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2021-07-14 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Consumer , 327 references Ignore this thread
Please Stop Being Stupid
[Comments enabled]

Oh Noooooos, they had to leave more features out!

The automaker has already made the unusual move of eliminate two fuel-saving features from some of the vehicles – engine start/stop and cylinder deactivation – and will now remove wireless mobile device charging pads from a few SUV trims, GM Authority first reported.

Well now.

Let's talk about that -- start/stop and cylinder deactivation.

Both are sold as "economical."

They're not.

Further, there are zero successful implementations -- defined as "does not screw the vehicle's engine or result in expensive repairs down the road."

None.

Not even the Japanese have gotten it right -- Mazda has had problems with engines using it.  So has GM.  So has everyone else.

Why?

Because cylinder deactivation is akin to an intentional misfire and thus produces asymmetric internal loading within the engine.  It is done to try to shave a fraction of a mpg in the EPA drive cycle and thus get a bit better rating.

This may not bother you if you don't intend to keep the vehicle for more than 5 years or beyond when the warranty runs out (and you get to pay for the nice, expensive repairs) but if you do intend to keep it, well, that's a problem.

Never mind the nice 10 speed automatic transmissions that run about $10,000 to replace when they blow up.  And folks: All automatics eventually blow up.  They blow up because the fluid is in the friction material of the clutches and thus inevitably some of that gets into the fluid and no matter how good of a filter you have (which isn't real good, by the way) you get wear and the wear causes failure.  You can make it fail faster by not maintaining it, of course.  Contrast this with a stick that may require a clutch but the gearbox itself, if you know how to drive a manual, will go a million miles with nothing more than gear oil changes every 50,000 or thereabouts.

Now let's contrast.  My 2002 Suburban has a 5.3L engine in it -- the same displacement as the current model.  It has a 4L60E transmission; a 4-speed overdrive automatic with lockup torque converter.

I can buy a remanufactured gearbox for $2,000 and for about $1,000 in labor have it installed.  That's a third of the price of the modern model.  For another $500 I can have upgraded internal parts put in said gearbox which will improve its expected life even more.  The engine, in a crate, is less-expensive as well if and when I blow it up, but it's much less likely to blow up because it doesn't have that cylinder deactivation crap on it and the fuel injectors and required high pressure fuel pump aren't $1,000 each either.

Here's the thing -- if all that "stuff" resulted in a 3-4mpg advantage and did not increase maintenance and repair costs it might be worth it.  After all, going from 18mpg to 21mpg, well, over enough miles that's a fair bit of money, especially with gas in the $3/gal+ range.  Over 100,000 miles or so that would be good for about $2,300 in fuel which is not chump change.

But that's not the truth.  The EPA window sticker on the new truck -- current year model, mind you, according to GM -- is 15/19.  So in the real world all this crap saves you nothing and makes the truck wildly more-expensive to maintain.

Mine gets 14/18 in the real world all day long, statistically identical and, if I recall correctly, was rated right around there.  Fuelly, which I use to track it, confirms this.  Further, stick a trailer behind either one of them and at 70mph they'll both get 9mpg.  The reason for both is that aerodynamically both are approximately equivalent to a flat brick wall and there's nothing you can do about the laws of physics in that regard.  It simply requires "X" horsepower to move said brick wall through the air at Y mph.

Period.

Maybe I should send mine out to be repainted and then have Katzkin re-do the leather seating.....  Hell, I could re-engine and re-transmission the truck at the same time and spend less than 20% of the cost of a "new" one -- and it would be, for all intents and purposes at that point, both cosmetically and mechanically new.

And be more reliable.

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Dcsleeper
Posts: 560
Incept: 2012-10-11

Northern VA
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now they're using soy insulated wires...

all the sustainable (old) used cars are getting snapped up.
Numenorean
Posts: 27
Incept: 2015-10-23

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My 30 year old chevy truck gets 15/18, always has. Granted, modern trucks have much more horsepower, but I've never really lacked power with the 350 CI. All that tech has done nothing for gas mileage, but it sure has bloated the price tag and made them less reliable.
Whitehat
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Elsewhere
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Interesting excuse to remove these features?

It would defy anything but a deep insider or highly committed investigator to determine if they really need to remove something that is destroying the reputation of their last profitable lines.

Moot point, the company should have been allowed to fail years ago.

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"Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven," Satan's monologue in the first book of John Milton's Paradise Lost
Fakehustle
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I have a 2011 Suburban. Had a rebuilt transmission put in last May at 191k miles for $3200. Body and undercarriage is solid. Leaky valve seals, burns a little oil. Now, 14 months in, at 215k miles. Even at 0% financing a new one would run me $1200/ mos. I'm thinking it might be worth a new engine when the time comes.
Shouldhave
Posts: 4
Incept: 2011-02-16

Parkville, MD 21234
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Thanks Karl, maybe I should listen :)

My anecdotal story.

2001 Chey Tahoe 5.7, 5.3 like yours. 14/21 mpg. 168K miles when I lost my front brake line with the wife in the car, wife told me to buy a new vehicle. My bad, I should have replaced all of the break lines, not just the rear when I lost a rear break line.

Purchased a 2016 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab, V6 3.8 5 speed Auto. Great little truck , got better city mileage but worse highway mileage, but close 15/20. At 60,k miles with only oil changes I needed new tires and maybe front brakes and some other maintenance items, brake fluid flush, transmission drain only since I towed my son's small travel trailer and was in the market for a travel trailer.

Well in cost me $20K for 4 new tires, the tires included a Brand new 2019 Ram Quad Cab, 5.7L 3.92 Gears for Max Towing. I was really worried about the gas mileage, boy was I wrong. This truck gets the best gas mileage of the two listed above, 15/23 mpg.

As you mention my truck has cylinder deactivation MDS and it does improve the mile while turning it on and off. Luckily Truck does not have Auto/Stop Button. But if you read on Ram Forum's they do have know lifter problems due to cylinder devastation.

Again I should listen to Karl learn to eat my veggies, turn-off my Cylinder Deactivation and throw away process food.
Thelazer
Posts: 555
Incept: 2009-05-11

Davenport, Fl
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Recently drove my mothers new Jeep, has that silly Start/Stop stuff on it. Nothing but annoying as hell (yes you can turn it off, but you must press a button EVERY time you start the thing up.)

Of course, it ALSO kills your ac cooling and trust me, that matters when your driving in 92 hot Florida sun.

No thanks.
Tdurden
Posts: 1114
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Gotta love the green-washing some of these car makers are pulling. This year we've been treated to Audi, Jaguar and Range Rover announced that they will be making their entire product line-up all electric. How wonderful! But they're not doing it to be "green"...they're doing it because their cars are colossal piles of ****. Take a look at the depreciation on these things. I know all cars take a big hit the second you drive them off the lot, but that valuation enters Grand Champion Cliff-Diving territory once the warranties expire. Take an higher end Audi, an A6 or especially an A8. A well optioned A8 from 2011 weighed in at over $100k brand new. You can pick one of those up now in great shape and low miles for less than 10% of that now. Same for a BMW 7 series. And don't even get me started on Jaguar. The only reason their leasing model hasn't imploded due to the horrible residual value is that these companies own their consumer finance operations. I'm going to guess that even their own arsonist MBA's have seen where that trend line is going.

What do these companies have to lose but completely scrapping their internal combustion power plants?

About all those cars are good for after a few years is harvesting the seats to make furniture out of because they are really comfortable.

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"I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next 10 generations that some favors come with too high of a price." -Vir Cotto Babylon 5
Tickerguy
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@Shouldhave -
Quote:
2001 Chey Tahoe 5.7, 5.3 like yours. 14/21 mpg. 168K miles when I lost my front brake line with the wife in the car, wife told me to buy a new vehicle. My bad, I should have replaced all of the break lines, not just the rear when I lost a rear break line.

GM during those years used (1) uncoated steel brake lines and (2) ran them between the body and frame where you cannot inspect them AND where they will trap water. They corrode and leak, and guess what -- you get a surprise. I had it happen on mine.

Fortunately I didn't have a trailer behind me when it did, and was able to limp it home.

Changing them was a BITCH. Not expensive, but a five-alarm pain in the ASS. I put in CuNi, which is what GM should have used in the first place and which costs an extra $50 or so. They'll never corrode again.

The undercarriage and rest of the vehicle is damn near spotless corrosion-wise. There is a very small seep around the differential cover; I will eventually change it. Again, GM used crap-painted cheap steel and its leaking just very slightly around the gasket. Not a big deal; over a year it'll lose an ounce of gear oil, but it's annoying to see the bottom of the case wet so I'll replace the cover and gasket later this fall. About 3 years ago I pulled that cover, wire-wheeled and painted it as it looked like **** but the bolt-holes, well, corrosion never sleeps and it had gotten in there so that's where the seep is coming from. The inside of the diff, when I looked appeared brand new; it's a roller-locker and had no visible wear on anything. That's it. No other leaks -- not oil or anything else, and no corrosion of note either.

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Tickerguy
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@Tdurden - The reason their resale value goes to zero is that they have a nasty habit of suffering very expensive failures out of warranty.

Have one of those $10,000 transmissions blow up out of warranty and the vehicle's value is scrapped.

Even worse is what BMW did with some of their SUVs -- to get the crankshaft sensor out and replace it the procedure begins with "Remove engine." Seriously. The sensor itself is under $50. That's akin to what GM did many years ago with vehicles that had no clearance to remove the SPARK PLUGS. Fortunately THAT bit of stupidity went away.

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Jules
Posts: 245
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How much did they lower the sticker price for these missing features? smiley

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Scottj175
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Vandiver, AL
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Yeah I worry about the long term health of my wife's 2018 Mazda 6. It's direct injection and has some flavor of cylinder deactivation. But at this point I own so many vehicles it's not a big deal if it goes in a few years.

Besides her car the newest thing in the fleet is my son's 2010 Civic.
Erroldo
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The range rover is one of the worst for 0 residual. I was able to get to older ones(2003/2005) for under 1500$. They have the BMW M62 V8 engine that's why I bought it. Timing chain guide failure, so for about $700 in parts I am able to rebuild the engine in my garage and both back on the road running very well. Would not touch those with the newer jaguar engine.
Erroldo
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For the BMWs, I remove the V8 crank sensor from underneath the vehicle on jack stands.
For the inline 6, I can get to it only after removing the the intake manifold. Involve quite a bit of removing "stuff". I never use the BMW procedure laid out.
Redjack
Posts: 608
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Iowa
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TG.

My sister has a BMW. A work of art under the hood. But as I am fond of saying, there is a reason the Germans lost the war.

You can't work on it. A battery change is a long procedure. Oil change requires you to go to the dealer to reset and check codes. She doesn't care, but it is something I wouldn't buy.

Question on the "idle stop" feature. If it turns the engine off, is the damage the same as if it stops feeding gas to the cylinder? My F150 has the feature but I typically leave it disabled.
Tickerguy
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Start/stop tends to be trouble over time too, but not as much as cylinder deactivation.

Interestingly enough the VW TDI that I have is not that bad to work on... timing belts are a pain in the ass but not hideously so.

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Greenacr
Posts: 289
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Northern Ohio
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"Start/stop tends to be trouble over time too"

I have that feature on my 2019 Ford 150 xlt. Don't really mind it but have always thought it doesn't do much for gas mileage. What are the long term effects. I use a retired Ford Master Mechanic to do a lot of my vehicle repairs so I am sure he could disable this feature if it makes sense to do so.
Toddmeister
Posts: 122
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Bay City, MI
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@Jules

I believe GM credited about $50 per feature that was disabled due to chip shortage.
Tickerguy
Posts: 175288
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@Greenacr - The most-likely additional cost factors for S/S is replacement of the starter and battery on intervals wildly more-frequent than would otherwise be necessary.

It's not terribly likely to screw the rest of the engine, but starters, in some vehicles, are a serious pain in the ass to get to and replace. A failure is, obviously an immediate-stranding event as well, so a "no-warning" failure forces you to add a tow to the cost.

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Lunatic_fringe
Posts: 9434
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Location: Terra Firma
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This will be the year that I remove all the emission **** and the soot cooker on my Ram 2500 Cummins. Who thought it would make sense to dump fuel into the exhaust to burn soot off a ****ing in-line filter?
Scottj175
Posts: 251
Incept: 2010-09-06

Vandiver, AL
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@Tickerguy since this topic is cars I have a question for you as a TN resident: does TN have an age cutoff for requiring titles like AL and GA does?

I ask because last week I did something rather silly. I've been wanting a rotary not as nice as my 2009 low mile unicorn to play with and happened upon a Marketplace ad for 4 early first gen RX-7s for $1,500. I bit because they're at least worth that broken up into parts and sold so I figure I can bail. Quite the adventure making 4 round trips from near Birmingham to near Chattanooga.

They've been sitting for at least a decade if not more so they're quite rough. I've already decided two are goners and will be parted out and the shells crushed. A third likely will be too. But there's one I might can save.

But all 4 were last registered in TN. Although neither AL where I reside or GA where I bought them issue titles on vehicles that old it might be nice to track down the last official titles and perhaps get them signed over to me because I could pull the data plates on the crush ones and that along with a title has some value.
Tickerguy
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No idea.

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Tdurden
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Karl, you summed up most of my long winded post in that first sentence. I've had several of these Arian Uber Sedans without getting burned because I know what to avoid and when to get rid of them. And it doesn't hurt that the small car broker I get these from is a friend of mine going back about 20 years. He doesn't gank me on trade ins because he knows I always do the maintenance and I'll chase the dealer for all of the extended warranty work results from various class actions. (Volvo S80 ETM failures, Mercedes SBC replacement, etc.).

There are some things those companies just cannot make reliable or reasonably maintainable to save their lives. BMW V8's...just, no. Don't touch out of manufacturer warranty. Ever. Even the "good" ones are a 10 hour water pump replacement. Audi A6...I briefly owned a 2000 A6 2.7 bi-turbo quattro. Incredibly fast and agile. Traded that one off before I had to become familiar with the term "service position" on an intimate basis. Mercedes...avoid the range of engines with the soft balance shaft problem and most of those are really solid if doing your own maintenance and light repairs don't scare you. The 2004 E500 4matic I have now was probably the last really bullet proof power and drive train they made. Note that if I had to drive a lot of miles a year, I'd be doing that with a different car. I like my toys, but I'm not financially suicidal with them.

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"I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next 10 generations that some favors come with too high of a price." -Vir Cotto Babylon 5
Scottj175
Posts: 251
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Vandiver, AL
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Thanks for tolerating my question anyway. When I have a day where my patience level is particularly high I'll get on the phone with TN DOR.
Drifter
Posts: 800
Incept: 2016-02-11

Pacific Northwest
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2004 Tahoe flex edition-- rear bumper is rusting, just noticed. Looks like from the inside out-- hopefully aftermarkets out there. I like doing my own work, but I might farm those brake lines to a mechanic patient of mine. The thought of it makes me want to just put the rig down like a lame mule.

Rented a start/stop car in HI. Hated it. Would never own one. My thought was, "this will be fun to fix when it goes***** up."

I have two manual dodge cummins-- a '99 and '07. The famous 5th gear bolt took out the '99 tranny at 100k miles. The '07 just hit 100k miles-- needed a new clutch. Just rebuilt the '99 transfer case-- chain slippage. Other than that, these trucks are still on original ball joints, bearings, etc. Might replace the steering box in the '99.

A friend just spent $85k on a 3500 Cummins. I wouldn't trade him for any of mine. Mine are superior in every way.

Anyway, these trucks had better last me forever, because I won't tow **** with an automatic, and that's all that is made anymore. Getting parts for older rigs is getting to be problematic. My gal's '01 Durango has me running to junk yards every time it needs something.

My dad's '91 cummins just needed tranny work. 600k miles. Can't beat a manual.
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