Ny Times | My Black Brick

My Black Brick

Keeping a '92 Volvo 240 Wagon on the Road & Other Automotive & DIY Musings

Good Luck Driving Your Brick into the Ground


The NY Times is finally understanding the concept of high mileage in a consumer car. When the recession hit in 2009 the Times ran a few articles documenting how consumers were coping with their economic struggles by keeping their cars longer. Pity the poor family who needed to keep their 8 year old V70 instead of trading it in for a new car. Have mercy on the woman who is roughing it in her BMW with over 25k miles and going out of warranty.

Today the Times documents the trend of drivers keeping their cars past the 100k mile mark. The article feature photos of a clean and mean 1990 Volvo 745 with over 300k. Citing technological changes in piston rings, catalytic converters and rust proofing, engineers explain how recent cars can be expected to last much longer than vehicles from previous generations. And if you take proper care of it your car may even outlast you.

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US Studies Cellphone Risk, Then Hides Results

Two days after their article on the dangers of cell phone use while driving, the NY Times has an article outlining how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had studied the effects of phone use by drivers, only to bury the findings for fear of angering Congress.

The former head of the highway safety agency said he was urged to withhold the research to avoid antagonizing members of Congress who had warned the agency to stick to its mission of gathering safety data but not to lobby states.

Critics say that rationale and the failure of the Transportation Department, which oversees the highway agency, to more vigorously pursue distracted driving has cost lives and allowed to blossom a culture of behind-the-wheel multitasking.

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NY Times doesn’t want you fixing your car

tuber2With the title “Even to Save Cash, Don’t Try This Stuff at Home“, an article in Sunday’s NY Times reports that frugal consumers think they’ll save money doing their own repairs but wind up screwing things up worse. The photo above shows a jerry-rigged part a mechanic pulled from a car he had to correct.

“We open the hood and can tell the guy tried to do it himself with
cheap parts,” Mr. Tommasone said. “We see at least one a day like that.
At least. The No. 1 part replaced: the battery.”

I’m not sure how you can screw up the installation of a battery. Wrong polarization? Wrong size? Spilled acid? Sorry, but battery installation is one of the easiest things to do for car repair.

The articles comments are a great source of opposition against getting charged an arm and a leg for simple repairs, however:

I tend to have quite the opposite problem. Every time I pay to have
something done I wind up redoing it myself. New brakes squealed at
every stop. After three repeat visits to the shop failed to correct the
problem I did it myself – no more squeaks. The shop skimped on parts.

This is asinine. Plenty of people replace toilets or hang molding without doing serious damage to their homes.

The idea that only the professionals should handle simple jobs is what
is wrong with the USA (I am a flaming liberal, so no comments about me
being a right wing nut case). Yes, amateurs make mistakes, especially
the first time they try a job. They will get better at repairs as they
take on more jobs themselves. Even pros make mistakes, and some do
sloppy work.

Is this article proposing that we make money out of nothing “to do the
job right the first time?” We don’t have the money to spend on hair or
a handy-person anymore.

and

What is so difficult about replacing a car battery?

Indeed.

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Roughing it in her BMW

220-usedThe NY Times, in another attempt to elicit sympathy for the poor people who drive used cars, profiles Ryan Moore of Los Angeles. She’s hunkering down in this tough economy by holding onto her current vehicle and riding out the recession.

The car she’s stuck with? A 2004 BMX X3 with 25,000 miles on it.

A few months ago, Ms. Moore worried that the cost of maintaining her 2004 BMW X3 would rise because the warranty had expired. She looked at trading it in and buying a new Infiniti EX35. But the money she was offered for the X3 was well below what she had hoped. So she held on to her BMW, which has 25,000 miles on it.

“Basically, my story is just one of excess versus caution,” Ms. Moore said. “I don’t need a new car. I’ve decided to wait out the storm, not get into any debt and hope I still have a job in a month.”

Am I to understand that the build quality of this Bavarian crossover is so poor that you wouldn’t want to own one out of warranty? That a woman who is currently employed and could afford a $30,000 car 4 years ago is now roughing it by keeping her car? I’m mystified that people think driving anything other than a new car is a form of sacrifice.

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Volvos for Tough Times

Sundays NY Times had an Op-Ed titled “Volvos from Florida” where the author explains that “My husband, Rob, and I are riding out the recession in a 2000 Volvo wagon we bought last summer from a man named Gary Dunne.”

Riding out the recession in an 8 year old car? Wow, that’s roughing it. I imagine a family of Okies trudging across the dust bowl in their well worn XC70, looking for any newspaper in need of an editorial, or just a caption writer.

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