Is anyone bothered by complexity?

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1,910
Location
Vista, CA
Are you bothered by the fact that your car is too complicated to figure out? Do you wish you could buy a simple car that does a good job of getting you back and forth from work? Are you sure we need all the stuff that comes on cars today? Are you smart enough to turn on your heater or a/c when you need it and turn it off when you don't and force everyone in the car to deal with the same setting. Can you scoot your own fat bottom back and forth on a seat without a six-way power seat with memory. Can you figure out what to do with a clutch pedal? And would you like to look under the hood and be able to identify all the wires and hoses? And if computers are so great, why can't your car tell you in plain english, what's happening when something goes wrong? The message, now is go to the dealer and don't forget your credit card. And when you get to the dealer, wouldn't you like to speak to a real mechanic, and not a vacuum cleaner salesman on comission. The reason I'm venting like this is because I just came from a Toyota dealership where my brother took his Tundra after it quit on the freeway. He called me in a panic. They told him he needed to have a valve job and parts of the fuel system replaced. I told them I want to check for myself and had the truck towed to my shop. The problem was a completely dead battery, a few vacuum leaks and some dirty electrical connections. A few hours work, a new battery, a pcv valve, a serptine belt, a few vacuum lines, some fluid and filter changing, and it runs like brand new. My poor brother had no chance when he arrived at the dealership. They had him. They would have done a good job and after they finished there would have been no way to know that they did more work than was necessary. They could prove that they did what they listed on the receipt and he would drive away with a more servicable vehicle, and I can only imagine what the total would have been. When he opened the hood he was lost, and so would most other people be. For all the features on a new car you give up more than the sticker price, you give up control.
 
Messages
537
Location
California
Yep, I really don't need all the stuff that comes on modern luxury cars. Heck I used to drive a Chevette. How basic can it get? My VW beetle was a step UP from my 'Vette. I have noticed that a basic Honda Civic is twice the car that a BMW 320i was. My 83 VW GTI was as complicated a car as I ever needed, but I am willing to spend for ABS these days. Anyway,it is possible to keep a modern car pretty simple, but you have to stay with the economy cars. Some of the economy cars are pretty nice compared to 70's and 80's expensive cars.
 

LarryL

Thread starter
Messages
1,910
Location
Vista, CA
I guy with a cherry 356 has to feel bad with a soccer mom in an Odyssey dusts him off on a freeway on ramp. But at least he can look under the hood and understand what he sees.
 
Messages
202
Location
sokali
i'm pretty happy with my 03 accord and the ease of use/level of technology. people who cry about too much technology never seem to mention when new technology saves work, such as distributorless ignition, 100K mile iridium spark plugs, etc.
 
Messages
4,378
Location
Camas, WA
Our local Ford dealer wants about $130 to just do a diagnosis on their 'machine', before fixing anything. I took the older car in for a check engine light that would come and go, they couldn't fix it, and neither could two other garages. After almost a year I just replaced an oxygen sensor and the light went out. I've been doing most of my own work for a few years now, it gets really tedious with a couple of older Fords, but it seems better than just giving money away for what appears to be nothing in some cases. I intend to keep my truck awhile, it might be the last vehicle that I have to buy for myself, and I managed to get a basic model in order to keep it as simple as possible. I've worked in high tech going on three decades now, but don't have many trendy high tech products. I like good designs, some seemingly simple products are in fact pretty complicated, and don't believe that layers of menus and oodles of 'features' are needed for good products.
 
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5,785
Location
Dixie
Larry, First the E85 rant and now this...I suspect you may need more fiber in your diet??? Seriously though, I'd have to agree with you. One reason I kept my 1990 Audi is that it was relatively simple compared to todays cars. I have to admit I have an easier time understanding liquid rocket engines than I do the workings of my Audi TT turbo. [Frown] Of course you're 100'% correct about the E85 nonsense. Even 10% ethanol significantly lowers the performance of my vehicles and caused serious vapor lock in my air cooled, John Deere. The only positive thing about using alcohol as an oxygenate is that it does lower NOx emissions a bit. I guess it's also preferrable to MTBE, but I think that's called damning with faint praise? A few more of these rants and you'll have an entire standup routine. I see an Improv gig in your future... [Wink] How 'bout Larry The Cable Guy, part deux? regards, Ted
 
Messages
1,836
Location
Pac NW
How's about "intelligent" cruise control, or parking assist systems? (Honest, Officer, I didn't drive into that post intentionally...) Multi-level climate control? (I'm too hot, Mommy!) DVD "entertainment" systems? (I want my CNBC! The disc won't come out, Daddy!) Navigation systems? (I'm lost, and I don't know how to read a map!) Hepa "cabin" filters? (That'll be $129.00 + tax & $39 for your "free" oil change: now your tune-up won't be until 100K miles...) Variable valve timing? (That valve job you NEED will cost about $1,400, plus parts...) AND MY FAVORITE: the 6, 7 or 8-speed automatic transmission? ($it down: we have $ome VERY bad new$ to di$cu$$...) Cheers!
 
Messages
7,256
Location
USA
First the computer is easy to read, buy a $99 code reader. This still requires mechanical experience to interpret and give diagnosis making a mechanic code read and diagnosis worth it. I absolutely love the technology used in my car. The reason is 227HP out of 2.0L powered into 4 wheels. I own a Subaru WRX. Overall the motor is relatively simple, just a turbo but mechanically nothing that complicated. The AWD really is not very complicated either. It is all mechanical including the AWD differential (viscous coupling) that basically uses fluid shear to distribute power and very effectively. No overcomplicated traction control systems or skid control. The WRX is quite reliable as many owners have found. For $20k I paid a nice package overall.
 
Messages
2,338
Location
Charlotte Metro area
I don't mind complexity in the engine/fuel delivery/timing areas for performance/efficiency reasons. However, I do NOT like power seats or automatic temperature regulation. I don't really like power windows, either. I absolutely HATE DVD's, etc., "for the kids to be entertained" while on a trip. I choose to talk to my kids instead...I have one that graduated with a double major in Engineering and Business, and he only had one Non-A grade...a B in German his first semester...he had exempted up to a 200 level class, so he struggled a little. My four-year old reads books. She can also read a simple map, and can tell anyone directions on where to turn to get to the usual places we go in 5 different cities. I really have a hard time believing parents would really rather have their progeny staring open-mouthed at a movie as they drive down the road...it looks to me like a way of abdicating parental responsibility as well as providing a reason to be disconnected from the child(ren). In the future, these will be the same parents that wail about their children not talking to them. Rant over...temporarily. B~)
 
Messages
855
Location
India
Fully agree, nothing beats the simplicity of the old OM616/617 from Mercedes, they ran forever, needed just basic maintenance, were easy to fix and had minimal electronic doo dads to go wrong, even the older Toyota diesels and petrols for that matter were simple engines which lasted forever, now its a manufacturer/dealer nexus which is just simply made to milk the last penny out of the consumer.
 
Messages
8,711
Location
Nothern USA
In the E85 thread, I brought up the point of abusing limited water resources to grow more corn for fuel. I agree about the complexity. There is nothing complex about platinum spark plugs and computer control of the spark is not come with distributor less ignition. Never want to go back to points and a carb. I would consider may 02 Cavalier an economy car, but I did not escape the complexity. I hate the theft deterrent system. How stupid to have the horn sound if you unlock the car with the key after locking it with the remote. When the dealer tried to pacify me by disconnecting it, it left the check engine light on. Not impressed with my dealer's service department. Fortunately, I haven't need to go back. I didn't realize what a complex mess I had until I blew $130 on the factory shop manualS. Next step was to put that much more into a Scan Gauge, because you aren't going to do anything without a code reader and data readouts. The mechanicals aren't that bad, but everything else is a complete mess, much more so than the 92 Grand Am I had with the HO Quad 4. So far I haven't done much of anything to it except replace the front pads which was easy enough. Windshield wipers used to come in pairs, and you could grab a pair and stick them on. Now they are different lengths on each side and come in 3-4 different widths. To be sure of getting the right ones, you need to have the guy at the counter look them up. Now that I am used to it, I love the easy to change cartridge oil filter. Initially, it took me an hour to find the little cover by the manifold, and then the dealer 2 hours to produce an element for it that nobody else in town stocked then. I had looked all over the bottom of the engine for a spin on. Since nobody had had a filter for it, I was going to take the old one off and try to find something that would work. NOT. It is over 4 years old and has 80 K on it. I am sure the day is coming when I am going to have to diagnose and repair some things. I hate the thought of it.
 

Kestas

Staff member
Messages
13,960
Location
The Motor City
Comlexity is a huge pet peeve of mine. I put the blame squarely on the idiot consumers who always want their next car to have features their previous vehicle did not. It's gotten way out of hand. The down side of all this complexity has already shown itself in reduced resale value of a car out of warranty. It's almost so bad that I'm considering having a '32 Ford street machine custom built from new parts. Unfortunately, such an endeavor starts at $40K and I need the safety of a modern vehicle driving in large metropolitan areas.
 
Messages
661
Location
Bosphoria
►"Are you bothered by the fact that your car is too complicated to figure out?" ►With my Canadian "non-catalyst" '84 Chevrolet Celebrity? No. Hmmm... I think this must be some valuable "package". ►"Do you wish you could buy a simple car that does a good job of getting you back and forth from work?" ►Yes I wish, also for the weekend trips. But this is just a wish. For some reason you can't buy a decent car without all the unnecessary gadgetry. While the marketers make storms in a tea cup for stupid details, the basic "first-things-firsts" like suspension- steering, balance and brakes are oftenly swept under the carpet or misguided with the race-specific "optimums"... I also observe this in the design stage. I can't buy a decent suspension or steering if the car make is not truly premium. I can't buy a "plain car" with a v6 or v8. ►"And would you like to look under the hood and be able to identify all the wires and hoses?" ►Yes and I do it for fun. ►"Are you smart enough to turn on your heater or a/c when you need it and turn it off when you don't and force everyone in the car to deal with the same setting." ►I'm also smart enough to figure out AC has to cool the interior and not my body to remain healty. I believe in capacity for the HVAC. Overly concentric outlets to express "sufficency" observation with reinforced motivation by a digitally displayed target resembles a good showroom business. Then I recall 70's hi-capacity HVACs with the instructions for adjustment every season(!) Now? We have the digital thingy with memory on the corporate car that we shift it dozen times because it just can't cool the interior ("adjustment" was only possible by pushing a single button like having parkinson until you see the numbers of your choice in the tiny digital window which dissappears at the sunlight.) ►"Can you figure out what to do with a clutch pedal?" ►Yes, but AT is "simpler life" and usually been more reliable for me. Effiency loss is almost non-existent with a cleverly matched high-displacement low revver. This one makes life simpler at such an extent that I may forget the mind-boggling valve body works, or the fun of the MT which is not always so fun. ►"Can you scoot your own fat bottom back and forth on a seat without a six-way power seat with memory." ►Plausible... with a night-city view... need a little time for figuring out... [Razz] ►"The reason I'm venting like this is because I just came from a Toyota dealership where my brother took his Tundra after it quit on the freeway." ►My reason is that other's "techn-o-marvel" cars that is scary at a good crosswind and just can't handle a real-life pot-hole. The term reliability is evolved rather than being an obvious improvement of it. "Roadwothiness" looks like a forgotten word. ►"For all the features on a new car you give up more than the sticker price, you give up control." ►Exactly.
 
Messages
8,756
Location
RI
Whats so complex with a battery, wiring cleaning, PCV valve, vacuum hoses, serpentine belts, fluids, filters...............?????????? Thats just normal maintenance and inspections that I take care of or look at EVERY oil change. Some of the parts stores around here have scanners so if I get an warning light, they can scan/reset it. I'll just research the error codes. Gotta run. The complexity of my antique car is killing me: Carb needs an adjustment(previously for altitude and now weather), single digit MPG, and idle needs a bump. Maybe I should just rebuild it again--I yearn for FI. Points need a looksy, timing needs to be adjusted--wanting distributorless ignition! 1/2 dozen V-belts need tightening--would love the simplicity of tensioners on serpentines that last so much longer. Need to figure out how to wire in a rear defroster(~70 amp alternator might disagree). Being able to see is a good thing. A/C quit(more Freeze12 needed). Heater doesn't work(time to replace the bypassed heater core), toss in a thermostat, add some antifreeze to the water, and replace the garden hoses. Misfiring again(cheapo copper plugs verbally requesting yearly replacement). I just can't justify investing in 8 double platinums or iridiums. Vacuum modulator is blowing ATF again. Various fluids bleeding from decades old seals and gaskets need to be topped off--might actually change some of gaskets. I call it the original lifetime fluid, actually just self draining ATF, oil, antifreeze, PSF, front/rearends, x-case, and brake fluid, which all need weekly refills. IMO, the complexity will add to the income of mechanics and technicians. Their wages just hasn't followed the economy like the computer and medical industries. Consumers drive the economy. If you don't like it, don't buy it. There are plenty of older used cars that can be bought, rebuilt, upgraded, and enjoyed. Just look at some of the garbage that Pimpmyride and Overhaulin rebuild. If you don't like the increase in technology forced by EPA/CARB/politicians, feel free to vote and lobby. Automakers are idiot proofing new cars. This makes them complex.
 

LarryL

Thread starter
Messages
1,910
Location
Vista, CA
quote:
Whats so complex with a battery, wiring cleaning, PCV valve, vacuum hoses, serpentine belts, fluids, filters...............??????????
That's my point. The dealer had him and make his problem into a big deal because they could. They wanted over a hundred dollars to scan the computer. They knew more about the problem than they told him because they never mentioned a bad battery, but hooked up a jumper, right away, to turn the engine over. They gave him a load of information (you can exchange this for another word if you like) that did not constitute useful communication. They had him and wanted money, lots of it. And I'm sure they would have done what I did to solve the probem, but would have billed him off the estimate.
 
I love the technology! I'm 48 and I remember as a kid, driving down the highway there was always broken down cars every couple miles. Nowadays, you rarely see cars on the side of the freeways unless they have a flat. Cars are so much more reliable now and require much less maintenance and last much longer. As far as fixing them, they are not that bad. A few additional tools are needed to diagnose, but the technology just isn't that difficult. The hate is where people guess at the problem, make repairs based on their guess, waste their money and not have the problem fixed (and yes, some repair shops and dealers are guilty too) Because of the networking of computer systems in your car, you have to actually test components to properly diagnose your issues. A good repair manual and some quality time under the hood is all it takes.
 
Messages
202
Location
sokali
quote:
Originally posted by LarryL:
quote:
Whats so complex with a battery, wiring cleaning, PCV valve, vacuum hoses, serpentine belts, fluids, filters...............??????????
That's my point. The dealer had him and make his problem into a big deal because they could. They wanted over a hundred dollars to scan the computer. They knew more about the problem than they told him because they never mentioned a bad battery, but hooked up a jumper, right away, to turn the engine over. They gave him a load of information (you can exchange this for another word if you like) that did not constitute useful communication. They had him and wanted money, lots of it. And I'm sure they would have done what I did to solve the probem, but would have billed him off the estimate.

The real issue here is your brother likely knows next to nothing about how cars work, probably has no such interest, and would still be clueless if it was just a 350 chevy truck that broke, he would still take it to a dealer or mechanic and they would still ream him. Basically every problem you listed could still have happened on a low tech car so the level of technology would have done nothing. Technology is not to blame here, user ignorance and attitude is. If you want a blind, hands off, lazy man approach, you will pay for it and no level of technology will change that.
 
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