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Prius problems put spotlight on car electronics

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All these electronics on a vehicle is the reason why I perfer older cars with mechanical parts. They are always reliable than electronics that can go out and as long as someone has the mechanical aptitude to understand how they work if they ever break they can be fixed.

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Kind of ironic... I remember years ago, GM? or Ford? was working with Microsoft to basically develop an "on-board" PC, but according to the automaker, Microsoft was:

A) unable to stick to launch deadlines and

B) unable to guarantee that the system would not "crash" during car operation as car owners would be more unforgiving if their on-board PC crashed as opposed to their desk top PC

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The many electronic controls are to the wishing of women drivers, like automatic trannies, to power steering & so much more. For they cannot handle the steering, braking, shifting of gears, to just so much more.

Having been a farmer in past yrs muscle was needed to handle a well used second-hand tractor to so much more, but most men were able to do it. Remember old single cam disc brakes were all we had & so often the tractor or whatever was worked on by the farmer with his limited machine shop, tools to knowledge. Yet had to count on the rough mechanical equipment just a few yrs back.

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While these recalls are serious, it seems like they are being inflated. You turn on CNN and that is the headline news, what happened to Haiti? Seems like maybe the big three (GM, Ford, Chrysler) are trying to level the playing field.

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Joe, not much we can do about natural disaters after they have happened. A few million defective cars racing down the highway should be cause for continued daily concern regardless of who makes them.

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I used to love fixing my own cars. Even rebuilt engines. I can't do that any more due to all the electronics. I miss the good old days.

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"Seems like maybe the big three (GM, Ford, Chrysler) are trying to level the playing field."

The more double standards I've seen over the past week, the more I'm inclined to believe just this. But a fraction of reported problems with non-hybrid Toyotas are legitimate, and but a fraction of those are actually due to a parts defect, while in a world full of highly complex systems, means that sometimes s#it just happens.

As for this Prius hysteria, there's nothing associated with Prius braking problems that weren't evident in Ford hybrids two years ago. Yet Ford somehow has enjoyed the luxury of not being pressured by the NHTSA to recall their vehicles, as Toyota has, despite the NHTSA also being unable to recreate either brake failure or sudden acceleration in lab conditions. Somehow, Ford can causally and quietly offer a software "patch" to help drivers who "feel the sensation of not having any brakes," whatever the hell that's supposed to mean, and American media gives them a free pass.

If that doesn’t suggest some effort, be it conscious or not, to give U.S. manufacturers some breathing room after Toyota usurped the top automotive sales position in North America this year, then I don’t know what does.

But I'm inclined to agree with many posters here. While I'm an avid technophile and will eagerly try anything that makes me go, "Wow!" brakes are still brakes, and they should stop you 100% of the time, every time. If the best way to ensure that it to go with simpler systems, then maybe manufactures should do just that.

The thing is though, hydraulic brakes -- new ones -- can fail too. Been there, done that. It was an illuminating experience that left someone's front yard the worse for wear as a result, but better those petunias than the back end of the car in front of me.

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And all of these electronics consume more electricity. More efficient? I suppose so. Harder on the battery? Definitely.

My present motorcycle (2009 model) itself, will consume around fifty percent more electricity ("juice") on start-up than a similar model from say, twenty years back or so. Electronic display, electronic fuel injection, starter-motor, kick-stand sensor, and the motor will not turn over when you attempt to start while not in neutral. All nice enough, but all need the juice.

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Electronic systems have their unique problems, not to forget the psychological ones, since people more and more get used to the electronics and blindly rely on it no matter what happens. But I can hardly believe reliability of cars has been better in the old mechanical days, as some comments suggest. I'm too lazy to look for statistics now...

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