Longing for A Simpler Time
I think you may be right in a way and wrong in another way. Let's talk about how you are right and then we'll work our way around to where I disagree with you. First, I believe much that is done is done simply for the sake of technology. The problem is that fancy electronics and the harsh environment of the road do not mix very well. Take for example a Lincoln Town Car with air ride suspension. There is a dedicated computer, a height sensor at each wheel, an air bag to raise and lower the car at each wheel and a compressor to inflate the bags which has it's own set of solenoids to direct air flow. All together there are about 20 different and expensive parts involved which literally do nothing for the vehicle except make look goofy as it rides almost flat on the ground after about 3 years of endless repair. That same Lincoln will have computerized Climate Control, automatic headlights, keyless entry, antilock brakes, a trip and mileage computer, supplemental restraint, etc. Almost none of these systems will work on a 10 year old car which renders a car which cost $50,000 new worth about one penny on the dollar.
That said, let's look at the other side of the issue. I disagree that cars of old ran as good as the ones now. I can remember when men bragged about a car which averaged 15 miles per gallon on vacation. I can remember when it was an accepted fact that spark plugs had to be replaced every 12,000 miles. Points had to be adjusted every three months if you wanted to the thing to start and run at all. Carburetors were almost in constant need of some sort of adjustment. Shops had customers who were referred to as "little bits" because they could be counted on to drop by weekly to get their idle speed adjusted a "li-i-i-tle bit" as they would hold their thumb and forefinger closely together in front of one eye to illustrate how carefully and delicately the mechanic must approach this adjustment.
Oh, joy! Nowadays, most people never think about tune-ups. It is not uncommon at all to see spark plugs with 100,000 plus miles and have your customer ambivalent about replacing them or not. With a computer which can make thousands of adjustments and corrections per second the idle never fluctuates whether cold, hot, a/c on or off, headlights on or off, etc. And when is the last time you had to formulate a special table of how many times to pump the gas pedal according to the outside temperature so your wife could get her car started in the mornings? (Oh, and don't forget, honey, that in the afternoons you don't pump it, just hold it about half way down.)
JB Griffin owns and operates JB's Auto Sales and Service in Evensville, Tennessee. You may see him weekly on the WDEF-TV News 12 Morning Show every Tuesday at 7:10 a.m. where he will answer your car care questions live and on air. Visit him on the web at: www.500overcost.com