Any parts on modern cars being made blatantly disposable?


Acting like a car is unreliable/disposable because it can get destroyed in a collision is entirely missing the point. A 747 will get destroyed in a crash - doesn’t make it “disposable.”

@texases has it right. In those older cars where they stood up really well to a collision, you still had the same forces at play. A lot of energy is involved in a wreck, and it’s going to damage something.

The difference is that back then, the soft squishy part that deformed to absorb the energies was you. Now it’s the car. Personally, I’ll go for walking away from a wreck with a totaled car over having a car that’s still driveable, only I can’t drive it because I’m being hauled away from the wreck in a coroner’s van.


I used to carry a toolbox in my 1964 Pontiac. And I needed it from time to time. The points would arc after about 6-10 months and I’d get a no-start. Whip out the points file or emery cloth and a screwdriver from the toolbox, take off the distributor cap, clean the points and away I go. I had 2 weeks to replace the points before it happened again. Very simple car, easy to repair but you had to service it very regularly to keep it running. It was pretty worn out by 95,000 miles.


I have a round-about answer to this, but first a question. Short answer is that it is an “innocent fraud” to get money from people.

Where can I find the performance characteristics / specifications of Ford airbag inflators such as any of the below as examples?


To the Poster’s discussion:

Car companies are perpetrating what John Kenneth Galbraith would call “innocent fraud” if not actual fraud. They have a policy of constant “parts churn.”

Why does Ford need 24 different car horns in the last 10 years (No SUVs nor pickup trucks included)?

Why does Ford need 32 different wiper motors in the last 10 year?

And considering all the hell brought on by airbag inflators, I would really like to know if Ford needed 80 different airbag inflators in ten years or if it was just “revenue enhancement.”

Maybe Henry Ford was the only one of the lot with any morality.

It is considered good manufacturing practice, and not bad ethics, occasionally to change designs so that old models will become obsolete and new ones will have to be bought either because repair parts for the old cannot be had, or because the new model offers a new sales argument which can be used to persuade a consumer to scrap what he has and buy something new. . . .
Our principle of business is precisely to the contrary. . . . The parts of a specific model are not only interchangeable with all other cars of that model, but they are interchangeable with similar parts on all the cars that we have turned out. . . .

Ford, Henry, and Samuel Crowther. My Life and Work. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, 1922. pp. 148 - 149, Print.


I disagree. Ford would make more profit by maximizing use of common parts. Nothing nefarious, intentional or not, going on. More like having to have multiple parts to meet different needs.

We’re not in the Model T world any more.


In addition, I’m not really sure we should be assigning high morality points to a guy who was such a vocal anti-semite that he was able to count Hitler among his ardent admirers.

The real reason that parts are different is because they’re being used for different missions. A brake on a Fiesta is going to have different requirements from a brake on an F-450, which is going to have different requirements from a brake on a GT-40.

The other reason is cost, but not “let’s screw the consumer by having 30 different parts,” but “let’s source the part from the manufacturer who gives us the best bid.”


You can’t. That is Ford proprietary information and as such is a trade secret. I.e. You don’t need to know this, so you don’t get the info.

Because each car is different enough to require this many horns. The engineer who released a new part number horn to meet 1) performance requirements from the government or Ford 2) packaging or 3) design preference (tone, ect) or 4) other or any combination of any of these

Same as above. Each car model likely will have a different wiper motor. Wiper loads, wipe angle, speed, and packaging all vary a lot.[quote=“Requires_Too_Much_Th, post:23, topic:94683”]
I would really like to know if Ford needed 80 different airbag inflators in ten years

Yes, they did. Airbags have very stringent requirements for inflation speed and force. A dash father from the passenger, side airbags, steering wheel bags and on and on, require very specific inflators.

Agree with @missileman Ford wouldn’t do this if it didn’t have to. Parts proliferation is expensive for Ford, NOT profitable!


If you honestly think that crazy, anti-Semitic old Henry had “morality”, all I can suggest is that you do a lot more reading on his public utterances, his political affiliations, and his publications during the 1930s and 1940s. The best term that I can come up with in regard to those factors is…despicable.

Yes, he was originally innovative, and he was good at business–up to a point–and that point was reached when his truculence delayed the development of the Model A until many years after it should have supplanted the badly-outdated Model T.
His refusal to recognize the benefits of modern technology caused Ford to be the last major auto maker to adopt hydraulic brakes.
Similarly, his insistence on transverse leaf springs delayed the development of modern suspension technology at his company by…many years.

When WW II began, the US government was in the unenviable position of having one of the most important defense contractors being run by a man who was crazily unreliable/unpredictable, and who harbored a lot of admiration for the folks whom we were now fighting. Thank God that FDR & company were able to bring enough pressure to bear so that Henry II was allowed to overrule his senile, unpredictable grandfather who had left any shreds of morality behind several decades earlier.


I have run into this same issue. Both my GF and I purchased 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage’s of identical specification besides the color. She got an airbag recall notice and I did not. I called to schedule her appointment mainly to see if one was on its way to me and we could drive to the dealer together and have them both serviced. My VIN wasn’t recalled and hasn’t been months later. I suspect with the global economy and just in time supply, companies use what is available or cheapest at the time they need it.

I see this in electronics quite frequently. There may be 5-6 different brands of parts that will fit one laptop. Say laptop keyboards. I may find many different ones to order and they interchange for the most part. The part may be different and even look different but the mounting points (screw holes, tabs, etc.) as well as the connections are all the same to make them interchange without issue. This way the company may have 5-6 options to build one model.

Exceptions include the really cheap models such as sold at Wal-Mart and anywhere else on black Friday. One model may use completely different parts that do not interchange with what is supposed to be an identical unit. I am fully convinced they are using up inventory to make junk that people wouldn’t be caught dead buying on a normal day but somehow convince is a good deal one day a year. This stuff is JUNK! It is disposable and not worth buying at any price.

Then there are TVs. Some are a really funny animal. Vizio is on the low end. Parts may not interchange even on the same model. You have to buy the EXACT model and revision of that part otherwise it won’t work. The TVs look identical on the outside but inside they may be completely different. These are cheap units and made to be disposed of. Then on the high end you have Apple and Sony. They either want you to go buy a new one or send the old one to them for repair. They go out of their way to make their products hard and expensive to service.

The only vehicle I have experienced this with is my 1997 Ford F250 Light Duty. This is one with the 7 lug wheels and was a transition year. I would NEVER have bought this had I known what I was getting into but it is now reliable enough for my needs after much work so it is staying around. I feel like I am buying parts for a Vizio TV when I need them. I often take the old part off and walk in with it to be sure I am getting the right thing. I even have to go to the dealer for certain things. They were once arguing with me that my truck didn’t even have that part I was asking for and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I told them to walk outside and look under the hood. They are then like, “Oh, we have never seen this before.” I sometimes need parts for a 1996 and sometimes parts for a 1998. It is really strange.


According to articles I have read Henry Ford would also send people to inspect the homes of his employees to see if they met his standards.


Yes, that is also true.
But, is it any wonder that somebody who was so fond of the principles of the Nazi party would use his agents to invade the homes of his employees?
I just can’t see that word being used in the same sentence as Henry Ford’s name unless “lack of” precedes “morality”.

Also, let us not forget that he essentially “hounded” his son, Edsel, to an early grave.
Despite Edsel’s very innovative nature, it seemed that nothing he ever did was capable of pleasing old, intolerant Henry.
Edsel died a very early death, and most accounts of the time state that Henry’s verbal rages likely led to the stomach problems that eventually killed Edsel.


Mr. Ford knew exactly what he was doing. He was serving his customer. Unlike today’s automobile companies, he was trying to produce the best product at the lowest price.

The Model T was never badly outdated while in production. It was always the best product at the lowest price for basic transportation.

I note that Ford currently has a 14.7% market share. The latest data I have for the Model T is for 1925 with 40%

Price Model T Touring Car	Total Ford Car Sales	Total Inustry Car Sales	Ford  % of Market

1925 $290 1,495,000 3,735,000 40.0%


The Model T was built for 20 years, largely unchanged, during one of the most rapidly-evolving periods in car design. It was outdated for the last 10 years, but it was cheap, so people bought it. Nothing more. I have no problem with the cars now available, Ford’s at 14.7% because there are so many other competitive models out there.


Why would you spend any time to repair a TV these days? A 32 inch flatscreen is $139. Not worth any tech or my time.

The big ones are now $600 or so. Same question, why would you bother fixing one past the warranty period? Recycle the bugger and go buy a new one.

Yes, I hate that we don’t repair things like TV’s anymore but the economics of repair make no sense. A $300 color TV in 1969 is $2000 today. I’d fix a $2000 TV. I might try to fix a $300 one myself but I’d never take it to a service place. That’s just economics.


If the automotive companies are not serving their customers, they would fail. Considering how many car companies there are, if a market was NOT being served, one or more would jump right into that market.

What market do you think is NOT being served? The super-cheap basic transportation market? Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and others. This is as basic as the US government will allow a car company to build. We can’t have Tata Nanos in the US because they can’t pass all of the federal safety requirements.


There are people who still want a basic and easy to service car and I am one of them. Take the new Mirage I just got… You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to change the oil. It isn’t quite as easy as some I have done but you can get to everything pretty quickly if needed. Of course this segment isn’t the most popular in this country.

I gave a bunch of junk to a mower repair guy recently. There was a partial Briggs Intek single cylinder in the mix. The head was gone and the piston had a nice hole through it. I told him the valve broke off in the head and went into the cylinder, destroying both the piston and the head. He said this was pretty common on these and it is like they are meant to be disposable. He said some will run 10 minutes from new before doing this while others will run 10 years before it happens. Either way, this seems like something that shouldn’t be hard to correct but they just leave it that way.

This reminds me of the Ford Split Port. The valve seats would let go at between 100,000-130,000 like clockwork, rendering an otherwise decent but relatively cheap car a disposable. I guess there is an aftermarket refit where you can have the head and valves all reworked but you MUST do it before the failure occurs. IT is like this was made as a 100,000 mile engine.

I agree that it doesn’t seem like cars are made like this these days. It isn’t like mower or electronics where there is a consumer and a commercial line. The mower guy basically said a consumer engine has plastic parts and is made to last 25 hours of mowing. You will get more if you take care of them but many of the internals are plastic, etc. and just waiting to break.


@cwatkin I didn’t know about the parts problem with the Vizio television. I bought a cheap Vizio television at Target for our sun room. It developed a problem and wasn’t working. I read over my warranty and it said I was, at my expense, to ship it to a service center. The service center would repair the set and ship it back to me on Vizio’s dime. I debated whether to call for authorization to ship the set and where to ship ir or just toss the television. I finally made the call to Vizio. They sent a technician to my house two hours later. He had the replacement circuit board with him and had the set repaired in 10 minutes at no charge to me. He then spent another half hour playing with our dog. I was glad that the television wasn’t a throwaway item. I agree with you that cars should be easily serviced. I don’t do my own automobile servicing and repairs any more, but it seems to me that making cars more easily serviced would keep the repair costs down and cars would be less likely to be scrapped. For instance, I had a 1978 Oldsmobile with about 170000 miles back in 1996. The transmission wouldn’t go into reverse. I was able to use it in the summer because I could roll down the driveway into the street. At work, I could pull into a parking place and drive out forward. I thought about junking the car at the end of the summer. However, I took the car to an independent transmission shop. Since the car was rear wheel drive, the price was cheaper to remove and replace the transmission. The reason was that the shop could drop the transmission, roll the car out thus freeing up the service bay for another car while my transmission was being rebuilt. On a front drive car, the car has to stay on the lift after the transmission is removed because the car is immobilized. Had my car been a front wheel drive I would have junked it. I liked the inline 6 cylinder engine over the V8 because the spark plugs were easy to change. I wouldn’t begin to tackle the plugs in a transversely mounted V6. I had the cylinder head pulled on my 1965 Rambler to open up an oil passage to the rocker arm shaft. My bill was less than $50. Today, with all the labor to remove items to even get to the cylinder head, I probably would have scrapped the car.


I have a 2003 Honda harmony with the timing belt. It has worked flawlessly for the past 13 years. I change the oil once a year whether It needs it or not. Just my experience. It also has a plastic deck that held up perfectly, its light and powerful.

I also have a pressure washer from that year with a gc160 timing belt engine. Its on its third pump, original engine. I think I have changed the oil 3 times on it. Original air filter and spark plug. To be fair the mower gets 10 times the use that the pressure washer does.


You know there is a B&S lawnmower engine that requires no oil changes for the life of the engine?


Was it a cost thing, or was he afraid of new technology? I have heard both.

I will say I did an experiment the past week where I drove to and from work only using my cable brakes for stopping to see if it was possible with a Rear disc Ebrake equipped vehicle. I would get into my findings but its probably best I not.


@WhoSaidRick. I have a power mower and the motor does not require an oil change. It was a used rechargeable battery mower when I purchased it and I had to replace the batteries this year for $70. I could buy a lot of gasoline and oil for $70.