The 1 Astonishing Car Part That’s Now A Lot More Expensive To Repair (and It’s Your Fault)
You used to think this was simple. No longer.
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Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Your car says something about you.
How much you paid for it, for example.
Or how much of a snob you are.
Yet one of the more painful parts of car ownership comes when something goes wrong.
You might be one of the fortunate few who know something about cars.
More likely, you're at the mercy of the people who do the repairs.
One part, though, you may never think about. You assume that, if your windshield gets cracked or smashed, you just go and get a new one put in. It usually takes around the same time as it takes to have lunch.
Now, though, you might vow to stop driving behind big trucks that throw up stones and little rocks.
You see, it's getting far more expensive to repair or replace a broken windshield.
It's all your fault, frankly.
The New York Times offers the astounding revelation that windshields just aren't windshields anymore.
Well, not just windshields.
That's because you've fallen in abject adoration with the idea of having electronic gizmos telling you, for example, when you're going to hit the very large street light behind you.
It's part of the new technological progression known as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems.
This is merely a precursor to Advanced Driver Replacement Systems.
It's the plethora of fine electronics that tell you to stay in your lane when you're too busy thinking about dinner, brake when you're too busy thinking about the wine to accompany dinner and avoid other cars when you still can't decide what to have for dessert.
Honestly, the whole thing deserves a tear or two. Explains the New York Times:
Cameras nestled behind the windshield, radar sensors hidden in the front grille and ultrasonic components embedded in bumpers work within narrow tolerances. A seemingly minor impact can knock them out of alignment. And as vehicles -- and drivers -- rely on these systems more and more, tuning these components properly can be a life-or-death matter.
Your garage or windshield specialist may have to spend hours and hours ensuring everything's aligned, recalibrated and generally back in glorious working order, so that you don't have to think and drive.
Your windshield is apparently now full of things it didn't need before. I'm surprised it can't yet order your Big Mac at the drive-thru. But your whole car is full of things it didn't need before.
The Times quotes AAA's Mike Calkins as explaining:
With radar and video, typically you need to do a wheel alignment before you do a calibration, because it needs to be pointed straight down the road.
And you know that wheel alignments aren't always cheap.
You'll be delighted, however, to learn that different car manufacturers may use different electronic sensor systems. Of course they do.
This means many cars need entirely different types of recalibration.
Of course, when it comes to the bill you get -- for windshield repair, it could stretch to $1,600 -- all you have to think about are the labor hours expended, as well as the increased sophistication of the delicate alignments and recalibrations required.
It might even take a 25-mile drive on the part of the repair shop to make sure that everything is properly aligned, which will all add to your business expense.
Of course, you'll tell me that these new systems are vital and save lives as well as property.
And I'll be tempted, on one of my lesser days, to tell you that the more we depend on technology, the more technology we need to maintain that technology.
Worse, the more we depend on technology, the less we actually think.
Every time I go on a test drive -- and there was a phase when I did it a lot -- my eyes need realignment after the dealer tries to excite me with all the electronic touches embedded in the car.
And all I can think is: What happens when some of this stuff goes wrong?