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Thread: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny
    By Eric Peters

    Why do new cars cost so much these days?

    The simple answer is, because we want them to. To be more precise about it, we expect a lot more from our cars than we used to -- and meeting those expectations isn't cost-free.

    For example, we expect our cars to start and run reliably -- even in extremes of temperature. That requires modern engine management systems such as electronic fuel injection -- technology that adds a lot more to the bottom line price of a car than an old-timey carburetor. But there's no more choke to set, no more pumping the gas pedal.

    Just turn the key and go.

    We also expect basic amenities that were anything but basic in the "good old days" -- things like air conditioning (or at least a heater/defroster that actually works), power-assisted steering and brakes, maybe even power windows and door locks. We take these features for granted today -- or at least, we expect them to be available, even in "economy" cars. A typical bare bones econo-box of the past like, say, the old VW Beetle would be unsalable in today's new car market. Our standards have risen. A "basic" car today -- something like a new Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit -- would be have been considered pretty opulent if you could transport one back to the 1960s or '70s.

    We expect not to get killed as easily, too.

    One striking difference between the cars of the past and modern cars is the presence of active and passive safety equipment such as air bags (curtain and side impact as well as frontal bags), anti-lock brakes (ABS) and impact-absorbing body structures ("crumple zones") that were unknown until rather recently.

    Outside of a couple high-end European exotics, ordinary cars did not have ABS until the middle '90s. Ditto air bags. And traction/stability control technology was high dollar/exotic car stuff -- when it was available at all. The cars of the past were rigid steel cages with little more than seat belts and padded dashes to protect you in an accident -- and nothing (beyond skill and luck) to keep you from having an accident in the first place. Things like dual air bags and ABS have added anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 to the bottom line cost of a new car or truck. But how much is your life worth to you?

    Then there's the environment. We didn' t used to care much about what came out of the tailpipe -- and the automakers obliged. Then we began to notice the smog. To deal with this, all cars were fitted with chemical exhaust scrubbers (catalytic converters) and a whole array of emissions controls to cut back on the lung-choking effluvia pouring out of our cars. (We also got rid of leaded gas.) One reason why VW stopped selling the old Beetle in the U.S. is that it could no longer meet our tailpipe emissions standards -- not a big surprise, given its engine was designed back in the 1930s.

    The auto industry has had to re-engineer all of its engines to run as cleanly as possible -- and they succeeded impressively. A 2007 model vehicle produces a mere fraction of the harmful combustion byproducts of its ancestors; in fact, less than 5 percent of what comes out of the tailpipe is anything other than water vapor and carbon dioxide. Put another way, the typical new car produces less in the way of harmful pollution than a dozen or more of the old smog chariots. But clean air is not free. Pollution control equipment tacks on another $1,000 or more to the baseline cost of the typical new car.

    But it seems like a fair trade when you think about it.

    END

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    New cars are way too expensive today. As for me, I could do without the following:

    Power windows and doors
    ABS and stability control systems
    So called side impact and rollover standards
    Air bags
    Post 1990 pollution controls
    GPS/Navigation

    Because of these regulations and weight adding features, our cars are requiring more displacement and horsepower to reach the same performance targets. the average displacement of a mere 4 cylinder car is around 2.2 liters versus 1.8 back in the old days.

    The pollution regulations have noly removed about 10 percent of the so-called pollution that came from tailpipes since 1990. Imagine if we could have put that engineering and resources towards increasing gas mileage instead.

    Before people jump in and say "how much is your life worth?" I might add that I drove for many years in cars without airbags and so called side impact protection. Much more important than surviving a potential accident is preventing it in the first place. Good driving, good suspensions, visibility, and steering play an understated role in preventing accidents. Good road design is the most important factor, over which the carmakers have zero control, and with which the politician pigs have little to do.

    In summary, automotive advancements that have added to the automotive quality of life these past 20 years include:

    Fuel injected engines
    Better suspensions
    Better steering
    4 wheel disc brakes
    Better sound insulation

    If we stuck with these, cars would be about 400 lbs lighter and get about 3-4 mpg better fuel mileage. Shame on the former Democratic congress and President Bush I for shoving the 1990 CAA and the host of NTSHA regualtions down our throats.

    Mobility should be accessible to all Americans not just wealthier people. That seems to be the direction we are headed.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    New cars are way too expensive today. As for me, I could do without the following:

    Power windows and doors
    ABS and stability control systems
    So called side impact and rollover standards
    Air bags
    Post 1990 pollution controls
    GPS/Navigation

    Because of these regulations and weight adding features, our cars are requiring more displacement and horsepower to reach the same performance targets. the average displacement of a mere 4 cylinder car is around 2.2 liters versus 1.8 back in the old days.

    The pollution regulations have noly removed about 10 percent of the so-called pollution that came from tailpipes since 1990. Imagine if we could have put that engineering and resources towards increasing gas mileage instead.

    Before people jump in and say "how much is your life worth?" I might add that I drove for many years in cars without airbags and so called side impact protection. Much more important than surviving a potential accident is preventing it in the first place. Good driving, good suspensions, visibility, and steering play an understated role in preventing accidents. Good road design is the most important factor, over which the carmakers have zero control, and with which the politician pigs have little to do.

    In summary, automotive advancements that have added to the automotive quality of life these past 20 years include:

    Fuel injected engines
    Better suspensions
    Better steering
    4 wheel disc brakes
    Better sound insulation

    If we stuck with these, cars would be about 400 lbs lighter and get about 3-4 mpg better fuel mileage. Shame on the former Democratic congress and President Bush I for shoving the 1990 CAA and the host of NTSHA regualtions down our throats.

    Mobility should be accessible to all Americans not just wealthier people. That seems to be the direction we are headed.

    Objectively, emissions output is a legitimate issue of the public interest; and given the ever-growing population, even an incremental decrease in emissions is necessary to counterbalance the ever-larger of number of cars on the road. I can't see a logical way to argue against tight emissions controls without arguing in favor of either reducing the population or the number of cars in service.

    Agree with you on the "safety" stuff - as you point out, a great deal of the equation is accident avoidance - but instead of focusing on making drivers better, we focus on making cars idiot proof.

    As far as engines: Yes and no. Even econo-boxes today are pretty quick (few new cars are slower 0-60 than about 10 seconds; 20 years ago, 15 seconds to 60 was common for shitboxes) so it's as much about power/performance expecations as it is the other factors you raise. Today's buyers, in general , would not accept a car as slow as, say, a Chevette or VW Old Beetle....


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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Then there's the environment. We didn' t used to care much about what came out of the tailpipe -- and the automakers obliged. Then we began to notice the smog. To deal with this, all cars were fitted with chemical exhaust scrubbers (catalytic converters) and a whole array of emissions controls to cut back on the lung-choking effluvia pouring out of our cars.
    Whenever I get behind a carburated vehicle, I can really tell because of the strong odor of unburned gas. The other day, it was a MG-B, and I could smell it 3 cars back. I have no idea how we stood it as long as we did.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Then there's the environment. We didn' t used to care much about what came out of the tailpipe -- and the automakers obliged. Then we began to notice the smog. To deal with this, all cars were fitted with chemical exhaust scrubbers (catalytic converters) and a whole array of emissions controls to cut back on the lung-choking effluvia pouring out of our cars.
    Whenever I get behind a carburated vehicle, I can really tell because of the strong odor of unburned gas. The other day, it was a MG-B, and I could smell it 3 cars back. I have no idea how we stood it as long as we did.

    Chip H.
    My Trans-Am's exhaust will make your eyes water immediately!

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    I think that the first Clean Air Act in 1970 was largely necessary, but like all of the swill coming out of the environmental movement, they overreached in 1990. The reason that no one sells diesel engined cars to any great extent is the result of the 1990 Clean Air Act passed by democrats and signed by the Environmental president Bush I. The biggest disappointment over the last 12 years of so-called republican majority is that they haven't reversed the overreach of this law as they promised. (remember unfunded mandates??? I do. I have a long political memory.)


    I personally think draconian emissions reductions are a pile of crap. The first CAA cost the economy 1.8 Trillion bucks. The second one has cost the same. By 1990, cars were already 90 percent cleaner than the 1970 models. We're spending the big bucks to get maybe 5-10 percent cleaner. Is it worth it? I don't think so. We could hbe spending the money on other things such as getting us off oil. Cars are clean enough already. Any further "gains" are squeezing blood from the turnip truck.

    Cars today accelerate a lot better than they did 20 years ago. I agree that poeple wouldn't put up with Beetle like performance. I wouldn't. On the other hand, todays cars are big, fat and out of control. They need to be put on a weight watchers diet.



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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    I think that the first Clean Air Act in 1970 was largely necessary, but like all of the swill coming out of the environmental movement, they overreached in 1990. The reason that no one sells diesel engined cars to any great extent is the result of the 1990 Clean Air Act passed by democrats and signed by the Environmental president Bush I. The biggest disappointment over the last 12 years of so-called republican majority is that they haven't reversed the overreach of this law as they promised. (remember unfunded mandates??? I do. I have a long political memory.)

    Well, it's mainly an issue of particulate emissions as regards diesels - and that will be a non-issue when we get low-sulfur fuel next year. Bear in mind that European emissions standards are actually more strict than US standards- but they have low sulfur diesel - and thus, BMW, Benz and many others are able to sell diesel passenger vehicles in volume over there (but not here, not yet). This isn't the fault of the Clean Air Act - and I think the point made earlier (that even fractional reductions in emissions ouptut are necessary given the significant increase in population/the number of vehicles on the road) is hard to argue against. The math is what it is. If we have, say, 20 million more cars in service in 2010 than we did in 2005, even if they are 98 percent "clean" that remaining 2 percent that isn't adds up when you multiple it times 20 million... right? Remember, this increase is on top of the emissions output of the existing vehicle fleet - 20 million additional cars, etc.

    If the population/number of cars on the road weren't growing at such a rapid rate, I'd agree with you that the cost-benefit couldn't be justified. But with the growth in vehicles that's going on (and projected) I have to concede the need for these reductions, even if they are very small on a per-car basis...


    Cars today accelerate a lot better than they did 20 years ago. I agree that poeple wouldn't put up with Beetle like performance. I wouldn't. On the other hand, todays cars are big, fat and out of control. They need to be put on a weight watchers diet.

    Yes and no - the automakers have offered smaller, lighter cars - the market just prefers larger ones (SUVs and minivans, etc. especially).



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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Eric -

    Here's the deal. The Europeans actually have much less stringent emissions regulations on diesel engines than we do. I don't know exactly why this is, however, I will dismiss the usual "Bush is with the oil companies" tirade that comes from so many of the sheeple. (sorry, I just had to get that in...) Diesels are 25-40 percent more efficient than gas models as we all know.

    The final Tier 2 standard in the U.S. for NOx is .05 g/mi. The Euro 5 regualtion is currently .4 g/mi to be going to .20 g/mi in 2009 (proposed). Europeans treat diesel and gas engines as different animals, which they are.Our regulations intentionally do not distinguish between the two. That is because, prior to the 2007 standards (full tier 2), there was a difference. The difference in Particulate matter regulations is far more difficult to discern from the Euro standards, although I suspect that they are in fact, more stringent than ours. The use of particualte traps, made available by low sulfur fuel makes applying these regulations to vehicles much easier than in the US where sulfur heavy fuel is known to clog partulate traps. The good news is that the traps do not appear to hurt performance of the Euro cars to a great degree. Car and Drivers tests of a Euro-Spec BMW 330d had the car performing almost as well as a gas powered car while getting 40 mpg in their heavy footed driving.


    The fact is, that while incremental improvements may or may not be needed, idiotically applied regualtions are costing us money and preventing greater numbers of people access to new cars by indiscriminately piling questionable costs on the public. This has to stop at some point. The US EPA and the CARB should recognize the differences between gas and diesel powerplants. If they have a problem with that I will gladly put their heads near the exhaust pipe of each and show them.

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Hi Swamp,

    I'd love to see more diesel passengercars become available; the modern CDI diesels are truly excellent - performance-wise and otherwise.

    The Big Issue (as I see it) when it comes to all these issues - from emissions to traffic - is population growth. We've added more than 100 million people just since the late 1960s and doubled the population of the country since the WWII era. I personally would prefer not to live in a continental Skinner Box like India or China, but that appears to be where we are headed. And it will come with costs, both quality of life-wise and money-wise, everything from new and expensive regulations to the hassles of dealing with crowds and traffic and all the crap that large population densities seem to bring with them.

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    It is true that the population has increased tremendously, however, miles driven by car have increased even more. There are many reasons for this including women entering the workforce in the 1970's and the 1980s. The other reasons as I can see it are because of this country's deindustrialization. People are no longer working at large plants, instead, they occupy the various "office parks" often across county lines from where they live.

    Roadbuilding has not kept pace because of a lack of will to build the necessary roads to accommodate this type of growth. We don't build highways anymore; instead, we build more shopping sprawl along existing routes. Instead of widening highways, we widen roads already littered with sprawl and stoplights. As a result, our highway system is jammed with cross town commuters, 7 day a week shoppers, trucks (supporting just in time delivery of outsourced merchandise), and random travelers.

    Its a mess, for sure, population growth is only part of the problem.

    I beleive that part of the solution is going to be more privately funded toll roads that do not have the federal loopholes to navigate. I don't like them, but tolls were actually how the first limited access highways were funded. As long as there is a cash option, I will drive a toll road when needed. Toll roads may be the way our first autobahn highway may be funded.

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat


    I beleive that part of the solution is going to be more privately funded toll roads that do not have the federal loopholes to navigate. I don't like them, but tolls were actually how the first limited access highways were funded. As long as there is a cash option, I will drive a toll road when needed. Toll roads may be the way our first autobahn highway may be funded.
    Be careful what you wish for, Swamprat. The problem with privately funded toll roads really isn't the toll itself. It's the extra garbage you have to take in the form of "non compete" provisions. Naturally, the investors in privately funded tollroads want some kind of protection for their investment (can't say that I really blame them), so almost all toll "concession" agreements come with some sort of clause that either forbids the state from building or improving free roads that might compete with the tollway, or tries to make life as miserable as possible on the adjacent free routes to funnel traffic onto the tollway. Some recent examples:

    - The SR 91 "Lexus Lanes" in Orange County, California. California taxpayers had to shell out more than $200 million to buy out the old investors after the state found out that the contract they signed to get the Lexus Lanes built forbade them from improving the adjacent nontolled free lanes on the 91 Freeway. The Lexus Lanes are still in place, though - to the tune of 85 cents a mile during peak periods.
    - On the E-470 in Denver, the concession contract required that the state reduce the speed limit on nearby Tower Road from 55 to 40, and to install several unncessary traffic lights - the idea being, of course, to make life miserable on the road to entice people to get on the E-470.

    The proponents of private tollroads keep repeating the mantra of "choice" - but is it really a choice at all when those who refuse to pay the toll will be stuck in an ever increasing sea of traffic that the state will be contractually forbidden from ever fixing?

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Mean -

    I completely agree with you. No compete clauses can cause problems. The only non compete clause that should be written in is to allow the toll road to be exempt from speed limit regulations. Also, require the toll facility to provide basic EMT and other services that would normally be provided by the state.

    I guess the point I was trying to make was that toll roads worked in the 1940's through the 1960s. Theres no reason that we couldn't use that formula again.

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    The only non compete clause that should be written in is to allow the toll road to be exempt from speed limit regulations.
    Funny you should mention that, Texas is trying to use just such a tactic as a selling point for the proposed "Trans Texas Corridor". It's supposed to parallel I-35 between the Oklahoma line and the Rio Grande, and one of the inducements to get people to use it is an 85-mph speed limit (compared to 70 on the interstate). We'll see if it works - but with a proposed toll from Dallas to San Antonio of $56 one way for cars and $225 for trucks, it's probably going to be a hard sell (guess that's where those pesky non-compete agreements come in)...

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    I agree with all that; but maintain that the exponential growth in the number of people and cars is the primary driving factor and that it's not feasible economically or otherwise to build road capacity sufficient to avoid masses of cars and people in/around virtually every major city/suburb. As recently as 30 or so years ago, only a few major cities and their immediate suburbs were heavily congested (principally NYC and LA). Now that "model" has bene transplanted across the country; cities (including mid-sized ones) are like NYC and LA - and it's spreading. Northern Va. is the classic example. I grew up there and in the mid-'70s, Fairfax was still mostly rural. Driving into DC was a 15-30 minute trip, depending on where you were. Loudoun was empty. Dulled Airport a vacant stone cathedral out in the wilderness. Just 20 years later, the area has become unliveable; choked with enraging traffic and people and all the scheisse they bring with them.

    Unchecked, the US will quickly become just like Europe - with few remaining rural/quiet places and most roads filled day and night with cars. In another 50 years, we may be pushing 500 million people - and I'm glad I (probably) won't be around to see that....

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Quote Originally Posted by MeanMeosh
    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    The only non compete clause that should be written in is to allow the toll road to be exempt from speed limit regulations.
    Funny you should mention that, Texas is trying to use just such a tactic as a selling point for the proposed "Trans Texas Corridor". It's supposed to parallel I-35 between the Oklahoma line and the Rio Grande, and one of the inducements to get people to use it is an 85-mph speed limit (compared to 70 on the interstate). We'll see if it works - but with a proposed toll from Dallas to San Antonio of $56 one way for cars and $225 for trucks, it's probably going to be a hard sell (guess that's where those pesky non-compete agreements come in)...
    They could ask for an exemption on the rules regarding billboard placement too, in order to subsidize the road further & keep the tolls down. Granted, I hate billboards (especially the ones from "South of the Border" on I-95), but if it's the difference between a $2 toll and a $1 toll, I'll suffer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I grew up there and in the mid-'70s, Fairfax was still mostly rural. Driving into DC was a 15-30 minute trip, depending on where you were. Loudoun was empty. Dulled Airport a vacant stone cathedral out in the wilderness. Just 20 years later, the area has become unliveable; choked with enraging traffic and people and all the scheisse they bring with them.
    Agreed. When I would occasionally go up to Sterling about 8 years ago, it was not too bad. Now, there's no way that I would live there. Highway 7 is a parking lot.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    [

    Agreed. When I would occasionally go up to Sterling about 8 years ago, it was not too bad. Now, there's no way that I would live there. Highway 7 is a parking lot.

    Chip H.

    That's where we used to live - right near Algonkian Park, just off Rt. 7.... glad we got out .. and got out when we did!

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    New cars are way too expensive today. As for me, I could do without the following:

    Power windows and doors
    ABS and stability control systems
    So called side impact and rollover standards
    Air bags
    Post 1990 pollution controls
    I think you are way off base:

    Power windows and door locks don't add to the cost of a car.

    ABS and stability control systems really work well in norther climates.

    Side impact and rollover will save your life - or perhaps your daughter's/son's life.

    Air bags... ditto for side impact... much cheaper than $10,000 in medical costs.

    Pollution controls ... hey it's our planet.

    I don't mean to pick on you, or be confrontive, but most of the stuff you said you can do without, really saves injuries, or expense of accidents. I'd like you to explain why you can do without air bags, side impact, or roll over protection?

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Here in Minneapolis, they built a 'spur' route I-394, with HOV lanes. After a billion dollars, the new road has the same capacity as the old road. This is progress?

    It seems that there was very little traffic on the HOV lanes, so... they opened them up to single drivers - for a price. It's nothing more than social engineering! Our federal taxes paid for this fiasco.

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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Hi Doug,

    Swamp previously made a point I tend to agree with in re safety equipment such as air bags, etc. Basically, he argued that being an attentive/safe driver can be more of a factor than passive (and expensive) equipment such as air bags. I think it's a solid point.

    Other factors come into play, too.

    For example:

    *The replacement costs of deployed air bags can result in an otherwise fixable car being "totaled" by the insurance company; as you know, the bags can deploy in relatively minor accidents - leaving the owner of an older car with a ruined car, not just a bent fender.

    * Long-term safety issues - what happens to all these air bag-equipped new cars when they are 12-15 year old beaters? It's not well-known, but several automakers advise the SRS system be thoroughly serviced (even included replacement of the bags/major system components) at 10 years, etc. Who is going to spend $1,000 or more on a 10-year-old beater that's worth maybe $2,500? This is a legitimate issue, too, methinks.

    I personally believe things like air bags ought to be optional equipment, available for those who want them and don't mind the extra costs involved, etc. Ditto traction/stability control, etc. Speaking just for myself - I can handle driving in inclement weather; my last accident was in 1986 (when I was a stupid college kid who had a fast car with bald tires and decided to push it one rainy night).

    I believe we're over-focusing on idiot-proofing cars - rather than focusing more effort where we should - on improving the skill set/capability of the average driver.

    Air bags/ etc. don't make a marginal driver safer - though they may save his life. But making drivers better will absolutely make driving safer - whether in air bag equipped cars or not!



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    Re: Why new cars cost so much - and why they're worth every penny

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Hi Doug,

    Swamp previously made a point I tend to agree with in re safety equipment such as air bags, etc. Basically, he argued that being an attentive/safe driver can be more of a factor than passive (and expensive) equipment such as air bags. I think it's a solid point.

    *The replacement costs of deployed air bags can result in an otherwise fixable car being "totaled" by the insurance company; as you know, the bags can deploy in relatively minor accidents - leaving the owner of an older car with a ruined car, not just a bent fender.

    * Long-term safety issues - what happens to all these air bag-equipped new cars when they are 12-15 year old beaters? It's not well-known, but several automakers advise the SRS system be thoroughly serviced (even included replacement of the bags/major system components) at 10 years, etc. Who is going to spend $1,000 or more on a 10-year-old beater that's worth maybe $2,500? This is a legitimate issue, too, methinks.

    I personally believe things like air bags ought to be optional equipment, available for those who want them and don't mind the extra costs involved, etc. Ditto traction/stability control, etc. Speaking just for myself - I can handle driving in inclement weather; my last accident was in 1986 (when I was a stupid college kid who had a fast car with bald tires and decided to push it one rainy night).
    I want to preface my remarks with "I am a conserative, and I believe that the government should stay out of our lives, as much as possible, but .......

    Point #1: being an attentive, aware driver is A #1 in my book also. However these passive systems are there for the times when you least expect a problem. Nobody can predict when some life threatening situation will occurr at 60+ mph.

    Point #2 & #3: Air bags are expensive to replace - especially with a 7+ year older car. Yes this is true - however the protection they provide against death or significant injury - IMO - out weighs this concern.

    Point #4:I personally believe things like air bags ought to be optional equipment I completely disagree. The protection is there for the passengers and the general public. It's sorta like saying: I don't need circuit breakers in my home, cause I'm never going to have a short circuit.

    Maybe you don't want air bags - but someone may hit you - at a high rate of speed - and perhaps a loved one - or a passenger could be killed, maimed, or seriosly injured, that could have been prevented by an air bag. It doesn't make sense for the owner of a car to decide the fate of their passengers!

    It's estimated that air bags save over 2,000 lives a year.

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