Friday, 5 February 2010

Toyota & Others - Preordained Malfunctions?


The accompanying picture represents vehicles in general although my Subaru engine compartment happily raised its hood for this revealing photo-op.  Look closely and discover the numerous electronic gadgets. Each blessed with its own wee chip and who knows how much built in instructions. Floating through the cyber world one hears the interesting rumours that Toyota’s brake problems have less to do with straight mechanics and may be directly linked to weird electronic mishaps. This point has been vigorously denied if only because the blame can be nimbly shifted to parts suppliers. This despite the fact that Toyota engineers have to okay the designs, test and formally accept all of their outsourced components.
The reasons for all the electronic gear packed under the hood, dashboard  plus other various nooks and crannies: more smoothly operating vehicles, better gas mileage, greener air blowing out the tailpipe, tons of onboard dash goodies (voice activated only), and of course easier diagnostics. Then why when automobiles hit the shop has it become so difficult to read the computer and find the problem. Subaru relies on something like 100/150 codes; however, it appears codes are solely an aid in pointing to ‘a maybe’ certain direction and in no way lead to any malfunctioning parts. Over the years since electronics have been introduced, the explanation - and the rising cost of diagnostics - for the inability of the computer to locate the problems have led to some very convoluted explanations from service advisors at more than one dealership.
As to other uses for installed electronic goodies. How hard can it be to implant a microscopic chip with very simple instructions - keep count of times this item is used and once it hits a predetermined or random number fry the part or otherwise cause it to malfunction?  Remember we have to keep all the dealerships, repair shops and parts manufacturers joyously supplied with faulty vehicles to keep their sales high and their profits higher still.  Determining well ahead how often your new car will have to spend a few hours in the shop and the required parts , enables the entire industry to plan ahead.  Or should! The past year reveals that the auto companies - even with all the chips on the table - are still unable to figure out the game. However, with governments as their willing backers, intelligence in this industry no longer surfaces as a requirement for upper management.
Besides all the crash testing done by the IIHS and emission analyses, it may be time for independent investigation and research into just what instructions may be built into car parts.

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