Electronic gps, touchscreens etc...reliabilty? maintenance cost?

I may be old school about this…but I do have a lot of experience with computers. The touch screen/navigation options on new cars seem to me to be rife for expensive repairs or being the first thing to break. Are there any studies or reports on their reliability? If the touch screen goes there is nothing to fix…you just have to swap in a new touchscreen, likewise if the computer goes, there is no taking a screw driver to it, you just swap out the motherboard or most likely the entire component including the touchscreen. I would ‘guess’ this tends to be expensive. It would seem to me that rather than including this 2.5k option (for Toyota Highlander, also includes JBL stereo system up grade) I’d be better off getting a $300 portable gps if I really, really needed to know where I am block by block…all opinions welcome, good and bad.

In the recent past many vehicles have suffered from non-repair of electronic “gadgets”. It could be the early on-board computers that BMW pioneered or the "heads up displays’ on some Pontiac and Corvette models. I myself would limit my exposure from being tied to a auto manufactures proprietary electronics and stick with the aftermarket in the area you are speaking of.

The advantage of having a portable unit is that when you go on trips etc you can take it with you and pop it in your rental car. I have a Garmin 255W paid about 200 for it and is good for what I need. The new ones have blue teeth etc and I do not need that.
I have had good experience with in Dash units too, but from a usage stand point they are not portable. Please check customer reviews etc before you decide. Look for a unit with fast update rate. Check out http://www.cnet.com they have great reviews there.

No contest as far as I know. We have a Garmin 260W that gets used in whatever car of three that we are in at the moment. You can also use it while bicycling, motorcycling or walking. The Garmin for $200, obviously much less money than one built into the vehicle, does what we need. When technology moves on as it has before and will likely do again and both become obsolete, the portable can be tossed or sold.

The cost of updates should be also considered. You are captive to the vendor of the GPS built in and have no choice but to buy their update. With a portable, you can dump it if update costs are not competitive. I don’t know this to be true but would investigate it before buying if you are leaning toward a built-in.

Our Garmin can be connected to a PC and the Internet via a mini USB connector for updates or other software revisions. It appears as a disk drive. I don’t know if this is possible at home with a built-in, another thing to investigate.

If you have more money than I can dream of and can keep a Jag at the summer cottage for when you are occasionally there, then who cares? Get a built-in.

I agree with oldschool up to a point.
The problem with aftermarket GPS systems is that they are the prime reason for having a window broken. And, of course, along with the broken window goes the theft of the GPS system.

According to newspaper articles over the past couple of years, people frequently have their car windows broken when a thief sees a suction GPS mount affixed to the windshield, even if the GPS unit is not visible. Apparently the thieves believe that the GPS has simply been placed in the glove compartment or the console. Even if the car owner was prudent enough to take the GPS with him when he left the vehicle, he is still left with a broken window.

I have occasionally toyed with the idea of getting a portable (aftermarket) GPS, but when reading these reports of car break-ins in an effort to steal these GPS units, it causes me to wait until I buy my next new car with factory-installed GPS.

All of this is reminiscent of the '80s when BMW came to mean Break My Window, because of all of the thieves who wanted the Alpine stereo or other high-cost audio system in those BMWs.

I would go for the portable GPS. My son got one for Christmas from a relative and it works very well. I simply use a map of where I am going and plot out the directions beforehand.

Most computer equipment, including touch screens used in a non-automotive environent aren’t subjected to the wide variations in temperature that occur in an automobile. My guess is that the computer equipment probably works in a car as long as the first owner keeps it. After that, it probably isn’t used after it quits functioning.

Hide the GPS and its power wire under the seat. We don’t have a sandbag or suction cup mount, just hook the supplied base edge on a vent slot or other feature on the dash top. I also added two stick-on rubber feet on each side of the GPS case bottom.

Get a portable unit, you can take them from vehicle to vehicle or even out of a vehicle. They are also much less expensive and upgradable, meaning you can buy the latest and greatest if you want. As far as touch screen reliability, don’t worry about the touch screen itself breaking. Touch screens are very durable and have been used in rough industrial applications for 25 years now.

The emerging problem, this stuff becomes obsolete by the time the car is sold!! Technology is advancing to fast, to build in expensive toys that can not be upgraded makes no sense…

My love of gps involves finding interesting alternate routes on the fly. The little gps units are great for point to point but prefer a tablet pc (if you have room) with one of the popular software packages with gps antenna starting at 70 bucks or so. The reason is I can see a larger area in great detail, as with the little unit that is hard to do.

I spent many years in sales and often found myself breaking in a new territory. I got so used to the good old paper maps that I still prefer them and 2nd best is getting directions via MapQuest or Googlemaps. I do have a portable GPS and did find it very handy in a rental car when visiting colleges in Tampa FL area. I would not be interested in a factory mounted GPS system. I’ve riden in several cars that have them and find they work fine, but there are too many buttons and functions when integrated with the audio and climate controls.

At 60 I’m into cars that go, stop, steer, and do so with a bit of “fun factor” to make it interesting. I’m not into Ford’s SYNC, or having a 6" TV or computer screen dominating the dashboard.

A computer is outdated in about 2 years, cell phones even faster. I’m not into getting a new car because my onboard electronics are obsolete in 18 months. Gadget freaks can go that way. Its not my thing.

GPS units are going to hand held anyway. In 10 years we won’t have GPS permanently installed in the dashboard. When folks buy these as used cars they won’t bother to spend the money to even update the street data. You don’t see any mobile phones mounted in cars anymore, everyone uses their hand held cell phone.

Perhaps texting will get so popular the auto interior designers will find a way to integrate a keyboard into the steering wheel. We have steering wheel audio, shifter, and cruise control now - how hard can it be to put a few dozen more buttons onto the steering wheel. Heck the car will be driving itself anyway so you might as well replace the steering wheel with a keyboard and who needs that windshild, let’s put a 46’ HDTV screen up there and provide a “window” at the bottom left side to show a video cam picture of what is going on in front of the car.

That’s it, the car is morphing into your rolling entertainment and communication station. While the car commutes to the office you can watch a movie, text your buddies, read and respond to your email. I guess this is happening already on some of our freeways around the country. Driving is an after thought.

never heard of that word, what’s it mean? :stuck_out_tongue:

VDC Driver, Get A GPS!

We have a beanbag dashboard mount and a nice little plastic box with a snap on lid that I got at Wal-mart that holds the whole assembly. It takes literally seconds to unplug the cord, access the box, and place/remove the GPS to/from the dash. The box can go with you or get locked in the trunk.

I’d go “low end” because like computers you can buy one with twice the features for half the price in a couple of years. Tom-Tom and Garmin are #1 and Magellan is a close 2nd. I do like “spoken street names” as you don’t even have to look at the thing while driving. Don’t spend more than a couple hundred.

Mine is a Magellan Roadmate I got for less than $150 (sale). We all (family) agree that it’s great for traveling out of town in any of our cars.


I like to through something in.
A really good and safty feature is ‘voice command’ since you do not have to enter any information by hand you can just talk to the unit.
So far i have seen only upper level products that have that kind of feature and even there it is limited to ‘next gasstation’ etc.
So in my own conclusion there is time to wait and spend on good gps units. But if to get one, speech text (or what ever it was called) should be in your featurelist since you dont have to look at the unit and rather have it spoken to you.
I use a TomTom which is fine. Bought it refurbished over a store called A… works great and is widescreen.
The only drawback (and thats in general) is that you have to buy update maps which makes your wallet somewhat smaller.
As far as i see, only TomTom and Garmin are the top brands to buy. Magellan has problems with customerservice, so not sure about that brand.
In dash build in is surely nice to have and if you have a hybrid i believe you have anyway a computer with a big screen installed and perhaps it makes no difference to have also the gps from the manifacture too.

Something we did and enjoyed a long, long, time ago. Remember there was once a time when your car was a refuge, a place away from barking dogs, nagging bosses, yapping kids, cell phones, e-mail, and bluetooth. Ah, for the good ol days.

Our Garmin can be connected to a PC and the Internet via a mini USB connector for updates that cost $70. It’s three years old. In another year or two I’ll probably be able to replace it with a better Garmin with fresh data for about the same cost.

One nice thing about the Garmin is it’s flip up antenna on the back side. I hang it by the antenna from one side of the rear view mirror with a strip of Velcro on each. It’s completely portable from car to car. I just have to remember a piece of Velcro “loop” with adhesive for each one.

260W has a built in antenna.

Unk Turbo, your comment about replacing the windshield with a HDTV may not be too far fetched.

Research is now under way to fully automate the car to the point where a driver is not needed. One way being considered for dealing with congestion migigation is to fully automate the car for autonomus control and increase car spacing and speeds to the point where cars could be “platooned” at 3-foot intervals at speeds approaching 100 mph on specially developed freeways. Of course, visually, this would freak out most drivers. so to deal with this scenerio, the windshild would be blanked out with a TV/computer monitor image to use while your car careens along in any weather or day/night… are you still with me?.. spooky isn’t it?

Thanks for the advice.

However, since the new car that I will be buying in approximately one year will undoubtedly have a standard GPS system, I don’t really want to spend money on a portable GPS that I would use for–at most–one year. If I got along without GPS for the past 45 years of driving, I suppose that I can get along without it for another year or so.

I’m well aware the technology exists now. It is advancing rapidly with the improved computer technology and specific purpose chip designs. Efforts now are moving toward more simple designs that could be cost effective someday.

Old systems required wires being imbedded in the roadways. Govt. budgets made this impractical, since we can’t even get pavement without potholes and safe bridges in our major cities. Now the designs use radar and infared and other sensors to space the cars and avoid objects. GPS is used to track positioning and plan routes. It will happen, and perhaps it will be a good thing. The major stumbling block at the moment is developing “standards” so that all the cars can communicate with each other in a coordinated manner. When a particular system becomes so superior to the others then we’ll be getting closer to setting those standards.

Perhaps then a “cash for dummies” govt incentive will be needed to get all the dumb cars off the road. That way the new “intelligent” cars can rule the road without interference from the old foggies who still have cars with those old fashioned steering wheels.

Since the T’Bird will be banneed from the road at that point to enjoy a “drive” I’ll have to put the top down and park in front of a giant fan to feel the wind in my long past grey, white hair.