Then and Now

Back in the 1960s odometers flipped back to zero when they passed 99,000 miles, and if a car made it to that flip without needing major repairs it was considered an uncommonly good vehicle.  My wife and I both drove cars of those vintages in our early years, and even now she has still the mindset that a car with 100,000 on the clock is pretty much used up. But there are multiplied thousands of cars in every state in this day and age that have more than doubled that number and are still running strong and looking good.

Contrary to what some old-timers might say, cars weren’t better back in the day than they are now. Those vehicles weren’t as protective of the occupants, the fuel economy and emissions were dreadful, and I can’t count the hours I spent in my early career fiddling with carburetors and distributors. Electronics have changed everything, and the changes keep coming.

Now, I will concede that the electronics on twenty-first century cars has become something of a nightmare for technicians who aren’t willing to keep up with the changing times. Mechanics and parts people alike are more likely to reach for a smart phone, a tablet, or mouse and keyboard when it’s time to look up parts and info. Heck, my people punch into Alldata and Identifix right there on the scan tool screen when they’re looking for information. Sometimes I find them “Googling,” but with all the ill-informed self-taught posters online, that’s like digging through a box of rotten pecans or smelly apples hoping you might find one that’s edible.

But the fact that Microfiche parts catalogs and paper shop manuals began to disappear in the ‘90s isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a changing world, to be sure.  But one thing that never changes, even though cars go farther now than they ever have, is the fact that time and chance will bring them to our door. Everybody who travels needs a mechanic sooner or later. And even those who don’t own vehicles benefit from the services of those who service the wheels that carry them.

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