Cars have come on in leaps and bounds over the years. Unless you drive something French or a Fiat, your transport is unlikely to break down. You can tell this indirectly from the extended warranties most manufacturers give these days. When you have your car serviced, it’s a real, ‘Change the plugs, change the oil, bye bye!’ job. Nobody has to decoke an engine any longer, you don’t have to regrind the valves, you don’t need to rejet or balance the carburettors. Even the bodywork no longer suffers from the sort of moth that was almost a factory option in the 60s and 70s. Unless you have an Alfa, obviously.
This is good news for car owners but bad for the manufacturers and dealers. Where will they make their money? You’ve shopped around, got the best possible discount on the purchase price, driven off happy as a sandboy, and taken much of the dealer’s revenue stream with you.
Well, the makers have become very canny about this. Take a quick shufti at the photo below. It’s a Nissan Juke, but I could have picked just about any model from any carmaker.
Notice anything? Maybe not, because it’s one of the plethora of cars out there designed by focus groups. But here’s what I see.
The headlights are in the front bumper. So you’re in a carpark somewhere, get involved in a shopping-speed accident that damages the bumper. Guess what? You then have to replace the headlights as well. If you’re insured well, the insurer will cough the dosh, but everybody’s premiums go up next year.
Then look at the sidelight clusters. They wrap around the top of the front wings (fenders). Moreover, they’re one piece. Sidelights, indicators, foglights, all in the same housing. Now suppose you decide to take the battery out, say. You get your trusty spanners out, and oopsie. You drop a spanner on the top of the wing.
In the good old days you might scratch the paint a bit, and have to go and buy some T-Cut. Also way back when, you could buy a new lens for a sidelight or indicator for a few bob. No longer is that the case. Now you’ll crack the housing and you’re stuck with a bill a whole new set of lights and the housing. That’s not going to be cheap, is it?
It’s pretty clever, but a bit cynical, don’t you think, to pass it off as a ‘design feature’ when it’s actually a cash cow. Careful with your toolkit, everybody.