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Modern Cars - Can they be too complex?

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Modern Cars - Can they be too complex?

edited 7 June at 6:13AM in Motoring
38 replies 1.1K views
CleggClegg Forumite
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edited 7 June at 6:13AM in Motoring
Having looked around the used car market for vehicles 3-5 years old and test driven a couple, the technology in these cars (and obviously those being produced now) is great but surely there must be a higher risk of failure over the long term (touch screen infotainment systems, electrical gadges/connections here there and everywhere, new driver assist modes, myriad of sensors etc).   

Interested to know what others think.



  • missilemissile Forumite
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    In general, I find newer cars are much more reliable than those of yester year. However, I do find some of the driver assist features are more a gimmick than useful.
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  • HHarryHHarry Forumite
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    I would tend to agree.  I had an F-Type with a seemingly simple issue - the passenger window wouldn’t drop when the door was opened.  The Dealer had it for 5 weeks and neither they or Jaguar Technical could find the issue.

    As missile says some of this technology is great for the driver - parking sensors, rear cameras, etc.  But some is added for the sake of it, which as well as being something else to go wrong, just adds time, money and resources to produce.
  • AdrianCAdrianC Forumite
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    Computerised multiplexed electronics have been almost universal for the thick end of two decades now. Most of the gadgets are implemented in software.

    BUT, of course, it's always the interface between the software and the real world that's the fallible bit - sensors, screens, motors. And the real showstopper is going to be that the bits aren't available, are too complex to remanufacture, and have to be coded so second-hand can't be used.

    Yes, lots of modern cars are going to die early deaths through failures in the fripperies.
  • AlanpAlanp Forumite
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    I read somewhere that a car fitted with all this tech, will be beyond economical repair if something like the touchscreen fails when the car is 7/8 years old, some of the French cars control everything through the screen if they fail, then lots of controls cannot be accessed 
    ( air con for example) , but I’m sure a growing repair service will emerge 
  • askeymaskeym Forumite
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    I see VW Beetles and Morris Minors still around. I worked in a garage in the 60s and cars were reliable and simple. Nowadays if anything goes wrong it's more than likely to be computer related. I used to be called a fitter or mechanic. Now they're called technicians.
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  • mclaren32mclaren32 Forumite
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    Haven’t modern cars have always been too complex?

    Technology is created and put into cars that only the main dealers know about initially. In time independent garages learn about them and have the ability to work on the cars.

    As an example the Mercedes S-class has generally been at the forefront of new technology. It doesn’t mean you have to take your 60’s S-class to a main dealer though does it...

  • The_RainmakerThe_Rainmaker Forumite
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    AdrianC said:

    BUT, of course, it's always the interface between the software and the real world that's the fallible bit - sensors, screens, motors. And the real showstopper is going to be that the bits aren't available, are too complex to remanufacture, and have to be coded so second-hand can't be used.

    Our truck mechanic says that his biggest problem on trucks these days is electrics, I suspect he might disagree with you to a point Adrian in that he seems to attribute it in the mainb to poor quality wiring.  Small nicks in the plastic which are very difficult to find cause untold issues.  I guess all down to cost saving.
    "When yer tea's oot, yer tea's oot"
  • edited 7 June at 8:57AM
    GoudyGoudy Forumite
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    edited 7 June at 8:57AM
    Newer cars have always tended to be more reliable than older cars, and the same is true now.
    Your new car will soon be a older one though so will start to wear out and suffer reliability issues.

    What is likely true is the parts that do cause reliability issues have changed over the years as has the way these faults are identified and repaired.
    Things like the ignition system on cars of yesteryear were a constant source of issue but they were fairly easy to identify and replace when they did go wrong.
    These days electronic systems are far more reliable but can be bothersome when they do go wrong, but this isn't always down to the manufacturer but perhaps down to someone not fully understanding how it all works which obviously effects how we feel about their reliability.
    We've all read posts and heard stories of owners getting fault codes from certain sensors, then complained the problem still exists after they've replaced that sensor. It's obvious they've replaced the thing reporting a problem rather than repairing the problem because whoever attempted the repair didn't fully understand the problem.

    I would say a modern car, looked after properly should be far more reliable than an older car looked after equally well, but writing that it's also true picking the wrong car for the job can tip the balance the other way (modern diesels for short trips for example).

    Take Toyota's with their hybrid systems, pack full of technology with some pretty original engineering solutions not seen on other cars, yet look after them properly and they rack up 300-400 thousand miles will little trouble, when it's possible to chose a vehicle with similar fuel consumption one might choose a diesel that could have all sorts of issues with limited life of modern injectors, DPF's problems and DMF's wearing out.

    So now the advice would be the right modern car for your style of trips, looked after properly should be far more reliable.

  • fred246fred246 Forumite
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    When I am going to buy a car I sit down and list my requirements. Things I have to have like air conditioning and cruise control. I then see which cars I could buy. Cars which have extras that I haven't specified I am less likely to buy. Eg Electrically heated seats or electrically adjusted seats or automatic tailgate. I remember a few years ago saying how silly automatic tailgates were and how I was quite capable of opening one myself and I would definitely never buy a car with such a silly feature. I obviously upset someone who had one, and must have spent all his time impressing  his mates with it. He told me I was a dinosaur and I should only buy Dacias. It did make me wonder whether that was the way to go. Cheap, reliable, no fancy extras to go wrong.
  • motorguymotorguy Forumite
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    As has always been the case though, theres a legion of mechanics and specialists coming up through behind with the right experience and know how to support the cars.  Within a few miles of where i am there are various brand specialists who are usually ex main dealer mechanics with the gear to read and diagnose the codes.   They usually have contacts within the dealerships too if needs be.

    Personally - a 3 to 5 year old car, i'd probably pay the bit extra and go Approved Used and get the benefit of a (very close to) manufacturer spec warranty with the car.

    But yes, its likely to be a big bill that finally puts a car off the road these days, rather than rust or a worn out engine.
    Just because you're offended doesnt mean you're right
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