Did we reach peak frugality 15 years ago?

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Jan 25, 2009
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Georgia
15 years ago furnances were still somewhat affordable and easy to change. CVTs and direct injection were minimal to non-existent, and you could still buy your power tools and lawn mowers without the government telling you it was an environmental no-no.

My water heater was/is still simple. Just a dial to change the temp and drain it once a month. It lasts forever. Cost me $85 back in 2003.

Appliances still lasted and if you didn't buy all the bells and whistles, you could potentially get 20 or more years out of them. Our dishwasher, oven, microwave, and fridge all hit that benchmark. Even though they weren't particularly expensive or complicated.

As for cars, I can tell you from the quality study I co-developed that nearly every automaker has worse quality now than they did back then. Only VW and Cadillac have notably improved for obvious reasons.

I like progress. Really. I even like the potential of EVs although subsidizing it shouldn't be the government's business. I just wish 'affordable quality' was still as much of a part of the equation now as it was back then.

Am I echoing an age old gripe? Or do you think it's legitimate?
 
I think we're back in the late 70s and early 80s. The regulations have caused manufacturers to increase complexity in order to meet legal requirements and they are still figuring it out. I remember the late 90s when they had figured out port injection and vehicles had gotten very reliable. had a 05 grand prix that was essentially a 90s drivetrain that was carried over and it was extremely reliable.
 
Get off my lawn!

Not sure why you included CVT. They are a true advancement.

Korean fridge compressors are garbage. Stop buying them.

Anything else?
Their defect rates have remained high compared with conventional automatics. Only Toyota offers CVTs that have better than average reliability.
 
EPA and other environmental "concerns" have forced manufacturers of most everything to have more complexities built into their products. I have especially seen this in furnaces, heat pumps, refrigerators, dishwashers, water heaters, automobiles....and the list goes on. Product updates are being forced on the market. Techs cannot keep up with the changes and that is hurting everybody.
I know people who have 60 year old refrigerators still in operation never needing any attention other than perhaps a door gasket. Older basic cars can still be kept running reliably provided they don't succumb to rust. The rolling I Pads of today will probably not be on the road 25 years from now.
We are all paying the price for this technology. Unfortunately I don't see much more future product simplicity.
 
Not true. Honda CVT are very reliable.

Subaru CVT does have issues
Sadly no. The 1st gen Honda HR-V has reliability issues and the CVT version of the Fit, albeit well above average now is still less so than the prior gen conventional automatic.

I love both vehicles. Honestly if most folks changed the fluid in either it would make a big difference.
 
Sadly no. The 1st gen Honda HR-V has reliability issues and the CVT version of the Fit, albeit well above average now is still less so than the prior gen conventional automatic.

I love both vehicles. Honestly if most folks changed the fluid in either it would make a big difference.
Accord and CR-V no issues
 
Funny, I was loading the old clothes dryer last night and thinking that this is an appliance that doesn't need a circuit board, or LED display, etc. There is a bearing starting to become audible, so I'll have to look at that sooner than later.

TBH, as much as auto manufacturer's fought against increased pollution control and safety measures, now I think they have fully embraced the "continuous change" model and increasing complexity to help keep people buying new cars, because the old ones are going to be expensive to keep on the road...
 
Funny, I was loading the old clothes dryer last night and thinking that this is an appliance that doesn't need a circuit board, or LED display, etc. There is a bearing starting to become audible, so I'll have to look at that sooner than later.

TBH, as much as auto manufacturer's fought against increased pollution control and safety measures, now I think they have fully embraced the "continuous change" model and increasing complexity to help keep people buying new cars, because the old ones are going to be expensive to keep on the road...
Speaking of clothes dryers....A business associate of mine owns a large appliance company. He said if my dryer dies to let him rebuild it because you do not want a new one.
 
EPA and other environmental "concerns" have forced manufacturers of most everything to have more complexities built into their products. I have especially seen this in furnaces, heat pumps, refrigerators, dishwashers, water heaters, automobiles....and the list goes on. Product updates are being forced on the market. Techs cannot keep up with the changes and that is hurting everybody.
I know people who have 60 year old refrigerators still in operation never needing any attention other than perhaps a door gasket. Older basic cars can still be kept running reliably provided they don't succumb to rust. The rolling I Pads of today will probably not be on the road 25 years from now.
We are all paying the price for this technology. Unfortunately I don't see much more future product simplicity.
The unpopular truth here is that we paid the price for the older technology not with money, but with degradation to our health and environment. We are hopefully moving to an economy that pollutes less and the cost of goods is more upfront, not buried in increased health insurance costs, etc.
 
The unpopular truth here is that we paid the price for the older technology not with money, but with degradation to our health and environment. We are hopefully moving to an economy that pollutes less and the cost of goods is more upfront, not buried in increased health insurance costs, etc.
That sounds nice.

But we are making scrap plastic faster than ever.

I think there is a balance where something lasts longer not equaling the use of Pb, Hg, halogenated organics, etc
 
That sounds nice.

But we are making scrap plastic faster than ever.

I think there is a balance where something lasts longer not equaling the use of Pb, Hg, halogenated organics, etc
Yeah, this is also true. It's a big complicated mess to try and fix.
 
15 years ago furnances were still somewhat affordable and easy to change. CVTs and direct injection were minimal to non-existent, and you could still buy your power tools and lawn mowers without the government telling you it was an environmental no-no.

My water heater was/is still simple. Just a dial to change the temp and drain it once a month. It lasts forever. Cost me $85 back in 2003.

Appliances still lasted and if you didn't buy all the bells and whistles, you could potentially get 20 or more years out of them. Our dishwasher, oven, microwave, and fridge all hit that benchmark. Even though they weren't particularly expensive or complicated.

As for cars, I can tell you from the quality study I co-developed that nearly every automaker has worse quality now than they did back then. Only VW and Cadillac have notably improved for obvious reasons.

I like progress. Really. I even like the potential of EVs although subsidizing it shouldn't be the government's business. I just wish 'affordable quality' was still as much of a part of the equation now as it was back then.

Am I echoing an age old gripe? Or do you think it's legitimate?
No, it’s legit. I sell and repair bicycles. Modern bicycles are heavy on tech and low on quality. A manufacturer’s rep recently described it as “a race to the bottom” and he isn’t wrong. I recently serviced a multi thousand dollar bicycle and discovered the inboard pedal had no bearings but instead a bushing that was squealing. Oddly, this has all been accompanied with the expectation that you’ll throw the thing away in five years like a cell phone, even if it cost ten thousand dollars, which wouldn’t even have been possible 20 years ago.
 
Typical value engineering.

Things were perfected 25 years ago - the tech had hit that point where you were pretty much as good as your likely to get - beyond that is playing around the margins.

That is when the value engineering began, and every iteration has been to take a few cents out of the cost. The early ones were easy. Now there cutting to the bone.
 
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