Disturbing Trend, advanced machining skills disappearing from USA


Don’t be so sure. I can do all of that and more on an 87, but also on a newish “sophisticated car.”

I’m puzzled when I hear people say that newer cars are too difficult for DIY repairs. That’s how myths get started.

Thing is… I have never stopped working on cars and have just evolved with changes and so have my tools. I actually find some things to be easier to diagnose and repair on newer cars than old ones.

Cars haven’t suddenly changed, but rather have changed or evolved slowly over time and will continue to do so. OBD and online access to a wealth of TSBs and other resources are major advancements.

I seldom ever need professional help with any problems or repairs on my cars.


I’d say it is different than earlier cars. Harder or easier is really a matter of opinion. Cars are both simper and more complex at the same time. No 1964 Pontiac ever told me what it thought was wrong by sending a coded message, I had to find the problem based on what I heard, felt and smelled and then hook up the gauges to pinpoint the problem.

A carburetor would completely confuse a 25 year old but I know how they work because I’ve rebuilt dozens. Reading data off the powertrain control module to find a fault may confuse a 65 year old DIY’er because they are not familiar with it but a 25 year old gearhead can strip a little data and find the problem.

Different tools to do the same things. I don’t use my dwell gauge or point file anymore but I do use my smartphone or tablet quite a lot. I didn’t need to buy software to change brake pads on my Datsun (that required metric tools) but I did for my Audi. And that $89 I spent for the Audi software will probably save me $1500 all by itself when I do pads and rotors all around.


Industrial design AND Memes Marketing.
Keepn’ up with the Jones…:money_mouth_face::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


OMG you need software to change brake pads? I am a bit afraid but still want to know, how so??

BTW just watched a video of iFixit’s Right to Repair Event that certainly relates back to all this.
From that vid: if you change a fuse in a John Deere tractor gizmo you need a specialist to reauthorize its operation before it will run…
:man_farmer:t2::woman_farmer:t2: :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:


The Audi has a electric parking brake. The only way to retract the rear disk brake pistons to install new pads is with software!

The app I bought also reads all the VAG specific codes that my other apps won’t.


Typical German overly complicated design.
By comparison, my Outback also has electrically-operated parking brakes that act on little shoes inside a “hat” in the center of the rear rotor. If the parking brake jams in the “on” position, one only has to insert a tool (supplied with the car) into a socket in front of the right rear wheel, and crank it.

This electronically-activated parking brake has worked flawlessly for the past 8 1/2 years/90k+ miles, but if it ever malfunctions, at least I can deactivate the brakes myself with a simple tool, instead of having to have a dealership use a software-based approach.


I am in total agreement!


Lexus also uses an electric parking brake integrated into the rear brake calipers, a scan tool is used to retract the pistons. Far fewer parts than the drum-in-hat with cables and remote motor.


Do they still make parking brakes? Last time I used one was during the time I owned my 71 Super Beetle, purchased brand new, and that was only on steep hills. I think my cars have those, but I wouldn’t use them.

In several hundreds of thousands of miles and many vehicles since that last Volkswagen I never need one.


Federal requirement to have one in the US and EU. Handy if you have a manual transmission.


For anyone interested in Chinese factories, the film “Manufactured Landscapes” will be fascinating and informative.


I enjoy using cameras that were made before I was born, 70+ years. I can fix most things on them too–self-taught. But digital? It is faster, no chems to handle (except in China!!!), but WHERE is the photo? Can I hold it?
I guess I am like those machinists who know the old rigs, but wouldn’t know how to download the 3D CAD model to their computers…
Am out to pasture now.


The photo is in your camera just waiting for you to print it at home in on your printer onto printer paper. Or in the office supply store that will do the exact same thing and print it for you.

Best part; you only print the good ones and not the out-of-focus or eyes-closed pictures.

It’s a good thing!


As an ex-TV guy, I will say unequivocally that digital cameras, especially in the video sphere, are vastly better than the old stuff. When your camera has to have a full-fledged VCR built into it, it gets a little heavy. And it’s power hungry, so the battery has to be dense and heavy. And because it’s heavy, the tripod has to be heavy so it doesn’t collapse under it. Carrying all that junk around is a great way to get a semi-permanent sore shoulder and back, which I had.

The new rigs weigh maybe 30 pounds total. There were cameras in the old days that weighed that much without the accessories. I’d never want to go back to the bad old days in photography.

I’m usually the same way with cars, too. I don’t like overcomplication for the sake of overcomplication, as in the parking brake example above, but I do say bring on the technology!

When I was a kid my mom drove a full-size van. The most technologically advanced thing in that van was the cruise control, which would only hold your speed properly if the road was flat. Any hill, and you’d speed up or slow down. Even that was new enough that my grandpa freaked out when he found out it was in there. “Don’t trust that thing!” he told mom, thinking ‘cruise control’ meant ‘autopilot.’ “You keep your hands on the wheel!”

Backing it up was dicey because it had tiny little wing mirrors and no real rearward visibility until obstructions were fairly far away. Its engine was carbureted and tended to die if you drove it down the mountain before it warmed up because the change in air density would choke it off, so you’d be halfway down the 4,000 foot drop when you lost power steering and brakes. That was fun. And coming back home was also fun because it lost so much power that you’d be crawling by the time you got to our mountaintop neighborhood.

I went back to visit my old home town a few years ago. Rented a modern car. The engine ran fine no matter what we did or where we went. It had a lot more power to begin with so the power loss at altitude wasn’t as big of a deal. The backup camera made life easy. The power wing mirror made parallel parking easy. The navigation system helped me figure out where I was, because everything’s changed over the last 40 years.

In short, I’m all for technological advances. Give me more of 'em! But what I don’t like is when those advances involve gotchas that provide absolutely no benefit to the consumer.

Having to have a special tool to change brake pads is stupid. It’s not necessary and the system could easily be designed such that it wasn’t required. Having to have John Deere come out and authorize a new fuse is similarly not necessary, and is there solely to screw the consumer for the benefit of a soulless corporation.


Be careful what you wish for. As you’ve pointed out, those fancy features that tempt people to become lazy and reliant, also come with some unintended consequences.

How did we ever exist before all these " technological advancements"?


We got smallpox and the Black Plague and died early. You can go back to those days if you want. I’m staying here.


Or maybe jumping ahead a century or two…


Obviously to most thinking people, I’m not against advancements in science, medicine, nutrition, and the like…

However, the discussion here involves advanced machining skills and some on “technological advancements” on cars that come with strings attached (too high price tags, too high repair costs … ). Also, often the benefit and its drawbacks does not justify the addition of the feature.

I am against these things that are pricing the average American citizen right out of the new car market. I’m fortunate that I can afford this, should I want it, but fewer than 50% can afford a new car now. It’s no wonder or mystery why. I’m also against the surprise “gotchas” that come with some of this mandated garbage, as pointed out by shadowfax.

I’ve never used ABS brakes (on all of my cars) or the in-the tire TPMS on some of them, but I had to buy them. Somebody though they’d be nice for most drivers.

There is a limit to what can be added to cars before nearly everybody is priced out of ownership…

Oh wait! We are just about there. The big car companies are feeling it and are bailing out and into the ride sharing movement.

By the way, I’m staying here, too.


Except that over the years you’ve complained about basic tech and safety advances in cars. As you said just now and in many other threads, you dislike ABS.

There’s nothing particular about ABS that needs to be more expensive than non-ABS cars. I’ve never had to make an ABS related repair on my daily, and it’s got 140k on it. It was also properly designed such that I don’t need a scan tool to bleed the brakes. I understand that there are cars that do require scan tools, but I would submit that this indicates an idiotic corporate decision rather than that ABS is a bad technology that should go away.

As for new car prices, yes, they’re more expensive relative to median income. So is just about everything else. It’s not that there’s technology in the cars, it’s that non-CEO wages have stagnated for decades while prices have not. If you want to address that problem, stop tilting at the windmill of the Demon Technology and start demanding fair wage increases across the board.

Power windows and ABS are not pricing people out of cars. Funneling most of the country’s money to the very rich few is.


You may have used the ABS and not been aware of it. Even deliberately using ABS (LEO Crown Vic, closed course) found I was not even aware of it, just a straight stop with no wheel lockup.