The automobile is not a disposable piece of technology

The increased reliability of automobiles is very evident in the automotive repair industry.

When discussing new age automobiles many people will go on about their complexity and how expensive they are to fix.  Many people will talk themselves into purchasing a new vehicle as soon as the new car warranty is finished.  The allure of a new vehicle versus the unknown of an aging vehicle along with perceived increased maintenance costs and reduced reliability wins many over.

Disposing of five year old vehicles with 100 000 kilometres on the odometer is definitely not for everyone.  The cost of this type of ownership is very high.  Those first years cost a lot in depreciation.  Depreciation is a major cost of vehicle ownership. Vehicles have been becoming less and less disposable.  In fact in Canada the average vehicle on the road is now 9.7 years old.  The service life of an automobile has been increasing the last five years.

So what some people perceive as plastic, poorly made complex and too expensive to fix is not actually real.

The increased reliability of automobiles is very evident in the automotive repair industry.  Automotive repair has changed to less repair and more of a maintenance industry.  Good maintenance can easily make it practical to keep your vehicle many years beyond the 9.7 year average and without any major repair expenditures.

It seems to me the automobile is one of the few items exhibiting this trend.  Appliances like fridges, stoves and televisions seem to actually have shorter lives than they used to.  They have also significantly dropped in price.  Because of that price drop repairing these items becomes not cost effective.

When faced with a $200 repair bill for a $400 item most of us will explore the possibility of replacing the item with something newer.  I am always surprised when some vehicle owners will use a $1000 automobile repair estimate to justify purchasing a new $30,000 to $50,000 vehicle.

Will the automobile go the way of the today’s appliances?  I am not too sure.  The manufacturers seem to  be reducing the required maintenance items.  They are also selling vehicles with maintenance plans built into the price you pay.  Could the maintenance free vehicle be the beginning of the disposable vehicle?

The current crop of vehicles will run flawlessly with next to zero maintenance for the short term.  Ignored for too long and results can be very costly.  Major systems failures are the result of maintenance neglect. Left too long and engine oil loses its lubricating properties, the oil filter clogs and the bypass valve opens and allows oil to flow unfiltered through the system.  Engine failure will not be immediate but the engine’s overall life will be reduced.

The owner who gets rid of a poorly maintained vehicle early will not suffer the consequences of his/her poor maintenance practises but the next owner more than likely will.  When purchasing a used vehicle that you intend to have last the Canadian 10 year average it is imperative to know the vehicle received the proper maintenance.

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