Will Modern Day Cars & Trucks Become Disposable and Not Repairable?

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Bodie Stroud's 1956 F-100

Modern day vehicles are full of modern day safety equipment and electronics. On top of that, there’s computers controlling practically every other aspect of the vehicle. But will all of this new technology make it difficult to repair and restore these vehicles in the future? It’s a possibility.

Richard Truett, of Automotive News, recounts his recent purchase of a Pontiac Fiero that needed some work. He purchased the car knowing that it’d need work, because he wanted to hone his skills. That’s an admirable reason. But he quickly learned that finding the parts he needed was difficult.

The dealership was no help, because the car was too old. Aftermarket parts weren’t reliable. Some of his issues revolved around the car being one of the first vehicles with complicated electronic systems.


At the end of the article, Truett asks if vehicles 50 years in the future will be as repairable, for both appearance and performance, as the ’65 Mustang is today?

The reality is, most likely not. We already know new vehicles are becoming more and more difficult to work on yourself, and it’s only going to get worse as more vehicles get more electronics.

Since software controls most cars, breaking the encryption on the software and making changes is not only difficult, but it’s potentially illegal.

It’s unlikely that 50 years from now, cars will be using the same type of communication interface on vehicles. That means if you need a new infotainment screen, you might be completely out of luck, but not because they don’t make infotainment anymore, but because the modern stuff won’t be able to talk to the older stuff.

But that same communication bus also talks to other components, such as the engine management, traction control, emissions control systems, and more. The whole car using a main communication bus to communicate across all the systems.

When that becomes obsolete, that could create serious problems.

Legally, automakers are required to make replacement parts available for a certain amount of time. But beyond that, it’s left to the aftermarket community to keep the fire burning. On common cars, like the F-150, that might not be a problem (since they’re so darn popular), but on lower-volume vehicles, finding aftermarket parts might be scarce.

Also, don’t think the automakers are going to stop this trend. While automakers build their vehicles to last a certain amount of time, they definitely don’t want you to keep your vehicle running forever. Making non-repairable cars would also have a dramatic effect on the used market.

1969 Ford F-100

Without a vibrant used car market, people will have to buy new cars. Automakers are in the business of selling new cars.

Are automakers making the vehicles more technical so they’re more difficult to repair and you’ll have to buy a new one? Take off your tinfoil hat, that’s not the case.

In order to stay competitive with other manufacturers, new technologies are employed. New car buyers demand things like satellite navigation, phone integration, radar cruise control, and more.

Yes, an enthusiast looking to buy a car that’ll last the longest might skip those options, but the average consumer does not. And as long as the majority wants the tech, we’ll keep getting the tech.

For enthusiasts, though, it’s the downside of the future.

What do you think? Let us know over in the forums!

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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