Home » Five Annoying Problems With Modern Cars That Manufacturers Don’t Seem To Give A Damn About

Five Annoying Problems With Modern Cars That Manufacturers Don’t Seem To Give A Damn About

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Modern cars are pretty incredible. We all know this; compared to what came before, they perform better than ever, they’re more efficient, they’re crammed full of advanced electronics, they last longer, require less maintenance, are more comfortable, and on and on. You saw the review of the F-150 Lightning; we’re in a golden age of new cars and trucks. That said, this golden age is really only for new cars and trucks. Once the luster wears off and cars are no longer new, in that long period where we’re actually living with these machines, then the real problems become clear. And these are problems that, as far as I can tell, no major automaker is really interested in solving, because they’re not particularly sexy or fun and they deal with the tedious realities of car ownership.

These are real, significant problems, though, and they’re the sorts of things that affect how your quality of life with your car is, and, remember, that’s a relationship that will last, at least on average in America, over 12 years. Europe is about the same, and while Japan and China are a bit less, plenty of the world is older.

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Cars are more expensive than ever, and they last longer than ever, too (On average, apparently. Though many old cars were built like tanks, I realize). Most of us will have our cars a long while, or be buying used cars that have been around a long while. And as you live with your car and pay to keep it maintained, dealing with wear and damage and all of the encroaching entropy of physical reality, some pretty significant issues become apparent. Here’s the five biggest ones, at least to me:

1. Trash Management

This may sound trivial, but I’ve been in enough people’s cars to know that dealing with the near-constant trickle of refuse and detritus created by life is a struggle, and affects people’s quality of life and their relationships with their. The simple fact is that no car on the market today has any sort of really well-thought-out plan for dealing with trash, and that’s ridiculous.

This is an issue I’ve discussed before, and I probably will keep bringing up, because as far as I can tell, nobody else really is. I get why – what could be less sexy than figuring out how to best integrate an easy-to-empty trash can setup in a car?

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People’s cars get full of trash, and there’s no good place to put it. Little aftermarket trash can doohickies exist, but they’re almost always awkward things that hang on seat backs or fit in cupholders and look like cheap garbage. Something good and well-integrated is needed.

If people are shopping between two otherwise indistinguishable crossovers and one has a well-designed way to deal with regular, everyday trash, that one will win. Trust me.

[Editor’s Note: Let’s not forget that much of that trash ends up between the center console and and seat — a gap that everyone hates and whose reign of terror automakers have allowed to continue on. -DT]

2. Forgiving Design

This one I think is actually really important, and is more of a philosophical shift in how we design and build cars as opposed to any one specific thing. In general, it just means that your car should be a machine that is tolerant of you, the user. It should be a machine that can absorb a certain degree of punishment without becoming too impaired. This implies a design philosophy that absorbs and deals with normal wear, tear, and damage in elegant ways, which modern car design very much does not do.

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Take bumpers, for example. Modern cars have huge, plastic, painted bumper covers like this:

These bumper covers can house any number of ultrasonic (and other) sensors and lights and other expensive equipment. Because they’re painted, any minor damage looks like crap on them, and because of the electronic equipment they house, they’re incredibly expensive to fix.

A bumper on a common car like a Toyota RAV4 can cost between $885 and $1389, for example. Other sources suggest that bumper replacement can range from $500 to $2,000, and include this maddening paragraph:

For certain luxury cars, you could end up spending several thousand dollars to get a new rear bumper. At that point, you really need to ask yourself if repairing the car is worth it. It may technically be more cost-efficient to just buy a new car.

The fuck? More cost-efficient to buy a new car because of bumper damage? That’s madness. The whole point of a bumper is to take damage. It’s called a bumper.

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The same thing goes for wheel design–its way too easy to curb-damage a wheel, and those are expensive to replace. Also, components like headlights which are on the corners of cars, are vulnerable in small wrecks, and have sadly become quite expensive; here’s a $1,700 Volvo headlight, for example.

Car design should, ideally, consider the whole life of the car, and that design should accept the reality of wear and damage and be designed to handle it well.

3. DIY Serviceability

Related to forgiving design of a car is the idea that it should be designed in such a way to allow the owner to easily carry out basic maintenance using simple tools.

Ideally, filters and other consumable parts would be located for easy access and replacement. Under-hood packaging could give more consideration to owner access to parts that are likely to need replacement. There’s smart engineers in the world; if it werw a priority, couldn’t even things like timing belts be made owner-accessible?

Of course, this would mean other compromises for packaging and possibly styling It might make cars less sleek when new, even if they’d be much more likely to be properly maintained as they age.

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Of course, dealers want the revenue from service, and carmakers want you to buy new cars, not keep your old ones going forever, so I have very little hope any carmaker will make DIY serviceability a priority.

[Editor’s Note: At Chrysler, there is a team whose job is to make sure that cars are engineered in a way that’s serviceable. This is important, because it affects cost of maintenance even if the owner takes their car to a shop. And that plays a big role in owner satisfaction. -DT]

4. Standards And Upgradability For UX And Electronics

Not too long ago, almost all cars followed a standard for their infotainment systems, like the Double-DIN standard, also known as ISO 7736, adopted in 1984. For a long time, nearly every major automaker was building cars with infotainment systems that met this standard, which means you can take a car that’s 20 years old and upgrade it to have the absolute latest automotive electronics like Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and a rear-view camera for about $130, incredibly easily, by just sliding a new unit into the dash.

That’s objectively great for a longterm car-owner: a huge upgrade in the car’s UX and features for minimal money and effort. And almost no modern car you buy today is capable of this.

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That huge, portrait-oriented display screen on your Mach-e or your big Tesla center screen sure looks great now, but what about 10 years from now when the tech is woefully outdated? There’s no guarantee the computing hardware in your car will be able to handle features and systems a decade from now–in fact, we’ve already seen carmakers require expensive hardware upgrades in older (though not that old) cars to use new features. Current cars do not use any cross-platform standard for their center-stack screens and infotainment systems, so an easy Double-DIN type refresh is out of the question.

That sucks, and it doesn’t have to be that way. An updated standard for center-stack screens and connectors could be established, but the chances of that happening are about as good as Tesla introducing a diesel.

5. EV Battery Standards and Replacement

This is another thing I’ve bitched about before, tediously and, if you’re in front of me while I’m doing it, wetly. At this moment, every EV sold in America must, by law, be warrantied for eight years or 100,000 miles. That’s great, but the average age of cars right now is 50% longer than eight years, and the cost of replacement is, well, usually devastating.

Batteries are proprietary, too, definitely by manufacturer and often by model, so it’s not like there’s a significant third-party ecosystem around to keep competition happening and prices low. When your battery goes, you pretty much have once source to replace it, and you’re looking at a total replacement cost between $5,000 and $20,000.

This is going to be devastating to the used car market, and it also means that everyone who owns an EV over eight years old will be driving around with a very expensive electric sword of Damocles dangling over their heads.

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It’s going to be shitty, and, like all of the issues I’ve been talking about here, it doesn’t actually have to be, but the nature of the automotive industry and, I suppose, capitalism and human behavior probably mean it won’t change.

There could be battery standards, if the various automakers wanted them. There are so many clever engineers out there who could come up with a good baseline set of battery specifications that all carmakers could agree to, and there could be a thriving aftermarket of re-manufactured batteries, or competing battery companies, and installation and removal could be easy and getting a whole new battery could be a relatively inexpensive process that could be done on a module-by-module basis or any number of other possibilities.

Of course, automakers have shown precisely zero interest in making this happen, which means that the likelihood of a robust standardized automotive EV battery industry is about as likely to happen as Nathan Lane is to be selected to be the next Batman.

That pretty much goes for all of these issues: fixing them won’t make carmakers any money, so if your plan was to hold your breath until these get resolved in a way that favors car owners like you or I, I’d counsel a different plan.

 

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Gary Lynch
Gary Lynch
1 year ago

Interesting…. Folk that think 20 years ago is “the old days….”

– trash management. Check out Steve Martin back when he was a comedian….just use a little plastic bag. When full just toss it out the window…. Always or never, I forgot. Oh well, mot PC in this age…

Forgiving design. Google the “safety cars” of the late ‘60s.. by AMF and the like. Scary

DIY.. yes, but the youth of America doesn’t even want to drive. Work on their car? What a concept…

BC
BC
1 year ago

#1 – I drive a Volvo XC40 with the built-in centre console removable trash bin, and I have to admit that I’ve never actually used it for its intended purpose.

If I create trash during my drive, I just throw it away at my next stop.

#2 – The front seriously looks like a cow catcher.

steveed
steveed
1 year ago

#1 is a bit iffy for me, I don’t like any trash in my cars. It goes to the actual trash can as soon as the car stops.

#4 though is a big deal and I think it’s more than just the stereo. Climate control and radios need physical buttons so I don’t have to look when I am driving. I am a big fan of early 90s Mercedes. Single din stereos that you can upgrade (add bluetooth as the Becker is better than any Sony Xplode) and climate control with a temperature wheels. I will say it takes a bit to figure out what images on the buttons are trying to convey, but a quick read of the owner’s manual usually suffices.

Ted Sheppard
Ted Sheppard
1 year ago

The bumper thing is what gets me. Ever since the seventies I’ve been hearing people complain about the “big clunky 5 mph bumpers” but that never really bothered me. In fact, one of the cars most often derided for this aspect is the MGB and I always liked that look (put away the pitchforks I know my opinion won’t be popular). My point is that this led to what we have now where the bumper has magically disappeared, except it is still there and hidden by that expensive, content laden piece of plastic. My answer has been to carry a pack of cable ties.

As for this…
“[Editor’s Note: At Chrysler, there is a team whose job is to make sure that cars are engineered in a way that’s serviceable. This is important, because it affects cost of maintenance even if the owner takes their car to a shop. And that plays a big role in owner satisfaction. -DT]”

I suppose this team was hired after the previous team, who designed the cars with headlights that could only be replaced after removing the battery and it’s carrier/tray, were hung in the town square whilst being pelted with rotten tomatoes.

As for the double DIN thing, if you have it, you’re still faced with an array of bafflingly horrible software, though at least your vehicles basic functions are not part of it. All these cars with the “STFU and glue a tablet to the dash” design will be lucky to make it past 10, maybe 15 years before they are essentially bricked. I’m thinking of how many phones I’ve been through in the last 10 years. I’ve got five sitting on my desk right now. Tablets are basically just giant phones. Yikes.

3WiperB
3WiperB
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Sheppard

I can’t say I like the look of the rubber bumper B as much as the earlier ones, but I still own one since they are way more of a bargain than the earlier ones. I figure, I can’t see the bumpers while I’m driving the car, and I can totally pull it into the garage and park it by feel. It doesn’t leave even a scratch if I hit the cabinet at the back of the garage. Those late 70’s bumpers sure are durable and solid.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Sheppard

“I’m thinking of how many phones I’ve been through in the last 10 years. I’ve got five sitting on my desk right now”

In my experience phones and tablets ARE fixable if you are of a mind to do so. I’ve replaced screens, cameras, batteries and other components. There are web businesses including Ebay offering new and used spare parts (e.g. cameras cost a buck or two). I’m typing this on a 10 yo kindle I’ve replaced the battery on twice. There are lots of DIY videos on YouTube to follow.

Software is trickier as I am not a coder BUT I have found with Android devices there are communities that are dedicated to keeping older devices going. If you are lucky there is a stable build of the latest Android OS you can install on your old devices. My 2013-15 Samsungs are rocking Android 12 thanks to LineageOS. If you ARE a coder you can even build your own OS.

As always YMMV. You will probably have more luck with flagship devices than no name generic devices. It’s also a question of your time, is it worth more than the device? Most folks see a broken device as a heaven sent excuse to upgrade. To me DIY is worth it if for anything to keep my swappable battery phones in service as long as possible.

Ted Sheppard
Ted Sheppard
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Hmmm. I wasn’t going there specifically, but I’ll look that up. I have an older new off brand android tablet that I wanted to install a better operating system on, and all my research indicated that tablets aren’t set up with a standardized architecture. Which makes it difficult to install any OS not specifically designed for it. If you know any additional keyword I should google I would appreciate it.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Sheppard

You can try these to start:

https://lineageos.org/

https://forum.xda-developers.com/c/lineageos.6080/

Look for your device(s). If they are not listed there are other OS builds to search. Who knows, you might get lucky. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying. You can ask on the forums if anyone knows a good build or is even willing to take the challenge of building one or can even help you build your own if you want to go that route.

Be sure to read up on the build you are considering. Sometimes new builds can have issues, just like OEM updates. In that case look for the newest build without those issues and upgrade to the newer one later when those issues are resolved.

I’ve not flashed a tablet yet but I have done a few phones. There is a learning curve, mostly because there are a few ways to do it. I imagine it’s a lot easier for anyone with more coding experience than myself. Once you settle on a method that works it’s easy, even for a non coder.

The biggest advantage of LOS aside from running newer android is no OEM bloatware. That really speeds things up. It also frees up a lot of memory which is great for older devices. You can even choose not to install Google apps if you don’t want them but you CAN put them on if you do want. I did and AFAICT they work just as well as before.

FUCK YOU
FUCK YOU
1 year ago

I say this as an environmentalist a d proponent of clean energy, someone whose actual full-time job it is to install solar panels, battery backup systems, and EV chargers: the lack of standards for EV batteries, and the cost of replacement, is going to be an environmental catastrophe.

If when your car’s battery shits the bed it costs more than the value of the car to replace it, that’s going to both A) seriously depress used car values because no-one will want a car with a battery that’s living on borrowed time and B) mean that the effective service life of cars will drop dramatically. Cars will become more disposable, the used market will shrink, and people will buy more new cars, more frequently. That will be fucking great for automakers because used cars don’t make them anything, but it will be disastrous for everyone else.

EVs are new enough still that this isn’t a major problem. It’s not on many people’s radars. Mark my words though: it’s gonna be a big deal.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  FUCK YOU

Oh, no, it’s very much already on the radars of anybody paying any attention at all.

Remember, the Prius has been around since 2000. And how many NHW10 and NHW11’s do you see on the road? Not, a, fucking, one. Because lo and behold, the first gen batteries shit the bed around 150,000 miles. And the cost to replace said drive motor battery pack? $2300 MSRP for the part, $3000+ in labor to install. Nevermind all the people that thought ‘hybrid’ meant ‘doesn’t need oil changes’ – that’ll be $7k to install a high mileage used engine.
I recently had a chance to buy a Lexus CT200h F-Sport. It’d be a fine spare runabout for me, and it was cheap – under $3k.
Yeah, know why? Because it had 145k miles, and the drive motor battery was shot. Cost of replacement? $3,400 after freight surcharge for anything that isn’t pure trash, $1,500-$2,500 in labor to install (heard two different book rates – 8hrs and 12hrs,) I was told to ‘expect to spend at least another $1,000 on related failures,’ and that I should expect total head failure (warped beyond repair) within 50k miles and the safe ‘cheap’ option would still be over $3k doing it myself. Yep, $6k+ just to make it run for another 5-50k miles.
On a 10 year old car with no rot, light crazing, and no worn off or broken buttons. 145k and it was done.

Better still: when was the last time you saw a Honda Insight?
Never, I’d bet.
Because the last ones rolled off the line in 2006. Assuming it wasn’t killed by the truly awful CVT ($5k) or the notoriously failure prone IMA (long discontinued so good luck,) the battery is quite well known to die within 10 years ($6k+.) But hey, for only $1-2.5k you can get a ‘reconditioned’ battery that might last you 2 or 3 years.
Factory part? $3,800 for the only non-discontinued main battery set (no warranty, refurb, only works for some cars, dealer only,) $1,500 for the other battery pack, and $779 for the mandatory BECU (also dealer only,) plus $500+ reprogramming, plus 14 hours labor. Assuming the battery didn’t kill computers, which is extremely common.
No shortage of people in 2008-2009 who had 2003-2004 Insights that got quotes for $6000+ battery replacements on cars with KBB of $8000 on a good day.

3WiperB
3WiperB
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

I just saw a first gen Prius the other day on the interstate and was shocked, because it had been years since I saw one.

Yeah, I posted in another post here, but I ditched my 7.5 year old Volt onto the used market because of the battery replacement costs “if” something went wrong. I see so many people buying 2012 and 2013 Volts for $10,000 and up because values and gas prices are so high, and often they are financing them! It has the potential to be such a bad life choice, because these are people that don’t have the money to fix the car if something happens. I love the car, but it was too much risk to keep it, and I’ll probably lease my next EV instead of buying it.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Better still: when was the last time you saw a Honda Insight?
Never, I’d bet.

You’d be wrong. Up till quite recently there were several to choose from on my local CL. They’ve since become scarce partly I assume because they got bought up thanks to high gas prices and part because of this guy:

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/cto/d/south-san-francisco-hybrid4hirecom/7477753751.html

Ben
Ben
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

How many people would actually recognize a first-gen Prius? It looks just like the contemporary non-hybrid Toyota hatch because that’s what it was based on.

A better question is how many gen 2s do you see? They’re all over the place and have been around since 04. A replacement battery can be had for $1600 these days, and if anyone charges you $3k in labor to install it they’re ripping you off.

Of course, this is all tangential to the EV question because a full EV has a battery at least an order of magnitude larger and more expensive than a Prius. So that $1600 becomes $16000 and now your car is worthless. This is one reason I think PHEVs may be a better solution for a long while to come. Much smaller batteries, and still little to no gas usage outside of long road trips.

Regarding the Honda hybrids, my understanding is that they got caught flat-footed by how good the Prius was and had to increase load on their batteries to a point where they died prematurely. That’s less an inherent problem with batteries and more of an engineering screwup on Honda’s part.

I’m also not sure how the head issues on the Lexus have anything to do with hybrids. An engine with a penchant for overheating and warping the head (I assume this is the same problem the gen 3 Prius had) is hardly an EV/hybrid problem. If anything that’s a point in favor of EVs.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

How about the visibility thing?

And I don’t mean the high beltline/small greenhouse thing we all hate (as I get at least the purported rationale), I mean… dark factory-tinted windows everywhere it’s legal.

Hugely pronounced on SUVs, but I see it on other vehicles as well now.

Given the huge amount of distracted driving already going on, do manufacturers need to make it harder to see too?

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

So, this one I can really speak to.
“It’s the safety, stupid(TM).”

No. Really. Know when A/B/C pillars started getting ridiculous and creating mile wide blindspots? When the NHTSA added FMVSS 216: Roof Crush Resistance, and updated it in 2009.
FMVSS 216 specifies that any passenger car, MPV, or truck or bus with a GVWR of 2722kg or less must withstand a resistive load equal to 1.5 times the unloaded vehicle weight or 22,240 Newtons (whichever is less.) And only the A pillars are tested.
UNTIL 2009.
In 2009, FMVSS 216 was changed to 216a. Which now requires that vehicles withstand 3.0 times the unloaded vehicle weight, multiplied by 9.8 for cars under 6,000lbs and 1.5 times the vehicle weight for cars between 6,000 and 10,000lbs. And in order to pass, the roof cannot deform more than 127 millimeters in any direction touching the force plate during the test. And now all of the roof points are tested.

And that, my friend, is why all of a sudden you can’t fucking see shit out of a car or truck. It’s also why we got a backup camera mandate – because to pass FMVSS 216a? The rear window had to shrink to Countach sizes. And every other window. Even with high strength alloys. Because let’s say we’ve added a bunch of reinforcements to handle that unloaded vehicle weight. Oops, we increased the vehicle weight. Add more reinforce-oh, we got heavier again.
So a 2018 Buick Regal Sportback has a portly curb weight of 3,840lbs. To pass FMVSS 216a, the roof has to withstand … carry the two, multiply times fuck-me … 112,896lbs of pressure without subjecting a test dummy to more than 50lbs of force. Applied to the roof.

What the real benefit of FMVSS 216a is though, is a significant reduction in rollover related ejections. Yep, that’s right. The combination of mandatory vehicle stability programs and 216a reduced ejections from 6,000 out of 10,350 rollover fatalities to about 3,000 out of 7,000 rollover fatalities.
And the math absolutely does hold up under all scrutiny. FMVSS 216a significantly reduced ejections and injuries in rollover accidents. The weighted average of ejection areas goes like this: left front window, right front window, roof, rear window, left rear window, windshield, right rear window. Yep! Being thrown out the roof (which was no longer there) was number 3 – at 300% higher than rear window. And in all injury associated rollover accidents, the roof was the #1 injury contact area by a huge margin.

Blackout tint’s a whole other thing; factory blackouts are basically one-way glass. So you can’t see me, but I really do have no trouble seeing you. (I have one-way glass in most of my cars.) At this point I’m assuming default inclusion is a futile effort to stop causing heat stroke with every manufacturer’s ‘you can have any interior you want as long as it’s black on black faux leather’ policy.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

UNTIL 2009.

Well I can see out of my 2010 Mazda5 just fine. Dunno about the later ones but the glass area dosen’t look all that different from mine.

Urambo Tauro
Urambo Tauro
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Compromised sight-lines are a side effect of automakers focusing on things that they deem to be more important than visibility, like exterior styling, rollover protection, and aerodynamics.

But I’m willing to entertain the thought of poor visibility being intentional. If you include excessive sound deadening, one could argue that automakers are actively trying to sabotage our senses to make us less aware of our surroundings, while numb controls like electric steering make us less likely to prevent crashes from happening. Advances in crash safety then function as a selling point, influencing survivors to stay with the brand and purchase repair parts (or replacement vehicles), further increasing demand, pricing, and automaker profits. It’s a conspiracy!

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I like that the factory tints in my Juke’s rear windows make it harder to see what’s in the car back there when nobody is in the car.

Not that I keep valuables in there. Most just 2 liter bottles of Diet Pepsi, during the winter.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

How do you like your Juke? It always seemed to me like an intriguing concept that was (in that classic Japanese auto manufacturer way) kinda mis-marketed.

And what do you do with the Diet Pepsi in the winter? Is it like a contemporary life hack version of oldschool kitty litter or something? 😉

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Not to mention windshields at ~45 degree angles that when combined with thick A pillars (the standard nowadays) you have horrible blind spots and you’re sitting damn near in the middle of the automobile when you’re in the driver’s seat for 90%+ of the new automobiles sold in the US.

It’s atrocious. I personally hate tinted windows and I’d pay extra to not have them on any new car I want to buy, but short of getting custom replacement windows made you’re stuck with them on a lot of new cars.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago

2) It’s never going to happen. Because the fact is, designing something forgiving to repair that looks good? Really hard at best, more frequently impossible. And when it’s hard, it also increases warranty costs.
Take for example a pickup with ultrasonics in the rear bumper. Let’s just put them in the tailgate, right? Wrong – they won’t work there. One, ultrasonics are cone-shaped beams. Two, now you have a sensitive and fragile wiring harness in an area of extremely high damage risk during normal operation. Which means huge warranty claims.
Worse, consumers won’t accept it if it’s not sleek and stylish. Consumers don’t care about things like repairability, by and large. The first time they even have an inkling of what a minor front end collision costs is if they look at the bill when they get into one. They usually don’t – just let the insurance deal with it.

3) Look, this war was lost in the 1980’s. I’m not saying it doesn’t still need to be fought. But it was lost. Welcome to the results of regulatory capture. The only way we got OBD-I and OBD-II is when they said “okay, you don’t have to include anything but emissions. You can have all the manufacturer-specific codes you want. And you can use whatever bus you want.” Everyone went CANbus because it’s cheap, not because they’re standardizing.
And we’ve already seen the auto manufacturer response to any attempt actual regulatory enforcement at the state level: “fuck you, we’re taking our ball and going home. Have fun walking, bitches.”
The only way we’re fixing this is nuking the DOT, NHTSA, and EPA’s upper echelon from orbit, removing appointments that can dictate policy and axe anything they don’t like, and putting an absolute ban on the revolving doors. The ruling class will never, ever let that happen. Absent an ironclad combined mandate for standardization and enforcement with fines measured in double digit percentages of revenue? They will continue finding excuses like ‘but emissions!’ to lock people out of repairs. They’d already weld the decorative engine covers on if they could get away with it.

4) This too is never going to happen. Because your choices are the deeply, criminally unethical people at Google, or the fart-huffing, deeply unethical people at Apple. Both of which will demand in exchange for their blessing, you give them preferential treatment over the other, and also you’re required to lock out anybody else who comes along. Under penalty of infotainment death. Oh, and as part of the deal, you will be giving them all of the data you collect as well. (Apple collects data. Their claims to the contrary are absolute bullshit. They just aren’t in the ad business primarily.)
Manufacturers don’t develop their own infotainment either – haven’t for decades. GM calls on Delphi and Bosch, Chrysler has relied on Infiniti and Alpine, Ford’s systems are built by Sony, Porsche is Bosch.
But let’s say the car manufacturers decide to start making their own universal protocol equivalent to Carplay/AndroidAuto. Just install their app. Well guess what? They can’t. Google and Apple control basically 100% of the phone market, and are more than eager to lock out any app they don’t like. That effort would last about 2 weeks at which point they’d get a call from Apple or Google legal telling them that if they continue, then they’re in breach and they’ll blacklist all their existing radios.
Sounds like dystopia, but I assure you, that’s reality. I worked for a Google ‘partner’ for a while. We did something they didn’t like, even though it was okay – according to them. Then they decided it wasn’t. In less than 24 hours they changed Android so our clever trick no longer worked, and told the corporate attorney that if we didn’t remove it post haste, they’d pull the app and do a lot worse. (Since they couldn’t push the patched version for months.)

5) Sigh. I’m not going to wade through the ignorance of people who insist manufacturers make all their money off parts (yes, there are people that dumb.) But I am going to tell you why they won’t standardize: “fuck that, they’re the enemy.”
Welcome to capitalism kiddos. Where contrary to what you were told by people who benefit most from an ignorant population, everything in capitalism is a zero-sum game. The goal of every company is to achieve an absolute monopoly, and settle for nothing less. Because competition cuts into the golden rule of “make more money!”

Sean O'Brien
Sean O'Brien
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

In terms of sleekness of sensor packaging, wouldn’t it be fairly easy to have sensors in panels inset in holes in the bumper, but flush with it? There would be a slight discontinuity, but nothing that would really disrupt the lines of the car.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Sean O'Brien

No. Most sensors won’t work with anything covering them – you usually can’t even use metallic paint on parking sensors.

There are sometimes exceptions depending on the type of sensor. The Active Cruise Control radar on the new L663 Defender is behind the grill badge.

RustyWombat
RustyWombat
1 year ago

Never really had to worry about front end damage during the days of stainless steel bumpers, or just $200-500 to replace the bumper ????

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago

Agree on all counts, especially forgiving and DIY-friendly design. I think this is mostly what people mean when they say “they don’t make them like they used to.” It’s not that old cars were better, but they were infinitely more approachable and understandable, and that fostered a connection with the machine that’s much harder to develop with today’s bulbous plastic monoliths.

And I would TOTALLY watch Nathan Lane as Batman.

Vicente Perez
Vicente Perez
1 year ago

I fully agree with #3. Replacing a headlight bulb on a Tesla Model S requires removing the wheel and well liner. Did I mention that the car does not come with a jack?

Disagree with #4, though. My BMW i3 just lost a bunch of features after AT&T dropped support for its 3G network with no upgrade or workaround available. Many menu items on my infotainment system are strictly for show now, and there is a big fat button on my rearview mirror that says SOS and does… nothing. Still, I will take this any day over coming back to a broken window and missing stereo because I did not take it with me MacGruber style.

WalmartTech
WalmartTech
1 year ago
Reply to  Vicente Perez

And the same thing is happening to 2G OnStar customers; once the 2G network goes silent at the end of the year, any OnStar equipped vehicles that aren’t 2015 and newer lose any and all services with no plans to compensate for the loss.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Vicente Perez

“Replacing a headlight bulb on a Tesla Model S requires removing the wheel and well liner.”

Isn’t that an LED bulb? I thought those would outlast the car.

Vicente Perez
Vicente Perez
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I believe those are the current ones. Earlier models have HID headlights. And first hand experience, they don’t outlast the car 🙂

LelandWitter
LelandWitter
1 year ago

After reading the article about how the Chinese always have a tissue box in their car, now I wonder if Chinese cares have a place to put those used tissues?

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 year ago
Reply to  LelandWitter

I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but my 2012 Prius v has a space in the center console almost perfectly-sized for a tissue box, and it’s fantastic. But my garbage can on the floor in the back row is just some $3 plastic bin from Walmart that slides around. But I need it, considering the tissues I use, masks, and alcohol wipes…I’m not sure what a “proper” solution (from manufacturers’ perspective) would look like, though. Any garbage receptacle space would take away from another function.

Joe Ryan
Joe Ryan
1 year ago

And actually Torch I have another one: TRUCK BLOAT. Why the hell are F-150s and Silverados and Rams so freakishly tall these days? Those high decklines are death traps to anyone nearby.

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Ryan

Truck beds should be at such a height that an average human male can rest their arms comfortably on the top of the bed while holding a canned beverage.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

…while leaning forward in a relaxed pose.

julio76
julio76
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

can I get an amen?

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago
Reply to  julio76

Can’t believe 3 people thumbed your comment w/out following thru…

AMEN

Justin Short
Justin Short
1 year ago
Reply to  julio76

Amen and a Hell Yeah!

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

“Yup”
“Yup”
“Mm-hmm.”
“Yep.”

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Ryan

Because they aren’t used for work any more, so nobody gives a shit that the bottom of the tail gate is now three feet off the ground. They just care that it makes them look big and tough and able to ram people who annoy them off the road.
No, seriously. Check the specifications. The F150’s tailgate is literally 35.4-36.8 inches off the ground.

Dave Edgar
Dave Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Ryan

Also – Torch, since you are the guru of all things lighting, whyinhell can they not place the headlights on trucks at a reasonable level, so as not to cook the retinas of those in front of them, who happen to be driving normal size vehicles?

Joe Ryan
Joe Ryan
1 year ago

This stuff is exactly why I used the insane rise in used car values to cash out my car loan and jump over to leases. I couldn’t ever see buying an EV outright, for example, there’s just no plan for what to do with these things once the batteries age out and hell of I’m going to be the one left holding the bag. It’s also why I, as much as I can, buy the lowest trim level I can get away with so there’s a minimum of fancy touchscreen-y things that can go wrong! Love my base level Carnival with the regular-type radio setup and manual knobs and dials for the HVAC. None of that swooping touchscreen crap from the premium trim, no use for that crap.

RonB
RonB
1 year ago

#3 My previous Chrysler 300S with the 3.6 V-6 was an excellent example of how this should be done. The oil filter was top, front, and center, and had a hex built into it so you could use even an adjustable wrench to replace it. They even had cup holders molded in to the radiator gap plate, in case it took you too long to find the socket that fit the filter 🙂

On the bottom it wasn’t quite as good, as you had to remove an aero cover to get to the drain plug. I think it was 5 10mm bolts, very easy with a cordless driver.

#2 Some disabled person backed into my C-Max in the hospital parking lot with their hover-round carrier. Hit and run, if they even noticed. I now have a nice, 2″ slot in my bumper cover. I asked the body shop for an estimate: $2200. I still have a nice slot in my bumper cover 🙁

Joe Ryan
Joe Ryan
1 year ago
Reply to  RonB

Had two different Chrysler vehicles with the Pentastar and honestly it doesn’t get enough love.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  RonB

Nothing $0.01 in Duct tape won’t fix. If not, there’s gaffer tape, speed tape,…

Scott Lelievre
Scott Lelievre
1 year ago
Reply to  RonB

Had something similar happen to my car but the front bumper. I just kept an eye out at the u pull it junkyards(inventory is updated daily online) for a car to come in with a nice bumper and the same color. took about 4 months but one finally showed up. Took about ten minutes to remove and same to put back on. total cost was $60.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

Good list.
+1 for forgiving design. I know many ‘tactile drivers’.
+1 for serviceability, especially for indi shops to keep older vehicles alive.
Upgradeability: nice but a fantasy the way things are integrated now. Besides it would just become a subscription program of some sort.
Batteries: similar issue as upgradeability
Trash management: eat outside your car

What would I add?
– Visibility, DUH!
– Parkability (stop the bloat, especially width)
– Better floor covering solutions, especially for winter climate markets. Good aftermarket mats are a start, but hardly make it easy to manage the build up of muck over the season.
– Slay all the interior crevices! Dashboards, etc. with all the stick on screens, pods, layers of pointless trim are a pain to keep clean. All those crevices are dust/crud magnets. Give us simple unified surfaces that can be tackled with one quick wipe.

Mike Reed
Mike Reed
1 year ago

Visibility, oh, yeah.

Out of politeness to a buddy of mine who was a Chrysler salesman, in 2012 I took a test drive of the latest 200 model, and put it through its paces. To be honest, I really liked the looks, the performance, and especially the handling (I think the guy who rode along turned green, from testing the cornering, lol). But the sight lines were so, SO BAD. The windows were so narrow that it felt like I was driving a tank.

I told the salesman that it was a nice car, but needed at least 4 inches more height to improve the vision, and as is, it was a reluctant “no” because of that.

Jesse Lee
Jesse Lee
1 year ago