Auto Service World
Feature   January 1, 2006   by CARS Magazine

A Plea for Common Sense in Automotive Technology

When it comes to technology, Montreal counterman Ken Zakaib says 'stop the insanity'!

To all SSGM Readers:

I speak for myself, not my employer. But after about a year on the front desk of a really busy two-bay garage and working for one of the most honest, intelligent and hardworking guys you could meet in the business, I can tell you, I see the human drama of keeping cars going in a world that, let’s face it, depends on these machines. I see people of all walks of life: wealthy, average and poor. The emotions are palpable. The financial problems very real, as are people’s visceral reactions to the cost of just trying to get from point A to point B. And the car usually breaks when people cannot afford it!

Common sense, ladies and gentlemen. Technology must never be allowed to overrule common sense. And on the other hand, common sense must prevail over [hu]mankind’s tendency to be over confident and even pompous, in the face of technology. We all have a choice. We can stick our heads in the sand and believe the technological gurus of our time and indeed, steam full ahead into a minefield full of icebergs; as did Titanic, or we can say, wait a minute, This is too much! Caution! Slow down. Watch!

Equally true is the insidious reality that so many of you believe, in the automotive industry, that you can do nothing to affect the manufacturers and the way it is! So, by extension, I hold all of us responsible! Not just the manufacturers … we are all in this together and all of us will pay the price if all of us allow it to.

If all of you sincerely believe, you can do nothing, affect nothing and make no difference; then that is precisely what will happen! The manufacturers must be reminded that they build cars for average people, with average budgets and average problems. It is the average customer who must pay the repair bill for electronic gadgets way out of control. But if no one tells the story about living with these things, who is going to know?

We could run huge engines with one coil. Do we need eight coils? I don’t think so. And at $150 a copy? What about injectors at $430 each? Or a pick-up truck with a fuel pump control module “driver” at $1,430! One model has eight different control modules on one damned pick-up truck! There may be a reason to have two hillbillies, two big ole shotguns and few hound dogs on “that thar” pick-up, but not eight computers! No way! So, I suggest to the “good ole boys”, you best think about that, ’cause, you ain’t going to be able to afford any of this when the fenders are shakin’ in the wind!

So in conclusion, on a more serious note, we are all in this together! And we all have to do our part to keep life liveable and to keep common sense up front where decisions are made! Unite! Scream on the pages of SSGM! DO IT!

Ken Zakaib has years of experience working the service desk of a popular Montreal garage. He’s also watched advancing automotive technology drive many working-class drivers out of their vehicles as repair costs skyrocket and sees what many in the industry do every day; complexity and high cost parts risk gutting all but the most affluent of our customer base. Ken’s comments are a call-to-arms for the repair industry. – Jim Anderton, Editor

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