Okay, I know that’s a bold statement and some folks will take issue with. Before you toss me under the bus, consider this: The year I retired from the telecom industry was 2003; I decided to treat myself to a band spanking new Cadillac Servile STS. My dream car! Well it’s now 76,000 miles later and it’s been in and out of the repair shop. No, it was not for the most common repair or maintenance items like brakes, tires or other such mechanical items. It was for electronic bugs that even Mr. Good Wrench could not fix. You may have experienced a major problem shortly after your new car warranty expired. And now you know just how expensive it is to repair.
My major concern is that today’s car and trucks are design to have dependence on computer controls to operate properly. These devices are not by any means cheap to replace or even to run diagnostics. A very good real life example of this is when my STS Information System deployed three warning lights telling me that there is some thing wrong with the breaks, traction control and ABS. When these idiot lights came on I lost the use of my ABS breaking system, emergency brake pedal and of course my traction control. The dealership ran the codes and went to work trying to find out what electronic system went haywire.
Well, after $480 worth of diagnostic charges, they told me it was most likely a grounding problem. I being a car repair dummy didn’t understand that also meant that my HVAC, seat warmers and driver settings were also out of action. I found out the hard way when I turned on the AC only to get hot air. I applied the emergency brake and found that it was also computer control and would not release. I searched the Internet for some information on how to release the brake. In the process of searching the net I found many and I mean many drivers experiencing electronic problems.
The “KIS” of automotive engineering does not mean “keep it simple”. Simple is changing a tire or replacing brake pads. Today’s cars will not last as long as you father’s old Chevy. Over the past few months I learned that the problems were caused by the car’s internal communications bus. There are two comm. buses that control various functions. When I tried to get the AC working, I found that the HVAC system is computer controlled and that it was not receiving the activation command. When the idiot lights are off, all systems work fine.
Heat will be the killer of your car’s “computer” electronic systems. Buying replacement parts will impact your family budget. The more gee whiz stuff they add the more headaches you will get as your car grows old. We called this, planned obsolesces; they want you to trade up just as soon as your maintenance costs skyrocket.
So, if you think that your car will some day be a classic like a 1957 Chevrolet convertible know that it will never be driven, only pushed.