Piston Slap: The Final Carbon Fiber Nail?
TTAC Commentator gimmeamanual writes:
The recent article about the carbon fiber subframe by Magna and the comments predicting vehicle life-ending failures got me to thinking — in the last 10 years or so, has any automaker introduced an innovation or major shift from the norm that resulted in repair costs so expensive that the vehicle would be better off scrapped inside what one would consider its prime service life (say, 10yrs/100k)?
It seems we’re often too ready to predict gloom (turbos exploding, unrepairable aluminum trucks) and not give the engineering teams the credit they deserve. Yeah, some technologies do suck in execution, like the Focus DCT, but they don’t result in scrapyards filling up with otherwise pristine examples.
I doubt such an innovation exists, the “drive vs. scrap” decision is often a death by a thousand cuts, not a single item. And it’s not necessarily about the engineering; more about modern automotive recycling operations.
But it depends on the vehicle’s design, parts availability and unique living conditions after driving off the showroom floor. A fully-depreciated Audi A8 with a trashed interior and electrical faults will likely donate itself to your next cooler fulla beer/soda cans. But damn near any 7.3-liter Power Stroke Ford with a blown motor? Someone will fix (and flip!) quickly with recycled parts.
To wit, carbon fiber subframes on a mass-market vehicle will also utilize the automotive recycling industry to ensure a good stock of perfect parts from flooded/rear ended/otherwise trashed examples. Sure, it’ll be more to replace than pulling out the kinks in a Camry’s metal subframe, but the threshold for being a complete write off might be higher than the naysayers suggest.
Most subframes are bolt-in, and I certainly don’t see Ford trying to weld carbon fiber to a metal unibody. So if Ford pulls the trigger on their upcoming 2020-ish sedan, don’t wreck one in the first two-ish years without comprehensive insurance. But in the year 2025? Expect junkyards well-stocked with used CF subframes, ready for shipment to your nearest body shop for bolt-in perfection.
I don’t see the doom and gloom equation. I see our automotive recycling ecosystem ready to take on this technological wonder on a large scale implementation. Off to you, Best and Brightest!
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