A Modern Take on ‘Planned Obsolescence’

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GM – and the auto industry in general – were accused some 40 years ago of perpetrating “planned obsolescence” – that is, deliberately redesigning cars each year, usually in trivial, cosmetic ways, in order to make last year’s cars seem “old” – and thus encourage the purchase of the new – and “latest” thing.

Maybe so. In fact, probably so. But it was a psychological – or marketing – effort and not coercive. In a way, it was all rather innocent. No one forced you to buy a new car – or get rid of your old one. If your older car still ran well and looked good (to you) then you could drive it for as long as you liked. And because the cars of that era were much simpler – and largely free of government-mandated elaborate (and expensive) equipment – it was possible for a person with some basic mechanical skills and the interest necessary to keep an older car going almost indefinitely.

Planned obsolescence has matured.

Most people have no idea that modern cars are increasingly designed not merely to be less-than-stylish after a year or two – but to be throw-aways after about 8-10 years or so. This is the point at which the average car’s retail value falls below $10,000  – when the cost to repair/replace certain components becomes prohibitive relative to the value of the car itself.

And the best (well, worst) part is the government will force you to throw the car away.

Tens of thousands of otherwise perfectly sound older vehicles, often with many years of useful service life left in them, are junked every year solely because the cost to replace a deployed air bag (or bags) is too high relative to the value of the car itself. A 2002 Toyota Camry, for example, has an average retail value of around $7,000 right now. If the owner of such a car is involved in an accident – not catastrophic, but sufficient to cause both the driver and passenger side air bags to deploy – the car will invariably be thrown away. Even if the car only has 70,000 miles on the clock and still runs great and could be driven for another ten years or more.

Because while the physical damage to the car’s bodywork might be light – and fixable for a reasonable sum – the costs associated with replacing the airbags will not be reasonable, relative to the value of the car. Often, air bag replacement costs will push the total repair bill to 40 percent or more of the vehicle’s pre-accident market value.

This is the point at which most insurance companies will “total” – that is, throw away – a vehicle. And it’s a threshold that’s alarmingly easy to reach – even if most people are unaware of it.

In the Camry example, replacing the driver and passenger side air bags – which also means replacing the entire steering wheel and (usually) the dashboard – will cost in the neighborhood of $2,500. By itself – before even factoring in the cost of repairing body damage – replacing the air bags and associated components has pushed the repair estimate to the 40 percent threshold. Add $2,000 for bodywork – which these days is a small sum – and you’re at 60 percent. And the car’s toast.

Or rather, it’s toaster fodder.

Think of the probably millions of cars out there with “book values” of $10,000 or less. Each one is in peril – every day – of being junked as a result of modern planned obsolescence. If your car is worth less than $5,000 it’s not just in peril of being junked.

It is guaranteed to be junked if it’s ever involved in an accident that results in an air bag deployment.

There are also the seatbelt pretensioners to factor into the mix. Most new cars – and recent vintage cars – have these. Just like air bags, there are one-shot-use explosive charges built into the seatbelts that go off during an accident. These, too, must be replaced.

By law.

Because it is against the law to not fix any federally mandated “safety” device. You do not have the liberty to decide for yourself that doing without air bags is better than doing with a new car payment. You must either fix the car – or throw the car away. If the insurance company won’t pay to fix the car because the repair costs exceed the magic 40 percent threshold – and you can’t afford to pay the bill on you’re own (which would be most people) then the outcome is a foregone conclusion: To the junkyard!

A car that came with airbags (and seatbelt pretensioners and all the rest of it) from the factory must have intact/operational air bags forever – in order to be legally operable on public roads. Cost notwithstanding.

Or else.

And the “or else” is very real. If you are caught driving a car that had airbags but which doesn’t have them anymore – it’s sufficient legal pretext for cops to seize the vehicle. So even if you manage to get past the government-mandated “safety” inspection one must pass each year in many states, if you roll up on a “safety” checkpoint and Officer Unfriendly sees the defunct/not-there air bags, he’s got you.

Given that almost all new cars come with at least four air bags – two up front and two in each passenger side door – and many comew ith six or more – the average new car will probably reach the economic event horizon much sooner than 8-10 years. Especially for lower-end new cars that only cost $15,000 or so when new.

This newfangled take on the planned obsolescence concept may be the car industry’s way of dealing with the problem – from their point-of-view – of the much-improved durability of modern cars. The occasional lemon excepted, almost any recent-vintage car will go for 12-15 years and 150,000 miles or more before it gets to the point of being mechanically unreliable or a money pit to keep going. While this is great news for consumers, it’s terrible news for the car companies – which want you to buy a new car much more often than once every 12-15 years.

The solution?Accelerate the timetable. Build cars with a built-in expiration date – enforced by government. Deliberately contrived or not – the fact is that modern cars, after a certain point, become unfixable. Not mechanically.

But economically – and legally.

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. 

  118 comments for “A Modern Take on ‘Planned Obsolescence’

  1. BrentP
    July 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    It is simple. People have allowed corporate and government attitudes regarding equipment to become mandated on individuals. The tax law, EPA regulations, and much much more mandate or encourage the destruction of perfectly good equipment to be replaced with new. The way government contracts and budgets work often encourage the same thing. Who does the american public at large want running their lives? People who know nothing else but this system. So what system do they impose?

    We are also ruled by wealthy people who have never sewn up the knee in a pair of old jeans let alone turned a wrench. A new Camry to them is pocket change. They’ve spent more money than that on lunch.

    Simply put this is what happens when a small group is allowed to decide for everyone. They cannot possibly understand all the various factors with individual decisions.

    Also many cars in the good old days ended up being economically unrepairable as well. Usually a lot sooner than modern cars. That’s why so many of them no longer exist.

    • clover
      July 13, 2012 at 12:26 am

      This is Eric, folks…

      Clover –

      When will you get it through your head? You’re done plaguing us with your opinions until you ‘fess up about your true identity and your profession (if any).

      Your latest comment has therefore been rendered over to the Clover Patch.

      Bye bye now!

      • Gamble
        July 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm

        The comment from BrentP did not strike me as clover and Eric’s response was unjustified. Simply put, bureaucrats living off others money have no idea what is to work for a living and could care less how their utopian policy’s effect the common man’s pocket book.
        Eric I love your writings but this attack reminds me of a thread about 6 months or more ago. A commenter said something to the effect that the “left” would be scared shitless if libertarians and the “right” had a writer with your talent. He was paying you a total compliment, not realizing you are a libertarian writer however you stick to the topic of Autos. You proceeded to jump all over him. Eric you have more friends than you think, give them a chance.

        While I have everybody’s attention, Eric has broached the subject of fuel mileage and auto emissions in the past but not having an in depth technical background I do not believe Eric gets the total picture. Eric has blamed stagnant fuel mileage on excessive weight from frivolous safety equipment but the problem is more complicated. Cars are not heavier and they are certainly more aero dynamic. They also have reduced drivetrain friction. Fuel mileage is stagnant because of EPA emissions tuning. Every technological increase, which there has been many, is converted to cleaner emissions rather than fuel mileage. Simply put, the EPA tunes for reduced emission rather than increased fuel mileage. As an aftermarket computer tuner, I can honestly say, fuel mileage increases of 30% are simple.

        EPA emission standards are unrealistic and some may even say punitive and deceptive.

        You may be thinking to yourself, less unburned fuel equals better fuel economy. Not so, let me explain. The EPA tunes for reduced Nitrogen oxides which is believed to cause acid rain. This requires combustion chamber temperatures to be kept lower than optimal which produces more unburned fuel and reduced fuel mileage. The unburned fuel is now being burned in the catalytic converter and injected with fresh air and other tuning tricks. Yes the tail pipe is clean but not because the fuel is being optimally burned in the combustion chamber.

        Fuel mileage is in the hands of the EPA.

        Peace Out.

        • dom
          July 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm

          “As an aftermarket computer tuner, I can honestly say, fuel mileage increases of 30% are simple.”

          I’m not a computer tuner, but I know 10% or more can be achieved just by straight piping the catalytic converter and intake, then tossing in a freer muffler and air filter. Then of course on some cars the heated O2 sensor needs some attention. This is not a newsflash though! It is easier to breathe through a garden hose than a straw…

          Anybody can do this, but you better be ready to fix it when it’s smog testing time.

          Also, the extra (other than seat belt) safety features do add weight.

          As far as computer tuning goes, once in closed loop it’s going rich/lean back and forth. Exactly how much tuning would you do to that? Sure you can get a dial, or program it to run super lean, but what fun is cooking your engine?

          It’s an air pump I say! ‘o’/

          • Gamble
            July 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm

            Removing your exhaust and enlarging your intake will only serve to create unwanted and unnecessary noise. Noise pollution also borders on a violating property rights.

            I do admit, maximum efficiency will require some mechanical changes such as increased compression and a different camshaft profile. Then you may need more octane. It is a total system and the EPA designed the system for reduced NO2. Reduced Automobile NO2 is overrated according to my values and scientific understandings.

          • July 13, 2012 at 5:04 pm

            I don’t think Dom said anything about removing the exhaust – just making it less restrictive (factory systems are better than they used to be, but often can still be improved significantly). Ditto the intake.

            As for noise – not necessarily. There are excellent high-flow exhaust systems that are very quiet at everything except WOT. Opening up the air intake system via a K&N/open style system is similar.

            Like Dom, I can vouch for all the above from personal experience.

            You’re right that cars are tuned more for emissions than mileage – my understanding is they’re set richer (with the catalytic converter handling exhaust issues downstream) for this reason.

          • dom
            July 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm

            “Removing your exhaust and enlarging your intake will only serve to create unwanted and unnecessary noise.”

            I didn’t say anything about removing exhaust or enlarging anything, or making more noise.

            I’ve done exactly what I’ve mentioned above too many times to list and received the same results EVERY TIME.

          • clover
            July 14, 2012 at 12:22 am

            Dom if you get this and not Eric first your 30% increase in mileage is a joke…

            Editor’s note: The rest has been filed in the Clover Patch

            No, Clover, you’re the joke! A know-nothing who thinks he knows everything. A thug-coward who hides behind a screen name. You’re done, son! Have fun over at the Clover Patch!

          • Rod Carlson
            July 14, 2012 at 1:16 am

            I’d have to say leaning out the mixture for optimum combustion versus NOx makes sense. But, this seems like it would reduce the lifespan of the engine due to the extra temperatures. I think the true solution myself lies in higher compression engines like Diesel versus Otto engines where higher compression pressures are limited. When I was in thermodynamics the theoretical efficiency of an air engine was limited only by the compression ratio. Which struck me as odd if correct because it seemed not to be limited to say a Carnot efficiency (based on hot temperature versus low (resevoir) or sink temperature. The reason was because with an air engine you aren’t worrying about recycling the fluid like a Carnot engine where you have to dump the excess heat to the reservoir temperature (limited to the resevoir). Instead in an air engine you gulp up ambient air pressure multiply it (compression), heat it, expand it and dump back to the atmosphere without any recycling of the fluid (air), the ideal compression engine would be where you could obtain sea level pressure and then expand against no atmosphere pressure (say in space vacumn), and finally dump into a vacumn. But for the real world you simply want to increase the compression as high as possible. Something obviously not possible with gasoline Otto engines because of preignition.

          • July 14, 2012 at 9:29 am

            On compression: They are making progress (as you no doubt know). Many new car gas engines – not necessarily high performance engines – today have what would have been considered very high compression ratios in the fairly recent past and the run without pre-ignition on normal pump gas in the 87-92 octane range. Part of it is due to improvements in the engines – and also knock sensors that automatically dial back ignition timing at the threshold of detonation.

            Some perspective: A ’70s car like my Trans-Am had (wait for it) 7.4:1 compression… today, it’s common for engines to be in the 11s – and not require “aviation gas” (100-plus octane) as an engine with a CR in that range would have needed back in the ’70s to avoid melting pistons!

          • Rod Carlson
            July 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm

            Hey Eric, if they ever get that preignition solved for the Otto engine as you state improvements are being made. compression ratio to compression ratio an Otto engine should be more efficient than a diesel. As you know the Otto engine heats at TDC (top dead center) or at spark ignition which means that it gets maximum compression through its entire stroke, versus a diesel that continues to burn through its expansion, thus lost efficiency. The only reason that diesel was able to kick Otto engines is because in the past the preignition of Otto vaporous fuel made diesel the winner for higher compression ratio.

            What I said about not having a resevoir temperature and Carnot engine efficiency restraints isn’t totally true for air cycle engines as ambient air temperature dictates ambient pressure through the ideal gas law, still the compression ratio is key to all good. Then new ceramic engines that insulate the cylinder walls from heat loss to the coolant, would be a nice improvement also.

            Besides efficiency, I’ve had an idea for an engine that burns trash. Its kind of a hybrid air engine actually, something between an jet engine and internal combustion engine. If you think about the commonalities of all air engines. Its compression, heat, expansion. Nothing that unique to fuel, and fuel isn’t explosive in volume of molecular moles (molecules) but rather by temperature so nothing that unique about gasoline, kerosine, etc except heat value. Take a jet engine that is stateless (no positional variation) and an internal combustion engine that has different position states (TDC, BDC, etc) and make a hybrid engine that burns anything. The best part is when you have a good idea however not to share it with anyone who can’t figure it out for themselves at least without some putting the clues together. That way it can never be known by the idiot, and therefore not be scanned and regulated at all. Maybe Napoleon is right freedom isn’t for the average man but rather for those capable of seeing it by themselves (kinda a paraphrase there).

          • Alex ++
            July 19, 2012 at 6:17 am

            I should add that many counties do not have mandated smog tests, just the heavily populated ones. Optimizing an engine for gas mileage is a great idea for those people.

            For example, the county I live in and 1 on the northern border requires a smog inspection every 2 years, but 6 neighboring counties, an average of 12 miles away, do not.

    • J. Scott
      July 13, 2012 at 4:50 am

      “We are also ruled by wealthy people who have never sewn up the knee in a pair of old jeans let alone turned a wrench. A new Camry to them is pocket change. They’ve spent more money than that on lunch.”

      Probably the most retarded statement I have read in a very long time.

      • July 13, 2012 at 9:17 am

        Why so? I think it’s generally true.

        Do you think Obama – or Romney – has ever changed his own oil?

        It’s not so much that they’re wealthy; that is resentment of wealth – as such. It’s that these rulers of ours – mostly – didn’t earn a cent of it by honest productive work. They’re grifters and gladhanders. And they have no respect for doers – other than as milk cows to be used as funding sources for their political schemes.

        • Jesse
          July 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

          Don’t get this comment wrong, I think both Obama and Romney are both worthless politicians, but Romney did in fact make his money in the free market, rescuing companies on the verge of bankruptcy. Thousands of people have jobs at those companies, or their spinoffs, where the doors otherwise would have been shuttered. Obama has been living off of the taxpayer dole for pretty much his whole life, doing little if anything of value. He certainly has never created anything of value on the free market.

          • Rod Carlson
            July 14, 2012 at 1:26 am

            I understand what you are saying about the need for cadaever processors like maggots or a free market analogy. I may not like the idea of degenerative capital reallocation, but sometimes its needed. As an engineer I can say that I’ve seen many bean counters (call it finance) that see a wad of cash capital and think the best thing is to free it up by reallocating to themselves. Take a AAA+ rated company with lots of cash, take its cash because somebody else might do it if not them, and then spin them off. On one hand I’m a firm believer in finance where present worth, future worth, and internal rate of return are used to try to get better returns on capital. But to say that all free market capitalist are equivalent is simply not true. Even though you have not claimed it, I’m speculating Romney is a maggot to the world of free enterprise where the goal of raiding capital and spending it is applauded. Compare that to someone who instead of breaking up already existing companies takes and creates a substantial company from shoestring capital. There are vast many entrepeneurs that fit that bill. Maggot versus entrepeneur. I’d choose entrepeneur but the maggot may still have some uses don’t get me wrong.

          • July 14, 2012 at 2:21 am

            Dear Jesse,

            “… but Romney did in fact make his money in the free market”

            This may or may not be true. What counts is that now that he is running for the position of POTUS, it will no longer be true.

            As POTUS, either he or Obomber will be among the parasites.

            Would Ron Paul be the same way in the event he became POTUS?

            All we have to go by is his 30 year record as a congressman. He never sold out then. Would he sell out after becoming POTUS? I doubt it. If he was going to sell out, he would have done so long ago.

            Romney on the other hand. He has flip-flopped on at least 14 issues during the current campaign alone. Forget about any 30 year record of principled consistency.

            What am I saying?

            I’m saying that even assuming Romney was productive in the free market yesterday, his unprincipled opportunism today militates against supporting him in his bid for POTUS.

            We’ve been here before. Remember Steve Forbes?

          • July 14, 2012 at 2:34 am

            Dear Jesse, Rod, Eric,

            Faced with a “choice” between Obomber and Robomney, Stein’s Law kicks in.

            Stein’s Law states that “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

            Either Obomber or Robomney will merely carry on, politics as usual.

            And since politics as usual, which is totally dependent upon spending more than one makes, cannot go on forever, it will stop.

            There really isn’t any need for libertarians to agonize over which is the “lesser of two evils.” That “dilemma” is a red herring, not worth one second of our time and energy.

            The only real choice is to do something that withdraws our support for the corrupt status quo.

            For some that might be boycotting elections altogether. For others that might be writing in Ron Paul or voting for the LP candidate.

            But voting for either of the two “mainstream” candidates to avoid the “greater of two evils” is definitely not it.

          • July 14, 2012 at 9:20 am

            Things seem to be picking up speed. I doubt the status quo will be able to hold together for four more years. If Obama is reinstalled as Fuhrer, then we can expect more war, fewer civil liberties; higher taxes, worth(less) money – and so on. And if Romney becomes Fuhrer?

            Precisely the same.

            It’ll just be an oily white guy on the podium as opposed to a smarmy black guy.

          • July 15, 2012 at 11:54 pm

            Dear Eric,

            “And if Romney becomes Fuhrer? Precisely the same.”

            Amen to that. As Lawrence Reed over at The Freeman wrote so eloquently:

            Those who, in Hayek’s words, “think that it is not the system which we need fear, but the danger that it might be run by bad men,” are naïve utopians who will forever be disappointed by the socialist outcome. Indeed, this is the history of twentieth-century statism—the endless search for a place where the dream might actually be made to work, settling on a spot until disaster is embarrassingly apparent to all, then blaming persons rather than the system and flitting off to the next inevitable disappointment. Perhaps someday, the dictionary definition of “statist” may read, “Someone who learns nothing from human nature, economics, or experience, and repeats the same mistakes over and over again without a care for the rights and lives of people he crushes with his good intentions.”

            Even the worst features of the statist reality, Hayek showed, “are not accidental byproducts” but phenomena that are part and parcel of statism itself. He argued with great insightfulness that “the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful” in any society in which government is seen as the answer to most problems. They are precisely the kind of people who elevate power over persuasion, force over cooperation. Government, possessing by definition a legal and political monopoly of the use of force, attracts them just as surely as dung draws flies. Ultimately, it is the apparatus of government that allows them to wreak their havoc on the rest of us.

        • Scott
          July 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm

          Eric, with that statement you make a classic logical mistake but I can’t remember the name of it. It has to do with asserting that some things with a specific characteristic (for example wealth) cause an unrelated behavior in all things with that characteristic (for example not being able to fix a car). There’s a name for it but it escapes me at the moment. I’m sure I could find it if I spent a few minutes rooting around with Google, but frankly I don’t feel like doing it so I’ll just rant freely for a few minutes and leave validation to you or some other bright person on this site.

          Not all wealthy people are glad handing grifters who never did an honest days work. While it’s true that most (if not all) politicians are wealthy, not all wealthy people are politicians. Similarly, not all wealthy people lack mechanical skills.

          I’ve never spent more than the price of a used Camry on lunch, but many folks would consider me well off. I know the difference between a torque wrench and a screwdriver. Strangely, I was a political science major as college freshman. Who knew?

          I believe that’s what J was getting at.

          • BrentP
            July 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

            No. My statement is thus:

            1) We are ruled by wealthy people.

            2) These wealthy people who rule us by and large do not do things for themselves. They manipulate, they organize, they politic, they play social games, they do not figure out why the MIL has illuminated on their car.

            3) Those that rule us judge things by their own perspective and impose it on us. Adding $500 or $1000 to the price of a new car is irrelevant to them. It’s like a $1 or $10 to regular people. It’s irrelevant to them. Look at their own language when they sell these things. They consider it ‘cheap’ and their imposition acceptable.

            4) look how they spend the money they take from us. $30,000 is essentially lunch money to our rulers. Maybe not their own money, but our money, it is.

            Are you a member of our ruling class? No. Then the rest does not apply to you. It’s not being wealthy alone that causes the problem. It’s being someone who is detached and think he knows best for everyone.

            As to Romney making his money in the ‘market’. There are many ways to play politics to wealth inside the corporate systems. These skills lead to good political careers. That’s Romney. I would be shocked to learn that Romney ever took a blank sheet of paper and created a product.

          • July 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm

            The people who rule us are scum, Scott. I stand by that generalization.

          • Scott
            July 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

            Brent I understand the clarification, which I think comes in “these wealthy people who rule us” and “we are ruled by wealthy people”. The classification is centered on wealth unfortunately, when in my opinion it should be focused elsewhere.

            We’re ruled by sociopaths. They happen to be wealthy because they’re sole purpose in life is to achieve or retain power, and in our economy money (wealth) is power. That they are wealthy is secondary, it’s a characteristic but not a defining one. It is possible to be wealthy and not be sociopathic. Some people attain wealth on merit and just want to be left alone. They have no desire to manifest their presence by telling other people what to do and how to do it.

            That class may be a minority, however it’s an important one unless you’d like to follow in the footsteps of Lenin. If you want to lobby for a purge you’ll find yourself not only fighting the power mad money grubbers who’d like to tell you what to eat and how to talk, but the people who have successfully used a wrench a few times.

          • BrentP
            July 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm

            The sociopathic nature of many of the ruling class has no bearing on how all, even the ones who aren’t sociopathic but simply social and political climbers have no relationship with the decisions us mundanes must make.

            To them, their demanded extra equipment is of no great cost. They judge the cost from their own point of view. A point of view of wealth. This is simple cloverism. The clover imposes his value set on everyone else. Oh? make a new car cost an extra $500 each year to save X number of lives? Sure. No problem. For someone who views things out of their own wealth or in terms of government and corporate budgets.

            Except now many mundanes are pushed out of the new car market or pushed down into smaller vehicles because they cannot afford the extra, because the extra is a lot to them. This effect is unseen.

            The sociopathic and wealthy are at the very top. But it is not the very top that decides to mandate airbags in the cars. The sociopaths at the top would prefer us to just die and have no desire for this safety equipment. However they let it be because in the end it serves their interest to make us poorer.

        • Scott
          July 13, 2012 at 7:12 pm

          Not “you” literally. I meant that as the “royal” you, which of course includes Brent :)

      • BrentP
        July 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm

        It’s interesting that you can’t articulate anything beyond an insult. Not why it’s wrong or any critical response of any usefulness for discussion. It tells me that your objection is that I spoke a truth that I wasn’t supposed to.

        Simply put, the ruling class and their elected underlings that rule us day to day have their own perception that is vastly out of touch. They have no concept of money being a representation of the value of labor, as something from pleasing one’s fellow man.

        Do they think their new $500 mandate means that someone has to work X hours more to buy a new car? No. They see it in their own perception. Their perception of $500 is pocket lint.

        The automobile is being regulated into a rich man’s toy in part because the regulations are written by rich men. I believe on the part of some people it is deliberate, but for the vast majority supporting it, it is their perception driving it.

    • Rod Carlson
      July 13, 2012 at 7:16 am

      To previous poster “Ruled by wealthy people” isn’t the problem, lets not make it a class warfare like the Marxist. The problem is the rulers we have earn/earned their money by extortion of the working class, using the very same government the Marxist types thought would bring utopia and manna from heaven by eliminating the “wealth people”. Therefore the Marxist..errrmmm…government workers become the robber beneficators of the old wealthy stealing their wealth using the guns of government. And so the extortion ring grows as you reward bad behavior and soon it takes root untils weeds crowd out all that is good.

      The only thing about this article that I’m unclear on is whether a person say doesn’t have full insurance if the car gets declared totaled. In that case this article may be an argument not to get full coverage for older vehicles, you’d be better saving your money for an accident than repairing the car yourself so that a totaled report is never filed? Or is the totaled something that comes when the wreck is say reported to the police and that you have to prove innocence thereafter (unavoidable)?

      Full coverage insurance is a waste anyway, I’d drop it regardless of whether it is the insurance company that files a “Totaled report” with the government.

      • July 13, 2012 at 9:12 am

        I agree that comprehensive coverage is a waste of money when the vehicle’s value falls below a certain point – about $10k, as in the story – because anything much more than a minor fender bender will usually result in enough damage to “total” the car.

        But even if you just have a liability policy, the law still requires you to have the bags replaced after a deployment – so then it’d be out of your pocket, if you wanted to keep the car on the road.

        • Rod Carlson
          July 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm

          Eric you are absolutely correct on it being the law to have to replace the airbags. I wouldn’t want to incite anyone here to break the law and get in trouble or fined over a stupid government racket. So I very much sympathize with your article. I know that in the western and small towns most places don’t have smog or even safety inspections, in those cases I might just have to do what bugs bunny would do to coyote’s parashute, maybe stuff the baloon compartment with a blow up doll (smile). I asked the question of what would the law be in eastern states of how a car becomes “totaled”. Here in the west the function I believe is almost always the insurance companies that pays off a car at book value, so I’m thinking at least here in the west a hard working man might find another incentive to drop the full coverage. Like you said they pay absolutely nothing for old cars anyway. Do you know if a car can become totaled say in the east just based of a police report? I never doubt my lackie of government rules.

          • July 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

            Hi Rod,

            “Total” is more or less shorthand for an insurance company declining to pay to have a car fixed – and so consigning it to the junkyard. It’s not a legal issue, per se. It’s an economic one. The insurance company does the math and decides cost to fix the car will be too high relative to the car’s value. They don’t want to put (as an example) $4,000 into a car worth $7,000 – because then they’d be in the position of underwriting a larger loss. So they cut you a check – and you sign the car over to them.

            Now, you’re not legally obliged to sign the car over to them. You may elect to keep the car (in which case, of course, you’ll wind up with a much smaller settlement from your insurer) but then you’ve got to fix it on your own nickle – making up the difference between what the settlement is and what the total cost to fix is.

            And legally, you are required to get the car fixed. The law (federal law) requires all factory safety and emissions equipment be intact and working.

            Now, practically speaking, if you are lucky enough to live in an area that doesn’t have mandatory safety or emissions checks, you could probably get away with driving the car, sans airbags (or catalytic converters – and so on). It’s always possible you could get hassled. But probably not likely.

            Of course, a majority of Americans probably have to deal with inspections – and so they’re SOL.

          • Rod Carlson
            July 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm

            That makes sense. When I hear good arguments like the one you mentioned for planned obsolescence I like to think of how to work free of the ropes and knots. It seems to me that since insurance companies and government are rotating doors of the same agency, that is why ‘totaled’ instantly gets reported to the government and then a mandatory safety inspection is required before its allowed back on the road.

            On that note I was telling a fairly sharp government worker why I thought mandatory carrying registration was stupid since with computers they already know who its registered to. He mentioned that the same should be true of insurance, what can I say he’s right there is no difference since insurance companies are one and same with the government and share all the same information.

            There is little option to avoid this ‘totaled’ invasion except to deal as little as possible with the government insurance agent. Still if you have mandatory inspections regardless if the car has been ‘totaled’ like you said you are SOL next time your car is due an inspection. My guess why all the remnants including John the Baptist had to go live in the hills eating locust and honey, anywhere there is cities and bundles of people you can count on the parasites who know best for you like wearing seat belts, helmets, and replacing air bags. Of course the reason I’d even advocate bypassing the law at all is because its not natural law. Natural law would never restrain a man to wear a seatbelt, when it does no harm to anyone else. Vice versa with air bags. One thing is that Obama Care will now use commune payment as a reason why it has yet more reason to tell you what to do and punish a once free man even more for the common welfare of the nation.

      • BrentP
        July 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm

        I am not talking class warfare. I am talking people who have no perception of what $500 or $1000 is. Part of that is because they make their living through scams and extortion, but look at how new regs are sold.

        It’s only an additional $600 per car…. isn’t it worth it if it saves one life? How many times have we heard that? It is always sold as a trivial sum. Trivial to whom?

        Marxism however is about extorting the wealth of the people into the hands of the few that end up with everything. Well end up with control of everything. Control is effective ownership. It is a con job like every statist system presented. Marxism aims the guy who makes $30,000/yr at the guy who makes $300,000 or $3,000,000 a year. It does not aim him at the guy who makes $3,000,000,000/yr or more. Why? Because the guy making billions or even trillions are the ones with power using marxism to make sure the guys making 300K or 3 million never threaten their power and income.

      • Puzzled
        July 13, 2012 at 6:54 pm

        I tire of the phrase “class warfare.” It is not class warfare to point out that the rich are eating the poor – it is class warfare, in a very literal way, for the rich to attack the poor as they do. Yet no one ever tells the rich to stop engaging in class warfare…that is reserved for silencing others who point out what the rich do.

        By the way, libertarian class theory is alive and well. The difference between Marxist and libertarian class theory is that libertarians see the division as between rulers and ruled – rigid classes, but not necessarily based on wealth. Marx saw the division as between rich and poor. In today’s America, we’ve managed to create a situation that fuses the two, since only the rich are able to become powerful. This is different from countries with an aristocratic type system, where even the poor can inherit power.

        • Rod Carlson
          July 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm

          “The difference between Marxist and libertarian class theory is that libertarians see the division as between rulers and ruled – rigid classes, but not necessarily based on wealth. Marx saw the division as between rich and poor.”

          Yes I agree on the not necessarily based on wealth totally.

          In my opinion libertarians never said there wouldn’t be bosses, land owners, and entrepeneurs and this is a good thing if those people earned the priviledge of being good with capital to organize and orchestrate people and things. Now that I read where you are coming from I certainly understand the message. The people of course have to consent on being employees, to be managed in the free market. I suppose when you say rulers you mean government which would be those who create “rules” or “laws”, now that I will especially agree. Rich versus poor are class warfare and not a distinction I personally attribute to libertarian concern, but rather marxism. I agree that government rulers need to be eliminated, I don’t think that can be judged by how much they own or not even if it is true some may have stole it to get there. Only a free market can right the wrong of theft from honest and talented men. Elite government rulers are well aware and scared of the free market because they have no foothold, that is why they always try to make it about rich versus poor to incite the poor to embrace more of what made them poor to start with (more government rulers).

          Since I believe capitalism is terrible system and the best in the world at the same time, I can say that its not capitalism fault that there are losses and hardships in the world (entropy), but is governments fault when people experience even more loss than would happen otherwise. We were meant to toil the fields but not be slaves to other men by “rules” and rigid man made “laws”.

          All in all I agree with your distinctions but I like to be concise to not encourage the marxist/socialist types myself. Libertarians do not believe in punishing wealth.

        • July 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

          Well, strictly speaking, Marxist theory, proceeding from Hegelian metaphysics, see socio-economic classes as real entities, while most libertarian theory takes a nominalist view, in terms of which individuals (and, possibly, the relationships between them) are real but classes are more or less useful constructs created for the purpose of getting our heads around situations. That is the real difference between collectivism and its opposite: to the non-collectivist a collective is never any more than a convenient way to think about several discrete real things at the same time.

          In my view collectivism fails because it expects ways of thinking to behave like real things, and when this fails to occur requires the intervention of a managerial proxy to duplicate the anticipated result. This last is always more or less tyrannical.

          • July 20, 2012 at 11:51 pm

            Dear Ned,

            Right!

            To put it another way, libertarian individualists ask whether other individuals wish to part of the “We” they have in mind.

            Authoritarian collectivists assume they are. When they are proven wrong, they point guns at peoples’ heads.

  2. Chris
    July 12, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Why hasn’t a “Quicky Airbag” shop opened up anywhere? Seems like the market could help us out here.

    • Brad Smith
      July 12, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      The black market has helped out. But not in a good way. Thousands of cars are stolen in cities all over America just for the airbags.

  3. Brad Smith
    July 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Both of my work cars are ones that I picked up dirt cheap because of airbags going off. In Michigan we have a goofy way of doing things. You can keep title to a car that has been totaled out and still sell it. You buy it back from the insurance company for scrap. The title might state it’s been totaled it might not. Regardless, most people don’t replace the airbags. Neither of my work cars have airbags. Both had minor front end damage. Just enough to pop the airbags and get totaled out. Not enough damage to even mess up the radiators. I paid less then five grand for the both of them and combined they had less than 40,000 miles on them.

    I don’t know how it is in other states, but in Michigan you have to have a dealers license to go to most of the good auctions. They are full of these cars. Minor front end damage, then because of air bags totaled and sold back.

    A couple of my friends make a living going to these auctions and I tag along. Flint Mi. has a good one, Saginaw and Detroit’s are OK. My one friend simply waits for a good deal and adds $600 bucks to the car or truck after he figures in exactly how much he spent getting it back on the road. He has a body shop and parks about a dozen cars and trucks in front of his house. His wife handles all the paper work. Most of his cars are in the three to five thousand dollar range and sold with limited warranties or as is. He picks up low mileage ones with minor damage. It would be hard to guess how many cars my friends have bought from him.

    • BrentP
      July 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      Yep. I forgot about the insurance auctions. In Illinois it is the same thing, an auto repair license is required to even get in.

  4. Brad Smith
    July 12, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    They pull this scam in all kinds of ways. Most electronic appliances are outdated before they ever his the market. Furthermore they actually pay engineers to make things work just long enough to comply with their warranty. You can look at just about anything like a DVD player or tv and have a good idea how long it will last based on the warranty. If it has a one year warranty it’s going to last about 13 months. I’m exaggerating but not my much.

    Another good example is college textbooks. What a scam that one is. They take the old textbooks add a new chapter and force students to buy new instead of used.

    • BrentP
      July 13, 2012 at 3:02 am

      For how long a product will last it depends on the internal requirements. If you want something that will last forever purchase a commercial product. One year of commercial use is essentially infinity in residential use.

      • Brad Smith
        July 13, 2012 at 3:56 am

        Right on! I have a commercial grinder, bandsaw and slicer from a butcher that was going out of business. $600 bucks and he tossed in a butcher block. My great Grandkids will have them someday and they will still be running just fine.

        It’s the same for knives. I pick up real knives that last forever. One of my last finds was a set of barely used wood handled Chicago cutlery sets, five bucks at a second hand store. Wood block and steel included.

        Another thing I pick up and use is old cast iron skillets and dutch ovens. Griswold stuff from the 20′s.

        Last but not least is pressure cookers. The old ones with the ticker on the top from the 60′s. They rock, just keep the ring seasoned with oil.

        Once again I already went on too far. Don’t get me started on fermenting wine or brewing beer. Well then again if you want an amazing recipe for 5 gallons of caramel wine that is 20%, that you can make in two months let me know. It’s dirt cheap and simple.

        • methylamine
          July 13, 2012 at 4:05 am

          Wooh-wee, 20%? Brutal Brad!

          Please share. Booze will be a premium barter item in a few months or years, I suspect.

          • Brad Smith
            July 13, 2012 at 6:40 am

            OK first thing is a carboy better known as a five gallon jug. Cheapest way by far is to go to Culligan (Hey Culligan man)or some such place. It’s seven buck each around here. Find a five gallon pot. Again cheap and easy to find. Ten pounds of sugar and fill it up with water. Don’t stir too much. So some of the sugar get’s burnt. (hence the caramel) Keep this all as sterile as possible. Remember that bugs come down from the sky. 5% bleach kills just about everything. That is what you sterilize everything in before you start.

            So you have a pot full of water and sugar that has cooked until it boils. take a small tube and siphon from the pot into the jug. Let it cool and then add yeast and starter. I put a bag over the lid with a rubber band or a piece of sting. The bag will fill up and then you know it’s fermenting. Shake it up a bit and let the air out of the bag. After a while it will stop filling up the bag. Then don’t mess with it and let it sit. The yeast and starter will settle to the bottom. Siphon it off again leaving the junk on the bottom. If you buy in bulk you can buy enough yeast and starter to last ten lifetimes for less than $50 bucks. You can also flavor it with anything and if you want to make it stronger freeze it and take the ice off the top. I don’t suggest this as it’s illegal. It’s actually distilling. When it won’t freeze anymore it’s probably around 40%.

            As for sugar you can use anything including fruit or just sugar straight out of the bag.

          • July 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm

            Dear Brad,

            Damn Brad, this is great!

            Cue the “Ballad of Thunder Road,” from the 1958 movie “Thunder Road,” starring Robert Mitchum as moonshine runner driving a souped up 50/51 Ford two door.

          • methylamine
            July 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm

            @Brad–thank you sir!

            Cool trick, too, doing a freeze-distillation like that. I wonder how it affects the proportion of congeners compared to vapor distillation?

          • Ken
            July 13, 2012 at 7:23 pm

            If you please Brad, I’d appreciate a copy of your recipe – I’m seriously thinking of getting a still as well…..check this out!

            Mile Hi Distilling

            http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CFUQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.milehidistilling.com%2F&ei=b3QAUOm5MOeY2wWv9ZC7BA&usg=AFQjCNEspHV54PxkcS_5aNtlKd_B0StT_g&sig2=tzWGRgxOEt4ewPBvKg3pZg

        • BrentP
          July 13, 2012 at 4:06 am

          My grandmother purchased a commercial clothes dryer sometime back in the 1950s or early 60s. It has some difficulties with the no-pilot starting mechanism but still works.

          When I opened this thing up it wouldn’t misbehave for me. Because it is commercial unit it does not have a pilot light. Instead it has a little electric motor that spins the striker to make sparks like a hand Bunsen burner lighter from chemistry class.

          The problem is for most equipment a homeowner cannot justify the cost of the commercial stuff. It is best to get it second or third hand.

          When choosing between commercial and residential knowing one’s use is key. Going to use it once a year? Might as well get residential unless that one job a year demands a high level of quality. Use it everyday? get commercial unless the price difference is really steep.

          • July 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm

            well, it depends on the stuff your buying and its commercial application. At the equipment auction I go to to get taxicabs, I can buy a used Crown Vic police interceptor for around $1500-$2000. this is with 120-150k miles on the odometer. I have seen fleet pickups go for less than $5k… I bought my 2003 ford Expedition 4×4 with 175k miles on it…. for $2100. It needed a fuel pump. I have seen all kinds of tools and equipment go cheap at these auctions. You might want to try it sometime.

        • Scott
          July 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm

          So you season the rings with oil? Never heard that before. Mine’s just started not sealing after using it for five years and I was going to the hardware store to replace it. I’ll try some olive oil and see what happens.

          • Brad Smith
            July 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm

            Dear Scott, It’s worth trying. I have brought a couple back as long as they aren’t cracked. It’s always a good idea to keep oil on them I just use vegetable oil, but whatever is handy will work. Well not spent engine oil.

          • Scott
            July 16, 2012 at 4:41 am

            Brad – Olive oil worked like a champ. Thanks for the hint, I’ve been fighting with the caner for months, last light after lubing up the ring I slapped on the lid and sealed the first try. 5 quarts of red cabbage thank you :)

    • sam
      July 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

      This is because almost all MBAs that run these large corporations are just stupid/bumbling and corrupt Keynesian fucks.

      • July 13, 2012 at 9:06 am

        I don’t think they’re dumb – just cynical and short-term bottom line-minded.

        • liberranter
          July 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm

          I think Sam’s right in the sense that most MBAs who run corporations that produce high-tech equipment such as cars, electronics, etc., don’t have a technical bone in their bodies. They often make strategic business decisions that don’t take into consideration the nature of the product that their company is selling, or of its customer base. These stupid decisions then blow up in the executive classes’ faces, but have repercussions far beyond the impact on the top-tier “managers.”

          The Big Three automakers represent a case in point. Then there was the special case of Lee Iacocca, who, although his background was in engineering, was co-opted by the Harvard MBA clique at Chrysler, leading him to drive that firm into the ground.

  5. clover
    July 13, 2012 at 2:16 am

    Eric here (again).

    Poor ol’ Clover keeps on bashing his eggheaded heay-ud against the wall. But he just can’t get in!

  6. Eric_G
    July 13, 2012 at 3:33 am

    Has the price of an airbag gone down since the first ones went in? I’m serious. It seems like they should be down to the cost of around $50 or so by now, given the numbers of them installed over the years.

    Yet another example of government efficiency in markets I guess. Prey Washington doesn’t adopt the UN resolution declaring the Internet a human right, or we’ll all be on 56K modems again!

    • Mithrandir
      July 13, 2012 at 4:06 am

      I think you are being too generous. I was thinking of a 1200baud rate. ;)

    • July 13, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Part of the problem is the differing design of steering wheels and dashboards from car to car. If the bags in the 2013 Lexus GS I have this week go off, you must buy a new dash/steering wheel from Lexus – plus the bags – to make the car whole again. A 2009 Camry dash/steering wheel (used) won’t work.

      • liberranter
        July 16, 2012 at 9:08 pm

        Being a mechanical engineering ignoramus, these might come across as stupid questions, but:

        1. Do airbags HAVE TO be steering wheel and dashboard-specific in their design? There may be performance and design factors that I’m not taking into consideration, but it seems as if the design of an airbag and its deployment unit would be fairly generic across vehicle designs, varying only in size relative to the interior of the vehicle in which they’re installed.

        2. Do deploying airbags ALWAYS damage or destroy steering wheels or dashboards? Never having been in a situation where airbags have deployed in any of my vehicles, I’ve never been in a position to observe. I can see where a high-impact collision would result in serious damage to both components, but does the act of deployment alone, even in low-impact situations, always result in high-end damage?

        Just curious.

        • July 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm

          One of the ways a car company differentiates a given model from competitors is via the design/layout of the interior – which of course includes such things as the steering wheel and dashpad. Each make/model will typically have its own model-specific components. So, no “one size fits all” replacement – and thus, higher cost.

          Also:

          Some have leather coverings; others cheap plastic. This can greatly affect the cost of new/replacement components.

          Over the past few years, additionally, most automakers have gone to great lengths to conceal the presence of the SRS (air bags) system, by integrating them into the overall design. In many cases, when the bags deploy, they pretty much destroy the dash surface/steering wheel – and associated trim pieces, etc.

          This accounts for much of the expense associated with an air bag deployment.

          • liberranter
            July 17, 2012 at 6:04 am

            Thanks, Eric. That clears it up.

  7. July 13, 2012 at 8:23 am

    My experience with airbags is a bit different, Eric. As you know, i own several Ford Crown Victorias as taxicabs. Recently, we junked an older taxi out (it had 536k on the odometer, and was in need of both an engine and a front suspension rebuild, so the cost to repair was far beyond the replacement cost) Before we sent it to the recycler, we stripped it for parts. We salvaged the 2 airbags, just in case we need them. Here is what I found out: On the Vicky, the passenger airbag is held in by 4 bolts, and a few wire connections. The driver one is held by 2 bolts and some wires. Removal was about 30 min of work. Installation will be about an hour. I was going to sell them on ebay, so I called a wrecking yard for prices. Turns out you can get an airbag out of a wrecking yard for about $50 each. Mind you, this is only one type of vehicle out there. However, my 2003 Ford Expedition is very similar in style on the air bag arrangement. So perhaps this problem is variable according to model of car.
    Also. planned obsolescence, in my understanding was not just a reference to changes in cosmetic details of the vehicles, but also included a deliberate engineering of the vehicle so that major components would all start failing at the same time (usually around 100k miles) causing the owner to suffer hit after hit at the repair shop right about the time the vehicle was done being paid off.

    • July 13, 2012 at 9:09 am

      Hi Paul,

      Yes, it (replacement cost) does vary according to vehicle.

      Also, there’s a difference between removing the bag(s) before they deploy and replacing them after they deploy.

      How old was the Vic in your example? Some of the ’90s-era stuff was simpler and did not require major disassembly of the dashboard. The Vic is an ancient platform, (now retired) that dates back many years. The air bags were added to it after the car’s basic design was already there. Newer cars have bags that are integrated much more deeply into the design/layout of the interior. When they deploy – especially the passenger side bag – they typically take most of the dashboard with them. Major expense.

      On PO: That was alleged. Maybe true. The year-to-year cosmetic changes were very real!

    • BrentP
      July 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      Paul, I believe liabilities involved do not allow for shops and insurance companies to put in used airbags. That is strictly DITY, which is why they can be had so cheaply. I was going to mention u-pull airbag prices but then I realized that our clever workarounds aren’t the point of the article.

      Also as Eric points out it’s also all the trim and often the windshield that need to be fixed too when they go off.

  8. Kevin McCune
    July 13, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Planned obsolescence,understandaable,but deplorable-Kevin

  9. Al Sledge
    July 13, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Planned obsolescense is not new. My 51 Chevy 235ci six cylender head had one stud to the exhaust manifold offset 1/4 inch between the 50, 51, and 52 models. Identical in every way except for this one bolt position. Had to get an exact matching part when my cast iron manifold was cracked!

    I agree most folks never turn a wrench in their lifetimes and never want to get their hands dirty. As an engineer myself, the electronic world changes rapidly and with factory programmable parts, most stuff is no longer repairable. On top of that the local community colleges and high schools no longer teach electronics. “Just change the module” is the watchword. It can’t be fixed anyway. Progress!

    • BrentP
      July 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      To me that screams an engineering change due to field failures.

      The manifolds were likely cracking so they were moving the bolt around in an effort to change the stresses and stop the cracking.

  10. Matt J
    July 13, 2012 at 11:55 am

    There’s a great book by Jim Rogers called “Adventure Capitalist” where he drives a custom diesel SL convertible across the entire globe looking for investment opportunities. He describes a government program in Japan that basically requires all cars to have a complete engine rebuild at something like 4 years. Of course, this is financially impossible so millions of perfectly good cars get scrapped or sold to places in Africa. To me, it is easy to see this happening in America under the guise of ” reducing emissions” or the always reliable catch-all “safety”.

    • July 13, 2012 at 11:58 am

      Yup!

      Dom – Web Master Supreme of EPautos – used to live in Japan. He knows all about this….!

      • Paladin
        July 15, 2012 at 4:24 am

        I lived in Japan for over 2yrs. It’s called JCI. I had a Dihatsu Fellow. 2 cylinder 2 stroke. Made a Fiat 500 look roomy. Bought it with 8 months of JCI left. Dumped when I left.

    • dom
      July 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      In Japan it’s called “shaken” (sha-ken) which translates to our safety inspection program here in America. How it works is when you first purchase a car its good for three or four years (not 100% sure on the time). Then after that the next one is due a year earlier. It continues like this until the vehicle is required to have it yearly. The catch, this shit is expensive. Even for the very first shaken your not getting out of there for less than 1k. Japan is a special situation though. That place just does not have the space for cars and is not made for cars. They have to force people to keep the car numbers down. Here is what all should know about Japan geography and population. Japan is about the size of California and has half the population of the United States living there. To top that off it’s 80% covered by mountains (which limita the living/moving space even further). When thinking about purchasing a car there usually the cops slide by your house or apartment to confirm you have a designated parking spot reserved and paid for before you can pull the trigger. I’ve seen vertical parking garages over 10 stories high and barely twos cars wide. Things over there will blow your mind.

  11. ann onimous
    July 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Just pull the airbag fuse, wear your seat-belt, and never worry about it.

  12. El Gordo
    July 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I drive a ’98 Jeep Cherokee.

    Not the newer ‘Grand’ Cherokee. I drive the old one, the one first sold in ’84.

    It doesn’t get good gas mileage. But it will take thousands of gallons of gas before it will be economical to replace it.

    I drive the Cherokee because I like it. It is a good, flexible, all-purpose vehicle that, despite its nearly 30-year old design, remains competitive with its modern incarnation in almost every way.

    The closest modern analog to my Cherokee doesn’t get much better mileage, doesn’t tow more, doesn’t 4×4 as well, doesn’t have more cargo space, doesn’t have as tight a turn-radius. But it sure does cost more.

    Of course, the only other people I see driving Cherokees like mine these days are a handful of geezers, a whole bunch of high school or undergraduate kids, and a handful of dedicated 4×4 people who are slowly migrating to newer models. My main complaint is that people assume I must be low-income because I won’t keep up with the Jones’ sleek new purchase.

    This is my secret weapon against planned obsolescence.

    The Jones’ Cherokee either went to their teenage son, or the Junkyard. The parts from these vehicles are easy to get, cheap, and mostly serviceable. Frankly, the powertrain on the old Cherokees is just plain hard to kill.

    So Airbags? $10.
    Transmission? $200
    Engine? $200
    Transfer Case? $80-$400 depending on the model

    But who will do the work?

    Well, the thing is, keeping a car for a long time breeds a long familiarity. And a long familiarity, breeds knowledge.

    And while I’m no auto professional – and wasn’t previously even a ‘motorhead’ kind of guy – after decades with the model I can usually do a better job, faster with my car than most of the pros can.

    Simply, you just get to know where everything is, how it works, and how it fits together.

    But what about looking good?

    There’s the rub.

    But it would take a WHOLE LOT of upholstery and paint to even get to HALF the price of a new one.

  13. Ken Warner
    July 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Dear Eric,
    Is it Federal or State laws that make it a requirement to repair/replace all the “safety equipment”? And what, aside from time, prevents one from taking all the running gear, IE all the undamaged stuff, and making a “one-off” custom that is ‘powered by Lexus out of the 2013 lexus that now has a custom bumper and interior trim and a Peters Custom Cars logo painted on it. Are the gummint hoops for self manufactured cars impossible to jump through?

    Back in the good old days, jalopies were done all the time.
    by the by – my personal car is a 1995 Montero, which gets 18 mpg, but I can buy a month’s worth of gas for it for less than the monthly payments on a 30 mpg car.

    • July 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Ken,

      The federal government mandates safety equipment – all new cars must have “x” – but the enforcement is typically state-level in the form of annual inspections (though not all states have these, thank god). So, if you live in an area where you don’t have to get your car inspected, you could probably continue to drive a car with deployed (or removed or inoperative) air bags, just like you can still get away with driving a car without a cat in areas where there’s no smog check. However, it is still technically illegal – and a cop who notices it could screw with you.

  14. David Webb
    July 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Designing cars to die is a GM, Chrysler, and Ford model of engineering. So along comes a world economy that doesn’t engineer cars to die in 5 years. GM and Ford and Chyrsler are all cruising along with their pieces of junk engineering for 10 years after that happened. Well the ocean liner of engineering has changed things. I base this statement on the Consumer Reports Record of Repair charts over the last 20 years put out by surveys given to their subscribers. Any one of these surveys could be wrong. I am sure that there are exceptions that make any rule. But the report card on these cars gives horrible grades to our car manufacturers.
    It doesn’t help that every model I have had over the years conformed to the survey’s results on what went wrong with the car.
    Their cousin company is GE. I have used GE light bulbs in flourescent shop lights. They last about half as long as a similar product from Sylvania.
    I feel they have gotten their just reward in the market place. All of these poorly, and deliberately engineered pieces of junk.
    No government program is going to help as long as people have a choice on whether or not to buy junk or good quality products.
    The government needs to get out of the business of engineering cars. They are between a rock and a hard place. The hard place is that the engineer cannot cheaply give people a car with adequate polution controls without getting the car too complicated for an average person to legally fix it after the market of new cars.
    The problem is a product that started in the 1920s. The fuel system was designed to clog the engine back then with lead based fuel. When they put in unleaded fuel, it ran a lot longer.
    Computer based fuel injection came next. That is what makes it complicated. I have seen 1970s style cars with all kinds of room in the engine compartment for a barn yard mechanic to work. In today’s engines you have two really big things wrong. They have put the engine in sideways to take advantage of front wheel drive transmissions that are designed to fail. They have complicated the engine so it needs a technician to fix it. That isn’t the manufacturer’s fault. It was the only way to comply with government laws.
    The trouble with laws is trying to enforce ridiculous laws. Your local EPA is doing a good job of being a complete pain in this regards.
    I say that any EPA law or otherwise that is too complicated to understand in plain ordinary non legal terms is unconstitutional. The same goes for any other law out there that only a lawyer in his fondest dreams can understand.
    Until our legislatures get back in the business of being practical, KISS(Keep It Simple Stupid) then the entire car industry is doomed.
    For instance, take that balloon in the dash. It would literally kill a lot of frail older women if it went off for any reason. Same goes for a child in the front seat.
    The only way to change the pollution level that I can see that is simple and practical is we are going to have to switch fuel supplies from oil to gas. Every truck out there needs to change over. On the interstate highway outside the town I have counted 160 diesel trucks going in one direction in a 10 minute time period. Some fleets have already made the change with a dramatic change in the costs of fuel. It is expensive to make the change over. Once made, you are dealing with fuel that is 1/3 the cost of diesel.
    I am a commercial transportation freight man from my Air Force experience. The only logical thing to do about all those trucks out there is to change the freight system. I suggest combining railroad freight with mobile trucks so that you basically eliminate cross country freight by interstate. But someone will do that down the road when it becomes financially appealing.
    Until they get rid of the EPA legislation that would fill 3-4 semi-trucks nothing will change.

    • D M Ryan
      July 14, 2012 at 4:09 am

      Speaking of the EPA: here’s something to consider. This Constitutional Amendment would make every regulatory agency unConstitutional:

      “Section 1. The powers vested in Congress by this Constitution are inalienable from Congress.”

      And just for fun – or to send an unsubtle message to Judgie-Nudgie:

      “Section 2. Section 1 of this Article of Amendment means exactly what it says.”

    • July 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      I have a few comments on this analysis.

      Firstly, planned obsolescence by whichever name is not anything unique to the American manufacturing industry. It is tempting to paint it as part and parcel of the Sloan model of organizational management, but this is simply not so. It is as true, perhaps even moreso, of the Japanese just-in-time approach, for example, because that is subject to the same conditions of macro-economics and the same relationship to State privilege.

      Secondly, the need to maintain artificial demand through strategies like planned obsolescence does not arise from anything like greed, corporate or executive, nor yet from mere organizational inefficiency. It is intrinsic to the prevailing industrial basis (regardless of its managerial model), in which corporate economic power derives from scale, and corporate power is at the same time sufficient to determine scale.

      It is a mistake to consider conventional mass-manufacturing industry to be driven by demand. Economies of scale are sought regardless of existing demand. Techniques are employed not because there is sufficient demand to justify them; demand is manufactured to allow the use of techniques that offer the concomitant economies of scale.

      This cannot happen unless there is considerable functional cohesion between government and industry, to such an extent that the traditional distinction between the public realm and private interests becomes absurd, and it is impossible to understand the concept of the State except as comprising government and large-scale industry together. The OEMs are organs of the State as much as the EPA is; and the EPA is equally a servant of the OEMs.

      The result has been a vast regulatory edifice designed to create demand in a grossly oversaturated market by whatever means it can devise a pretext for. The airbag is certainly one such: another, to refer to another article on here, is to try to squeeze fuel economy out of overweight “safe” cars, as this is likely to require a degree of technological “tightness” that is hard to maintain over any appreciable product life.

      But thirdly, and as regards trucking and long-distance transportation, must one not stop to consider how the role of the State in this had contributed to determining the prevailing corporate size and shape? For the mere opportunity to distribute over the width of a continent and beyond arose from State intervention, absent which it would make little sense to produce in such volumes. General Motors would not have become what it did were it not for the American “public-private” railway programme of the latter part of the 19th century – but Toyota wouldn’t have, either; nor would BMW, say. These things are not confined to borders.

      • July 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm

        Brilliant analysis and summary, Ned – thank you!

      • methylamine
        July 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

        Powerful stuff Nedd and a bulls-eye!

        Indeed it’s the seen–profligate overproduction and the commensurate brainwashing of the masses to encourage consumerism; an economic system based on fiat debt-money that punishes saving and rewards consuming.

        But it’s also the unseen–suppression of transformative technologies to protect entrenched (and large, and politically connected) interests. GE’s coal plants, for instance, are acceptable; others are not. Because we say so, that’s why. Cancer treatments that actually cure it–not just keep it at bay long enough to exhaust your lifetime insurance coverage.

        Because you see those would be disruptive–disruptive, that is, to the steady flow of cash to connected companies and their compliant political parasites.

        I don’t place much faith in the “suppressed zero-point energy” crowd because I’m fairly well versed in science. But I keep an open mind, because you all know damn well that if something threatened to put a Too Big To Fail in jeopardy, the balaclava-clad thugs would jump right on it.

  15. Blake
    July 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Off the subject but here we go again:

    “A consumer watchdog group has joined with a car buyer to file a lawsuit alleging Hyundai Motor America misleads consumers with inflated fuel economy claims for its popular Elantra, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    The lawsuit is the second of its type filed recently against an automaker and highlights the aggressive use of mileage numbers by manufacturers in advertising their vehicles, the story said.

    The litigation also underscores growing consumer frustration over mileage claims as the auto industry has shifted its marketing focus from performance attributes such as horsepower and speed to fuel economy, now among the top features consumers look for when buying a new car, the Times noted.

    The latest suit contends that Hyundai pitches its “40 Mile Per Gallon Elantra” without a government-mandated disclosure that the estimate is for highway driving only and that other measures are much lower, the report said. It was filed in Sacramento on behalf of resident Louis Bird, who bought an Elantra last year and kept a mileage log, the article said.

    Bird said most of his driving is on open highways but that he barely gets 29 mpg. “We are hoping that other car makers will take notice and realize that if you do it wrong, you will have to pay the price,” said Jamie Court, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, which jointly filed the suit, told the paper. (Los Angeles Times)”

    • Mithrandir
      July 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      I guess they will need to parse words with a lawyer. I think the guy needs to read the sticker on the window.

      According to the Feds a 2012 Elantra 18.L auto/man gets 29/40 33 Cty/Hwy/combined.

      Depending how he drives it can affect his mpg.

      If I go above 70mph my mpg start going down noticeably. Some stop&go driving can have a big impact on my overall mpg for a tank of fuel.

      Stop and go driving also negatively affects my mpg. If he drives on the hwys around LA he could be in heavy traffic that can be stop & go for several miles.

  16. Brad Smith
    July 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Ken on July 13, 2012 at 7:23 pm
    If you please Brad, I’d appreciate a copy of your recipe – I’m seriously thinking of getting a still as well…..check this out!

    Good company, I have ordered from them a few times. They are not supper fast at delivery times, but every order has been spot on.

    I start with four gallons of water and ten pounds of sugar and bring it to a boil in a five gallon pressure cooker. I’m sure anything would work that has a lid. Let some of the sugar caramelize, about an hour will do the trick. You have to let this cool down to room temps or the yeast will die off when you add it. Transfer this to a five gallon jug. Then add one Tsp. of yeast. (I use the Super Start distiller yeast, 21% ABV. That you can find on that site) and 15 tsp of yeast nutrients.

    http://www.milehidistilling.com/products/distillers-yeast-nutrient-with-ag.html

    I also add Bentonite It’s a volcanic clay that binds to the dead yeast and drops it to the bottom faster. You don’t have to do this, it just makes it faster.

    Once it looks fairly clear, rack it. That’s just putting it in bottles or other jars. I use 2 quart mason jars. Again let it sit and the silt will drop to the bottom. Then you are good to go. You can add flavorings or drink it like it is. At 20% or 40 proof it’s closer to schnapps than wine and if you freeze it and take the ice off it’s more like whiskey.

    4 gallons of water
    10lbs of sugar
    1 tsp yeast
    15 tsp nutrients

    I hope this helped.

    • Brad Smith
      July 13, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      Dear ken. I already mentioned keeping everything sterile. However, I forgot to say keep it moderately cool. 65 to 70 degrees is good.

      • Ken
        July 16, 2012 at 8:33 am

        Thanks Brad! Will Do! ;)

  17. Tor Munkov
    July 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I think the masters of America have a planned obsolescence for us as well. In another generation, we will be just another historical tribe in a social science textbook.

    6th Grade American History in 2050:

    50 million redfaces were here when the palefaces arrived. Today 4 million survive. The remnant of the redfaces have lost their connection and oneness in mind with the land and sky.

    300 million palefaces were here when the dronefaces arrived. Today 20 million survive. The remnant of the palefaces have lost their industrial prowess and mastery of the land and sky.

    2 billion dronefaces inhabit the hyperenclosures of modern America today. The average American spends his entire life in 100 square foot of living space while consuming about 200 calories per day.

    99.8% of the land has been completely re-wilded and the diversity and number of species has been normalized to the calculated extent they would exist were man never to have unfairly evolved so excessively in the first place.

    By eradicating our warlike great ape nature through a series of Toxoplasma Gondii vaccinations, we have finally found the key to peaceful and harmonious cooperation with mother earth and gratefully enjoy our quiet comfortable 40 years of service and allegiance to our loving Earth Mother and Micro Overlords.

    Are 3 Billion Human Brains Enslaved by Cat Crap Parasites?
    http://www.corante.com/loom/archives/2006/01/17/the_return_of_the_puppet_masters.php

    • methylamine
      July 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      @Tor–

      re: mind control via “Cat crap parasites”

      A fascinating topic! Indeed another possibility is good old VD, specifically syphilis. Turns out, the little beastie has quite an affinity for brain tissue. In tertiary syphilis it infects the brain, and leads to a number of interesting psychopathologies–including heightened libido and psychotic behavior. Both serve the parasite’s needs by ensuring the parasite is passed to as many hosts as possible.

      Now here’s a fun fact: an exaggerated percentage of “leaders” throughout history have been found to suffer syphilis, including the lovely and charming Hitler, Napoleon, and Ivan the Terrible.

      Bacteria in our bodies outnumber our cells 10:1. The vast majority are neutral or highly beneficial; in fact we’d die without them.

      A recent resurgence in research shows a tremendous link between gut health–and especially healthy flora–and a healthy brain. The gut contains more neurons than the spinal cord–it’s sometimes referred to as “the second brain”. That intimate link between the flora and neurological health is part of the link between vaccines and autism; children with poor flora have “leaky gut syndrome” permitting toxins from the intestines to enter the blood stream and poison the brain.

      Interestingly, that little sociopath Bill Gates and his foundation are promoting a genetically engineered milk with engineered probiotics–it will be very interesting to see what they’ve got baking there.

      It’s not just bacteria, either. The gut has a healthy complement of fungi, and we all know the wide variety of psychoactives that fungi produce.

      • Tor Munkov
        July 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm

        Syphillis is an anti-concept and blocks out logical thought. Better to say it is Treponema, which are just tiny bugs. 12 million people in the world have them in their systems, only 10% of which are in the developed world. They are much less disruptive than when they were first discovered on the Pinta(another treponema disease) during Columbus’landing in the Americas.

        Rembrandt is one of many accomplished people who was co-habitating with treponema in his system. He had a wild time yet still lived for 63 years before becoming a still life.

        I have a freezer that cools to -85 C, maybe when I kick it, I’ll have my executors toss my head in there for some testing.

        They’ll have maybe 2 or 3 years to inventory all the tiny dancers I’m hosting that within what passes for my mind. It would probably explain a lot of things.

        Contrary to the corporate state mentality, killing all cockroaches, mosquitos, human treponema, and maybe rabbit treponema is actually damaging to the human race and not at all beneficial.

        I propose hiring some hot Colombians agents to make sure all soldiers and bureaucrats are hosting a few treponema in their systems.

        Turning a little bit of their gray matter into gumma and making them into highly driven, high functioning sex machines would probably make us all a lot better off.

  18. Ken
    July 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Hey Men,

    Moving into the beneficial microbe conversation, you’ve gotta watch this video on the subject – it’s fascinating just what our microbes do for us and how much we need them for our physical and mental health!!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zY8B6InxP4

    • methylamine
      July 14, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Yes! Natasha Campbell McBride and her GAPS ideas are groundbreaking.

      Well worth watching. I learned of her through Mercola’s site.

  19. Clik
    July 14, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Planned obsolescence? Just another tactic of socialists to support their corrupt thuggery.

    Just like Cash-for-Clunkers, it helps sell cars produced by overpriced employees, who have paid corrupt politicians, to extort higher than Free Market wages from consumers.

    Our politicians took an oath to defend the constitution which was intended to protect the individual from the majority. But instead the politicians ignore the constitution and prostitute themselves for the numerically superior votes of the majority.

    This negates a republic and creates what? Totalitarian communism?

  20. Ken
    July 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    methylamine (and all bloggers) – it’s great to be in conversation with like-minded men.

    Dr. McBride’s work is ground breaking indeed! Anyone interested in their own spiritual, mental and physical growth follows the same path as any plant – reach for the sun!

  21. Wilhelm
    July 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Planned obsolescence was never an overt policy. Of course, companies wanted to sell you a new car as often as possible, and, as Eric points out, they did everything they could design-wise to convince consumers that the 1962 models were much better mechanically and stylistically than the 1960 models, say. But auto engineers of my ilk (69) have told me that the limiting factors were always cost-related. Why take a step or make some new improvement that will make a component last 20 years if it adds more cost to production than car buyers seem likely to absorb? It’s analogous to those incandescent light bulbs that were priced higher than regular lightbulbs but promised to last forever, or for many years. They were always a very tiny, almost minuscule, percentage of the lightbulb market. Most consumer wanted lightbulbs that would work fine for a limited time horizon at a price that was easy to afford, and the same was true of American automobiles. Mercedes tried building automobiles of the highest quality possible until, by the 1990′s, the firm’s leders realized they were being forced by their own engineers to price their products beyond their market potential. Starting in the early 1990′s, each Mercedes car has been engineered with a final projected retail price dictating production costs. Still a great product but not of the quality of, say, a 1991 560 SEL (a model whose sticker price ended up close to $100,000). Of course, cars built in the 1950s and 1960s were not built to last 20 years, but it wasn’t underhanded. It was market reality…

    • July 20, 2012 at 10:18 am

      On the contrary, planned obsolescence was an overt policy in the years following WWII. Take a look at anything coming out of the US motor industry between 1945 and 1960 that was about economics or management rather than automotive engineering. It is well documented.

      • Wilhelm
        July 28, 2012 at 2:28 am

        The companies were intent on maximizing retturn on investment. If that meant some form of “planned obsolescence” in the sense of not engineering cars to last for decades if customers were not likely to pay the cost of such quality, they did that. But it was not underhanded in an anti-consumer sense. It was a response to the reality of the market.

  22. userbronco
    July 16, 2012 at 12:08 am

    I know that the auto manufacturers have purchased many of the large auto scrapyards (Ford purchased all the LKQ yards) and the first thing they do when a vehicle with undeployed airbags comes in the yard is they pull the bags and blow them.

    I think they destroy the brake components as well, which are also designed to maximize profit, the bearings in the front hubs on an older Ford pickup are about $100 new for both wheels , the ones for a late model have the bearings built in and cannot be replaced or repaired, forcing us to buy new hubs at $780 EACH.

    So they cant be reused, in an atempt at forcing us to purchase them new at ridiculous prices.

    • BrentP
      July 16, 2012 at 4:55 am

      I have not heard of Ford buying LKQ. I can find no mention of it. Ford does have “Greenleaf Acquisitions” which may be a competitor to LKQ.

      LKQ purchased what used to be my salvage yard of choice, A-Reliable of Blue Island Illinois. I used their self serve yard. They currently have a driver’s side airbag in stock for ’97 Mustang in full serve for way too much money. But it’s LKQ so it’s almost always going to be too much money in full serve regardless of what it is.

      You will be hard pressed to find a hub in full serve. Or brake components. Why? The whole thing is sold as an a steering knuckle assembly. Also, brake components are usually trashed in yards. The rotors well rusted, the calipers seized. The assembly is priced for the hub and the knuckle and sometimes just the knuckle. It’s not worth the labor to disassemble it. They pop the strut bolts and the ball joint and that’s that. The customer gets to take the rest apart.

  23. clover
    July 16, 2012 at 2:41 am

    Yes Eric and Dom, show us the facts…

    Editor’s note: Please post only in the clover patch and on clover cam.

    Clover Patch Section

  24. Brad Smith
    July 16, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Dear Scott, glad I could help. Now send me some cabbage!! (lol)

  25. graham
    July 18, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Men can become obsolete too. There is one at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and 434 (we know who the lone exception is) more just down the road, and 100 more around the corner and then nine more just a few paces from that. They are all obsolete http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/115827.html

  26. July 19, 2012 at 4:24 am

    Holy cow, this article blew my mind! Does anyone recommend just buying a decent used car since if you get in an accident it’s just gonna get trashed by the insurance company anyways?

    • July 19, 2012 at 9:44 am

      I always recommend buying used – for many reasons.

      Buying new is a terrible move, money-wise. Because cars (excepting collectibles) are depreciating appliances, not “investments.” They average new vehicle loses 20-30 percent of its initial value (price, actually) after about two-three years. Given the high cost/price of a new car, this can be quite a sum – a sum you can save yourself by purchasing the car used. This way, you avoid a great deal of the depreciation hit. You’ll probably also save money on taxes and insurance, too. And because of the generally excellent build quality of almost any late-model car, 50,000 miles or so and a few years old is hardly broken in, so it’s not like back in the old days when a three our four year old car with 50,000 miles on it already had one foot in the grave (or junkyard).

      On the air bags: Most 2012 model cars have at least four. Many have six ore even more. Multiple catalysts and 02 sensors are common, too. They will reach the point of being uneconomic to fix sooner as a result. For me, cars have passed an event horizon of complexity/cost. My newest is a 2002 – and that’s as “new” as I’ll probably ever go. In fact, I am planning to get something much older – from the ’70s – and make a few key updates to it, such as an overdrive transmission for driveability/gas and mileage reasons. But no air bags or cats or computers – so it’ll remain fixable by me at a cost that remains manageable almost indefinitely.

      • BrentP
        July 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm

        New car buying is fine if you want your a car a specific way (usually a factory order) and you keep cars for a long time and you don’t want previous owner hassles (bringing the car’s condition back up where you want it, etc)and used car hunt hassles. With all those factors in play the new car premium isn’t so bad.

        • July 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm

          Dear Brent,

          What Eric is saying makes sense, in context.

          But I agree that if one is going to keep a car for say, ten years, the new car premium gets amortized over an entire decade, making it far less objectionable.

          Assuming it isn’t a lemon that one is unexpectedly forced to unload prematurely, that strikes me as worth it.

          Also, it depends on the car. I owned a mid 80s Mitsubishi Mighty Max pickup, purchased brand spanking new off the dealer’s lot for only 4200 dollars. Four speed manual. No air. No radio even. Basically a loss leader.

          Buying used at that price point would not have saved me much money at all. Never had any serious problems with it.

      • methylamine
        July 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm

        Eric–

        What are the legalities of putting a modern crate motor and transmission into an old pre-smog 70′s car? Seems that could be a fun way to bypass Nanny.

        Totally agreed; we’ve gone past the event horizon on cost/complexity and are being spaghettified*.

        I’ve decided after this M5, no new BMW’s; nothing after 2003ish depending on model. I won’t go to a dealer for a new battery so they can tell the computer it’s got a new battery.

        Funds permitting–and economic crash delayed sufficiently–I’ll snag a used Boss 302 in a couple years.

        • July 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm

          My understanding is that – as far as federal emissions compliance “letter of the law” – whatever a given car came equipped with when new must be “intact and operational.” So, even if a crate engine produces much less emissions than the original engine, technically, it’s still illegal. I’ve heard that in states like CA this is enforced viciously.

          But there is an out.

          Most states exempt a vehicle from emissions (and state safety) testing after a certain age threshold, or when it is registered as an antique vehicle. Technically – legally – you’re still supposed to have all the stock stuff in the car and working. But if you don’t have to get the car smog checked….

          • Scott
            July 19, 2012 at 11:06 pm

            I know it used to be you could register a car as an antique/classic in CA after 25 years but it seems they’ve changed it. From what I hear it’s now based on date of manufacture if you want to skip smog tests and the magic number is 1975. Cars built before ’75 don’t need smog, anything later does.

            I had been looking forward to my ’85 turning 25 so I might be able to get in registered in CA, but no joy apparently. I could be wrong about this since I haven’t asked the CA DMV directly but it’s what I’ve heard from friends. CA is the Super Nanny.

          • July 19, 2012 at 11:30 pm

            Dear Scott,

            A coworker of mine back in the 70s, who was the proud owner of a mid 70s Trans Am, by the way, told me that the California smog regulations were especially outrageous, because the gubmint interpreted its own laws wrong.

            As he explained it, there were two stages to the law. The first stage was that smog had to be reduced to a given percentage. The second stage was that smog had to be reduced to an even lower percentage.

            But the government misinterpreted its own law. It interpreted the second stage to be a percentage of the first already reduced percentage. This made it outrageously and unreasonably restrictive.

  27. Alex ++
    July 19, 2012 at 6:01 am

    If the gov bureaucrats try this with me, and they probably will since my 2007 Mazda 3 is not worth fixing, according to your article, they’re in for a rude surprise – I’m either getting a rebuilt VW bug/Kharman Ghia, of which there seem to be many in the SouthWest states, or buying a street legal dune buggy, which does not require all that crap, just seatbelts.

    • methylamine
      July 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      How about a kit car–something like a Lotus 7 knockoff?

      • Alex ++
        July 20, 2012 at 2:08 am

        Hmmm, I never thought about that, Meth. When I was a kid I used to want a Cobra kit car, but forgot about them. Might be a great idea, if I don’t have to buy one with air bags – I don’t want to get a car where I want it, and then lose it in a fender bender.

        • methylamine
          July 20, 2012 at 2:29 am

          No the kit cars come with nothing. There’s a Lotus 7 knockoff in my area, and it’s as bare as the sheets of aluminum on the floor pans. No airbags, either.

          The registration can be a PITA; although I wonder, knowing what I do about the MSO (manufacturer’s statement of origin, the true title to your car) and the real title–not the fake little certificate the state gives you–what would the requirement be to register it?

          Probably goes something like the income tax:

          “This tax is illegal.”
          “No it’s not. Pay up.”
          “It was never ratified.”
          “Yes it was. Pay up.”
          “The definition of ‘income’ relates to corporate gains, and a natural person does not have to pay it, according to its own wording.”
          “Shut up. Pay up. Or else.”
          “OK”

          Anyway, all that said, it is possible, and you do get a car exactly of your liking. It’s something I’ve thought about too…and I do love those Cobras!

          • Alex ++
            July 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm

            Meth, I’ve read of some people who ride with their own license plates, but they don’t register their cars, since registering property is what makes it state property so to speak, because you’re voluntarily putting it on their roster, the same way you volunteer to be under their jurisdiction by getting a driver’s license, even though you’re not required to have a driver’s license to travel lawfully.

            As I understand it, the car must be paid off completely at the time of purchase, and then the deed must be recorded, which simply notifies the state of private property, and who it’s lawful owner is.

            As far as kit cars go, and registering it, since you’re saying that’s a pain in the ass, I don’t think the kit matters.

            Don’t you have to buy a base car first? and then put the kit on? So if your base car is registered, it doesn’t matter what the outside looks like. Say I buy an old VW. Tear off the top of the car, the sides, the seats, leaving only the bare bones body. Then I lay the kit shell on top of it, but the VW is still the base of the car, and so still registered, same way that if I get a paint job and turn my car into a convertible, it’s still the same car. Anyway, I could be mistaken, but I thought that’s how the kit car thing worked.

          • methylamine
            July 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm

            No the kit cars I’m talking about have no donor chassis–they are bespoke from the tires up. It’s entirely original.

            The Cobra replicas from that South African company come to mind–Superformance.com. They’re sold as rolling cars complete but for engine and transmission; they accept a variety of those.

            The Lotus 7 kits are similar; some can be had fully assembled, others come as parts.

            It’s de novo.

            BTW I love and admire the people who assert their natural right to travel, and refuse contracting with the State for driver’s licenses and deny the State title to THEIR cars. I’m just not willing to put up with the hassles myself, YET.

            Give me some time. I’m becoming more ornery toward the criminal gang that’s taken us over. Note I don’t say “mafia”–they’re much worse than Mafia, Mafia has a code of honor.

          • Alex ++
            July 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm

            Wow! Kit cars sure have changed a lot since I used to dream of one, as a kid. Beautiful cars.

            I imagine the rules that deal with them is the same as having a motorcycle shop build you a custom job. They build the bike/car, have to supply a manufacturer’s title, either to you or the state. As a small builder, with such a truly minute share of built cars, they may be exempt from all the rules( such as air bags ) which major builder have to abide by.

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