By on October 26, 2018

Advanced safety tech may save your skin, but it certainly won’t spare your wallet in the event of a minor accident. According to research from the American Automobile Association, replacing and/or recalibrating the sensors needed to allow modern driving aids to function properly are severely inflating the cost of even minor repairs.

Unfortunate, considering features like blind spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking are cropping up as standard equipment on even the most affordable rides. Car ownership continues to get more expensive and there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it — with one exception. 

Once again, AAA wisely urges drivers to get a handle on their car’s technology before making a purchase and definitely before they crash it.

“Advanced safety systems are much more common today, with many coming as standard equipment, even on base models,” explained John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “It’s critical that drivers understand what technology their vehicle has, how it performs and how much it could cost to repair should something happen.”

If you’re asking what’s the worst that could happen, don’t worry. AAA gave some pretty brutal examples. A broken front radar sensor, necessary for automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, can tack on an additional $900 to $1,300 to your repair bill. Rear radar sensors used with blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems can tack on up to $2,050. Ultrasonic sensors used with parking assist systems can run you upwards of $1,300.

The list goes on. Busted parking cameras can set you back a grand apiece, but may set you back more if they’re used for lane monitoring, emergency braking, or adaptive cruise control. For the vehicles in AAA’s study, the repair bill for a minor front or rear collision on a car with a good amount of advanced driving aids would run as high as $5,300, almost two and half times the repair cost for a vehicle without these systems.

These aren’t the kind of repairs you want to cheap out on, either. Shoddy work or improper calibration can make these systems dangerously inaccurate, leaving someone who thought they could depend on the feature in danger of revisiting the repair shop after their adaptive cruise control fails and they rear-end someone on the highway.

The solution to all of this? Educate yourself. Figure out how the vehicle’s systems work and roughly how much repairs might set you back if something gets damaged. AAA also recommends drivers review their insurance policy routinely to ensure they have the appropriate coverage to cover the cost of repairs, and that deductibles are manageable to minimize out-of-pocket expenses.

[Image: AAA]

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83 Comments on “AAA: New Safety Tech Effectively Doubles Cost of Minor Repairs...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’ve got a solution: I don’t need that crap and it can stay broken.

    Sensors are ten cents out of Shenzhen but now they’re $1,100? Cui bono?

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Yeah I call BS on these prices. Hell I can get a Samsung 43″ smart TV for a little over $300 (actually just did…). Much more complex. And useful.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        they’re not 10 cents, for god’s sake.

        and stop trying to compare things to the prices of consumer products. That $300 Samsung TV will die within two years* and will flake out or refuse to work if it’s colder than 20F or hotter than 110F.

        Automotive electronics have to work (and I mean “function correctly”) from -40 all the way up to 85 or 105C (185-221F) depending on location. and to that while also enduring humidity, vibration, and mechanical shock. and do it for at least 10 years, 150,000 miles.

        (*seriously, the gym at work has a row of Samsung and LG TVs. they’re on every day from 4:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.. They last about two years.)

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Oh sorry, .38 cents instead of .10.

          “The cost of sensors is drastically reducing, in 2004 the average cost of sensors was $1.30 and in the year 2020, it is expected to come down to $0.38. With the decrease in the cost of sensors, now we can collect more data and can make more intelligent decisions at a lower cost.”

          https://www.ennomotive.com/industrial-iot-sensor-prices/

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            what do “IoT sensors” have to do with cars?

            this is what I’m talking about, you’re wrapping ignorance in bluster then throwing it at me without even understanding it.

            What is an “IoT sensor?” What is it sensing? Is it a mechanical switch? Optical? Ultrasonic? Radar? What are these “IoT sensors” doing? What environmental and durability requirements are they designed for? What is the attached hardware/software doing with the output of these “IoT sensors?”

            That article gives ZERO detail or support for its own assertions, never mind your own.

            Cranking up the arrogance doesn’t make you less wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Took five minutes to prove sensor costs are in the pennies. Have a nice day.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Generally speaking the OE’s actual cost of materials to make most of these parts/sensors in very little, and they will sweat over penny-cost things due to the scale and such. Now, the R&D and engineering that went INTO said cheap sensor, including the cost of paying an engineer to optimize it for cost, is another matter. Them selling the sensor as a service part has that R&D money factored in, and I assume a fairly healthy profit as well make no mistake.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            @28

            it’s clear you don’t know what “proof” actually means. Because you’ve proven nothing but your own ignorance.

          • 0 avatar
            sirwired

            That article does not lead to any information about automotive-grade sensors or assemblies.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Seriously, guys, it’s OK to admit that you don’t know something. I know we live in an era where “opinion” is as good as fact (no matter how poorly informed that opinion is) but “calling BS” on something when you know none of the details is just packaging ignorance in bluster.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I’m guessing part of the cost is set-up and calibration of the sensors, but I don’t know

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Not really, its creating both the problem and solution.

        You need widget safety.

        Widget safety costs $$$$ to repair.

        Widget safety materials and labor cost $.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          Think about how car companies can make money. There is the profit from the initial sale and then there is the profit from selling replacement parts. Of course, aftermarket companies can and do make parts that can be used (which is part of normal market conditions), but the advent of assemblies that make use of software opens the door to exclusivity (via copyright) and, with it, unassailable high markups. As sensors become more sophisticated, they are increasingly running local code. And, since, most collision repair costs are covered by insurance, the individual cost of replacing these items is spread out over each of us that pays the ever-increasing premiums. That’s how money is made these days, on the back end of transactions tied to recurring charges.

          The flaw in JimZs rebuttal of “how can it cost that much” is exposed via a simple fact: If the sensors really do cost that much, that cost would be reflected in much higher prices for the vehicles that contain them. Since they have multiplied so quickly in recent years without a really big vehicle price increase, I’d say that the prices for replacements are heavily marked up.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “The flaw in JimZs rebuttal of “how can it cost that much” is exposed via a simple fact: If the sensors really do cost that much, that cost would be reflected in much higher prices for the vehicles that contain them. Since they have multiplied so quickly in recent years without a really big vehicle price increase, I’d say that the prices for replacements are heavily marked up.”

            Everyone has known service part prices are higher than production part prices for, oh, like 40 years now.

            the flaw in your argument (and 28-cars-later’s) is that you point to irrelevant stuff like Samsung TVs, or a stupid site which says useless things like “IoT sensors are 38 cents now (without actually defining what those sensors are and what they do) and walking away patting yourselves on the back as though you’ve proven something.

            like I said above, arrogant bluster doesn’t make your wrong opinion right.

    • 0 avatar
      jkk6

      Asian countries had after market ultra sonic 4 bit beeping technology installed for $300 in 2001. I suspect that whoever commissioned this study did it for their benefit.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Millenials/baby boomers/helicopter parents/bicycle helmet-elbow pads-knee pads generation,

    Ya did this one to yourselves!!

  • avatar
    gtem

    I will certainly miss the simplicity and durability of the steel bumpers of my Rangers, but not the lack of safety of the older truck in general. Rust or a dent in the bumper? Unbolt it, find a better one at the junkyard for $40, bolt it back on. The 4Runner is likewise equipped with chromed steel bumpers with just a bit of durable unpainted plastic on the bottom half of the front one, no stupid aero-lips on that old SUV. No worries about bombing through frozen up snow drifts or anything like that.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I keep seeing this stuff, here, on Jalopnik where the ’80s and ’90s fetishists are whining about how cars don’t have giant rubber bumpers anymore, and elsewhere. And I have one question:

    For the love of God, what are people *doing* to their cars?

    I’ve been driving for twenty years and I’ve touched another object *once*. One time! If you’re smashing mirrors and bumpers so often that it’s materially adding to your average vehicle ownership cost, you need to look inward, not complain that the surface of your car costs too much to fix. You’re not supposed to run into stuff, people!

    • 0 avatar
      ThirdOwner

      Try wild animals crossing the road in front of you, in the dark. I personally witnessed a deer bust out of the woods, T-bone a guy in front of me (ripping off his mirror as bonus), turn around and high-tail back into the thicket. Now, that’s what I call “a deer strike”!

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        ThirdOwner, I live out in the sticks in an area swarming with deer, and I don’t run into the damn things. Yeah, sometimes you get screwed (not much you can do if a deer t-bones *you*) but that’s not terribly common. What I don’t understand is people acting like regular bodywork damage is a fait accompli for car owners. Don’t run into stuff!

        • 0 avatar
          afedaken

          I can try to avoid running into stuff. I do so as much as humanly possible.

          But there ain’t jack I can do about the other drivers.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            Ironically, if you live in an area with very many bad drivers, then you not only get used to it but something magical happens and you foresee bad driving two or three moves ahead.

            I think it’s because you expect *all* of them to do utterly irrational things as if they’re trying to cause a wreck. Turn signal non-use or rolling through stop signs is child’s play, bush league bad driving. I’m talking waiting to pull out (from stop sings, traffic lights, driveways, etc.) into 55+mph traffic until you get really close, making unnecessarily wide turns from completely the wrong lane, stopping dead in 55+mph traffic to make a U-turn through an opening in the median (against directional arrows in the opening because it’s not meant for a U turn).

            Insurance actuaries know where these places are. You can too- they’re where your uninsured motorist premiums are highest (hit-and-run insurance).

            Once you get used to driving amongst a critical mass of bad drivers, it’s actually easier than normal areas with a mix of good and bad. The bad drivers are harder to predict in those normal areas because you don’t expect them as much… the element of surprise is working against you.

            #amirite

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Most of jalop’s writers live in car-hell NYC, where sturdy bumpers are in fact a handy thing to have. So I get where they’re coming from. Me personally, I do some offroading or deal with doing some cheap and easy refurbishing on some cars I end up flipping, easy to replace bumpers are a boon, although there are plenty of easy ways to replace scratched and cracked or dented plastic bumpers. Top tip for bumper/plastic cracks I recently picked up: Cut the head off of a wood screw, heat it with a butane torch and then imbed it on the back side of a cracked bumper across the crack. The screw will melt into the bumper plastic and set, resulting in a clean and durable fix that looks good on the outside.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        That sounds a lot like stop drilling the crack.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I ripped a plastic bumper once and put it back together with a strip of body side molding and some paint. Looked good

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Torchinsky isn’t in NYC, as far as I know. he just has a thing for weird older cars, the uglier the better.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          JimZ, I’ve been reading Jalopnik lately (don’t ask why; we all have our issues) and I’ve come to the conclusion that the writers and readers there absolutely hate cars. It’s the only thing that makes any sense. They advocate buying the cheapest, most rancid piece of crap you can so you’re not spending more than 1% of your net worth on a car; they fetishize the most hideous of ’80s and ’90s junk; they glamorize minivans and flaccid, wheezing tin cans that measure their quarter-mile times with a sun dial.

          The only thing I can think is that their demographic cohort grew up in the late ’90s, and therefore sees awful ’80s junk as hipster-cool.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            hey, you know what, I grew up in the Malaise era, and I can freely admit the cars back then were miserable griefboxes. Save for the late ’70s Firebird, which held on to some semblance of performance as long as it could.

            but there’s a part of me which still has a soft spot for the cars I grew up around. I wouldn’t mind finding a decent-condition ’72 Montego or ’74-76 Cougar as a fun car. ‘course, I’d have to do whatever suspension upgrades are available and toss the smog choked iron lump underhood for a modern FI crate engine.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I think most of their purchases (a Yugo for example) are done mostly out of edgy-hipster inclinations more than anything else, and that on its own I don’t mind. But the fact that aside from Dave Tracy and a few contributors, NONE of the NYC based staff a)knows how to turn a wrench and b)doesn’t know squat about how a car works at all turns me off of most of the writing. A recent piece about one of the writer’s car, an ’08 Honda Fit with low mileage, getting a $3000 quote from the dealer for an A/C compressor and a bunch of overpriced extras (Throttle body cleaning, brake fluid flush) and the writer wondering “should he just get rid of the car?” WTF? How helpless and clueless are these people?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “For the love of God, what are people *doing* to their cars?”

      everyone preaches “Personal Responsibility” until they screw up themselves. then the blame shifting, finger pointing, and whining starts.

      “Waaahhh, I bumped into a car in the parking lot and now it’s going to cost me $1000!! Waaahhh! Why can’t I have big chrome bumpers instead?”

      Hey, maybe you should pay attention and not bump into things. Oh right, “personal responsibility” doesn’t apply to you. Just everyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “I keep seeing this stuff, here, on Jalopnik where the ’80s and ’90s fetishists are whining about how cars don’t have giant rubber bumpers anymore”

      This is amusing, I’ve read enough Jalopnik to know that they adore older Volvos, while ignoring that many of them used somewhat weak 2.5mph bumpers much like modern cars. You’ll know if ones been in a parking lot accident when you notice a trim piece that pops off between the bumper and the grille.

      I’ve only ever bumped into another car once, I backed into a truck at less than 4mph in my Crown Vic, neither of us had any damage. Had I been in half the 80’s-90’s stuff they worship I would’ve been worse off.

      Really the best kind of bumpers out there are the unused ones, and thats what todays sensors/gadgets are here for.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      70s-early 80s Volvo “commando” bumpers FTW!

      Not great for aerodynamics or squeezing drops of fuel to make CAFE numbers though

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Commandos were very fitting for the 2-700 series, and likely would have been a band aid fix for their mediocre offset crash safety.

        Really though, if I have any beef with RWD Volvos its the owners. Theyre often too busy telling the world how great their cars are to actually take care of them (like just cleaning them up, fixing trim, odometer gears).

        If anything they seem to enjoy cosmetic defects, like mis matched doors and bad clear coats, it “adds character”.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          “If anything they seem to enjoy cosmetic defects, like mis matched doors and bad clear coats, it “adds character”.”

          There seems to be a group of people who are extremely worried that other people will think they’re the kind of people who care what people think about their car, and so deliberately drive beaters to signal that they don’t care what anyone thinks. Aside, you know, from the fact that they actually care just as much as the guy who won’t be seen in anything more than a year old, just on a different axis.

          I’ve actually seen people proclaim this, by the way: They proudly state outright that they drive miserable, uncomfortable, unreliable cars just in case someone might see them in a new one and think they cared. It’s rather remarkable.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            That is very strange, insecurity is one thing but from what you’re telling me it sounds like they’re seriously deluded.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I don’t know where AAA got those prices, but they are WAY inflated. Just checked the numbers for my ’17 CR-V, just using Honda’s parts-lookup site, which lists only full-retail. And installation of none of those is particularly expensive or difficult, even when you account for calibration of the camera and radar.

    Front Radar: $738
    Front Camera: $900
    Parking Sensor Kit: $388

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      Since the article talks about repair costs, dealership labor probably figures into their figures. And nothing they do comes cheap. Coworker was quoted $250 to change hatch struts on his minivan. He did it himself for $20 in 10 minutes time, and he’s fairly clueless.

      • 0 avatar
        Blackcloud_9

        This!
        The cost of the repair is inclusive. It’s the sensors, bumper, labor, repaint to match…
        I have a scrape on the front bumper of my 2014 Kia with none of the sensors, cameras, etc. I estimate it’s going to cost $800-$900 to fix.
        The majority of us do not “wrench-it-themselves” for a variety of reasons. The AAA estimates include this in their costs

        • 0 avatar
          sirwired

          If the bumper’s already been scratched up as part of an accident, it doesn’t make any sense to roll in those repair costs with those for the sensors, since that’d have to be done with or without them.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      True but retail cost is just the base upon which most shops add 50-100% markup. In my area dealer shop labor prices are about $135/hr, they outsource most body work (but do not pass through separate invoice) and mark up parts about $150%.

      Given all that the prices mentioned do not seem that out of line.

      And IMO nobody (except a body shop) can DIY high quality body paint work.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        In my experience, shops simply charge me MSRP for parts (and MSRP was the value I used for my little list), and pocket the difference between that and what they actually paid (which can be substantial.)

        And again, if your car already requires body work, with or without the sensors, it makes no sense to allocate the cost of those repairs to the part of the bill the sensors are responsible for.

        I just don’t see how a $738 (MSRP) radar sensor becomes nearly twice that much… 0.5 hr for install (over and above what’s already necessary to replace a broken bumper cover, grille, whatever) and 1 dealer-hour for calibration. Should be about a $900 job for that sensor, maybe $1k if you are being generous.

        I don’t know why you thought I was suggesting body paint work was DIY; I certainly wasn’t.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I’d be curious to see how INSURERS feel about this tech. If they see the net cost to insure cars with this tech going down then it’s worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      The insurers jack the rates up for everyone to pay for the new tech. My rate keeps going up every renewal by 40-50 dollars. Both my cars are fairly low tech, none of those fancy features. My credit score is great, I haven’t had a ticket in well over 15 years, no fault accidents. All the insurers are on this scam together. When I request a quote from the big industry giants once per year, they are within dollars from each other. Not worth jumping to another.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        The rates only go up. They may have data that shows that these systems reduce crashes, BUT they tell us that these systems are more expensive to repair, so rates must go up

        • 0 avatar
          forward_look

          I have never had collision insurance (since 1969) and I’m WAY ahead. Not running into stuff helps.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Liability insurance covers other people’s property, including these high tech cars. So no, that won’t save you anything. You probably live in an area where everyone else drives old cars too.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Unless you are an actuarial scientist with access to the data insurers use, this is nonsense. FWIW my insurance has remained mostly flat over the last 4 years, only changing with the value of my cars.

        • 0 avatar
          volvo

          Where I live rates have gone up significantly. This has to do with new regulations that stopped insurers from using zip code as a risk assessment tool. They still can use age/sex and driving record but not where you live. There are significant high risk areas which are now subsidized by the lower risk areas.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          Not to be argumentative (no, really), but when I bought a brand new 1998 Volvo, the itemized discounts for side airbags and daytime running lights were on the order of $10-20 for a six-month premium. I don’t know the other major variables that the actuaries looked at, i.e. the incremental difference in medical payouts, statistically of course, with or without the extra safety equipment.

          As a car buyer, my personal risk/reward/cost decisions for safety equipment don’t have saving money in mind. I think insurers most definitely do have saving money in mind (they dress it up in pleasant language about caring about people), but I still scratch my head about it all because I believe we are past the point in diminishing returns… then again, if the bean counters can figure out how to include reliable backup camera and sensors for just a few bucks per vehicle, as 28 Cars and others were discussing earlier, then maybe we’re not past the point of diminishing returns.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Sha oobie, shattered, shattered
      Insurance rates are going up, up, up, up, up
      To live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough!
      What a mess my car’s in tatters, I’ve been shattered.

    • 0 avatar
      TimK

      I was sitting in traffic court some years ago, and part of the fun is listening to the sad stories of woe as the various perps try make the case for their not-guilty plea to the judge. One guy told his story and ended with a theatrical “and they’re gonna raise my insurance!”.

      The old judge just laughed and shot back ”Of course they’re going to raise your rates, that’s what insurance companies do.”

      But we still act surprised and profess outrage.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Cars are cheaper to fix than are people, especially in the US where the cost of fixing people is the highest in the world.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I think, all this is just one big boondoggle made up by lobbyists to first take your money for car itself. Then gov will tax you – more $$ for car , more $$ to the gov. Then insurance companies found more excuses to keep up the rates and then pay to politicians. This no different than ethanol. But then again, in the process, people will unlearn how to drive a car properly and it will inevitably lead to more incidents. More incidents, more rates up. Manufacturers also happy, more parts sold to repair shops. Its win/win/win/win/lose situation with loser you know who.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      From the insurerer’s perspective, if the added cost of the equipment offsets the cost of injury claims, then it is a net win regardless of higher crash repair costs.

      Insurance rates are not a standardized unit of measure. I just shopped for a new policy as Geico’s renewal had grown to $4,200 a year on three cars. A slightly better policy was found with Liberty for a cost of $1,800 a year. Go figure.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Can you trust them, however? I’ve not read good things about Liberty’s payoff policies and honestly, that much of a savings makes me worry that the actual value of the policy is more limited than they want you to believe.

        I don’t know from personal experience so I will admit that what I typed is hearsay. I only know that I’m not sure I could trust them and would dig a lot deeper before I actually bought a policy from them.

  • avatar
    KevinB

    Wait a minute. Isn’t all of this technology supposed to prevent accidents and their associated repair costs? I’m confused…

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Where’s the confusion? A system can both prevent accidents and reduce overall costs, while also being expensive to repair should an accident occur. There’s no contradiction there.

      • 0 avatar
        KevinB

        So i guess the question is: Is this technology cost effective? Will the insurance industry see a decline in claims, or will they cite this technology as a reason for increasing premiums?

        I believe both will occur.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Cars have already become throwaway items because of repair costs. Insurance companies total cars now that used to be repairable prior to all the mandatory safety gear. It’s one reason why older cars are lasting longer–or rather, being kept and repaired longer; they’re cheaper overall to maintain because they contain fewer sensors and ‘critical’ safety items.

    Now, don’t get me wrong; they’re all helpful and they do save lives… up to a point. At the least, the cause of a crash, when it does occur, tends to be blatantly obvious through the cameras and other sensors so the driver truly at fault is the one punished for causing it. But it doesn’t make things that much easier on their victims.

    Problem is, things have to get worse before they get better. With all these sensors the cars pretty well know what they’re doing, even under manual control, which means that if these cars were able to communicate with those around them they would be better able to react at computer speeds to an unexpected event… far more quickly than the person behind the wheel. So, more sensors and more Bluetooth or equivalent. Add to this a need to communicate with an overall traffic network to assist in the routing of traffic, where it is aware of congestion due to volume, disruption, signaling, etc., and overall traffic flow could be improved. And yes, despite what so many want to ignore or bypass, autonomy has become necessary for safety; the best crash is the one that never happens. This means the human element has to be taken out of the process.

    You want to drive your own car? Take it out to an off-road park or one of the new-style ‘Road-carver’ parks where you can take your life into your own hands and get that adrenaline rush you’re so addicted to. Now you can play to your heart’s content, comfortable in the knowledge that your insurance company revokes any coverage of damage caused while you are in manual control.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      “Cars have already become throwaway items because of repair costs. Insurance companies total cars now that used to be repairable prior to all the mandatory safety gear. It’s one reason why older cars are lasting longer–or rather, being kept and repaired longer; they’re cheaper overall to maintain because they contain fewer sensors and ‘critical’ safety items.”

      Do you have any actual data to back that? ARE cars getting shorter in life because of accident repairs?

  • avatar
    ThirdOwner

    I buy basic trim cars for this very reason. Last time I had to take one in at a major service time it went something like this:

    – AT fluid due? It’s a stick shift.
    – AWD system operational? FWD-only, sorry.
    – How many hours on the turbo? There isn’t one under the hood.
    – Can we at least re-lube the sunroof opening mechanism? There isn’t a hole in the roof, it’s solid.

    So they grumbled, changed the oil, and we called it good.

    The only thing to fail on that car while I had it was the damned “throttle-by-wire” killjoy box ($800). If I had a real wire (cable) connected to the gas pedal that wouldn’t have happened.

    Now I’ve taken it a few steps farther with a Jeep TJ:

    – ABS? No
    – A/C? None
    – Motor-driven window regulators? N/A

    and when I step on the gas I know it will give the engine the fuel. It’s not a mere suggestion anymore, it’s an order.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Can someone please explain why all these sensors and running, turn signal, fog lights etc have to be installed so low on the vehicle?

    Would it not be more cost efficient to install them higher, where there is less chance of them being damaged? After all, can’t they be angled?

    The front ‘air dams’ on many vehicles are so low to the ground that they scrape and break/get damaged when hitting snow banks, or leaving driveways/parking lots that are steeply angled.

    And the cost of replacement is ludicrous. Now that the MPG of most vehicles is so much better than their 20th century predecessors, how much would they lose by returning to the ‘water’ bumpers that were so common in the 1970’s?

  • avatar

    Air bag deployments can “total” a perfectly repairable car after modest accidents.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yep. There’s an outfit in my area that sells “branded title” vehicles that they have repaired. I checked them out on a whim. Turns out the vast majority of their inventory is made up of one to two year old vehicles that took a minor hit but had the airbags deploy.

      Most of their cars were on lease, and when they got totalled out, the lease gap policy kicked in, and ended the contract. The owner usually just walks away and leases something else.

      Not that I’d buy one of these, but the damage is usually comparatively minor. But once the airbags go off, it’s Game Over. Apparently airbags are expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        If you are speaking of ‘Auto Source’; which at this point is the largest branded title dealer in the U.S. their cars are primarily flood cars not air bag deployed cars. They make huge profits per car too….

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Yep, that’s them, but I got a different story from the guy I talked to.

          Hence, the reason I said I wouldn’t buy one of these!

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            I met the owner at a convention. His business is plan is brilliant to say the least. It has evolved over the years for sure, but for now flood cars is where it is at. Buys them in bulk, most had water up to the rim and never into the interior. Insurance Co’s find it cheaper to total cars based on zip code during storms rather than actually adjudicating each claim.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    No surprise on the ultrasonic sensors. I’ve been wanting to add them to my Tacoma (starting with the rear). I first looked at Toyota/Lexus parts, but the factory sensors go for $200+ each, from the cheapest online Toyota dealers. Aftermarket kits go as cheap as $20 on Amazon, and the “name” aftermarket kits (like Tadi Brothers) start at around $100.

    I can seen this driving up insurance premiums, offsetting the savings gained by the addition of these technologies.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      I looked at a reputable aftermarket blind spot kit for my old car. Hella pricey especially given that it requires professional installation and calibration by someone who knows what they’re doing. I ended up doing what most of us probably do: get the new goodies by getting a new car. It’s not like there’s a way to recoup the cost at trade-in time of a system that doesn’t exist in the blue book option listings for your model.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Some of the “new tech” is useful. I love the backup camera on my car, for example. But some of this is just stuff that seems to be set up so that people don’t need to pay attention while they drive. I have no need for any of that garbage.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Here’s a radical idea…

    Bring back 5 mph bumpers. They saved my bacon a few times as a teenager and were the most redeeming feature of my 82 Celebrity.

    Everyone focuses on how ugly they were in the 70s when forced on everyone but by the time they became part of the design process they weren’t that hideous. Plus today’s cars are already so ugly – how could 5 mph bumpers make it worse?

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Wow, what a fun topic and very on point. I mentioned here the other day a Kia that had a 34k repair bill after being hit, I think PD replied to it. Regardless.

    I don’t disagree that the ‘tech’ (28 Cars) is not necessarily that expensive to purchase of the shelf like a 50″ TV (Dave M) but to make a comparison between the two is outlandish. Adaptive cruise control is far more complicated than a T.V., has to monitor far more situations; hills, speed, lanes changes variances whatever in topography to avoid collision. While the parts themselves may not be that expensive to buy the installation is terribly expensive at it takes a lot of time to calibrate and wait for it…the liability insurance for the shop doing the install is sky rocketing due to the fact if it the freshly installed adaptive cruise is not perfect and causes another accident due to improper install, well that is the end of that body shop.

    Heck, the wreck may not even be due to improper install; the user could just claim it failed to avoid taking ownership of their mistake. Crazy I know, but it does happen.
    Insurance for a Tesla is nutty, largely due to the tech involved in the car. I would argue the insurance penalty negates the fuel savings for most. But, they won’t admit to that cause, you know, green and stuff.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    If they can find a way to reduce costs then I can live with these sensors, this will probably hurt some of the more shady dealers than anything else (the kind that sell cheaply rebuilt cars).

  • avatar
    Fred

    My tire pressure sensors are acting up. Dash shows 3 warnings. I spent $10 to fix my old tire pressure gauge, but that wasn’t the problem. I’ll wait until I put winter tires on in about month to save a little money.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Wonder how much they are worth in medical and repair bills saved in the accidents that aren’t happening.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Data on such a subject would be interesting.

      In 2017, there were 37,133 deaths by automobile. If each one cost society as a whole $100,000, then collectively they were $3,713,300,000. If casualties who survived were half this figure the total would be in excess of five billion.

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_fatality_rate_in_U.S._by_year

  • avatar
    mtunofun1

    Insurance adjuster here…those prices are accurate. The parts themselves are cheap but the labor to recalibrate those features are expensive.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    These things do prevent bang-ups, but there’s no cure for stupid. The other day I backed out of my parking spot so quickly that I damn near hit a wall by the time the ultrasonic parking sensor noticed: it went from gray and silent to red and beeping without crossing through green and yellow first. They can protect you from being a bit inattentive, but not from being a total jackass.

    I felt pretty foolish. But then I read about the Tesla owner who used the “summon” feature to make his car self-drive itself back out of the garage and around a tight corner to him–without considering that there aren’t sensors on the side of the car and so a tight turn backing out of the garage was inevitably going to crash the side of the car into the garage door opening. Unwarranted sense of superiority safely restored!


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