By on October 30, 2019

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The days of owning an automobile that’s not perpetually connected to various digital networks are quickly coming to a close. On Wednesday, Ford announced most of its redesigned vehicles in the U.S. with have over-the-air update capability after 2020. The automaker is framing this as a way to “repair” your vehicle at home and offer new features after a model has already been purchased.

“Nobody wants to feel like they’re missing out on great features right after spending their hard-earned money on a new vehicle — that’s where our over-the-air updates can help,” said Don Butler, executive director of Ford’s connected services. “We can now help improve your vehicle’s capability, quality and overall driving experience while you’re sleeping.”

While the prospects of giving auto manufacturers remote access to your car are vast, it’s also a double-edged sword. Over-the-air updates would undoubtedly save you a trip to the service center in the event of a code-based recall but it also opens vehicle’s up to privacy concerns and gives automakers new avenues for business. 

Those new features will be locked behind a paywall — which is fine until you’ve heard some of the ways automakers are considering handling this. Several companies have discussed the possibility of simply building cars with items installed that have to be unlocked via the center console. That means more standard content on base models … but non-base features will be sold off piecemeal through the internet, despite already being equipped inside the car.

BMW really started scaring us after showing how willing it was to incorporate this practice with lofty subscription fees for Apple CarPlay — rather than simply providing it as standard equipment. Other automakers are examining similar ways to leverage connectivity. Some of them are even trying to implement gaming aspects onto their user interfaces to try and keep customers more engaged with their connectivity services. There’s a real potential for manufacturers to enact some grimy business practices here while likewise offering some neat new features.

Let’s also not forget that data acquisition is becoming increasingly important to automakers and connectivity gives them a direct, always-on pipeline to yours. We can’t say that’s why Blue Oval sunk millions into building new data centers, but managing and selling your information seems a likely prospect. If so, most will probably have no idea its happening.

From Ford:

Some updates will be virtually invisible to customers, enabled by an innovative platform that installs much of the new software in the background. This new platform keeps current software running until the new version is ready for activation — something that no other vehicle, or even some popular smartphones, can do today.

“Computer updates that require reboots seem to come at the most inconvenient times, which is why we wanted to make our updates as invisible to customers as possible,” says Butler.

As unsettling as invisible updates sound, Ford said there will be a way to track them. It plans on issuing software update details as they become available and notifications after they’ve been installed. Customers will also be able to schedule larger updates at times when the vehicle will be sitting idle or have the car automatically install whatever is next.

This is all coming via Sync 4, which Automotive News reported will also incorporate some new hardware. An 8-inch touch screen will be standard, but customers can upgrade to a 12 or 15.5-inch screen if they’d like. While we feel that a robust and easy-to-use UX always trump screen size, having larger options is a smart move. While undoubtedly more distracting, big screens are the kind of thing that customers will splurge on — and the biggest from Ford offers more features, like a toolbar at the bottom that keeps your favorite apps at the ready.

Fortunately, Sync 4 is also designed to minimize driver distractions by having improved voice recognition and a slicker visual interface. “With this new fourth-generation technology, we’ve evolved Sync into an intelligent, voice activated, in-vehicle digital assistant,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s product development chief, explained.

Ford expects the first over-the-air updates to take place several months after Sync 4 debuts. Those will reportedly focus on convenience, entertainment, quality and new features ($$$). While the automaker discussed the possibility of remote repairs using over-the-air updates extensively, Automotive News claimed there was no official plan in place to use the system to address recalls. We imagine that’ll be subject to change once there’s a situation that calls for it.

 

[Image: Ford]

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36 Comments on “Ford’s Adding Over-the-air Updates, Bigger Screens, More Connectivity...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    Just a way to put undertested electronics on a new vehicle and push it out of the door quicker.

    Additionally, like Apple, it allows them to wirelessly, Without permission – make their vehicles obsolete by adding new features on equipment that wasn’t designed to support the processing power needed for the redesigned software.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I don’t think I own anything that will install updates without me OKing them (I hear Windows will now, but I run Linux on my primary machine.) On the contrary, my only computer that has zero capability to be pushed updates is my Commodore 64 (not counting my 8 bit gaming consoles). I think even my freaking Amiga as currently configured (not quite stock) can now do this (though it couldn’t new so I suppose you can lunk it in with the C64 but then again I believe it was built in 1990).

      • 0 avatar

        Art, you have a one fine collection of ancient microcomputers. I have nothing but fond memories about C64s which I had plenty on them at home because of business I was involved in. IIRC C64 was the first 8-bit computer to utilize sprites in graphic processor. BTW they used MOSTECH 6510 CPU for which I wrote some assembly code. IIRC it was the improved version of 6800 and had two index registers instead of one. But I am more familiar with Z80 and there comes Sinclair Spectrum which design I admired.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    For the love of all that’s holy Ford, please stop.

    At the very least, give us a the option of a delete credit.

    >:O

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    This connectivity is going to mean vehicles with perfectly good chassis and drivetrains will be scrapped becuse the electronics will be too expensive to repair/replace. We’ll be back to the 1950s, when a car was good for 80k-100k miles and then scrapped.

    Back then, the cars were falling apart at that mileage, but now the chassis/drivetrains will last for 100k-300k miles, but all the controls will be connected to a computer system that will be obsolete/non-functional after 8-9 years.

    Congratulations! The automakers have rediscovered planned obsolescence. For those of you looking to build a good retirement portfolio, look for auto electronics companies that can remove the OEM electronics and replace it with systems that can restore utility to those older vehicles in good mechanical shape.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Anything can be hacked but depending on how the systems are designed it may simply end up being uneconomical to alter or repair. The was/is the Apple model, but then market responded with men like Louis Rossman so maybe there’s hope.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Do you think direct injection, high pressure fuel pumps, turbo charged, tight clearanced, plastic cammed, timing BELT, CVT, lifetime fluid 1.5Liter 4 cylinders are going to be trouble free for 300k miles?

      The entire auto market is regressing back to quickly obsolete cars, only this time I predict there will be no future love for these products as they excite no one as they are now.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        “Do you think direct injection, high pressure fuel pumps, turbo charged, tight clearanced, plastic cammed, timing BELT, CVT, lifetime fluid 1.5Liter 4 cylinders are going to be trouble free for 300k miles?”

        Yet, objectively, the average age of vehicles on the road is growing every year and expected to continue that trend for the forseeable future. Ergo, the conclusion I draw is that the average newer vehicle with all the aforementioned crap must be longer lasting than older vehicles built without all of that.

        And how many vehicles in general do you expect to be trouble free for 300k miles? I can’t think of any.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          “Yet, objectively, the average age of vehicles on the road is growing every year and expected to continue that trend for the forseeable future. Ergo, the conclusion I draw is that the average newer vehicle with all the aforementioned crap must be longer lasting than older vehicles built without all of that.“

          In my personal opinion reliability peaked between 2000-2012 and this is driving up that average vehicle age, I don’t foresee the average vehicle age going anywhere other than down in the following 10-15 years.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            “In my personal opinion reliability peaked between 2000-2012 and this is driving up that average vehicle age, I don’t foresee the average vehicle age going anywhere other than down in the following 10-15 years.”

            Based on what? Gut feeling? I’ve never seen anything to suggest that the average life span of vehicles is regressing. I think you’re just on a luddite rant.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            No, not really, CVTs have been very problematic, turbos failures seem to make this feel like the 80s again. High pressure fuel pumps on gas engines are seemingly the new big problem. I believe I’m spot on. Major engine design failures from Honda, Hyundai, and Audi are cropping up.

            Do you have evidence to support otherwise? At this point there isn’t much equipment under 10 years of age at risk of being junked but that doesn’t mean repair costs aren’t skyrocketing on these vehicles having premature failures.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            “No, not really, CVTs have been very problematic, turbos failures seem to make this feel like the 80s again. High pressure fuel pumps on gas engines are seemingly the new big problem. I believe I’m spot on. Major engine design failures from Honda, Hyundai, and Audi are cropping up.

            Do you have evidence to support otherwise? At this point there isn’t much equipment under 10 years of age at risk of being junked but that doesn’t mean repair costs aren’t skyrocketing on these vehicles having premature failures.”

            Yes, I do have evidence. The evidence is: the average age of vehicles on the road is 11.8 years.

            Of the 2 examples you give: CVTs have largely been phased out. They were largely a product of your “peak reliability” period. Most vehicles have gone to more actual gears (more on that in a second).

            Turbo failures make big headlines in chat rooms and youtube, but the fact remains that the 2.0l turbo craze basically hit in 2007- during the period with the longest average lifespan of vehicles ever.

            On the 9speed gearboxes and such- there have been a lot of reports of people having trouble with those- but that trouble has mostly been things like gear hunting that is controlled with electronic programming- not outright failure.

            Yup, many things will be more expensive to repair- however you’ll be less likely to have to repair it. I remember my dad having a similar rant about EFI when I was a car obsessed kid.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            your “opinion” on such things is meaningless. stuff that is quantifiable is not a matter of “opinion” regardless of how much the average American dummy wants to think he can define reality by his “gut feeling.”

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Yes, I do have evidence. The evidence is: the average age of vehicles on the road is 11.8 years.”

            Average age of the current fleet doesn’t prove that a 2019 vehicle will necessarily be a more durable vehicle over the next decade than one built in 2009 (for example).

            Although it doesn’t prove that a 2019 vehicle will be less durable either.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @MrIcky

            Really that does need to be expanded on with data and/or citations, so I agree with you in making such assertions without even anecdotal example should be rethought. However off the top of my head I can make the following anecdotal points:

            -Between about MY00 and MY12 multiport fuel injection started to be phased out in favor of GDI. This was a *major shift* as was the phasing out of carburetors in the 80s and earlier.

            -GDI motors are known to coke up spark plugs and IIRC causes fouling.

            -GDI motors use a high pressure fuel system which tends to be expensive to repair vs a conventional fuel system.

            -The small displacement GDI motors -which were not possible before GDI because they couldn’t generate enough power- tend to run their cams in the very high RPM range which will wear out the motor faster than the same multiport setup.

            -Turbos existed prior to MY00 as Chrysler famously used them in the 80s for example but they suffer the same issues today as they did then. Today is much worse though as they are used as a crutch for a weak powerplant NOT for added power on top trim models. This quick link explains:

            “Do turbocharged engines require more maintenance?

            The short answer is yes. The first reason is obvious: adding a turbocharger to a smaller engine makes it work harder. A turbocharger increases the pressure and temperature inside the combustion chamber, which adds more strain on all internal components including pistons, valves, and the head gasket. The harder the engine works, the faster it wears out.

            The second reason is inherent in the design of a turbocharger: it has to work at extreme temperatures of hot exhaust gases, while the turbocharger shaft is lubricated by engine oil. This means there is more demand to the oil quality. The engine oil deteriorates faster under extreme heat. A turbocharged engine will not forgive low oil level, poor-quality oil or extended intervals between oil changes. Most turbocharged cars need high-quality synthetic oil and have shorter maintenance intervals. Some require premium gasoline.”

            https://www.samarins.com/check/turbo-car.html

            -I know the GM 3.6 LY7ish motors suffered from timing chain issues in the mid/late 00s to early 10s. I can’t remember why exactly, I want to say it was the design of the chain but it may have been Old GM cheaping out on materials. The previous 3.6 offered in the MY05/06 Lacrosse Super (?) I know for a fact was NOT GDI and I don’t recall it having any specific issues like the later iterations.

            -The GM Lambada platform introduced in MY08ish was a disaster from a reliability standpoint. I can’t remember details but here is a quick link:

            “Here are 10 just off the top of my head:

            1. Timing change failure
            2. Steering pump failure
            3. Steering rack failure
            4. Ignition coil failures
            5. HVAC actuator failure
            6. Gas tank vent valve failure
            7. Transmission wave plate failure
            8. Failure to start (numerous reasons)
            9. Engine failure while on the road (numerous reasons)
            10. Flash drive always plays from the top”

            https://www.traverseforum.com/33-engine-drivetrain/4257-clarification-common-traverse-problems-what-s-causing-them.html

            -The first transverse motor/AWD setup I ever saw was on the P2 Volvos. Over time the linkage likes the break to the rear, but fortunately the way it was designed the front wheels still spin so owner’s still have a running car which is dragging the extra weight around unless they fix it. Previous AWD designs could only use a longitudinal motor and transmission setup which tends to be more reliable from what I have seen.

            I don’t know enough about newer AWD systems to know how they are designed, but I would be afraid of a system which was NOT designed as such and if a component of it failed the car is DOA. I seem to recall some kind of known thing about the PTU needing maintenance in the Ford D4 (?) or you’re screwed. Adam Tongue can explain better I can’t remember exactly.

            -Although this was a conventional transaxle, Honda introduced the poorly designed 5 speed auto in MY00 for its V6 models. Honda to its credit did replace a lot of them in what I think was an extended warranty.

            -The CVT was introduced into some mainstream models around the mid-00s, specifically the Nissan Rogue sometime around MY06/07 and the Ford Five Hundred in I think the AWD trim only in MY05.

            -I remember *in 2006* hearing from industry professionals what a disaster the Five Hundred was and how some of them were hitting the block very cheap. A quick glance at the Wiki shows a 6 speed Aisin transaxle offered along with the CVT, I assume the Aisin in the FWD. Whatever the offerings, the CVT issues were known that quickly they poisoned the well for the new model in the auction industry, at least in my region.

            -According to this quick link, Nissan/Jatco introduced the CVT in 2002 which I did not know. I do know the Rogues were such a disaster when NEW, Nissan offered an extended warranty on them which the link says ended in 2010.

            http://www.nissanproblems.com/cvt/

            -The entire model of the Cadillac Catera was just a disaster until maybe MY10. The first gen had the Ellsmere Port self destructing V6, the second F117 inspired Sigma gen had all sorts of weird drivetrain issues because the whole car was mostly an Opel with Opel derived drivetrains. The third gen (Sigma II I believe) suffered from the timing chain issues and probably more I just don’t know about.

            -Toyota’s 2007 Camry was a big embarrassment but I don’t remember why, this quick link explains there were engine issues. Wow, never would have happened in the 90s.

            http://bestride.com/research/buyers-guide/reliability-guide-whats-the-most-reliable-year-of-toyota-camry

            -Honda’s Civic hybrid CVT was a bomb waiting to blow, not sure on other models. I know this because an MY08 Civic Hybrid CVT *broke* in my driveway and had to be towed at 1 in the morning on a work night.

            -Finally, mid-00s were when a number OEMs were retiring long used reliable drive trains and platforms (DN101, W-body, 60V6, 3800, Vulcan 3.0, Neon, XV40 etc) and introducing new ones. This in an of itself is going to cause reliability issues vs say MY00, but some of the replacements were simply half baked headaches as we have already seen.

            So, if one suggests the overall period MY00 to MY05ish (i.e. multiport conventional transmission/axle) is the latest period of truly reliable autos (which is the period I suggest personally) I may not agree but I may cite facts and suggest it is more reliable long term then MY10 to MY15 or MY10-MY20 has been to this point/will be in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Just like commercial and military planes. The B-52, with extensive electronic upgrades and some repairs to the airframe, still flies (last model only) 50 years after that model was manufactured. The F-15X will be new planes with current gen electronics, 50 years after the original design. Of course, cost to maintain and upgrade is off the charts compared to what can be justified for any auto.
      Another problem is getting access to OEM electronics. Autos aren’t designed with maintenance/upgradebility in mind. Not by a long shot.
      Lastly, I want to be able to air gap any car I might buy, from external access. I can do that with one connector on my modem and I can subnet IOT widgets with access to the internet denied.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      “Back then, the cars were falling apart at that mileage, but now the chassis/drivetrains will last for 100k-300k miles, but all the controls will be connected to a computer system that will be obsolete/non-functional after 8-9 years.”

      Again, this is just objectively not true. As cars have gotten more complicated, largely due to electronics, they have lasted longer on average. Solid state electronics are likely the least likely key engine component to fail.

      I’ll take your anecdotal stories offline- but if you take averages, not cherry pick, cars lasts longer now-without major work period. And the evidence suggests that is getting better, not worse.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “ cars lasts longer now-without major work period.”

        Major work on a Blazer with a 700R4 is a hell of a lot cheaper than major work on a Tahoe with a 10 speed. There’s more “major components” now than ever and those major components are more expensive than ever. The more wear points the more potential failures. We will see in a couple years how current vehicles rank, but it’s not looking good.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Yeah but people said the same crap when the 700R4 was state of the art. I had discussions with several folks over various cars/trucks equipped with those transmissions (and Ford AOD’s) that had crapped out as to why I should just drop a Turbo 350 or C4 in it’s place. Additionally someone was always telling my Dad to didtch that fuel injection on his 5.0 and put a carb on.

          Are there even any CVT’s that are dying prematurely now? Seems that bugs are pretty well worked out. I thought the only transmission to avoid in fact was the Ford Power Shift among current vehicles. Current tech is typically more expensive than old tech no matter the era.

          Keeping new stuff on the road will require a different skillset, but will be no less possible and frankly in many cases, easier.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “ Yeah but people said the same crap when the 700R4 was state of the art. I had discussions with several folks over various cars/trucks equipped with those transmissions (and Ford AOD’s) that had crapped out as to why I should just drop a Turbo 350 or C4 in it’s place. Additionally someone was always telling my Dad to didtch that fuel injection on his 5.0 and put a carb on.”

            Fuel injection from the 80s up to high pressure direct injection system have always seemed pretty simple and straight forward to me. I even have an entire fuel injection setup ready to go in my scout time allowing. I would say the issue is when you add new parts that don’t improve the driving experience but do add costs.

            A 6 speed auto is much more comfortable to drive on the highway than a 3 speed auto. The cost to rebuild of course Goes from essentially the cost of labor and a few cheap parts that can be slapped together with less precision. So that $1,400 – $1,800 trans rebuild on a 700R4 goes to $3,600 or so on a 6L80e. I will concede that 8 and 10 speed rebuilds typically fall in line alongside the 6 speed rather than ramp up even higher.
            We can make the case, assuming drivability (which is certainly a question) here doesn’t suffer – that adding gears and over drive, has made the vehicle more enjoyable to drive. whether it’s worse the additional risk associated with the added cost is up to the individual.

            However many new major components being added to vehicles are completely unnecessary and take from the driving experience. That being turbos or high pressure fuel pumps, neither of these are necessary and both become a liability. If I’m taking a vehicle somewhere hundreds of miles from home then ultimately reliability of said vehicle is my number one concern. Reducing risks means reducing failure points, specifically failures that could cause breakdowns. There’s no gain to downsizing engines, the gains from direct injection seem to be negated at this time in history by risks gained from coking up the engine and causing a failure or losing a more failure prone fueling system.

            Granted these are all very specific examples, but the fact remains that the perfect marriage of tech and machinery are when they both have the bugs worked out. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel and that’s exactly what’s happening.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I have driven turbocharged vehicles in active combat zones where breaking down meant you had to “self recover” the vehicle (hook it up and tow it out yourself). This typically meant you’d get mortared in the middle of it. This was never due to a failed Turbocharger (I had one fail because it was ripped off via an explosion but the truck still ran).

            They just arent that big of a deal. As a Hummer fan it’s interesting…I have had more portal axles fail than turbos but as you have pointed out that has more to do with the weight military HMMWV’s gained over the years than anything else. Point is, Turbos aren’t rocket science…I have rebuilt one in an afternoon.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “This was never due to a failed Turbocharger”

            but but but that was on a *diesel* engine and “everyone knows” turbos for diesels are magical bulletproof devices while turbos for gas engines are made of chewing gum and tinfoil.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      @Lorenzo, there is plenty of tech currently available and/or emerging that will make replacement and even upgrade to those electronic modules possible. FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) would be something that comes to mind for example. Think of these as sort of CPUs that allow you to program the architecture. They are used for prototyping but also for upgrading replacing CPU’s that are no longer made (This is how you can now get a “new” Amiga computer that runs at modern speeds). Remember, even as “complex” as cars are today the actual processors tend to be fairly rudimentary and shouldn’t be difficult, especially in popular models. Even infotainment systems are woefully underpowered compared to high end phones and computers.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Fact is a computer has been responsible for the most mission critical aspect of a car, running the engine, for over 30 years and transmissions for almost as long.

      Even back in the infancy of computer controls it didn’t take long for the aftermarket to start offering rebuilt computers for the most popular and problematic applications and Repair and Return service for others. Thing is back then each of the computers had a particular calibration for the specific application. Now the same module is used across wide swaths of vehicles and aftermarket tools exist to program a new or used replacement for the specific application.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Aftermarket ECU upgrades won’t be done until after the warranty has run out.

    Not that I recommend them for cars under warranty but that hasn’t stopped a lot of modifiers.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    This will fix the Explorer / Aviator problems.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    On the topic of updates and reliability and such.

    A family member had some power steering pump troubles. It may have been on a Ford.

    My sister: “I don’t get it. Why don’t they just find one power steering pump that works, and use that one on all the vehicles?”

    Me: “……….”

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Well back in the day it wasn’t quite one pump but the Saginaw pump was used widely across many non GM brands, even Ford who made their own pumps for some systems bought Saginaw pumps for some cars. There were a number of different reservoirs and pulleys for the different applications but the base pump was the same.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    @28-cars-later: Toyota’s 2007 Camry was a big embarrassment but I don’t remember why, this quick link explains there were engine issues. Wow, never would have happened in the 90s.

    If I’m not mistaken, my boss’s ‘98 Avalon got a free engine because of the on-going Toyota sludging issue. And by all measures that was ‘peak’ Camry/Avalon time….

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Dear Ford,
    I’m still sore about my wife’s ‘96 Mustang. The blown head gaskets, the dangerous brakes, the leaking convertible top, the ridiculous failed odometer mechanism – you couldn’t even get that right. The thing drank oil and most of it ended up in the radiator, the rest in the exhaust. I assume that explains the always on check engine light. Let’s not forget the slipping transmission, buy hey it did have 80,000 miles on it. I divested that pile of crap with cash for clunkers not because that was the only choice, but because I wanted that steaming pile of garbage to die. It was personal.
    Go crazy with giant touchscreens if you think that will help but you’ll never sell me anything ever again.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I love how TTAC has gone so overboard exposing automakers tribulations that everyone here is convinced that they all produce garbage products and are about to declare bankruptcy…

    WELL DONE.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      tylanner,

      Did someone say bankruptcy? I missed that.

      Can you please explain why Ford’s current credit rating is “junk”?
      https://tinyurl.com/y6k254ks

      How is Ford’s free cash flow? (See the graphic here, complete with pretty pickup trucks)
      https://tinyurl.com/yxf9vm35

      [“And this year, if Wall Street’s forecasts are right, the company will pay more than three times as much in dividends as it will generate in free cash flow.” Oopsies.]

      It seems that out in the real world, Ford has bigger problems than negative comments on an automotive site.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Can you please explain why Ford’s current credit rating is “junk”?”

        because we let a bunch of sharks on Wall Street define the “economy.”

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Ford’s credit rating would be better if, and I’m just spitballing here, the Government stepped in and allowed them to just kind of hose a bunch of their bondholders. And then, on top of that, rather than eatng a bunch of bad and unprofitable product they could just wave a magic wand and shuffle it off to some other entity…for the sake of arguement, lets call it Ford Liquidation, or “Old Ford”. We can even addle that entity with product liability for stuff manufactured prior to that.

        No, the fact that Ford after mortgaging itself to the hilt is still around when it’s chief competetion was given all sorts of competetive advantage is the real question and while Ford has done themselves no favors with crap product (anything with a powershift), and bad launches of core products, they have managed to keep the bread and butter (F series) solid. GM, in spite of all the advantages is losing ground to FCA in their most important segment. Great, you nailed the C8 GM…good job. But you really needed to nail the Silverado/Sierra and there is no reason you shouldnt have.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    “Several companies have discussed the possibility of simply building cars with items installed that have to be unlocked via the center console.”

    Basically they’re going to make base model cars into “cripple ware” like Tesla. I don’t like that approach, you’re essentially removing control from the customers own procession (and this isnt a videogame where they can say that its licensed or whatever, its a car).

    I dont hate having more computers in a car, what matters is what said computers do and their programming quality (which is often poor these days).

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    @28-cars-later and ajla- I agree with you both. My point is basically just a counter to ‘everything is getting worse and all the new cars are going to be disasters because they’re too damn complicated’. There’s just no evidence that is true.

    My ‘evidence’ is simply to point out that as cars have steadily gotten more and more complex, there’s nothing showing that they are living shorter lives on average. I’d also point out that while cars on the road are getting older on average, the average commute time is growing as well with 2018 being the highest ever. So, you it would appear that the average car is older than ever and the engine is running for more time than ever(or they are using start/stop technology which is also supposed to have lead to untimely engine deaths). It’s enough infomation to conclude that if you had a lot of cars dying at less than 100k miles- theyd likely be less than 7 years old which would pull that average down. All the while- oil change intervals have gone from 5k miles to 10k miles. Spark plugs now go 100k. Belts have gone from 50-60k to 100k. You should do transmission flushes at <100k miles, but it will likely go to over 150k without blowing up.

    Also, lets take turbos- modern turbo cars actually do not take any more maintenance. They do run at higher pressure and higher heat, but when you look at the maintenance manual for a new turbo car- it's no different than a non-turbo car. The computer keeps the oil circulating, it strictly manages torque, etc.

    I also agree that there were examples of DI engines coking up valves- particularly if driven hard. Most of these are now fixed, either by putting a small portion of gas into the heads the old fashioned way to clean off the valves, or better controlling oil vapor.

    I'm sure that many new technologies will have some unintended consequences and I'm sure they'll come up with fixes and keep driving the reliability generally upward. It comes down in my mind to what is a reasonable expectation for a vehicle to last. Most vehicles, even DI turbos, tend to keep running for 150k miles.


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  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States