Why your car is less reliable than it used to be

http://edn.com/electronics-blogs/engineering-on-wheels/4426866/Why-is-your-car-less-reliable-than-it-used-to-be-
bob

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Flawed. The 0.1% chance is far too high a guess for modern engineering requirements.
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He starts with his premise and then constructs a fairy tale to support it. Real world data is the answer to this, not his fairy tale. From what I've seen in the real world, cars today are as reliable as cars have ever been. He also ignores the mechanical aspects, back "in the day" it was not unusual to go thru 3 starters in 100,000 miles. I'm still on the original starter on my 92 with 155,000 miles. Having driven fleet cars for many years there is no doubt in my mind that far far less downtime occurs today then it did back before 1980ish. Who recalls having a minor tuneup every 6 months and major tune every 12K. How it was common to do valve jobs every 50K on some engines. And those carburetor problems and rebuilds every few years.
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On 2/14/2014 11:34 AM, Ashton Crusher wrote:

Well, here is my spin on it.
Back in the "OLD" days, you wanted to stay away from used luxury cars with higher use because the "top end" systems were harder to maintenance and find parts for. Things like Cadillac and Lincolns come to mind. Auto climate controls, early automated dash centers, and all sorts of bell and whistles. Yea, they were great when new, but as they age and you looking for basic transportation, the maintenance and finding parts are going to bone you at some time.
As fast as car electronics are going, when these cars are 10/15 years old, where are the parts coming from and who is going to have a clue on how to fix them? It goes way beyond what a OBD2 scanner is going to tell you. YOU get a data buss with 20 devices hanging on it and one shorts out and kills the whole deal, its going to take a genius to figure it out. Even a bare bone car these days is full of electronics. No going back to a Yugo now....
I read about awhile back about a $5000 brake job on a ford escape. Bullshit? NO. Its a hybrid. All the hydraulics and logic are in a hybrid control module that's a factory only part and costs 4 figures. This is the kind of issues we all will be dealing with down the road. Are you still using your computer from 10 or 15 years ago? Why not? Apply that logic to your car electronics. As reliable as it can be, stuff does break and will have to be fixed or junked. Ever price a battery pack for a hybrid auto? Put your depends on. How long does your cordless drill packs last? That car battery is not going to last forever either. Down the road, many current gen hybrids may get junked because its un economical to replace the battery pack in them
I was at the autoshow this year looking at Hyundai and such. Look at all the switches on the doors. DO you think all those Korean switches will hold up 10+ years down the line? Whos going to stock them when they go bad? I have already replaced two window switches on my venture van.
Our government does not help the issue either. THE ROHS laws will bite you down the line (removal of hazardous substances). The reliable lead solder we used for years was outlawed. The new solder is not as reliable. It causes issues such as "tin whiskers". And about all electronics are soldered together on PC boards in some way.
In the not so distant future, its going to be the electronics guy in the dealer shop who earns the most money
bob
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That's not our government, Bob. That's a different set of governments, although sadly it's affecting us a whole lot because globalization means parts need to be produced so that they can be sold everywhere.

Not at all, he just swaps out modules. It's the manufacturer making the money. --scott
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"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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I agree, my comments were mainly related to cars 0 to 8 years old. From what I've read, the insulation now being used on the wires in new cars will be disintegrating by the time they are 15+ years old because of various environmental laws related to making plastic. Wires that don't get touched or moved my last for a while longer but wires that move around much will probably all start shorting out.

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Speak for yourself, I plan to continue driving my AMC Hornet indefinitely. (I've had the car over 35 years now, it will probably outlast me.) No computers, no electronics to speak of beyond the alternator, distributor, and AM radio.
But yeah, people who drive the late model stuff are likely to be in for a rude awakening down the road.
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On Saturday, 15 February 2014 00:56:56 UTC+8, bob wrote:

The rich pricks who buy luxury cars get rid of them within 3 years. The pork hunt who buys a 15 year old Jaguar probably has to increase his credit card limit to repair it. He won't be thinking it is a "quality" car.
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bob wrote:

cars have computers now? Wow, welcome to 1982.
GW
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On 2/14/2014 6:56 AM, bob wrote:

The electronic controls are needed to meet car exhaust emission standards. We get to have cleaner air. It's a trade-off. I'm betting that cars will be more reliable and cheaper to run/maintain when we switch over to electric vehicles.
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SOME of the electronic controls are needed to meet emission standards. The development of fuel-injection systems with closed loop mixture control was an enormous advance both in emissions and in efficiency. Not to mention that it actually improved engine reliability... no more hard starting in the cold. How long has it been since you heard of anyone burning a valve from running too lean?
But honestly... do you really need the brake lights to be controlled off a digital bus? Do you need the heads-up display with the GPS and the ipad integration system? Do you need the heated seats and the feedback controls for the AC that open and close the ducts to the rear seat area?
Cars _are_ less reliable than they used to be, because they are vastly more complex than they used to be, because they have a lot of stupid junk on them. But, in the end, they have all the stupid junk because the customers demand it.
Electric vehicles have the promise of being more reliable because in some ways they are more simple. There are only a few things to go wrong, so you put all your engineering into making those few things more stable. However, the cost-containment crew at GM is capable of making them just as flaky as a Chevy Nova if they are permitted to do so. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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On 2/17/2014 11:41 AM, Scott Dorsey wrote:

I was with you right up till you got to my very much _not_ flaky 65 Nova. Light and dependable but in no way flaky.
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Andrew Muzi
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On 2/17/2014 7:41 AM, Scott Dorsey wrote:

An electric car will be vastly more simple than the cars of today. The drive train and controls would most likely be modular, standardized, bolt-on units. The most complex part would be the power control box. My guess is that the user will be able to configure their car by programming the control unit to whatever performance level they want. This is an exiting prospect. OTOH, self-driving cars could make personal transportation as much fun as riding a bus.
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When one has to eek out every tiny bit of fuel economy having all electric gizmos centrally controlled helps. Furthermore with things like traction control, automatic braking and the like, a simple switch on the brake pedal isn't enough. The computer has to turn the brake lights on because it may be applying the brakes rather than the driver.
Also wires are cheaper than linkages and such. So the computer does all that stuff too. The computer control also allows for heavier gauge wire to be replaced with lighter gauge wire.

I have seen no math to support this. Component level reliability is orders of magnitude better than many decades ago. The 1990s may be the sweet spot between complexity and component reliability, but I haven't seen any math or data to show it.
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Component level reliability has improved amazingly, but the number of components has increased just as dramatically. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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Electronics should be operating at six sigma levels. The numbers haven't increased that much even if you count each board level component.
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At least one Tier-1 supplier I used to work with was working to SEVEN sigma. Or trying to, anyway. They had banners all over their plants saying so.
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Tegger

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