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Sometimes, it’s the engineer’s fault

By Nick Rowe - For The Telegraph | Jun 17, 2018

It’s not your fault!

All the excuses you need to know so you can feel better about yourself while paying outrageous prices to fix your car.

Viable Excuse No. 2, the engineer who designed your car should have been flunked.

In our last article, we discussed outside forces that can cause failure of parts on your car (winter road salt and vibration from springtime road conditions). This time, we discuss how the engineers that designed your car can affect the cost of a repair.

One of the most often heard phrases in our shop is, “What were they thinking when they designed this?” The frustration of a mechanic being forced to do countless hours of work to repair something that can be done in a fraction of the time on another car is not just the result of more work for no gain. It is the certain knowledge that the customer is not going to understand why they pay for 1½ hours’ time to change front brakes and rotors on a 2006 Dodge Dakota, but for a 2006 Chevrolet Colorado they pay 7 hours for the same job. Simple answer. … The idiot engineer thought he/she had a better idea, even though the other design has been around for decades and has proven to be dependable and easily serviceable.

This story can be told over and over. Porsche put twin turbos on a V8. Lots of fun to drive, but they only last about 125,000 miles, then the engine and transmission have to be removed because you can’t get to the turbos. If the engineer opted for a supercharger, the boost to horsepower would be about the same and it mounts on top of the engine lowering the time required for the repair by about 17 hours! This is so common there should be a name for it. Let’s call it the poor design penalty. On the brake job, the poor design penalty is about $500, for the Porsche Turbo job it is about $2,000.

So, the next time you have to pay $500 to $2,000 more for a job on your car than it would cost on another vehicle, just remember … it was the engineer’s fault. You still have to pay out the big bucks, but don’t you feel better knowing it’s not your fault.

Nick Rowe has more than 20 years experience in the automotive industry. He has worked at Volvo, Dodge and Jeep dealerships and is currently one of the mechanics at Horseless Carriage in Milford.


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