Evil Car Electronics

I currently drive an '89 Acura Legend with close to 200,000 miles on it. I know I’ll need a new car someday, but I mistrust all the fancy technology in new cars. Electronics hate me. My family won’t even let me touch the key cards for hotel rooms because they cease to work when they come near me. I’m afraid a newer car with electronic door locks and computer-gadgety brakes and engine controls will refuse to cooperate with my driving intentions. When the Legend dies, will I be doomed to drive antique cars for the rest of my life? Does anyone still make a basic automobile?

I am an old geezer and always “liked the old one better” than what I just bought. However, in the cars I have owned that have been 1990 or newer, I haven’t had much problems with the electronics. For example, I had no electronic problem with a 1990 Ford Aerostar, but the engine was replaced under warranty because a cylinder head was cracked and coolant got into a combustion chamber scoring a cylinder wall. I had no electronic problems with a 2000 Ford Windstar, but I did have intake manifold problems. I have a 2003 Toyota 4Runner. When it was brand new, the belt tensioner was defective causing the serpentine belt to chirp. I have had no problems since that time. I had a 2006 Uplander. The intermediate steering shaft was replaced under warranty. I also had the sender for the gasoline gauge replaced under warranty, but cars have had gas gauges for years. I have had window crank handles break on my 1978 Oldsmobile, but on the later cars I have never had an electric window fail.
Take it from this old geezer–new cars with modern electronics are much more reliable. I like to romanticize about the “good old days” when I worked on my cars. However, I don’t have to work on the modern cars as I used to with my old cars–change the ignition points and spark plugs every 10,000 miles, or clean the carburetor.

I don’t think you will have a problem with a modern car. By the way, I have had trouble with the electronic locks on hotel room doors.

Your Acura already has a ton of electronics in it including a computer controlled engine management system. How has it been? Maybe your curse doesn’t extend to cars.

Electronics in cars have for the most part (haha, Toyota) only gotten better. Your car is from right before things started getting standardized, from back when a lot of stuff was still pretty experimental.

The biggest down side to newer cars and electronics, AFAIK, is that the stereos are often physically integrated into the dash and electronically integrated into other systems, so they’re a pain to replace.

Modern fuel injection is more reliable than carburetors ever were…partly because of better parts, and partly because it is now possible to get a good diagnosis of faults.

Electronic windows and locks are standard now because in some cases (at least with windows) they’re actually cheaper and lighter than the manual ones, and because it is far cheaper to only have to manufacture one door panel and one window mechanism…if they’re going to have it as an option, it’s cheapest to make it standard.

Electric power steering is one thing I’d avoid…the only one I’ve driven that had it (Saturn Ion) was twitchy and unnerving…great steering in every regard except for feel, though. Most others I’ve read about have similar complaints.

As for being afraid of a Toyota-like problem, that’s probably been overblown a bit, and it hasn’t been a significant problem for other manufacturers. If you’re really afraid, get some sort of kill-switch hard wired to your ignition system. (It’s a good anti-theft measure, too.)

edit: Maybe you should get a Lotus 7 replica, or a Morgan?

How about that Neanderthal on the History Channel show “Axe Men”. I am talking about that 55 ish guy that berates his son and dives for logs. This guy also claims that “electronic things don’t like me” (he managed to mess up an electric winch). His boss says the guy has “bad mojo”.

People that fear electronics cannot be cured by an Internet Forum, this type of disfunction requires full on paid for thearpy.

power windows? don’t work. radio? doesn’t work. cruise control? won’t use it since the first time I tried it and the engine suddenly went racing out of control. nifty system check indicators? permanently N/A. My father-in law owned the car before I did and he never had any problems.

My son has a newer model GM car with an anti-theft feature on the ignition. About once a month, I have to rescue him in an urgent situation when he’s trying to get to work but HAL is determined to keep him from stealing his own car.

If you move to a “Free Country” where the government does not control the automobile industry, you can still buy simple, basic, cheap vehicles that normal human mechanics or the owners themselves can still repair and maintain…

Of course, if you are concerned about how they “perform” when crashed into walls at 45 MPH, better stick with something that’s “Approved For Sale In All 50 States”…

Most any '89 luxury car will have a good number of problems by now. If you want a ‘basic’ automobile, go to the main-line brands, not the luxury brands, and get one without a nav system or a sunroof. That’s about as simple as they come, and will likely be much more reliable than your Acura.

Buy a Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore. They’ll give you the best overview of overall reliability out there. Select from among the cars that have the best reliability records, buy one with as few options as possible to reduce opportunities for failure (the important stuff is all standard now anyway) and you’ll do fine. Modern electronics are pretty well protected from external causes of problems.

Interesting political statement.

You might enjoy “Demolition Man” with Sly Stallonne. It’s about a cop who was cryogenically frozen and reawakened in 2032. By that year everything deemed by the government to be bad for you is banned, including salt. We’re rapidly getting there.

Many base versions of cars come without anything. You won’t have to worry about the power windows, cruise control, air conditioning, or radio breaking on your Hyundai Accent base model, because they are not available on the base models.

How were you able to post on an internet forum if electronics hate you?
I think you are over blowing the situation by quite a bit.

There are lots of cars offered by manufacturers that have nothing in them.
Depends entirely on how much you want to pay for a car, and how big you want the car to be.

All the really cheap cars are really small. Think sub $12k cars.

Or, you can go the opposite direction, and pay big bucks for high end sports cars that you have to pay extra for to have them not install things like air conditioning, door handles, electric convertible top. The Porsche Boxster Spyder is a perfect example of this. Probably the least expensive of the full on Premium Sports Cars, too.

Otherwise, buy a bicycle.


I did have an opportunity to ride in such a “free country” vehicle. It was an 80s model Toyota Land Cruiser in Bolivia.

This vehicle had no seat belts, no crash padding on the dash, no emission controls, no headrests, the heater hoses ran unprotected along the floor in the front passenger area.

This was your very basic vehicle such as you would have been able to buy in the US around 1962, before we started adding all these things. Did I feel safe? No, not for one minute; riding in an open vehicle with no seat belts and slippery seats and no hand grips anywhere is a scary experience.

Very good point. I own a basic car without even ABS. I have an aftermarket GPS, which will be thrown away as soon as it acts up and replaced with another $200 unit. The stereo is a basic unit, and can be replaced for $300 with a better aftermarket unit.

If you want reliability, buy a basic car with a good reputation for reliability. Avoid complex electronic and mechanical options options.

Alternatively, you can buy the cheapest Ford Ranger 4 speed manual pickup with power nothing! That’s about as simple as it gets. Easy to work on for mechanics too.