Complex autos drive up the costs of ownership |

Complex autos drive up the costs of ownership

I confess to being a businessman and believing that entrepreneurship is one of the main driving forces in our great country, providing jobs and paying horrendous taxes (but that’s another subject). One of the things that really bothers me, however, is the businesses that take advantage of our greed to sucker us into buying stuff we don’t need. The automotive industry is one of the main offenders.Somewhere back in engineering school, I was taught that good engineering was simplicity. If the machine was simple, it was cheaper to construct, had less failures, was easier and less expensive to repair and ran longer with greater efficiency, not to mention more efficient use of resources.Automobiles are just the opposite. They are full of all sorts of unnecessary gizmos from power doors to heated seats, and a whole bunch of sensor lights that come on at random and in bunches. These lights seldom indicate anything other than a failure of the sensors or the computer that runs them. Another downside, from a practical viewpoint, is the incredibly high cost of body damage repair. Plastic grill and bumper parts that would seem inexpensive can shatter from minor impact and cost thousands of dollars to replace. There is no repair, just replacement. Tail or headlight damage requires replacement of the whole unit instead of just parts.If you consider the replace-not-repair mode that we’ve gotten into from an environmental perspective, it would seem to be incredibly irresponsible. This is another aspect of our throwaway lifestyle that we will soon regret.All of these sucker features make the vehicle much more expensive to purchase, much more prone to component failure and rapid drop of resale value. We used to do most of our own repairs, but they have made that virtually impossible. It is not uncommon for professional automotive mechanics to own personal tools worth from $100,000 to $150,000. If you don’t have a diagnostic computer, tough luck. Now the fuel pump is in the gas tank. Try fixing that yourself! That’s just the tip of the iceberg (repairberg).Consumers should begin to demand vehicles that are simple, reliable and easily repairable. Give us easily accessible dashboards, or how about door panels with access? How about replaceable body parts, easy to change oil or glass you can change yourself? I learned long ago that ego is an expensive pet to keep, and that really applies to vehicles.I guess my frustration is mostly the fact that we have been manipulated into paying for a lot of so-called luxuries because we are creatures of ego. Does driving a fancy vehicle with all the gimmicks and gauges tell the world that we are smart, or just gullible and irresponsible?Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.

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