Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2005   by CARS Magazine

Useless electronics, and junk on our roads?

Kingston, Ontario's Dan Donovan agrees with Editor Jim Anderton's October Rant about excessive vehicle electronics:...

Kingston, Ontario’s Dan Donovan agrees with Editor Jim Anderton’s October Rant about excessive vehicle electronics:


I have never read a truer, more concise article in an automotive magazine than your rant in the October/2005 edition. I worked in a dealership for twelve years (thank God that is behind me) and I can attest to the fact that electronics in the newer vehicles have gotten out of control — worsening the situation is the lack of diagnostic equipment and technical support from the manufacturer. They simply appear to be installing a lot of the gizmos in cars these days simply “because they can” without any regard for functionality or necessity — rain detecting sensors in windshields? I believe if you can’t tell that it is raining you should not be driving. Thanks for voicing an opinion that is widely held today in the automotive world.

Dan Donovan

Kingston, Ontario

Todd Hassard, Marketing Coordinator for Henkel Canada (Loctite) agrees with Dan Donovan:


Great article on how much is too much. I’ve often wondered what happens when an extravagant vehicle passes it’s prime yet is far too complicated to be seen as a “beater” at any given point. I can only foresee a pile of cars that are worth nothing because they cost too much, if that makes sense. There is still a lot to be said for simple ideas. Cheers,

Todd Hassard Marketing Coordinator Loctite AAM & Industrial Henkel Canada Corporation

Jim Anderton replies:

Thanks Dan, and Todd. Gadgets are nice, but how do you tell a customer that it will cost $600 to repair windshield wipers? And it’s only going to get worse. At some point, the cost of repair has to be reflected in the residual value of these vehicles on the used market. Wreckers are filled with cars that are better than my daily driver as the high cost of vehicle electronics drives owners into leased or low-interest new vehicles. I hope we don’t end up like TV repairmen. When was the last time anyone fixed a TV?

ACDelco top tech Jeff Taylor, who’s featured in a series of prominent ACDelco ads, caught the attention of John Desjardins in the October SSGM, who questioned Taylor’s shoes, which were of the non-safety variety. Jeff took the time to reply:


About the shoes in the AC Delco ad spots, I was in a photo studio when the pictures were taken; the closet car was 50 feet away. I must commend John for noticing my footwear. I will say that we take safety at Eccles Auto Service seriously. Proper safety shoes or boots, glasses and hearing protection are a must or you go home.


Jeff Taylor

Eccles Auto Servcie

Gary Ball, chairman of the Newfoundland Labrador Automotive Service Association replied to Jim Anderton’s commentary about the junk-on-the-roads problem in the September Reader Feedback:

Hi Jim,

I’m not concerned over what might be, as much as I am over the present condition of vehicles traveling our roadways and highways, roadways and highways used by my family, my customers and the thousands of repair shop employees, their families and customers across the country. People can keep their vehicle fit for the road even on tight budgets. We are supposed to be the professionals. Professionals usually have associations which bring forward items that affect safety to the attention of the general public. This is where the automotive aftermarket service providers get a failing grade.

A stamp or seal from a creditable repair facility signed by licensed technician could work if the insurance companies across the nation would offer a 20% discount on the annual insurance renewal when a voluntary inspection was provided. This would save the companies’ money in the long term and provide a means to track owners who are negligent over vehicle maintenance.

That said we still have people selling inspections and the cost to the industry is immeasurable. These operators create doubt in the minds of the public as to the honesty of those operators who do follow the legislation. We do not make the legislation however, we must abide by it. We need tough penalties for shops and mechanics who compromise vehicle safety and fail to comply with provincial legislation.

Can you put a price on a life? I can’t. There is a need for a nation wide vehicle safety and environmental worthiness check; yes it will generate revenue but the cost will result in less pain, suffering, save lives and be pro active in the preservation of the environment.

This industry must get it’s act together and start advising the motoring public of the condition of vehicles traveling our roadways.

Yes we have lots of issues, but the main issue here is to unite our efforts and educate the motoring public on how regular maintenance can save the consumer unnecessary down time, associated cost and protect this place we call home.

Surely our industry is worth this kind of action.

Gary Ball Chairman,

Newfoundland Labrador Automotive Service Association

Unit 50 Hamlyn Road Plaza, Suite 409

St. John’s NL

A1E 5X7

Jim Anderton replies:

Gary, I like your idea about an insurance reduction for safety checked vehicles, especially if it means no net cost to the consumer. The insurance companies would be key to making mandatory inspections work, because their actuaries know what percentage of vehicle accidents have vehicle faults as a contributory factor. As far as shops selling certifications is concerned, maybe it’s an example of the need for national, standardized legislation. I’ve advocated this for tech licensing, but our Constitution seems to handcuff common sense by splitting up responsibilities pretty strictly between the Federal and Provincial governments. What can individual shops do? Contact your local association and let them know what you think. All grassroots lobbying movements start this way, but enough techs and owners have to speak up to make it work.