The Ticking Time Bomb in Your Dashboard

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Air bags – driver and front seat passenger air bags – have been mandatory in cars since the mid 1990s. That means there are now millions of older cars on the road with air bags. These air bags are ticking time bombs, financially speaking (and otherwise; more on that below) because of the ever-less-favorable ratio between the value of the car itself and the cost to repair the car if the air bags go off.

Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say you own a 2000 model Toyota Corolla. It’s still running great and you hope to be able to drive it for at least another five years – a reasonable expectation given the durability of newer cars. At twelve years old, it still has a lot of useful life left. And because it’s paid-off, you have very low fixed costs, transportation-wise.

But, here’s the catch.

Your 2000 Corolla is only worth about $3,500 or so, retail. But the cost to replace the air bags, if they go off in an accident, will be in the neighborhood of $1,500-$2,000. Which means, even before you take fixing the actual car into account, the projected repair costs have already come dangerously close to the “50 percent of retail value” threshold – at which point, most insurance companies will refuse to fix the car. Instead, it will be “totaled” and you will be given a check for the retail value – usually, a lowball number. Rarely will you receive a check adequate to buy an equivalent vehicle.

The number of cars (and car owners) facing this Hobson’s Choice continues to grow each year, as the fleet ages and the “book value” of older cars drops. It’s a pretty good bet that if your vehicle is worth less than $6,000 it will be totaled by your insurance company if the bags ever deploy. Under $5,000 and it’s a certainty. (A 2002 NHTSA study found that “…nearly all vehicles more than seven years old are scrapped if they are involved in a crash in which their airbag deploys.”)

Current year cars typically have at least four and in many cases as many as six or even eight air bags. These multi-bag new cars will reach the Event Horizon much earlier since the cost of replacing three or four (or more) air bags will be even higher than the $1,500-$2,000 figure for dealing with just the driver and front seat passenger bags in older cars.

The tragedy is that many of these cars are otherwise repairable. Air bags don’t go off in fender-benders, but it’s  not necessary to have a catastrophic wreck for them to deploy, either. The threshold is about 20-25 MPH, which isn’t insignificant but also not enough (in many cases) to cause major structural damage to the car – the kind of damage that in the past would have resulted (reasonably) in a decision to throw the car away. But today, it is routine to find otherwise repairable cars – some that can still even be driven – consigned to the junkyard because of the cost of replacing the air bags. And legally, the bags must be replaced. Even if you fix the folded fenders and the car is otherwise fine to drive, the law requires all factory-fitted (and government mandated) “safety” equipment to be intact and functional. You won’t be able to pass state “safety” inspection and get/renew your government-mandated vehicle registration until the bags are replaced.

It is a tremendous waste – and we all pay for it, though we may not realize we’re paying for it.

We pay, first of all, in the form of higher insurance costs – because the insurance companies quite rationally transfer the losses they incur onto the shoulders of policyholders. Simple cause and effect: If the 2000 model Toyota mentioned above had no air bags, and fixing it after an accident only involved replacing, let’s say, the front clip (bumper, hood, fenders, etc.) at a cost of $2,000 – vs. another $1,500 to $2,000 on top of that for the air bags – then naturally, the owner’s premiums are going to reflect this. Since the imposition of the air bag mandate, average insurance costs have gone up dramatically. In most urban/suburban areas, it is routine for even “good drivers” with no record of  at-fault accidents or “points” on their DMV record to be paying $500 or more a year for a full-coverage policy. To put that in perspective, consider the cost of the typical homeowner’s policy. Most people pay about the same to cover their house – an asset several times more valuable than a car, but which has a much lower risk of “total loss” associated with it.

But where we really pay is in the form of loss of the vehicle itself. Of throwing away otherwise fixable cars and being placed in the position of having to buy a usually more expensive replacement.

And with so many aging air bag-equipped vehicles still on the road, it is a cost more and more people are going to be facing in the years ahead.

There’s another cost, too – alluded to in the beginning of this article. Air bags are just like any other system in the car; eventually, the components degrade and develop problems. It’s as inevitable as eventually needing new brake shoes or a power window switch. Own an air bag-equipped car long enough and eventually the air bags are going to have a problem. This is why several automakers list air bag service after “x” number of years.  I like to read the owner’s manuals of the new vehicles I test drive each week. That’s how I discovered the warning that (to cite one example) “SRS system must be serviced” at 10 years. In one case, a major car maker specifically recommends replacing the bags (and related sensors, etc.) at 12 years – and you can imagine what that would cost.

But maybe the bags will just go dark and not work. Corrosion, a disconnected wire – either could result in a fault that results in the bag(s) not going off when they should – totaling you instead of the car. Or maybe the bags will just off for no reason at all (leading to the same result, if it happens while you’re driving down the highway at 70 MPH). Hysterical? Exaggeration? Do transmissions in old cars just fail sometimes?   Is it unheard of for a tired, high-miles engine to spit a rod through the oil pan?  Other car systems degrade and eventually fail in older cars. And so will air bags.

Only the results may be a bit more dramatic – and a lot more expensive.

Throw it in the Woods?

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  106 comments for “The Ticking Time Bomb in Your Dashboard

  1. SojournerMoon
    February 26, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    But what if I don’t want to replace my mother-in-law. . .um. . .airbag?

    All kidding aside, I know of two people who had their car’s airbag spontaneously deploy while driving. No warning and no reason. Just BOOM, face full of bag and no hands on the wheel.

    The bags deflate moments after the inflation, which allowed both people to get their hands back on the wheel and get the car under control. No, they didn’t hit a pothole or speed bump or another car or a tree (although one nearly hit a tree AFTER the detonation). It just happened.

    In both cases, the cars were late model (less than 5 years old, in one case only 1 year old) and were not abused or worn out or mistreated in any significant way. In one case, the lady had just had abdominal surgery only a week before and was basically punched in the gut and face by the bag. Thankfully the incision held without any damage, but it could have been worse. The only reason I can figure that neither car was wrecked after the incidents was that both were traveling below 40mph on surface streets, not on the highway or interstate, at higher speeds, where such momentary loss of control could have been fatal.

    Tip: Try and keep your thumbs outside the center of the steering wheel in case the airbags go off. If they do, they push the wrists/forearms out and away from the wheel. If there are thumbs in the way, they can be broken or dislocated. I tend to rest mine on the wheel itself pointed, more or less, up (9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions, NOT 10 & 2, as is incorrectly taught in driver’s ed). Some cars have bumps on the inside of the steering wheel where your thumbs are supposed to rest (the Infiniti G35 and G37 coupes do, for example, as do some other cars). That’s one reason why.

    • February 26, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      Crikey…!

      I have turned off the passenger side bags in both my trucks (being regular cabs, they come with a switch). I am going to see about pulling a fuse to defuse the driver’s side unit….

      • clover
        February 27, 2012 at 3:31 am

        Sounds good to me. I guess it is either hundreds for a possible car repair or replacement or your life. Maybe you are making the right choice.

        • dom
          February 27, 2012 at 3:33 am

          Yeah, cuz nobody has ever survived an accident without an airbag!

          • clover
            February 28, 2012 at 1:03 am

            Yes Dom, thousands have not. There never was child restraint laws in the past either. Thousands of kids flew through the front windshield. I could care less if you want to take the chance of saving a few hundred dollars or your life. The latter would cause a far less risk for the rest of us.

          • April 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm

            by cloverI could care less if you want to take the chance of saving a few hundred dollars or your life.

            If you believe your statement then you should support allowing people to make their own decision (instead of being forced by the end of a gun barrel).

            You are not consistent.

            While I think safety features can be worthwhile, there is a balance between safety and cost (and possibly other parameters).

            People decide if something is worth it or not. If they decide it is not worth the expense/trouble then they do not buy.

          • Had Enough of the Nanny State
            May 17, 2014 at 3:13 am

            Clover is a perfect example of a safety-nazi.

            Clover ignores that airbags are not necessary to survive a wreck — that they in fact do nothing but make up for the driver’s failure to wear a seat belt — but Clover thinks the nanny-state is never wrong.

            Clover should die in a house fire.

          • eric
            May 17, 2014 at 5:49 am

            I like the way you think, Had Enough!

            It goes deeper, though.

            Seat belts are not infallible, either. And even if they were – even if they entailed zero risk and assured 100 percent “safety” – it is no one’s business to dictate to another adult that he wear them – or else. To threaten to do him violence for declining to “buckle up.”

            That is the principle at issue here – and the one that Clover and his kind shit all over.

        • February 27, 2012 at 11:00 am

          What would be really good, Clover, would be if each of us had the free choice to make our own decisions. Instead, we’re forced to do (or buy) “x” and “y” because cloying busybodies such as yourself can’t stand the idea of free choice.

          • clover
            February 28, 2012 at 1:05 am

            There is always free choice Eric. It is easy for you because you like old vehicles, just buy one that is 50 years old.

      • clover
        February 27, 2012 at 3:36 am

        Most newer cars have seat sensors and automatically shut off if no one is in the seats.

        • dom
          February 27, 2012 at 3:43 am

          Oh Mang! More excellent and useful information. You should start a site of your own.

        • February 27, 2012 at 11:25 am

          And turn on – or cycle on/off, along with the annoying “buckle up for safety” buzzer – if you put a bag of groceries or some other such thing on the seat. So much for “smart” air bags – kind of like “smart” Clovers!

          • clover
            February 28, 2012 at 1:13 am

            You must have heavy groceries Eric. I think they switch on at around 70 lbs give or take. Take them out. We are all for you not having them.

        • Blake
          February 27, 2012 at 7:05 pm

          Clover:

          “Most newer cars have seat sensors and automatically shut off if no one is in the seats.”

          You are incorrect. ALL cars now have sensors for an airbag, but for the passenger seat only. These “smart airbag” systems are so unreliable that moat cannot detect if it is a person or a toolbox on your seat. If your passenger is of a small stature, or is seated atypically, they may NOT get an airbag when they should. Or else they might GET and airbag when they shouldn’t.

          Each tecnology has pros and cons and each has real life situations where they WILL NOT WORK AS INTENDED.

          FMVSS 208′s rule is for a 6YO ATD (Anthropomorphic Test Dummy – aka crash test dummy) must not get an airbag and a 5th percentile female ATD must get an airbag when seated in the passenger seat.

          I worked as a real engineer in a real core safety electronics division of a real automotive company on implementing FMVSS 208′s rule for 8 years, so I do know a bit about “smart” airbags.

          These systems are far from reliable, and downright unreliable in anything with “3 across” seating in the front (like a newer standard cab pickup). Also, my greedy, “for profit” automotive company requested to add cost IN ADDITION TO the mandated cost for the “smart” airbags for an safe, reliable, airbag off switch, in said standard cab pickup. We were denied by our masters in the government. We were told: The system must be passive.

          That’s government speak for “the driver might actually have to think.”

          Your beloved goverment denied us the right to protect the occupants that their rule can’t protect. Yet all I hear from the statists is that NO safety equipment would ever be produced if if weren’t for the governemnt forcing them do it.

          I have 8 airbags in my Honda Civic. 1 is for me, seven are apparently to protect my LUNCHBOX.

          Did you also know that the “five star” crash rating means absolutely nothing if you’re traveling faster than 35 mph or if you weigh more than 225 lbs?

          If you’d like to take marketing literature in your car brochure as the gospel, that’s your choice.

          You do realize that airbags were once an OPTION don’t you? I cringe every time a new safety feature is introduced. I know that eventually the clovers will make it mandatory.

          Do you actually think that cars aren’t expensive enough already?

          • February 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm

            Blake, many thanks for this; it wont dissuade Clover because he’s ineducable – but it will enlighten and inform others. Again, thanks!

          • clover
            February 28, 2012 at 1:22 am

            Blake you are smart enough to remove them then if you do not want them.

            One question, if you hit another car head on at 45 mph, would you rather not have an airbag? I know a lady that did just that and all she had was some bruises from all the seat belt force. She would not be here if she did not have seat belts and an airbag. Neither would thousands of others. I guess my government screwed up by saving their lives and billions of dollars in hospital costs.

          • February 28, 2012 at 10:51 am

            Clover, the issue is not whether air bags (or seat belts) “save (some) lives.” So does eating right and exercising regularly. And avoiding direct exposure to sunlight.

            The issue, sweatpea, is simply that each of us ought to be free to decide the pros and cons for ourselves, free of government coercion. You like air bags? Great! Go buy one – or six. Enjoy! But others don’t like them; or rather, believe the cons (including potential injury from the bag) outweigh the (theoretical) benefits and so would prefer to not have to buy them. Or be forced to subsidize your desire to have them. Shouldn’t that be their right? Just as it’s your right to eat what you like, to exercise – or not? To sunbathe – or do yard work outside in summer without a shirt on?

            Etc.

            But because of pushy, know-it-all assholes such as yourself, who can’t stand free choice, everyone is forced to buy them – at least, if they want a new car or a car that’s newer than mid 1990s.

            Try to use your tiny little brain and imagine how much you’d like someone else using the government to force you to do something you’d rather not that’s purely a personal choice. Or forcing you to pay for something you don’t want to buy – because they feel you need it.

            I realize you’re incapable of empathy – much less introspection – because you’re a thug and a low-rent sociopath.

          • Boothe
            February 28, 2012 at 2:51 am

            @Cover: “I guess my government screwed up by saving their lives and billions of dollars in hospital costs.” No Clover, based on much of what you’ve written here, your government screwed up by not putting contraceptives in your parents’ drinking water. ;)

          • clover
            February 28, 2012 at 3:18 am

            Sure Boothe. Are you one that also would like to not have air bags in cars and no seat belts? I guess you may be one of those that would rather be killed or injured than spend a couple of hundred for a new airbag. You call me stupid.

          • February 28, 2012 at 10:34 am

            No Clover, we call you both stupid and an asshole – because you’re not content to do your thing (and buy what you want) and leave others free to do their thing and not buy what they don’t want.

          • clover
            February 28, 2012 at 3:27 am

            This study estimates that 8,000 lives were saved in a 10 year period with air bags. More than 10 times that were saved by seat belts. I guess this was after you left car designing.

            http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-01/esv/esv18/CD/Files/18ESV-000500.pdf

          • February 28, 2012 at 10:41 am

            And “we” could save even more lives by forcing everyone to give up their cars and walk or ride in government busses, too. Get it through your bovine skull: My life is none of your business! Hence, it is none of the government’s business. You have no more right to demand that cars be fitted with air bags at gunpoint than I have to demand that you accompany me on my 7 mile runs.

            You despicable little busybodybody. You loathsome little thug who gets Big Brother to threaten other people with violence on your behalf. You cretinous non-entity who knows nothing but expresses militant certainty about everything – and that everyone, incuding people who do know, defer to your empty-headed feelings.

            I shit all over you, to use the words of the Kaiser.

          • BrentP
            February 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm

            Clover, easily available federal government studies usually conclude whatever the government did or wants to do has benefit and works as desired. Those that don’t usually aren’t easily available until someone outside the government gets a hold of them and makes them easily available.

            I used to keep a list of these sort of studies on 85th percentile method. Others kept lists on red light cameras. Others on other so called things government does for our safety. All in all it’s quite a pile of studies that show what the government tells us is lies. But it goes beyond studies that the feds burried or were done by other levels of government and were for one reason or another more honest. In most cases if one digs into the studies that agree with whatever policy large problems with the data analysis appear.

            From your own link: “Of course, lives saved cannot simply be counted, but
            must instead be estimated based on the numbers of fatalities and the known effectiveness of belts and air
            bags.”

            That’s the typical government report. Assume your conclusion in the analysis and there can be no other result than to prove your conclusion.

            Now do airbags do something? Sure. But there is a cost associated with it. The evil automakers told the loving government that the government’s airbag standards would kill children and small adults. The automakers did the work on this in the 1970s and it probably factored into their decision to stop offering airbags. The loving government then told the evil automakers that they were just being evil and trying to protect their profits and went ahead mandating airbags to protect an unbelted 50% percentile adult male. When children and small adults started being killed in low speed collisions by the airbags the government spun the whole thing and then started all the stupid rules about who could sit where instead of admitting they messed up and killed people. These and other things they simply do not track. Your own study eliminates anyone who was likely killed by a airbag.

            Because everything is a cost-benefit analysis and carries with it risk and each person has different judgments and situations one size fits all mandates will always be good for some people and disaaster for others and mediocre for everyone else. Too bad we can’t make our own decisions so everyone can have what is for them, a good balance.

          • Boothe
            February 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm

            @Clover: “Are you one that also would like to not have air bags in cars and no seat belts?” Clover, I would simply like to be able make the decision for myself. I do in fact wear my seatbelt. I also wear safety glasses most of the time (all the time when working, at home or on the job). I avail myself of all manner of safety equipment voluntarily. I don’t need government mandates to make me do this. I have been blessed with a strong self preservation instinct.

            You have already indicated your distaste for private firearms ownership and the inherent right to self defense. You lead us to believe you prefer to rely on others (the police) for your security and detest those of us that take responsibility for it on our own. You appear to need government to force you to wear a seatbelt and barring that, put a big inflatable cushion between you and the mean old world. You apparently need the coercive force of government to make you drive safely. Perhaps you also need someone to stand over you and make you do things safely at work; hence some of the absurd requirements foisted upon us by OSHA.

            We may have just discovered one more part of the overall problem with modern America: the Cloverian belief that there can be such a thing as “risk free living.” Through overweening government regulation, at the behest of people like Clover, we are artificially preserving inferior genetics. Most of these genetic lines would have otherwise disappeared due to their lack of a self-preservation instinct. Instead, Clover’s kindred in government are forcing the rest of us to pay for the perpetuation of their inherited defects. It is no wonder that America has become a nation of cowards and idiocy abounds.

          • John Illinois
            February 29, 2012 at 12:44 am

            If you read the instructions, you will discover that you must have the seat belts
            properly fastened to keep you in place for the airbag to properly smash your glasses into your face. If you are out of position when the bags go off, you risk severe injury from the bag itself.

          • Scott
            March 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm

            I sort of wanted to address this to Clover’s anecdote about the lady friend in the 45 mph head on? You mention she would have done much worse without the airbag, I just want to know why you think that?

            I was in a head on about 30 years ago driving 45 mph. A Fiat sedan came around a dog leg turn sideways in my lane doing an estimated 60 mph (police estimate after the fact). I T-Boned him on the passenger side door after evading right onto the shoulder, the combined speed was around 100 mph.

            I was in a 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo, the engine crushed up under the cab the way it was supposed to, I was knocked unconscious and pulled out through the moon roof by the medics when they got there, I woke up in the ambulance. All I had in the way of injuries beside that was a really bad shoulder to hip bruise from my seat belt that lasted a month or so. Naturally the car was totaled.

            The point is, I didn’t have an air bag and it was a pretty bad accident. I hope it was the worst I’ll ever have. Honestly, I don’t trust airbags. The idea of having one fail and go off while I’m tooling down the freeway scares the bejesus out of me when I think about it, which I try not to do.

          • Keith Hamburger
            April 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm

            So, Clover says 8000 lives saved per year. But, Clovers don’t understand a bit of advanced thought, like economics. I am just starting the research for the counterpoint to this and it should take just a few moments, but I have a pretty good idea where it will go …

            The NHTSA (government and, as stated elsewhere in this thread, therefore unreliable, but probably the best source that a Clover will accept) doesn’t have total sales numbers for the most recent years. But, using the years they have, extrapolating and using other sources, total annual sales comes out to some 10-12 million vehicles per year.

            Using a reasonable estimated average of 11 million vehicles sold per year with an added cost of some $2500 for air bags (again, an estimate, sure driver and passenger bags cost around $1500 but, as pointed out in the article, many cars today come with many more air bags) we come to a total annual cost to install air bags at $30 billion/year.

            If that saves “8000 lives” that puts the cost per life saved at $3.75 million. And that’s not even considering increased costs of insurance and much, much more.

            Is $3.75 million spent on air bags to save 1 human life a good return on investment? Would it be possible to spend that $3.75 million on something else that would save 2 or 4 or 10 lives? And, who other than the people spending their own money and their own effort should decide which lives are worth expending wealth and effort to save?

            Now, I just put 10 minutes in looking up some figures and doing a handful of easy calculations. But, of course, Clovers are incapable of such and live by authoritarian emotion, not rational thought.

          • April 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm

            Indeed they do!

            The cost of insurance is perhaps the single biggest cost associated with air bags. Premiums have risen to reflect the enormous cost of repairing (or scrapping) an air-bag equipped car.

            In a wreck involving two cars with air bags, 4-6 deployed bags can mean $10,000 or more in losses – before even beginning to factor in actual body damage to the vehicle, etc.

            As a result, many people in urban/suburban areas (highest risk of “accidents”) routinely pay $1,000 or more annually to cover a late-model vehicle. Extrapolate this over a lifetime, say 40 years of driving. The average person may spend $50,000 just to maintain insurance on his vehicle over that time period. The opportunity cost is incalculable.

  2. Mike in Spotsy
    February 27, 2012 at 2:03 am

    Eric, please let us know if simply pulling a fuse will work to deactivate the airbag. I have one of those cars for which an airbag deployment would mean the car is totaled. Checked the owner’s manual, which is singularly unhelpful in identifying which fuse(s) control which systems. Might have to experiment?

    • BrentP
      February 27, 2012 at 5:38 am

      Just pulling a fuse will likely turn on the warning light. Not sure what is required to dummy up the system appropriately. The bag module would have to report a-ok but not be rendered incapable of operation.

      • robbie
        February 27, 2012 at 6:52 am

        Go to the closest Volvo Dealer and order tool# 9988695. It plugs right into the airbag connector you want to disable and it will fool the system into thinking the airbag is still connected. This will allow the remaining airbags to function appropriately.

        • BrentP
          February 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

          But does this resistor work with all airbags? I would imagine that each manufacturer would have different resistances if not different set ups. Certainly different connectors.

          Although the theory remains, just use the right resistor and all is well.

    • February 27, 2012 at 11:04 am

      I’m not sure – need to look into it. My understanding is that in some cars, the SRS system is one its own fuse, so by pulling that fuse, you’re not turning off stuff you want. However, even if your car is like that, probably the dash “SRS” light will trigger, and a code will be stored in the OBD system. That will cause you to fail state safety inspection, if you have to deal with that in your area….

      • robbie
        March 30, 2012 at 2:07 am

        its on all airbags mid 90′s and newer. it plugs in and SRS is still functioning on other airbags. It doesn’t throw the check engine light.

  3. Carzzi
    February 28, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Well look what El Paso taxpayer dollars are paying for… http://www.elpasoinc.com/news/local_news/article_60908992-5beb-11e1-b9e7-0019bb30f31a.html
    Wherein 5.0 Mustangs are being used to ensnare and entrap “speeders”.

    • February 28, 2012 at 10:46 am

      I drove through the Southwest back in the ’90s and 5.0 LX Mustangs were all over. Lately, here in VA, I have seen a cop GTO (late model). The word is they’re also using or will be using Taurus SHOs. But the worst of all is in OK – where the state cops had at least one GSX-R… and nothing’s outrunning that except another GSX-R with a better rider on top!

      • chiph
        February 29, 2012 at 9:05 pm

        South Carolina had (at least for a while) a BMW 850i. It was a gift from the company to the state patrol after the factory opened.

      • tionico
        April 2, 2012 at 7:15 am

        Washington State use a fleet of 1200 Beemers, I’ve also seen UNMARKED and bearing standard (non-WSP) number plates) things like red Volvo wagons, Suburbans, Dodge Ram crew cab pickups, Chargers, etc, with stealth cop-lamps, no searchlights, no roof bars, no nothing. They even keep their SmokeyBear hats off until they get out to chat you up.

        • April 2, 2012 at 9:45 am

          They use them for traffic enforcement? It used to be they didn’t use non-standard cars (i.e., other than a Crown Vic or Charger, etc.) because of concerns (legitimate) about rapists and so on. But, I’m not surprised to hear they’re no longer abiding by that rule…

        • Keith Hamburger
          April 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm

          Many of those were probably stolen through “civil forfeiture” techniques and they feel they are obligated to put them to “good use”.

          • liberranter
            April 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm

            Exactly! Expect many more of these “high end” vehicles to appear in the “law enforcement” vehicle pools as bankrupt state government ramp up their larceny, er, “asset forfeiture” operations.

    • BrentP
      February 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      Back in the 1990s and early 2000s the ISP used unmarked and passenger car plated Mustangs and Camaros.

      One night I am heading up the edens expressway… back in those days the flow speed was way over the speed limit. So there is this car gaining on me fast. Seems to be an fbody but I am not sure… great… some jackass wants to race I think. So I move right and slow down so he’ll go flying by me. No. He moves behind me and slows down. Ok… I wait… and I wait. a few miles go by.. enough. I pass the guy I am behind. Guy behind me just floors it. He’s coming up FAST. Fine. I accelerate to complete my pass before he’s on my ass. I complete my pass. Lights come on. Cop. I tell him I was just trying to stay out of his way and in the process without saying it make it clear I know he was playing with me. No ticket after my papers are checked and run through SCMODS without a return like Elwood Blues. This and a couple other stops have made it clear to me that cops don’t want to be embarrassed in court. They can lie, but for some reason at least some don’t want to take the risk over something where they are just messing with someone.

      Now then there was the time I saw someone in camaro racing through traffic with an ISP ’96-’98 mustang following… nice to have one on my ass and then the other. Somewhere along the line someone started a rumor that all the state cop mustangs had a plates similar to mine… then I started getting these drivers who simply refused to pass me. They’d race up on me and then not pass until other drivers did. They would then timidly pass. Once the ISP decommissioned those cars the behavior vanished.

      BTW, nice article… the ’12 is 412hp, the ’13 420hp, the color is grabber blue. They optioned it up to 41K without the brembo brake package? I hope that 41K includes the cop equipment.

  4. Duke
    February 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Like airbags, rear view cameras, another costly safety “improvement” of dubious value, is close to being jammed onto the public. Slightly delayed yesterday:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/nhtsa-postpones-back-up-camera-requirement-rule/

    • Tor Munkov
      February 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      Forced safety equipment has a negative value, unless you are part of the District of Columbidae.

      A Diplomat Commander like Ray Lahood at the helm of USDOT is as lethal as any of the more overt military warbirds. His office is like a blackhole, sucking in resources and people, giving nothing back, and allowing no escape as his vortex expands.

      There are always several mobile or fixed License Plate Readers per square mile that film at 2000 frames per second. These images are saved forever.

      Your every vehicles’ whereabouts are known in realtime and maintained forever in several domestic military surveillance databases.

      … me and you, god only knows its not what we would choose to do…

      … forward Ray cried from the rear, and the front rank died…

      … the transportation general sat, and the lines on the map, moved from side to side…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcG47CpsU6c&feature=player_detailpage

      • Duke
        February 29, 2012 at 3:19 am

        I won’t be surprised if Lahood get a cushy job with one of the automotive videocamera companies.

        • Tor Munkov
          February 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm

          Me either. It’s hard to follow any of these wise guys. His son Sam Lahood is being held in Egypt, who knows for what international federal mafia reasons.
          In 2004 US House rep Ray’s net worth is -15,000 to 535000. US House rep ave 4.5 million.
          In 2007 his net worth is -31,000 to +395,000.
          In 2008 he raises 237,000 while running for office yet spends 852,000,
          In 2010 the US House rep average net worth is now 6 million.

          Forget Soviets, Maoists, Nazis. At least the Nazis promoted wealth, except for the racially unwanted. America is across the board destructive to everyone and everything except some hidden military elite.

          It’s like Radioactive Midas, everything the US touches turns into weaponry, militarized societies, and national defense asset production at cancerous rates.

          No regime in the history of the world has prevented as much wealth from being created. Has confiscated so much wealth for offensive and defensive purposes.

          We think, speak, and act in a clipped jargony form of Global Thermal Nuclear English.

          The underside of every trend and story has only a military solution.

          Look, another school shooting. Bullies are evil. They are the culprit. The CIA on down to the school district must stop bullying. It for the chilldrenn.

          Lets all have a 2 minutes hate session for bullies. For extremists. For terrorist drug using dead beat dads and illegal immigrants and tax evaders and speeders.

          ARRRGHH. We must hate them. It is our doootttyyy.

      • liberranter
        April 2, 2012 at 6:21 pm

        A particularly despicable piece of shit, LaThug.

  5. Duke
    February 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    In a video awhile back Scottish hedge fund manager Hugh Hendry waggishly went off on the automotive airbag – an American invention – saying that if the intent was to make driving safer, it might be better achieved by mandating a dagger on the steering column, pointing toward the driver.

  6. John Illinois
    February 29, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Back when my company got some experimental airbag cars, while you could still tell an ethnic joke, we referred to them as “eastern European idiot parachutes–open on impact”.

    • Scott
      March 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm

      Or more succinctly, a Polish parachute?

      (I can say that, I’m Czech. We razz the Pols all the time… :)

  7. dom
    February 29, 2012 at 3:26 am

    I think it’s ridiculous that in a privately owned asset we don’t have to option of having one without the assault feature. But hey, what do I know! Clovers know best..

    • Mithrandir
      April 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      Just ask him and he will gladly tell you how much he knows about safety.

  8. clark
    March 1, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Ah, I think you helped to hooked me on the older VW idea. I’m still a bit torn between it and a Jeep or an older pickup, but the more I look at VW’s, the more I like them. Heh, I wonder if this is a sickness?

    Is there any reason to prefer the Super Beetle over the plain Jane Beetle? Besides a bigger trunk space and a larger motor I can’t see much difference.

    For fuel economy reasons I’m leaning towards the smaller motor, but are they too small/low powered/unreliable?

    Note to self: Never go 4x4ing in a vehicle that has airbags.

    • John
      April 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      My son-in-laws former boss was going down the road at a high rate of speed in a up-scale car. He went over a mound and all 4 wheels briefly left the ground. The car computer decided the car must have rolled over so it fired ALL of the airbags.

      Insurance said “Nope! You weren’t using the car as designed.” He had to fix it on his nickle.

      • dom
        April 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm

        This is perfect example of why I hate all the extra trash on cars. Personally, I love lifting off in a car on nice smooth whoop de dos.

        • April 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm

          Back in the Day – ’80s – I got my poor ’78 Camaro airborne, briefly. Not the whole car – just the front end. It ain’t like in The Dukes of Hazzard. Bent the hell out of the front end; mashed my heay-ud against the roof. The car was never right after that…. but it was kinda fun and gave me a great story to tell!

  9. Tor Munkov
    March 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Listen closely to the ticking and whirring of the stupefied mind of Bubba William Jefferson Clinton…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvpDbS8jh_I

    (Video of Former President Bill Clinton)

    Master of puppets I’m pulling your strings
    Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams

    Blinded by me You can’t see a thing
    Just call my name ’cause I’ll hear you scream

    Master Master…

  10. April 2, 2012 at 5:47 am

    Sad isn’t it? The clovers never seem to be able to get it through their heads that the issue is not “Which solution is right.”

    The issue is “Are people free to decide for themselves which solution is right?” Not for “us,” but for themselves.

    The clovers’ minds are shot through with an “Everything I disapprove of must be illegal. Everything I approve of must be compulsory” mentality.

    They imagine or tolerate a world in which others remain free to decide what is right for themselves.

    To the clovers, since what I have decided for myself is “clearly wrong,” they feel justified in physical coercion to prevent me from “making the wrong choice.”

    The irony of course, is that physical coercion to prevent others from “making the wrong choice” is itself a wrong choice.

    History shows us that opening the floodgates to to physical coercion has long term political consequences infinitely more catastrophic than the consequences of individual wrong choices.

    The clovers lack the intellect to trace cause to highly indirect, long term effect.

    Alas, what the clovers lack in intelligence, they make up for in arrogance.

    Hence their refusal to concede that they are morally wrong to impose their will on other individuals by force.

    • April 2, 2012 at 5:49 am

      Sorry.

      Wrong: They imagine or tolerate a world in which others remain free to decide what is right for themselves.

      Right: They cannot imagine or tolerate a world in which others remain free to decide what is right for themselves.

    • April 2, 2012 at 9:51 am

      “Alas, what the clovers lack in intelligence, they make up for in arrogance.”

      This is the key to understanding Cloverism.

      Every one I’ve ever dealt with displays the same yin-yang of not-too-smart but plenty know-it-all.

      Short of physical resistance, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to defend against them is to constantly remind everyone else that what Clovers advocate always comes down to violence. Behind every “we need,” behind every “for the children,” behind every call for “safety” – lies a gun pointed at someone’s head. Point this out; make it clear – and decent people who may not have ever thought it through before begin to have qualms. Some of them, at least.

      And that is a start!

      • liberranter
        April 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm

        Hey, that reminds me: Clover hasn’t yet invoked “The Children” in this thread. Must be an off day for him.

      • Gail
        April 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm

        “Every one I’ve ever dealt with displays the same yin-yang of not-too-smart but plenty know-it-all.”

        Or as a favorite writer of mine has it, “Often wrong, but never uncertain.”

  11. Devlin
    April 2, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I worked in the collision industry repairing German cars for the last 20 years. Quite often you would see cars after an accident and think “I wonder why the bags didn’t deploy” or conversely “with so little damage I can’t believe the bags went off”. Point is these systems don’t work as advertised by the all loving gubment. There was an article I read in a trade mag years ago which was trying to make the case for these systems and their own numbers showed something like a 4 percent increase of survival in a given crash situation over seatbelts alone. Eric, you just scratched the surface of what needs to be replaced after bag deployment. The list of parts to change can include dashboards, windshields, control modules, melted wiring harnesses, steering columns, steering wheels, sensors, headliners, seat upholstery, door trim panels, exploding seatbelt pretensioners and I could go on. These costs seem a bit high for a miniscule increase in safety asuming you even buy the gubments number of four percent. I would love to know the stats on how many people are injured by these things that are just attributed to having been in an accident. I have been telling people these things are as much of a danger as safety item for years and they look at me as if i’m nuts, glad to see some other nuts are out there as well.

    • April 2, 2012 at 9:38 am

      Hi Devlin,

      Clover will never accept this! But the good news is more and more people who aren’t Clovers are waking up – and beginning to resent the costs imposed – without their consent – for such little gain.

      Good to have you with us!

    • BrentP
      April 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      The masses just hear Ralph Nader, Joan Claybrook, and the rest. They think the automakers just lie. That automakers want to kill their customers to make a little extra money today. It’s conditioning.

      The automakers resistance to the airbag mandate was well founded on years of engineering research. They told the government regulators that airbags at the proposed unbelted median-sized male standard would kill. Government dismissed this. People died.

      The reason why airbags sometimes deploy in small crashes and sometimes don’t in big ones is that deployment is controlled by accelerometers. So it’s based on what the accelerometer sees. Small crash near the accelerometer? BAM! airbag. big crash away from the accelerometer? nothing. At least that’s my theory. These are descrete points on the vehicle, if they don’t see it, it didn’t happen as far as the system is concerned.

      • April 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm

        It’s a good point; I’d elaborate it a bit to add that people have been conditioned to think that – poof – these Great Things just appear by dint of the magic wand of government regulation, no costs involved. But I suspect economic pressures are beginning to cause at least some people to question the Manna From DC…. and that’s a step in the right direction.

    • Mike in Spotsy
      April 3, 2012 at 2:28 am

      Great post, Devlin. I can’t speak to statistics, but I do have an anecdotal incident to describe. My father got severe burns on his hands and face from an airbag deployment. The scars were still apparent when he passed away (from unrelated causes) three years later.

      And a word to the wise: when I learned to drive, we were taught to keep our hands at 10:00 and 2:00 on the steering wheel. That is obsolete now, because of airbags. The proper hand position is now 8:00 and 4:00, so the airbags don’t burn your hands and wrists if they deploy.

      • April 3, 2012 at 9:09 am

        And of course, 8 and 4 is the Clover Position – much less leverage/control of the vehicle. It’s an inherently more passive driving position, but that’s of course what Clovers are after….

  12. April 2, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Thank you for a great article pointing out yet another cost the nanny state imposes on us. The original cost is hidden, and the replacement costs are unexpected.

    • April 2, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Hi Gary,

      You bet – it’s what we do here at EPautos!

  13. charlie
    April 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I think deep down Clover does actually know we are right. He, like most of his type, do not ever wish to admit they are wrong, because they HAVE to believe they are smarter than everyone else in order to soothe their insecurity.
    That said, of course Clover is wrong. Why should people not be able to make their own decisions? Of course Clover’s insecurity drives him to think that he knows what is best for everyone, and that there is one solution for everyone. That is the heinous attitude: that there is one solution for everyone. I say all this from personal experience – my own brother is one of these people – he researches everything to death and comes up with what he believes is the best solution, and of course “everyone” should agree with him because he is a “genius” in his own mind. For example he thinks it unimaginable to get a phone with a touchscreen because he is so ham-handed he has trouble using it, therefore everyone else must have the same problem, so they should not like it either. It really is some kind of psychosis these people suffer from. They have to control others or they feel lost. More like they have to convince everyone they are right, because if they can’t then that means, God Forbid, they are wrong. That is the greatest symptom of this psychosis is that they can NEVER admit being wrong, because in their mind that would mean they are substandard.
    Of course we should be able to purchase airbags if we want them or not purchase if we don’t. The old lady in Clover’s story is probably a poor driver, and knows it, and knows she would like to purchase a car with airbags. Same for clover, he is probably a pretty poor driver, and wants airbags, but again, not being able to admit that he could possibly not be as good at something than everyone else, then we must ALL be as poor a driver as him, and thus NEED airbags.

    • Keith Hamburger
      April 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Personally, I do like having airbags in my wifes MINI Cooper S. It’s a tiny car that has such good performance and handling the best defense is outmaneuvering accidents. But, if it ever came down to a serious accident in such a small vehicle I think airbags are a good idea.

      My F350, on the other hand, I would rather not have airbags. It’s defense against accidents is being big and obvious and everyone wants to stay out of its way. But if it were in an accident I would have mass, ABS and my seatbelts on my side and airbags would likely be a danger, or at least little help, and a serious added expense.

      As to your brother, many of the smartest people I know are the ones who admit to how little they know and how little is truly knowable.

  14. Winn
    April 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    One thing… think of how dull life might be without a trolling bureaucrat to dictate to us plus, we would not have as much stupidity to wade through in the comments section, or as many laughs.

    • April 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      Clover is useful as an archetype – for purposes of vivisection and ridicule.

  15. charlie
    April 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I think we really do waste our time arguing with Clover (I know, it is a fun exercise), but we will never “convince” him. His intent is not to be rational, but to argue his side til death. He will NEVER admit he is wrong, because then he would be admitting to not being perfect.
    As far as airbags go, I see an underground market, such as “unlocking” phones, opening up for teaching people how to disable airbags, so they won’t be able to deploy, and just as important, to disable the annoying beepers, buzzers, flashers, lights. Best of all, if this could be done so that the airbags “report” being a-ok during any kind of inspection. Actually this could be a good selling point for when you do want to get rid of the car, allowing you to get a lot more money for your car versus the same car with the annoying airbags enabled.
    Another underground market to develop would be restoring old cars, that are not required to have all the government’s so-called safety crap. Although they will probably some day dis-allow those cars.
    Seems like airbags were just a sinister way to get people to quit keeping cars as long as they would like to.

    • April 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      “Seems like airbags were just a sinister way to get people to quit keeping cars as long as they would like to…”

      Whether intentional or unintended, this is nonetheless the effect.

      Which, of course, Clover applauds – because as far as he’s concerned, we’re “safer” as a result. And his preoccupation with other people’s safety trumps the rights of those other people to use their own judgment and decide for themselves.

      • Keith Hamburger
        April 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm

        It has also been clearly shown that additional “safety features” make people take more risks with their driving. People generally have an acceptable level of risk they are willing to accept in their lives and if that risk is reduced with technology they will change their behavior to the point where the risk stays relatively constant.

  16. Ben
    April 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    The clover has a child’s brain and is afraid it will hurt itself.

    The gullible clover has fallen for the adolescent marketing of the gov’t-knows-best notion.

    The best we can hope for is that the retarded clover becomes a victim of it’s own insecurities.

    Or, the clover can just go missing in the night.

  17. jharry3
    April 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    True story.
    I came across a head on collision in an interstate caused by a wrong way drunk driver.
    Two kids in a chevy S-10 pickup truck were hit.
    The offending vehicle was a large pickup and the smaller pickup basically acted as a launch ramp – the large pickup hit, lifted, and then did a twisting roll off. All four tires of the small truck were blown out from the collision but the roof structure held.
    The small pickup with the crash victims had an air bag on the driver’s side but not the passenger side.
    The driver was not wearing a seatbelt. The air bag deployed as he was flying forward. Both of his forearms were broken and his face was a bloody mess. He was trapped under the steering wheel due to the steering column being bent downward from the impact.
    The passenger, a 17 year old girl, whose seatbelt WAS fastened, had no injury. Not one.
    The truck caught on fire.
    I had to unbuckle the seatbelt to get the girl out of the truck. She then stepped on a piece of broken glass, sustained a small cut to her bare foot, and that was her only injury of the accident.
    Her boyfriend was trapped. A big rig driver had a fire extingusher and put out the fire. Otherwise we would have watched the boy burn to death as had to be cut out of the car by the fire dept (who arrived about 10 minutes later).

    • April 2, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Horrible story – but I doubt it will make any impression on the Clovers…

  18. Ethan
    April 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Eric, good article overall, and I agree with your main point(s), but I did want to tell you that not all insurance companies will try to lowball you if you total your car, and even if they do, you can usually argue it up significantly.

    Two annecdotes to prove my point: My brother was T-Boned by a teenager a couple years ago who failed to stop at a stop sign. My brother’s car (a 1999 Escort ZX2) was totaled even though there were no airbag deployments since his car did not have side airbags. The insurance company tried to give him $1,500 at first even though he had paid $1,800 not long before and had made several repairs. However, after a few phone calls with the kid’s insurance representative, He was able to get $3,000 for the car, no lawyer or small claims court needed.

    A couple weeks ago, I rear-ended another car at 20-25 MPH (totally my fault) and totaled my 2008 Aveo, which did have one airbag deployment. (Incidentally, and in line with your article, I would have been completely uninjured if it weren’t for the bruise on my left wrist where it got nailed by the airbag, and my seatbelt stopped me before any other part of my body got to the airbag, the stupid thing.) Anyways, while I’m sure I’ll pay for it in increased rates come renewal time, my insurance company stroked me a check for $993 less than full NADA retail value (KBB value was lower) of my car. But that’s a GOOD thing, because I had a $1,000 deductible! To make it better, I’d gotten such a good deal that even though I’d driven it 2 years and 30k miles, the insurance payment was only $1,425 less than I’d PAID for the car.

    • April 2, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Ethan,

      Glad it worked out well for you; you’re one of the (few) lucky ones!

  19. Tinsley Grey Sammons
    April 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    No Power that contravenes the Principles underpinning the Unanimous Declaration has LAWFUL authority.

    Lawful and Legal are not synonyms. There is an ethical element in LAWFUL that is often absent in LEGAL.

    Too many Americans fail to recognize a racket when they see or even pay for one. The works of Frederic Bastiat should be required study in American schools.

    Tinsley Grey Sammons (1936 –)

    • April 2, 2012 at 8:52 pm

      This is an important distinction – thanks for mentioning it!

      • Tinsley Grey Sammons
        April 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm

        Send bastlaw@yahoo.com a mailing address* to bastlaw@yahoo.com and I will mail you a copy of THE FORSAKEN PROMISE (A 48 page two hour read that was nineteen years in the making.)

        Your mailing address will not be shared with anyone. As for me, I have few secrets and delight in speaking truth to power.

        BTW, I retired in 1998 with 37 years experience as a Mechtec. Prior to that, I served as an enlisted man in both the USCG and the USAF. My USAF electronics training stood me in good stead when EFI came along in production vehicles beginning with the Volkswagen Squareback in 1968. What a nightmare the pin by pin testing often was in the days prior to On Board Diagnostics

        Tinsley Grey Sammons (1936 –)
        13519 Chase St.
        Gonzales, LA

    • Keith Hamburger
      April 2, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      Yes. Proper law is discovered, not decreed or legislated.

  20. April 2, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    On the issue of insurance companies paying less than a vehicle is worth after a collision, here are some suggestions. I own a taxi company in Phoenix Arizona, and over the years have lost several good taxis to wrecks. All of them were other driver’s faults. We have a zero loss record at our company for the last 6 yrs. (knock wood & praise to God). Anyway, after the wreck, file a claim with the insurance company. Then do your homework. do research on the value of your damaged vehicle. Provide proof to the insurer. Good sources are Kelly Blue Book (KBB.com) and ebay motors. Print out the relevant web pages, and give them to the insurance adjuster as proof of what your car is worth. Please don’t forget to include any upgrades to your vehicle. In my case, it was decals, a top sign, and a taxi meter. This will prevent the insurance company from “low-balling” you. It may also help speed up the processing of the claim too, since the adjuster has less work to do. I know it did on one case we settled.
    Second, realize there are dollar limits to various policies, and if the damage to your vehicle exceeds the dollar limit of the policy, you will just get the damage limit. If there are several vehicles involved, the total will be divided up between those involved in the accident on a percentage basis. This is why you should carry “underinsured motorist” coverage on your policy. If the other guy does not have enough insurance to cover your losses, your insurance company will make up the difference (to the limits of your policy).
    Third, pick a good auto insurance company. Don’t go based solely on price; go on claims policy as well. Two of the best insurance companies I have found are GEICO, and Progressive. In one case, someone insured by GEICO hit one of my cabs. I had a check for the full amount needed to repair it in 2 days. Another time, a truck had a tire come off, which hit one of my cabs. I had a check from Progressive in 3 days.
    If the insurance company “totals” the car, and you’re going to replace the damaged vehicle with an identical one, see if you can keep the wreck. Most insurance companies will do that, knocking off a few hundred dollars from your settlement. You can then strip the wreck for parts, and save hundreds of dollars on repairs to the replacement vehicle. I have a shed full of Ford parts from taxis that have been murdered, and have literally saved hundreds this way. The shell of the wreck can then be towed to a recycling yard where you can get as much as $200-$300 for it.
    Lastly, remember that your car is rarely worth what you think it is. It’s probably worth a helluva lot less. And if you owe more than it’s worth, your settlement won’t pay off the note, leaving you holding the bag for the difference. If you’ve financed your car, for Pete’s sake, please…. BUY GAP INSURANCE!

    • April 2, 2012 at 11:45 pm

      This is great info, Paul – thank you for taking the time to posy in such detail!

    • BrentP
      April 3, 2012 at 12:06 am

      I agree on all points but one ;)

      On insurance companies… Progressive and Geico are known as being pretty bad for individuals. I got to listen to a cow-orker deal with Progressive (his insurance) for 6 months after he was rear-ended by a guy driving his girl friend’s car and her insurance was denying the claim.

      On Geico, I learned all I needed to know about them reading car magazines in the 80s.

      But like most things I imagine treatment for companies is way different than it is for individuals.

      • BrentP
        April 3, 2012 at 12:08 am

        Ok maybe it was less than 6 months… but it was months and it felt like a really long time.

      • April 3, 2012 at 1:41 am

        if anyone involved in the wreck was claiming injuries, that adds tremendously to the amount of time it can take settle with an insurance company. You see, mature adults can easily put a dollar amount on the damage to a car, but it takes a real ambulance chasing lawyer to put a value on a sprained gizzard.
        and seriously, reading car magazines in the 80s? For real? Don’t you think a company might be able to change in 30 years? I’m not bouncing up in defense of GEICO, nor am I trying to become a talking lizard or singing pig. I am simply relaying my experiences.

        • BrentP
          April 3, 2012 at 2:11 am

          No injuries. Just bent his new car’s structure. Essentially progressive would do nothing for him and the other party’s insurance refused to pay because the boyfriend wasn’t a driver on the policy. Which leads me to wonder why do we insure cars instead of individual drivers? Anyway I’ve heard other progressive stories since. I wouldn’t go near them.

          As to GEICO. No they haven’t changed. Their program has and still is to advertise heavily to get new customers while dumping those who have a claim. They’ll pay a claim as I understand it, but then drop the person. Which means it becomes extremely difficult to get insurance at any price. GEICO also provided radar guns to police departments, bailed out at least one company providing devices for the cops, and as far as I know continues this technology policy. Speaking of technology Progressive is pushing their tracking device on to their customers.

          In looking for something more recent, because I remember seeing things here and there over the years, I found what I was looking for:
          http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/25/2550.asp
          Follow the money GEICO->Goldman Sachs->ATS.

          They haven’t changed and they won’t change.

          On another note, I need to get back into the habit of reading thenewspaper.com

      • April 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

        Here’ another one:

        Last winter, my sister and her family were hit head on by a Clover who lost control of his car coming down a snow-slicked road. It was not a high-speed impact but it was sufficient to total their paid-for Honda Accord. The car was older but in excellent shape and they’d recently spent nearly $1,000 on a timing belt change and other related work. Relative to other Accords of its year, it was objectively in “excellent” condition. Well, the other driver’s insurance – Progressive – had to be fought tooth and nail to adjust their original settlement, which was based on a “poor-average” condition Accord of that vintage, a difference of 30 percent and so nowhere near enough to compensate her for the loss. Keep in mind, the “accident” was entirely the other driver’s fault and the insurance co. never disputed this. But it took a Herculean effort to get a fairer settlement out of them – and it still didn’t reflected what they could have gotten for their Accord had they sold it pre-wreck. Bottom line: They lost a significant amount of money as result of being struck by an insured Clover.

        I have no use whatsoever for car insurance – because like all insurance, it is fundamentally a con.

        Like health insurance, car insurance is to a very great extent something you will probably never actually need – if you are a competent driver. You’re much better off, financially, just putting that money aside for “just in case.” Ditto the money you’d otherwise waste on other forms of insurance. Instead of diminishing your capital, you’ve increased it. After a few years, you ought to have a sizable sum – under your control. It’s available to pay for things like deer strikes and fender benders – out of pocket, no hassles. And meanwhile, you’ve greatly improved your financial position and thus, your independence. This, of course, is precisely why Clovers seek to make all this insurance mandatory.

        The object is to keep the average person treading water, just barely paying the bills – and so, dependent. Also insecure. Because dependent and insecure people are people who “need” politicians and government. To “help” them and “keep them safe.” Buy into this game and they’ve got you.

        The sad thing is most people do.

        • Gail
          April 3, 2012 at 9:48 am

          You know, it would be interesting to discover just what the downside would be if you opted out of all driver-related “fees”, i.e., insurance, inspection, registration renewal, driver’s license renewal. Just stopped paying for them, stopped getting them.

          First, what are the odds you’d even be caught? I hear all the time stories about people who drive on expired tags and inspection for great lengths of time; they’re just never stopped.

          But if you were caught and the cop discovered the whole cascade, that you had none of the necessary papers — expired license, expired registration, no insurance, etc — what would be your liability? I honestly don’t know. Jail time? Big fine? Car impounded?

          That last would be a problem, because probably they wouldn’t release the car without proof you amended all your sins.

          But what if you drove exclusively old cheap beaters you got on Craigslist, and when the car was taken, you just bought another one and let the impound keep it? Whoa! CRAZY talk!

          Just thinking out loud … probably I’m missing some dealbreaker that would make all this unfeasible for the average driver.

          Still …

          Throw it in the woods?

          • April 3, 2012 at 10:07 am

            In Arizona, if you are caught without insurance, your car can (and probably will) be impounded. You also face a fine of around $500. And, yes, you will not be able to register a different car before you take care of those items. Further, when your insurance is dropped DMV is notified by the insurance companies (the narcs!)

          • April 3, 2012 at 10:15 am

            Same in VA – only the fines are much steeper and once they catch you, you become (ironically) “uninsurable” – that is, you pay SR-22 “high risk” rates, even if you’ve never incurred a penny of damages. This means you’ll pay about $2k a year for insurance for the next five years….

          • April 3, 2012 at 10:07 am

            I stopped renewing the registration on a couple of my vehicles – the ones that see almost zero street time (including a dual-sport motorcycle that I use almost exclusively on trails, off-road). This saves me about $50 annually per vehicle – and the risk entailed is minimal. Even if they “catch” me, it’s just an expired registration – which is not unlike having an out-of-date state safety inspection. There’s may be a fine involved but it’s not large – and (key) its not an arrestable offense.

            Not having a valid DL involves a similarly slight risk of being caught, but if they catch you, the consequences will be more serious. I think they can arrest you – or at least, they can impound your vehicle.

            I maintain the insurance coverage on these vehicles, even though the registration is out of date. Reason? Unlike failing to renew registration, not maintaining insurance risks a huge fine if they catch you (they do random spot checks). The only reasonable way to opt out of this mandate is if you are someone with nothing to lose – which becomes more and more attractive a prospect all the time!

          • BrentP
            April 3, 2012 at 7:25 pm

            Illinois demands the policy number to renew registration. They check randomly. I got checked about 9-10 years ago before they started demanding it on the registration. I’d never know if they check up on my insurance status now. At every traffic stop and checkpoint cops want to see the insurance card.

            Sure it would be easy enough to make up an insurance card from a made up company with so many fly by night outfits offering minimum insurance coverage the cop would accept any thing that looked relatively professional.

            As to the other stuff… good luck. Most of the cars I see running around with expired tags are high end clovermobiles. You know, “good people”. Someone driving around in a beater is “bad people”. Remember the law is for “bad people”. Which is why I am always amused when some upper middle class clover gets treated 1/10th as bad as people from ghetto and how flustered they get… calling in the media and what not. Of course they never object to the law, they object about how unfairly it was applied to them. The law itself is unfair but they don’t see that… they wanted that law… for the “bad people”. But not them… yeah I know I’ve said it a million times already, but that’s why this dead beat scheme doesn’t work unless you are truly a deadbeat with no assets whatsoever.

            To run this scam I’d get a newish plain mercedes sedan and then only drive at the common times of day and in the right neighborhoods. But that’s highly restrictive. But it must mostly work for clovers, because I don’t see cops hassling them over expired tags. If I drove with expired tags I wouldn’t get more than a few hundred feet.

          • Wilddog
            May 16, 2014 at 8:31 am

            Not having all the government required papers works fine if you never get stopped or do like some of the Mexicans around here do, just leave the car and run! The problem is liability insurance, without all the papers it is void though you may have paid premiums for years. And if you have assets amounting to enough to interest a lawyer, they will be at risk if you are ever involved in even a minor an accident.

          • eric
            May 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm

            This is true – and it’s made me think seriously about living the illegal alien lifestyle. Own nothing – and they can take nothing.

      • Keith Hamburger
        April 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm

        I do have to say that my experience with Progressive was substantially different. It was a roadside assistance issue and not a damages claim but it was fairly positive. My truck wouldn’t start in Kayenta, AZ, 200 miles from anywhere. I had the truck insured with Metropolitan and my 25′ sailboat insured with Progressive. Metropolitan offered to pay “up to $80″ for towing expenses. Progressive was kinda stupid of where they wanted to send the tow truck from but they said they would tow the truck and trailer and boat to wherever I needed to get to to get it fixed. They were going to send a tow truck from 400 miles away (the closest town “as the crow flies” but there were no roads in between).

        As it was a Saturday evening and I was unlikely to be able to get anything taken care of until Monday morning, no matter where they towed me, I held off. I fixed the problem and was on my way after a night in a local hotel. But I thought Progressive was prepared to treat me pretty damn well for a $180/year boat insurance policy.

  21. Ned Weatherby
    April 3, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Eric, I usually follow links from LRC to read your stuff, but lately, I’ve been finding useful and interesting stuff by just coming to your site.

    Great article. Kinda scares the crap outta ya, understand that the doggone bags could blow while driving down the highway without first being in a collision.

    But as usual, I got to read some of StatistClover’s posts.

    It appears that the Clovers of the world won’t be happy until we’re all place in rubber rooms a fed granola by our masters. Think how safe everyone would be?

    Clover, despite being a troll, is, IMO, a great asset to this site – his/her posts have all pretty much been destroyed either by you or other astute readers. Thus, Clover’s posts add to the accuracy or your posts.

    Kudos,

    Ned

    • April 3, 2012 at 9:13 am

      Thanks, Ned!

      On Clover: Yeah… he’s intractable, but useful as a living, breathing (but not thinking) example of what we’re up against. Millions of him.

  22. BigDP
    April 3, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Eric,

    I have been lurking here for a while and finally had to throw my two cents into the ring. A bit off topic, but hopefully enlightening.

    I think I know who Clover is that pisses everyone off. No, not a specific name, but a general profile:

    Most likely a woman, ugly and fat. The last part is gratuitous, but seems to make sense, since she is miserable. The emoting is the give away. Either that or a gay man, but gays typically are not so statist, they want to be left alone (or so they say).

    Also, more than likely representing a government interest, possibly working for some agency, or even in association with some group like MADD. I suspect some foreign influence (British?) based on a few spelling uses that seemed to slip through (ex. tyre vs tire). I have only noted one or two, but they were telling. Wish I could give the date and post. Also, the strong preference for government force and surveillance for your “safety.” Think London and all the TV cameras… Not to mention the dislike of self defense via guns. The English have been neutered in this regard. Only the government gets guns, just the way Clover likes it.

    There is also a resentment of what used to be the American way: liberty. You live your life, I live mine. The English (government) resents us for that. Especially since they lost … what was it? Oh yeah, the War of Independence!

    Another layer of the Clover onion probably is that this sad sack suffered some terrible loss to her family. I am going to assume that Clover may have had something to do with it (she was the driver, or the friend/family member was using her old junk car, she was not maintaining it, etc). This would go a long way in explaining why it must be “someone else” (the gubernment) to make sure you comply. If only poor Clover was forced to fix her brakes (or air bag, etc) at the point of a gun, this horrible tragedy would not have occurred. Therefore you are also too stupid to maintain your car without government dictats.

    The above holds true even if Clover was not directly involved. It could have been some *other* person who was not forced to abide by some arbitrary “safety” requirement, etc. so therefore YOU must be told what to do, and how to live: So “this doesn’t happen to YOU!” When you read the part in quotes, you need to hear Clover in your head translating this to mean “so this does not happen to me (Clover) again” in an angry, teary voice.

    Another reason I believe Clover is a troll for some agency is that she never addresses the issue directly. If there is an article discussing the freedom to choose whether or not to use seat belts, then there is a non-sequitur, generally running like “well, seat belts save lives, so there, you have to use them.” Sadly, only a politician or bureauc-RAT would not be able to understand, or more importantly, intentionally misrepresent what a rule, law, statute, or even statement means. (You think Congress is just ignorant when it makes laws that abuse the commerce clause? Or abridge the first, second or fifth amendments? What, all those lawyers cannot understand the Constitution, but can draft complex legal documents thousands of pages long?)

    One last thing. Clover never seems to post stuff regarding Eric’s comments about cars in general (i.e. for the love of cars, what cars look like, how new technology works, etc.) but seems to be available for comment when there is a “safety” issue, or sometimes about gas mileage (but remember, the saving gas part is only secondary to “slow down, asshole! I might get hurt!” in Clover’s mind.)

    So a short recap: Clover is female, possibly working for/with government, foreign to boot. Sad, and most likely suffered some loss, so using the government to “make it right” for her is the best she can do. Any and all logic may be checked at the door.

    For example, let’s see if Clover can refute the following and make sense at the same time.

    The highway system in the US was designed and constructed for the most part before the “national speed limit” of 55 was forced on us. The roads were designed for safe travel at 65-70 miles an hour for the most part. Safe for vehicles made in the ’60s, and ’70s. Before all the fancy technology. My old ’66 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors did not have ABS, air bags, four wheel disc brakes, and weighed over 5000 pounds. And the car was safe on these highways at these “ridiculous” speeds of 65-70. Gasp!

    But when the “speed limit” was imposed at 55, suddenly Clover thinks the car became a deathtrap on the same roads, same speeds that a day before were safe and within design tolerance of the highway. Clover: How, and why? Magic government gnomes?

    So what does Clover say now that the mandated “national speed limit” of 55 has been repealed? Did the magic gnomes come and fix the Lincoln the next day to make it road worthy for the new, outrageous, dangerous speeds allowed (which happen to be the same as before the national limit was set?)

    If Clover ever comments on something like this, you know what to expect. Gibberish.

    Sorry this is a bit long, but thanks for reading.

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