Least computer dependent?


#1

Almost time for a new/new to me car, and I’ve been thinking about how newer cars are so dependent on computer technology (and I read this Gizmodo post - http://gizmodo.com/5815889/the-gadgetization-of-cars-is-kind-of-ruining-them ). As a secondary concern, I’m not wild about how much info they potentially store and transmit.

Do I have a valid concern, and if so what’s my solution?


#2

It’s a reasonable concern, in that 20 years from now lots of those electronic gadget will be hard to repair. But you can’t buy a computer-free new car, they’re required to operate the engine and other systems. You can minimize them by avoiding the electronic options, if you like. Me, I don’t buy cars for 20 years (more like 10-15), so I don’t worry about it.


#3

Unless you’re willing to drive antique cars there’s not much of a solution to this “problem.” There are no new, or nearly new, cars that do not rely on multiple computers.

If you own a “smart phone,” I fail to see your concern. I’d worry more about the phone than the car storing and transmitting info.

I agree with texases in that a car with fewer electronic gizmos will probably be more reliable in the long term, but they’re getting harder and harder to find.

On the other hand, computers have made cars MUCH more reliable than they’ve ever been. I don’t really want to go back.


#4

New cars offer outstanding power, fuel economy, and low emissions for a reason: computers. Engine timing changes given the environmental inputs it reads from the sensors to provide good power at almost all speeds. And you always meet pollution requirements. While you might want to avoid something like a BMW 750i with an astonishing array of electronics (you can’t afford it anyway), Your basic Toyota or Chevy will provide a substantially better car in almost every way than a 40-year old computerless car.


#5

In the 1980s, when automakers were trying to use lame tricks to meet CAFE standards, computer technology was not very reliable. Today, when you look under the hood of your car, the computer is probably the most reliable piece of technology on your engine.

I am a purist, so I can appreciate what the article has to say about drivers having too many gadgets in their cars. However, any reliable car you buy is going to have a computer under the hood, and that’s a good thing.

Personally, I prefer a car without keyless entry, power windows, and built-in GPS. These things are expensive to fix, and I keep my cars for a long time. However, if I want reliable transportation, I may need to settle for features I don’t really want.


#6

Agree; it’s impossible to buy a car without computer(s). However, You can still buy a basic car that has a stick shift manual windup windows, no cruise, no electric door locks and no antilock brakes.

For instance, a basic Corolla or Yaris is about as reliable as anything can get. And all electronic items are light years more reliable than than the mechanical stuff on sixties cars. We have a 17 year old Nissan which has never had an electrical or electronic problem (other than a new battery and starter), and the body will be the first thing to go.

In other words, an Asian car with a good reliability rating will be good for 20 years, so, as others say, don`t worry.

On the other hand, don`t buy a 10 year old loaded German luxury car or a Cadillac; those will guaranteed have expensive electronic problems.


#7

Yeah good luck. With Onstar, they know where you are all the time. They don’t tell anyone but they have your gps coordinates anyway. I was surprised when I looked at my monthly condition report on line and said to check my left rear tire which was a little low. My gosh they know where I am, what radio channels I’ve got on, my tire pressure, and even have a microphone up by the rear view mirror.

All well and good except the courts don’t seem to be updating their privacy rulings to at least lock up all of this information.


#8

Big Brother is indeed watching you, Bing. Beware!


#9

The only valid concern is what’s keeping the tin foil hat on your head.

If you think that by getting rid of the computers in today’s cars you’d be better off, try thinking back to when they DIDN’T have computers:
Having to adjust the timing and fuel mix on the carburetor every major elevation change
Deadly exhaust fumes(when was the last time you heard about someone offing themself in their car with a garden hose going from the muffler to the cabin?)
No airbags. The computer would detect the impact and deploy them.
No ABS to allow you to steer while under panic braking
and much more


#10

The REAL weakness is there is still no standardization…There must be over 2000 ECM’s by now…They all perform the same function in pretty much the same way…If they were standardized, one black box fits everything, the cost would come down to less than $100 and replacing them, should that become necessary, would not be a heart-stopping repair situation…There is absolutely no need for every model of vehicle to have it’s own unique computer control module…A standardized module could be programmed to deal with virtually ANY conceivable vehicle configuration…The diagnosis of failures would all become simplified and standardized and that’s probably the reason it will never happen…Two many jobs depend on “proprietary repair procedures” available ONLY at your friendly dealership…


#11

Most automobile problems aren’t computer failures, but mechanical failures. As to the computer storing information about me, I’m so boring that nobody would want to read the information anyway.


#12

The programming in these computers is pretty standard. The difference is the eprom or prom (which ever they use) that holds the specific information about each vehicle.

I’ve seen computers replaced which turned out NOT to be the computer. Many times it’s one of the sensors giving a false reading that’s the problem. It’s like the mechanics who replace a catalytic converter because of a faulty O2 sensor.


#13

Kasey, if you’re wanting to avoid things breaking, avoid these: AWD, turbochargers, and sunroofs. Most work fine, but they’re not necessary for most, and when they do break, it’s a pain.


#14

You’d be surprised at how many microcontrollers are integrated into most vehicles these days. It’s all about distributed processing. Anyway, the idea that the engine control electronics hardware could be standardized is feasible. But so is standardizing on engines or transmissions or seats or any other piece of hardware in the vehicle but it’s not really practical or even desirable in many cases. If someone offered a standardized power plant that was integrated across the entire array of manufacturers, the cost of those power plants should go down considerably due to economies of scale. There are various reasons why that isn’t being done for any of those parts, including the engine control electronics, or the firmware running inside of it for that matter.


#15

And marketability. Kinda hard to sell a sports car or a factory hot rod if the same engine is in your minivan. Oh, wait, Plymouth already discovered that :wink: