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High-Tech Cars Are a Double-Edged Sword

May 23, 2006

I'm almost at the point where I miss my old, trusty (and amateur-mechanic accessible) 1963 Volkswagon Bug. I drove this during the tail end of my college days back in 1980, and it remains one of my all-time favorite cars.

I remember with deep satisfaction and pleasure being able to adjust the valve-timing, perform brake jobs and tune ups, replace hoses, starters, and make just about any other necessary repair. My greasy, dog-eared "Idiots Guide" to Volkswagon Bug Repair was truly a treasured resource.
Now, I drive a high-performance Audi A4 1.8T Quattro -- a so-called Marvel of German Engineering -- I wouldn't even think about sliding under the car or tinkering under the hood. It seems that every repair for this car requires a special degree in computer-aided mechanical engineering!

All the high-performance automotive wonders on the road today are now so complicated, and so inaccessible to us "weekend" mechanics, that we are frankly at the mercy of the dealers and foreign-auto repair shops that have the computer repair code readers and esoteric tools required to diagnose and fix these cars.

And let's not even think about the cost of relatively minor repairs. Recently, I paid off the car and it simultaneously reached the end of its bumper-to-bumper warranty -- and wouldn't you know it -- the fuel pump decides it's time to fail. The dealer who had been servicing the car at least showed mercy and instead of charging me $1080, gave me a "discounted" repair price of $675

I'm sure I'm not the only that laments the loss of control when it comes to auto repair. Who else yearns for the good 'ole days when fuel-injection was only a glimmer in an engineer's eye, and not one computer chip had a home on the chassis?

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» $80 to Replace a Headlight? Yeah, Right... from Beyond VoIP
A while ago, I blogged about how frustratingly technologically complex today's automobiles have become, and how difficult it's become to make even relatively minor repairs. Recently, a headlight lamp on my Audi A4 blew, and with much trepidation, I... [More]

Tracked on February 22, 2007 1:20 PM

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