The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: What is the outlook for keeping modern vehicles on the road?  (Read 5499 times)

Offline Atomic-S

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 928
  • Thanked: 18 times
    • View Profile
My had her 2nd of 2 relatively recent-model trucks, both of which have modern

computer controlled engines, become inoperative and thus-far unrepairable despite

much effort, for which reason she had to dispose of one and may have to dispose of

the other, replacing them with another vehicle which may or may not be any more

reliable than those, which is a very costly annoyance.  Thus the question of keeping

vehicles going in the digital age has arisen.

She says that with everything becoming digital, the standard mechanic can no longer

deal with these vehicles; only the dealership can -- assuming that parts can be had,

which would appear doubtful in view of my own experience with 2 somewhat older

vehicles trying to get parts, for which reason one vehicle had to be sold and the

other was jerry-rigged.

This problem would appear to be only going to get worse, as vehicles have more and

more mysterious proprietary parts that no one understands, and that disappear from

the market after a few years. 

However, if generic replacements could be had, this problem could be eliminated. 

Generic replacement parts for much older vehicles are available. It is the newer

vehicles that are the problem. Why are such parts seemingly not made? Two

speculations come to mind: They are so high-tech that the only place they can be

made is in some large, high-tech factory which hasn't the time. (This stuff

presumably cannot be reproduced by gnomes working out of their homes). Or:  the

parts can be reproduced but it is prohibited by the patents, which remain in force

even though the auto manufacturer has abandoned the model.

In either case, non-availability of high-tech replacement parts means that vehicles

which might be repaired have to be discarded and expensively replaced instead. The

cost of this to the motoring public is such that it demands attention.

To add injury to insult, local emissions-control or other law may require that a

vehicle be repaired to factory specifications, which is impossible unless a

certified equivalent part can be had.

Does anyone have any further information on this subject?


 

Offline DoctorBeaver

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12656
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.
    • View Profile
What is the outlook for keeping modern vehicles on the road?
« Reply #1 on: 11/07/2008 07:02:12 »
I don't have any further information, but I wholeheartedly agree with what you're saying. I do believe, though, that the main reason is patents.

Cheaper parts are available, but most of those are made in Eastern Europe and I don't know the standard of their quality control. I wouldn't trust a set of Bulgarian brake pads if I had to stop quickly from 100mph - erm... I mean from 70mph coz driving at 100mph is illegal and I would never do such a thing. Oh no, sirree. Never.  [:I]

When I first started driving, if something went wrong with the car I'd get my trusty hammer and fix the problem. Looking under the bonnet (hood) of a modern car, I wouldn't know where to start. On 1 car I had a few years back it needed a special tool even to just change the spark plugs and, of course, Mr General Public couldn't buy 1. I think, at the time, a set of plugs would have cost me around £15. To get them changed at the dealership (the only place where they had aforementioned tool) cost me over £50.

I won't tell you what it costs to service the car I've got now  [:(!]
« Last Edit: 11/07/2008 07:17:04 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
What is the outlook for keeping modern vehicles on the road?
« Reply #2 on: 11/07/2008 14:02:10 »
I don't think the spare part industry would be restricted too much by patents, although it may be a factor. I think that it is more that the parts are increasingly complex and involve sourcing components that are difficult to get in small volumes. It is just that it has ceased to be a viable and cost effective business to provide spare parts in competition with the vehicle manufacturer. Parts are seldom bits that anyone can make on a lathe now. They invariably involve plastic mouldings and electronics (which often uses custom designed chips, or at least customised chips, and not available on the open market). I'm afraid that we are in the hands of the manufacturers more.
 

Offline lightarrow

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4586
  • Thanked: 7 times
    • View Profile
What is the outlook for keeping modern vehicles on the road?
« Reply #3 on: 12/07/2008 15:01:36 »
One of the (many)reasons is also the requests from the market: a firm introduces a new electronic "gadget" in his veichle and all the others have to add something similar to their veichles in order not to decrease their sells, so, in my opinion, most of veichles are full of almost useless things; ah yes, everyone could find billions of reasons not to consider them useless but necessary; the problem is that we can immediately see the effectiveness of a new kind of piston or of a spark plug, but not so immediately (if not at all) for all new electronic systems.

How do you know in an easy way, if, e.g., your veichle would go better, or with less consumptions, with a different program from what you actually have in your engine's electronic control? Not all mechanics, apart the ones from the authorized garages of the firm, now how to modify those programs.

up to 6 years ago I had a car with ~ half the capacity of the one I have now, 400 kg lighter, with the same performances and less consumptions and when something didn't go very well, I only had to spin a handle...
Those were the days!
« Last Edit: 12/07/2008 15:13:31 by lightarrow »
 

Offline Atomic-S

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 928
  • Thanked: 18 times
    • View Profile
What is the outlook for keeping modern vehicles on the road?
« Reply #4 on: 14/07/2008 05:42:34 »
It seems to me that I have seen in certain catalogs, aftermarket chips that will fit certain relatively recent models, which are programmed to "improve" engine performance, typically toward the direction of hot performance. The use of these devices is illegal in certain States.
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
What is the outlook for keeping modern vehicles on the road?
« Reply #5 on: 14/07/2008 15:50:25 »
Atomic-S, these tend to be FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) which can be software programmed with relatively cheap kit. The industry uses these because it keeps the flexibility they need themselves in developing the vehicle and adapting engine performance for various models and to be able to meet various national regulatary requirements (on emissions for example). You may find this getting blocked by encryption algorithms in the future. There are other chips that will be custom designed (or maybe just custom packaged or labelled) that means it is either impossible (or just very hard) to source the chip anywhere but through the manufacturer.

There is potential that this may change though because the minimum economic volumes for chips is going up all the time and much of the motor industry (with notable exceptions) is not really in the high volume business. There is strong pressure on price so that there is some drive to use standard devices, preferably multi-sourced, especially where the requirements are simple. Set against this, and for many of the required devices, the requirements for high voltage operation, high reliability over stringent environmental conditions tend to reduce the available number of suppliers.
 

lyner

  • Guest
What is the outlook for keeping modern vehicles on the road?
« Reply #6 on: 15/07/2008 11:54:50 »
Emission and safety regulations mean that we are stuck with Digital systems in our new vehicles. The manufacturers have us all by the short hairs and there is little we can do about it.
At least this is less of a problem with Marine Engines - when I, eventually, have to ditch my 30+ yr old Volvo Penta MD2B I think I will still be able to get a 'conventional' replacement. Interestingly, I think the reason for this is that reliability is considered more important than sexy performance at sea. That says something about actual confidence in modern technology - an old diesel will carry on for ever with no electrical supply at all!
 

Offline teragram

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 122
    • View Profile
What is the outlook for keeping modern vehicles on the road?
« Reply #7 on: 04/08/2008 17:57:54 »
Let’s get to the bottom this:-

We only need all this electronic kit on the “modern” car to keep emission within (still unacceptable) levels.
The Internal Combustion engine is one of the worst devices for driving vehicles, contains over a hundred moving parts, is closely related to something invented by Newcomen in the 16th? century, needs boxes full of gears, water pump and radiator, oil pump, clutch, exhaust (including catalytic converter-using up precious platinum!) and extracts the energy from its fuel by setting fire to it! Cavemen used to do that! Roll on the days when the only moving parts in a car are the wheels and steering (apart from screenwipers etc.) Thankfully this is not too far away (PML FlightLink Hi-Pac motor)
 
 

Offline Farrah Day

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 45
    • View Profile
What is the outlook for keeping modern vehicles on the road?
« Reply #8 on: 04/08/2008 20:07:26 »
It's this modern throw away age we live in - if it's broken it's sometimes cheaper to buy a new one than get it repaired... cars seem to be going the same way.

You can't even see the engine under the bonnet of many modern cars now, let alone tinker with it. Every vehicle seems to require it's own special set of tools nowadays too.

My friend had a new Audi and was stopped by the police for having an inoperative rear sidelight. He intended to replace it himself but could not figure out how to do this. On inspecting his manual, for lamp replacement is said, 'Consult you local Audi Dealer'! What.. for changing a lamp!!  He did after getting stopped again a week later and spot-fined £20 (nearest Audi dealer 25 miles away). £50 for them to replace this £1.50 sidelight. Absolutely ridiculous. I heard he's selling the car when a headlight fails! 

But that was cheap, my brother-in-law's Mercedes failed it's MOT because the ABS warning light kept flickering on, even though the brakes were working perfectly. Apparently impossibe to find the fault without having it plugged into a Mercedes System Analyser. £60 to plug it in, a further £170 to have the ABS sensor replaced! Give me an old classic car every time!

We like doing our own maintenance and completely rebuilding cars so wouldn't dream of buying a modern car. If it plugs into a computer forget it! We have 4 cars, 2 old Land Rovers (1966 and 1972), a 1965 Volvo Amazon and a 1968 Kit car. So reliable, so easy to work on and so easy to sort out should a problem arise - cheap insurance and tax exempt to boot!
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

What is the outlook for keeping modern vehicles on the road?
« Reply #8 on: 04/08/2008 20:07:26 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums