Following on from our article yesterday on the rising tide of faults that used car dealers have to contend with it has to be said that technology has bought real advances in everyday life that we could only dream about just two decades ago. You only have to look at the size of your mobile phone or camcorder to see that. With hugely improved build techniques cars no longer rust as they once did, engines can now cover mileages which were once only the preserve of Heavy Goods Vehicles, we can watch films, get traffic updates, listen to literally thousands of our favourite songs on the IPod and talk to anyone in the world whilst having a back massage, and all from the comfort of our car and in many cases without even taking our hands off the steering wheel!
No one would deny that it’s a truly great thing, but when two decades ago the engine of the Ford Sierra I was selling gave up the ghost, or the gearbox on that Vauxhall Cavalier started to crunch in second gear, I could have another reconditioned unit supplied and installed for under £400.00. No warning lights to extinguish or computers to be programmed, or keys to be matched to the manufacturer’s main frame in some, as yet, unexplored galaxy.
With little or no technology there were none of the problems associated with modern cars, and the costs, although seemingly expensive at the time, pale into insignificance when compared with today’s repair costs.
I believe we are just starting to see the tip of the iceberg with regards to repair bills and reconditioning costs for the modern motor car, as the new cars of today become the second hand cars of tomorrow. The used motor dealer and consumer alike will have to become all the more astute at picking the very best of the marques out there and it’s already happening. Take a walk around any of the large Auction Houses and count how many of the same foreign euro boxes are sitting unwanted row after row, line after line, it won’t take you long if you watch the professionals carefully to see which marques they avoid and which they compete for.
As I mentioned earlier, there was a time not so long ago when spending £400.00 would get you a complete set of tyres and a clutch fitted, or a complete re-spray for that dull metallic Escort you had just taken in part exchange, less still would see a complete set of locks, seat covers and even a state of the art Cassette player with change left over for a full tank of fuel for the customer. All that was needed was a good mechanic with a clean workshop, a decent set of tools and a “Crypton Tuner” and within 48hrs you (usually) had one happy customer and a not too large repair bill.
The times and technology have changed the industry beyond all recognition, as we approach the end of the first decade of the millennium the consumer has more technological choice now than has ever been possible. But just spare a thought for the one’s where there is one choice they no longer have, if those super bright gas filled headlamps on their state of the art automobile should fail them on a cold winters night somewhere up the M6, there is no longer the choice of pulling into the nearest service station and replacing it with a £5.00 off the shelf version. There is no choice but to struggle on with the lights they have left and book it into the nearest garage the next day, (that’s if they have a slot available) and when the garage does eventually remove the bumper, and the battery box, and the air cleaner housing, and the air con radiator that’s in the way, and after 2 hours labour they finally remove the headlamp from its jewel encrusted box, but hey, not to worry, it’s only a couple of headlamp bulbs, it’s under warranty isn’t it? Surely the dealer will pay? He’s bound to get some change out of his £400.00, isn’t he?