Have we made things needlessly complicated with electrically operated devices?

After reading posts about problems with blend doors, windshield washer motors and so on, I wonder what advantages operating these devices with electrical or vacuum controls had over the simpler way it used to be done. Heater controls used to be with mechanical cables and, to me, it seemed like a reliable way to open or close the blend doors. I have had cars that had a foot operated bellows and a check valve that pumped water from a reservoir onto the windshield. This seems to me like a fool proof system to wash the windshield. I remember non-electrical oil pressure and temperature gauges that seemed to give accurate readings.

I will grudgingly admit after having cranked a Farmall F-12 magneto ignition tractor that the electric starter beats the non-electric hand crank. However, do all these electronics with the body control module make for a more reliable automobile?

IMO, it’s as much about weight savings, packaging and standardization of parts. Reliability and functionality sometimes, but only sometimes take a back seat.

It’s a double edged sword.
On one hand, the electronics are more reliable than the old mechanical things.
On the other, it’s harder to diagnose those little niggling problems that crop up as the vehicle ages.

Would you want to spend hours on fine tuning the points on the distributor/carburetor or a few minutes just changing out plugs and wires?

I think fuel injection and electronic ignition are great. I’m just not sure why I need an electrically operated windshield washer over the old non-electric foot operated pump. There is a place for electronics, but is it really necessary for everything?

I’ve never had a problem with an electrically- (not electronically-) operated windshield washer system, and I think they are wonderful.

There are other electrically-, or electronically-operated systems, however, that I could easily do without.

Here’s an example; My '96 Subaru has manually adjustable HVAC controls. My '97 Acura has “Climate Control.”

The Climate Control in the Acura is a pain. The manual controls on the Subaru are much easier to manipulate and make it easier to control the interior temperature.

Isn’t that what HVAC controls are all about?

I don’t need “climate control.” What I need, and want, is to have control over my car’s HVAC system.

Sadly, this is not available on many new cars. Or used cars.

If you’re spending hours, maybe, just maybe, you’re doing it wrong.

Kickstart motorcycles! Who’s with me?

Sometimes they are not complicated enough. I would like to choose an economy setting rather than a power setting for my PCM. If you wanted power, you could flip the switch. Hybrids could be forgotten.

The fuel injection and electronic ignition I don’t have a problem with but I agree that cars have become overly complicated. It keeps the engineers and gee-whiz guys busy I guess, all at the expense of mechanics and car owners who have to put up with it.

I love my Lincoln Mark but there’s a number of widgets on the car I can easily live without; auto climate controls, self-dimming mirrors, and memory seats are a few of those.
Jeez, I can’t even sit at night in the car with the engine running and turn off the headlights manually. Guess that would be bad news in the days of drive-in theaters where the sign says turn off headlights before entering. :slight_smile:

Both my antique Harleys have kick starters as have most of my prior motorcycles. The kickers have never let me down. The same can’t be said for my previous HDs and BMW equipped with the electric foot. :frowning:

Not surprisingly, I second that. The kickstart motorcycle, that is.

The real problem with lights that can’t be turned off is when you go to a Christmas light display.

When I left the farm in 1962, my dad still had Farmall Regulars and an F-20. We parked them on a little hill in front of the house, and started them by coasting.

My brother once got a Cadillac engine and put it in an F-20. He installed a foot throttle. That sucker would throw dirt some distance with a plow, when at full throttle. I can’t remember what happened to it, unless it used too much gas and he had to stop using it.

Cable-actuated blend doors worked great until the cable snapped and you had to tear the entire dash apart to get to it. That’s an extra failure point in a system that could already fail with the jamming that we’ve talked about here, and it’s a lot more likely for a control cable to snap than for a vac. line to disintegrate.

A foot-operated pedal system for washing the windows not only takes your foot off of the pedals, but forces you to concentrate on stamping your foot rather than just pressing a button.

I guess I don’t really see the point of being overly Luddite-ish about vehicle technology. If you want to be technical, horses are a lot easier to diagnose and fix (or shoot) than cars are, so we could bemoan the advent of the automobile entirely. After all, I never had to adjust a blend door or set ignition timing on a horse (but the backfires were much more unpleasant).

If you have ever helped a vet float a horse’s teeth, I think you would rather adjust a blend door. I’ve driven cars until they became senior citizens and never had a cable break that actuated any of the blend doors.

I never had to concentrate on where to stamp my foot to operate the windshield washer on my previous cars. The pedal was to the left of the clutch and my left foot was there ready to hit the washer. My 1954 Buick had a “Selectronic” radio. There was a little foot switch between the clutch and brake pedals that I could step on and the radio would advance to the next station.

You only have to float the teeth every couple of years or so, and only if they’re wearing unevenly. By contrast, you never have to change the oil in a horse, and the government isn’t trying to force you to inject a substance into his oats which degrades his muscles and makes him hungry again sooner than he should be. Pollution emitted by the horse is cleaned up by maggots and dung beetles, and at only 1 horsepower, you probably won’t hit another horse at 80mph and get sued for the resulting injuries, and I don’t have to remove his head to replace a gasket if I run him too hot.

I also don’t have to wash his windshield either electrically or with a pump :wink:

Actually, I’ve had a few people give me looks when hitting a few areas up that are heavily decorated. Everyone is down to park lamps and I’m blazing away, just not out of choice. :slight_smile:

I have seen tractors and combines hauled to the dealership to repair the air conditioner. It’s hard to believe that in my lifetime I, like irlandes, have parked farm tractors on hills to facilitate starting them and on occasion hand cranked them like Triedag. I have run a belt drive through the wall of a barn so that a John Deere tractor could turn a corn sheller and crusher. In fact, we had a small saw mill that would run off the John Deere. Luddites unite.

For a given level of functionality electronics has made things simpler.

Don’t blame electronics for the desire of some to drive a high tech living room on wheels.

You haven’t taken into account those points need to be serviced every 15k miles at most,
whereas the plugs in the modern car can run up to 120k miles (I won’t go that far though).

So how long does it take to replace and adjust points 8 times?

I have been diagnosed with a health condition called Geezeritis. I have experienced the following symptoms: 1) I went to the Buick dealer. When the salesman asked me about what car interested me, I asked to see a Roadmaster. He gave me a strange look and I said, “You know, the model with the 4 portholes on each front fender”. The salesman disappeared. 2) I am getting older and I find it particularly hard to carry in a 100 pound block of ice in the summer for my Coolerator icebox. In the winter, it isn’t so bad, but in the summer, it is hard. We no longer have ice delivery, but I still have the card to put in the window that has 25, 50, 75 and 100. Whichever number I put up was the amount of ice that would be delivered. At any rate, I went to a big box store because I thought I would upgrade to a refrigerator. I want one that will last as long as the Coolerator, so I inquired about a Servel gas refrigerator. I struck out on that one. Maybe I’ll have better luck upgrading the Farmall F-12 to an Oliver 77.

Not really !

I recall cars in the 50s that were miserable to work on and you had no choice because things like spark plugs and ignition points had to be changed every ten thousand miles . Automatic transmissions were less reliable and car radios were a joke ! Slow to warm up and a pain to change the tubes in them ! The good old days are good in retrospect because our memories are lousy !