Everybody wants a deal. But precious few people are willing to change their habits to make their deal last longer.
The casualties of the rough and reckless are expensive and almost always preventable. For every person who complains about an automatic transmission giving out, there are ten people who still insist on shifting from reverse to drive while the vehicle is in motion.
Moments like that make me feel like this behavior is just…
not economically viable.
I sometimes tell folks that doing that to a car is like walking backwards and having someone punch you in the square of the back. Enough hits in the back at that same place, and you’re going to need surgery.
Machines, like us limber humans, shouldn’t have to deal with such stress issues.
Does the mpg’s stink? Sometimes it’s the fault of the manufacturer. But other times, more often than not, it’s because the owner abuses the vehicle with jackrabbit starts, hard braking, and outright neglect.
Steering and suspension components don’t last? Tell the screw behind the wheel to loosen up a bit, and watch the road ahead.
Waste costs money when it comes to cars. So what should we do if our father, cousin or former roommate are the automotive Kevorkians of the modern day?
Plan ahead… and hope that a few low-cost technologies become as common as these modern day Kevorkians.
1) The Shelf
You would think that I start this weekend’s column with some whiz bang technology that requires a computer and a circuit. Truth is a lot of folks eventually screw up the interiors because their stuff is all strewn about. They get used to having their transportation serve as a mobile romper room where anything can be chucked anywhere for any reason.
A well placed shelf in the rear of most hatchbacks has the effect of keeping everything in place and nearly doubling the available space you have to haul and store your cargo. This is important from an owner’s standard because the easier it is to keep things tidy, the more inclined we are to do it. An empty soda can in a clean room will usually be thrown away while the same can in a messy place will usually just blend in with the scenery.
A good shelf opens up a lot of space, and helps keep a car tidy.
2) Oil life monitoring systems.
This technology has been around for over 20 years and yet the overwhelming majority of cars still don’t have them.
The benefits of this are obvious… and yet as of 2010, only 40% of manufacturers use them in their cars.
If an automotive Kevorkian wants to ignore this technology, so be it. But putting this in cars would likely save a lot of folks hundreds of dollars and several unneeded oil changes. Multiply that by all the folks in need of it, and we could retire the debt of California… or at least Stockton.
3) MPG monitors: Instant and average
What can you do on a long, miserable commute home?
Daydream, listen to the radio, drive, talk on a hands free phone… and that’s about legally it.
Why not keep score?
Of course not all folks will do this. But offering a simple button or switch that makes this possible could alter the driving behaviors of at least a few errant drivers.
Besides, when you’re bored in stop and go traffic, frugality can be the only cheap fun out there.
4) Shift interlocks
I am stubborn on my belief that most CVT’s that will go south in the coming years can endure if their new owners learn how to shift properly.
Reverse, stop, shift. Drive, stop, park. Don’t shift in motion. Stop. STOP. STOP!!!
A shift lock mechanism that keeps the car from shifting while it’s in motion would help undo a learned behavior. That and the four figured premiums of replacing those transmissions.
5) Simple maintenance access
If an automaker wants to enshroud their engine in plastic, that’s fine. But no manufacturer should have the arrogance and gall to prevent access to the tranny fluid, claim that it is a ‘lifetime fluid’, and then whistle the tunes of warranties gone by once that transmission goes kaput.
Lifetime should mean lifetime. End of story. If a manufacturer wants to play the “What is a lifetime?” game, then at least give owners an easy means to replace the fluid.
Do you know of anything else that can be cheap or helpful? I have a few other ideas. But in the meantime, feel free to share any technologies or Kevorkians you have come across in your travels. As Judge Judy says, “You can’t stop stupid.” But perhaps a well-deigned shift interlock can slow it down.