to $100 per month. Six years ago I paid a one-time price of $200 for Desktop, which still works just fine (despite its “sunset” by venal Intuit after three years).

  20. My mom who lived through the depression always bought the most basic car she could. The last car she bought (2003 Toyota Matrix) has crank windows and manual locks. It’s still going as my daughter is driving it. It’s super reliable, easy to maintain and has many miles left in it.

  21. My GS and I helped two elderly ladies jump start a car last night in the parking lot of a local Mexican place. It was a 2017 GMC Terrain. First question, where the hell is the battery? It was hidden under a plastic cover. But on top of the battery was a massive heat sink with three equally massive cables. Thankfully GS youtube’d it and it turns out the umarked / uncovered post sticking through the fuse box cover was the positive terminal and the negative was at the bottom of the battery / heat sink thing. Was a PITA to hook cables up but we got it.

    Both ladies being good Southern belle country gals said they used to be able to jump start a car but the new stuff was confusing. I was confused too. If I didn’t have a 13-year-old with me we’d have been in a pickle.

  22. My late father grew up in the depression. He never borrowed money to buy a car.
    His view of debt? “Never spend money you don’t have on things you don’t need.” “Live beneath your means, and you always have money. Live above your means and you never do.”
    I lived most of my adult life in apparent poverty, but I was always solvent, and could go months without income. Due to a fortuitous real estate transaction, I had a new house built in 2006, debt free. Then I got a property tax bill that exceeded any rent I ever paid. To this day, it and insurance on said property are the largest bills I pay. I now live comfortably on SS as my sole source of income. Consequently, I don’t pay income tax.
    Man who has nothing, and wants nothing, has everything. He is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.

    • Well said, JK.
      “Waste not, want not” is another phrase I heard often in my youth, my parents having grown up during the Great Depression. And I do mean “grown up,” not just “had some birthdays.”

    • I think these are wise words to live by, John. knew of one guy that had-count ’em-seventeen credit cards! Good grief! I read a book years ago, written by a man who was a kid during the Great Depression. He detailed how everyone survived those years. From having gardens, to putting dirt in his bicycle tires when they went flat, to using old vehicles tires to make shoes with. I worked with many of the Depression Era elderly years ago, and you can bet they threw nothing away, whether it be unused napkins from their meals, fruit, bread etc. I would find such items neatly tucked away in their sock drawer-the bread neatly wrapped in the clean napkins. It is sad that we have become a wasteful, throw-away society. I knew of one couple that, when their Depression Era parents died, when they (the Boomer kids) went to clean their parents’ house, found tens of thousands of dollars hiding all over the house, because they never trusted the banks after the crash. The risk of losing such in a fire or to regular theft was a chance they were willing to take. We truly are living in a much different society. And well, that saying that “prosperity breeds monsters” rings true, unfortunately.

      • Worked with a guy in the 1960s who had quit smoking when cigarettes went to 10 cents a pack. “I wasn’t going to pay half a penny for a smoke!”

        • Ha ha ha! I had a friend who smoked in high school. A pack of Marbs were around four bucks a pack. I do not smoke, but I think they are around ten bucks now, a pack, and I think our state just packed more taxes on them.

          • My dad was a sub-jobber whose small business included selling cigarettes by the carton, cigars by the box, candy and sundries. In 1972 he sold a carton of Marlboros for about $4.25 for ten packs — the minimum allowed by state law.

          • I said “enough!” to the tobacco tax when it went up to $3.50 a pack. Helped that I was getting winded running up the steps to my third floor apartment.

  23. I purchased a dryer 4 years ago that could do everything to your clothes except fold them. It went through 3 elements and other small things and then another malfunction. It has now been replaced with a unit that has less BS and complexity. I can’t imagine myself purchasing any new auto now knowing something or everything will break sooner rather than later. And finding a mechanic with IT experience to fix these new gadgetmobiles will be costly provided you can find a competent one. Being older now, I find simplicity gratifying and complexity intolarable in living and in things.

    • Maybe you didn’t go upscale enough. I was setting up a wireless connection the other day and saw a signal from a Samsung Refrigerator. If you had just spent a few hundred more, maybe the dryer could have been repaired online. (Unless it was the software that died, of course.)

  24. “Minnesota AG says auto manufacturers need to make sure their cars are not ‘tempting’ young people to steal”

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/minnesota-ag-says-auto-manufacturers-need-to-make-sure-their-cars-are-not-tempting-young-people-to-steal/ar-BB1kvEXZ

    One problem with mechanical locks is that they are easily defeated, at least the ones produced en masse. The YouTuber The Lockpicking Lawyer shows how simple it is to open up most padlocks and home locks.

    If those criminal masterminds would spend ten minutes learning how to do something useful with their lives instead of learning how to break into cars, maybe Hyundai’s simple locks would be just fine.

    And no mention of just breaking the window.

    Thing is, all those key fobs aren’t really any better than the physical key systems. Most of the key codes are discoverable even with encryption. They use bottom of the barrel chips, usually costing below a dollar and built to conserve power, not provide real protection. A proper strong encryption system with passcode requirements would make more sense, but given the volume of cars sold (and tendency of manufacturers to use the same systems across all models and lines), it won’t take long for someone to perform PIN testing on a vehicle they have access to. Then it’s game on.

    Then someone just breaks the window.

    • Imagine you are a female being followed by a possible rapist. You’re scared. A gun is in your car only a few feet away,

      Now try to remember

      kjkjdfdkjfdfdfihhfytdwgsaswhdueyitoipoy[t[y98mfmvnmcbnhsdywtwgysavz21hagsywtewyeurwjjbdjhsuwye….

    • >‘tempting” young people to steal”
      Recently hereabouts two teenagers were busted for theft of what was described as a “bait car” thoughtfully provided by the police. IIRC, manufacturer of the “bait car” was KIA.

  25. Cars are disposable too. Took the wife’s car (2014 cruze 1.4L) to the mechanic. Noticed the signs of fluid in oil when we changed it.

    Mechanic checked it out and found nothing. Said these engines accumulate condensation. OK good. Repair bill $0.

    Car will be good to 100,000 miles, but advised after that look to trade it in before the turbo grenades or the head gasket actually does go. Sounds like they’ve seen enough of these to be wary.

    So we’ve gone from 100k cars to 200k cars, back to 100k cars?

  26. Are you not entertained?‘ — eric

    An entertaining Democrat gala last night at Radio City Music Hall, featuring ‘Biden,’ Clinton, Obama, and the usual vulgar claque of leftist celebrities, raised $25 million in filthy Yellenschrift. Ape News was there:

    ‘As the three men closed out the night by donning Biden’s trademark sunglasses, the president quipped, “Dark Brandon is real.”’

    https://tinyurl.com/2sxmk6du

    One quirk of our depraved rulers is that they can’t resist telling people exactly what enormities they are up to – knowing that their macabre threats will be laughed off as a wisecrack by normal, non-sociopathic citizens.

    If you think ‘Biden’ was joking with his ‘Dark Brandon is real’ quip, you are missing the big picture of entrenched satanic rule and its escalating blood sacrifices.

    • Like a serial killer who gets more and more bold and brazen over time with each kill, so to do these mass murderers. I hope they are enjoying the rewards gained when they sold their souls to Satan. In the near future, he will come to collect.

    • The freemasons come from the templars…part of the nobility slave owners, the freemasons are their political wing today……

      In 1307 the French king put out an arrest warrant for all of the templars… some were arrested and burnt at the stake…most escaped…

      The French king said these templars were satanists and sodomites…..

      These nobility slave owners control the planet today, still in power ….

      When the French king did this in 1309, it was one of the few times in history that the nobility slave owners got their butts kicked…..

      @ 6:36 in video …..on friday the 13th of october 1307 the french king Philip the fair had the templars in France arrested…they are satanists….most escaped…about 400 captured…. 50 were burnt to death… the templars still hate France today…

      @ 33:00 there is no European white kings in Europe….. they are all direct descendants of the pharaoh kings nobility bloodlines

      @ 53:00 the aristocratic coat of arms has lions on it…Europe never had lions…a sign of a foreign power in control…Europe has wolves and bears…the lion the sign of the nobility ….just lies in the sun and does nothing…just like the elite nobility…

      @ 1:00:58 is king Charles the 3rd..he is part of the pharaoh king bloodline..

      @ 1:18:00 J.F. Kennedy made a speech on april 27th 1961 about the secret control group on top…shortly after the templars eliminated him….

      @ 1:50:00 the templars always built their churches and temples in an octogon shape…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-BFmn2S_jU

      • on Friday the 13th of October 1307 the french king Philip the fair had the templars in France arrested…they are satanists….most escaped…about 400 captured…. 50 were burnt to death… the templars still hate France today…

        that is where the…. Friday the 13th is unlucky comes from…

    • “entrenched satanic rule”…..

      According to the French King Philip…the nobility control group…. in power still today….are satanists and sodomites…..

  27. Lots of Patents were probably involved with developing the fobs which the manufacturers subsequently licensed to each other.

    Patents on the resule are also good for engineering careers whether or not they make any sense.

  28. Right on cue, from the gender-fluid soyboys of Automotive News:

    ‘According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, today’s vehicles have between 1,000 and 3,500 microchips. S&P Global Mobility expects the average value of semiconductors in a new vehicle to grow from $500 in 2020 to $1,400 by 2028.

    ‘The figures rise as connectivity and advanced vehicle safety systems become more sophisticated and as more electric vehicles are built.

    “As the automotive industry moves towards fully software-defined vehicles, the importance of close collaboration between software and silicon vendors becomes even more critical,” said Grant Courville of BlackBerry QNX.

    “Finding a way to have software-defined vehicles hit the road faster so that manufacturers can build more chips is the goal, but it’s not going to happen tomorrow,” said Sam Fiorani of AutoForecast Solutions.

    https://archive.ph/baPh4#selection-7947.71-7947.235

    ‘Software-defined vehicles’ is the last freaking straw. I AM DONE.

    Death to the auto makers. Just shut this industry down. Goodbye and good riddance.

  29. Whether it’s cars or mechanical devices the cheap cost of computerizing them may give you a cute feature but once the chip fails it is usually not cost efficient to repair it. Funny thing is my ancient not computerized stuff insists on working decades after they were built, my friends appliances with computerized displays not so much. There might just be a lesson in there somewhere……

    As for that massive key fob; I still have my ancient Audiovox flip phone from the mid 2000s and it’s about the size of that BMW key fob. Kinda pathetic the size of that sucker.

    • I do no trust all the computer chips & crap in these newer appliances. Which is why I have a twenty-five year old washer and dryer. And my other appliances are also equally aged. All work well. The dryer has one heat setting: Very hot. Squawks to high heaven at times, but it works. My washer actually agitates the clothes and washes them in a fraction of the time these newer, “water saver” ones do. Meanwhile, my one friend has been through at least two washers and dryers in that time, as it appears they last ten years. At least for her. My other friend has a stackable washer and dryer, from Samsung, and she also has a Samsung refrigerator. She warns me to never buy Samsung appliances, as her refrigerator has given her nothing but problems. Apparently “new” does not mean “improved” by any stretch of the imagination. I saw a new, side-by-side door model refrigerator, that had a touch screen, and radio in the door, that was playing music from a local station. Good grief, what will they come up with next?

      • ‘Which is why I have a twenty-five year old washer and dryer.’ — Shadow

        Once I foolishly called a licensed Maytag appliance repair service for help with my malfunctioning dryer, which was 33 years old and experiencing its first problem ever.

        He traipsed down the stairs into the basement, took one glance at my vintage washer and dryer set … and burst out laughing! ‘We don’t work on anything more than ten years old,’ he explained. ‘Can’t get parts.’

        So I watched a YouTube video, ordered the part (a dryer belt, if I recall) from an aftermarket source and fixed it. Likely it’s still running today for the new owners. It was a chip-free, circuit-board based, electro-mechanical device — tough as nails.

  30. ‘The lock that used to be in the door is a simple and discrete.’ — eric

    A basic principle of robust design is to isolate subsystems from each other, to avoid cascading failures. If a mechanical door lock or door handle fails (happened on my ’98 Frontier — cheap plastic part), there’s another one on the other side. You can still get in, and get where you’re going.

    Not so with a key fob, if its battery voltage falls too low, or there’s a problem on the radio receiver end. Hold a weak-battery fob right next to the door, some advice on the internet pleads — inverse square law and all that. Pathetic.

    Meanwhile, hackers have acquired RF black boxes for key signal cloning. Stealing a car takes a matter of seconds. Cana-cucks in Ontario recommended that Torontonians just leave their key fob on a nail outside the door — or install bollards in the driveway.

    Placing formerly isolated systems under unified computer control is bad, inappropriate design. It inherently decreases MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures), although you’ll never get those damning statistics from auto makers.

    Auto makers have become like Boeing: failed, corrupt enterprises that need to have their entire management decapitated, as just occurred at Boeing. Over-electronified vehicles have turned to shit, and we don’t want them. If you drive into a lake, you’ll wish for a plain old mechanical wind-down window, like we used to have.

    Big Gov: comprehensively effing up every appliance it touches. Red guard Michael Regan at EPA couldn’t design a frickin’ clothespin. But his pampered ‘crats write thousand-page ukases telling engineers how to design cars. Behold the sorry results.

    • It used to be that incompetent boobs making rules were judiciously ignored by real people, thus making the system work in spite of incompetent boobs with big egos. Now the real people are canceled and jailed, all the safety systems are defeated, and the pressure gage was pegged so long ago the boobs assume it’s normal and can go on like this.

      They’re going to be shocked when the barbarian cannibals come for them.

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