Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - volvoman
More and more we seem to be told by service department "that part isn't serviceable sir and will have to be replaced".

Cynics like me tend to believe that much of this is driven by a desire to extract as much money from us as possible. Others will claim it's all just a means by which to guarantee quality. Whatever the truth, how environmentally friendly is this policy ? How many perfectly repairable bits and pieces are simply thrown away because what may be a relatively minor component has failed ? Sealed light clusters are just one example and many of these are hugely expensive to replace - a fact made even more unpalatable when all that's wrong is some superficial damage to the lens for example which IMO ought to be possible to replace without binning the entire unit.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - THe Growler
It may not be all as bad as you think. There is a considerable market in Asia for no longer serviceable but easily repairable parts. I know someone who brings in 1 or 2 20' containers a month through Subic Bay full of discarded vehicle parts, mainly from Japan, Korea and the US. Engines, trannies, electrical bits, the stuff that richer cultures throw away. These are eagerly snapped up by dealers who either re-sell them as is or repair them. I know of one young guy who pays his way thru Uni repairing ECU's and CDI's, expensive items here. I bought a rebuilt CDI for my Honda trailie 12 months ago for a third of what Honda wanted for a Jap import. It's still going. Find me someone who could/would do that in UK.

The Western world has lost the concept of bazaar economics and ingenuity which drives these economies. Over-regulation plays a part as well

I always think it's ironic that Western self-importance with greening, conservation, the environment and recycling in a throw-away society is so much hot air compared with places like here, where it's an economic necessity and nobody has to make a virtue out of it.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - billy25
i tend to think of the term "sealed unit" as a sort of scam, to keep itchy-fingered joe public out of them,must be quite profitable to sell *joe* an exchange unit, then open his old one, replace the brushes etc and resell it to the next person in line,for just short of the price of a brand new one.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - cockle {P}
'Sealed for life', what the heck does that mean? Six days, six months or six years?
What they really mean is 'as long as it lasts and then we've got you over a barrel because you'll have to buy a new one'.
Personally I hate throwing things away for the sake of it, it's amazing what you can actually repair on some of these things, as Growler says. Before you throw anything away have a poke around you have nothing to lose, if it's really broken then you'll have to throw it anyway but you just might repair it easily and get some more life out of it, at the very least you'll learn a bit about how it was put together and how it's supposed to work.
To keep in with the motoring theme, let your mechanical curiousity get the better of you all, you know you want to!

Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - nick
I have seen ads for ecu repairs. If you can a friendly electronic engineer then they're pretty easy. The bits cost pennies, the difficulty is getting the software.
The ease of repair is one reason I like older cars.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - No Do$h
Hmmm, sealed unit light clusters. A recent invention to steal our hard earned.

Oh, hang on a minute, they've been around for decades. What was the last mainstream car to have separate rear lights?

Can you imagine the chaos if the likes of ECUs and ABS pumps were considered "User Servicable"? There would be cars broken down all over the place. Whilst there are many perfectly servicable older and vintage cars out there, there are infinitely more that have gone to the breakers as they were unsafe and nobody could be bothered to repair relatively cheap and minor things. Worse still, the number of bodged unsafe repairs.

This has to be kept in perspective. Many people want newer cars at lower costs and accept that in order to economise on manufacturing costs, more parts will be "use once then throw away".
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - THe Growler
>>>Can you imagine the chaos if the likes of ECUs and ABS pumps were considered "User Servicable"? There would be cars broken down all over the place.

That's exactly what the makers want you to think. That thinking plays right into the greenies' agenda as well. The more recycling and disposable problems the Western economies create the more the eco-freaks love it -- it helps consolidate the nannies' powerbase. So carry on chucking stuff away and feed your recyling problem. You might not have such a big one if you fixed stuff.

Come to the Philippines, or Pakistan, or Cambodia or Indonesia or anywhere that fits the criteria for an LDC, these guys can fix anything good as new.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - Baskerville
Growler is right in many ways. In the West we've institutionalised our ingenuity in corporations, universities and so on. We design and make very clever stuff that hardly ever goes wrong, but when it does you can't find anyone to fix it. It is generally true that in the West cars are cheap but car repair is expensive. The same goes for central heating systems, washing machines, you name it. In this respect the economy of the West has completely changed from what it was twenty-five years ago when stuff was expensive and fixing was cheap. The kind of economy Growler describes is admirable in its greenness and local flexibility, but the problem is that our economic model makes the corporation more profitable for individuals than working alone. It is REALLY hard and mightily expensive to take a good idea from back of fag packet to international markets, and all but impossible without a big corporation behind you. Growler's bazaar economy may be clever, but it actually creates very little new. And I bet those clever guys don't earn £30K a year and go home to a four-bedroom house in an airconditioned car--those are our real priorities after all. Maybe we need a rethink so we can have both.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - J Bonington Jagworth
"Maybe we need a rethink so we can have both."

But the throwaway economy is a direct result of affluence. You wouldn't need £30k a year (hah!) if things were easy to maintain. On the whole, it's easier to design things that are disposable, but poorer economies don't have that luxury. The easiest car to work on that I ever owned was a Wartburg, because it came from a country where cars were a luxury and those who could (just) afford them were expected to use the comprehensive supplied tool kit to keep them going.

The finest current example of make-do-and-mend is probably Cuba, where '58 Chevys are running around with transplanted diesel engines and they make their own brake fluid!
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - J Bonington Jagworth
"..they make their own brake fluid"

The Cubans, that is, not the Chevys... :-)
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - Baskerville
But the throwaway economy is a direct result of affluence.

Yes, but the question is, does it have to be? I happen to think not--the most affluent person I know or am ever likely to know, whose family are millionaires going back the best part of 200 years, never buys furniture and drives old cars--but as you say throwaway is easier to design and manufacture. I sometimes wonder if there is money to be made "remaking" old cars with new engines, gadgets and so on, if customers want that of course. Not in the kind of economy we have at the moment, I think. But it's not the only economic model and in fact has itself only existed for twenty to thirty years. It just happens to be the way we do things at the moment.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - J Bonington Jagworth
"It just happens to be the way we do things at the moment."

Agreed. Difficult to see how it might change though, without a major crisis (e.g. oil) first. I don't hold any brief for the manufacturers, but you can see why they feel driven to pile them high and sell them cheap, be they cars, washing machines or chicken Kievs. People like owning stuff, and marketing is designed to take full advantage and keep you aspirational!

Now if everyone rated contentment higher than acquisitions...
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - volvoman
With regard to light clusters - the trend in more recent times has been for them to become more complicated and stylish as opposed to purely functional. I may be wrong but there seem to be many more large multi-light clusters around than there used to be so instead of being able to change one element you need to change the whole damn thing. I wish I could remember the details but an old mate of mine had to change the entire rear light cluster on one of his cars for some almost trivial reason - it cost a fortune and he was most upset. We're not talking complex electronics here are we ? What's wrong with producing lenses/ glass (?) for example which can be independently changed?

BTW - I agree with Growler on the eco bit - now I must go and take my medicine.... ;-)
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - THe Growler
>>>>Growler's bazaar economy may be clever, but it actually creates very little new.

...except an awful lot of jobs.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - Baskerville
Oh sure I'm not denying that, and I absolutely agree that it's a better way of going on than the buy it and trash it mentality we have in the West where "new" products are more often than not old products in a new skin. But even so there is limited mileage in refurbishing old gearboxes--someone has to make new ones to refurbish in years to come, or we just stand still.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - Ian (Cape Town)
With regard to light clusters - the trend in more recent
times has been for them to become more complicated and stylish
as opposed to purely functional.

Somebody broke the front indicator unit on the Astra. It worked out cheaper to buy a matching pair of 'pirates' [the hatching on the cover is different) than to buy an OE one.
There are many people round who repair ecu's. 90% of the time it is just a dry solder joint anyway, so 2 minutes with a magifying lass and soldering iron saves $$$$ (literally! - a mate was quoted about GBP 1000 for a unit for his BMW. He tried the scrapyards, but there were none, and in desperation took it to a repairer. Five quid later, job done. all smiles.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - THe Growler
Ian has exemplified my point perfectly, and he lives in a land where economics and living standards and imprinted cultural mores make "throwing away" if not a crime, then at least a dumb thing to do, as indeed do I. I do appreciate we live a long way away and in a different culture, which makes it hard to communicate these values.

I can walk down Ayala Avenue in Makati City, the CBD and financial district of the country in which I have chosen to make my home, and on the doorsteps of every plush corporate HQ you will find a lad sat with a placard telling you how much he will pay you for your old HP/Lexmark/Canon printer cartridges.

I can (as I did last week) put out in the garbage the alternator off our Mazda 323 hack that for some reason has been sitting around for at least 3 years since Bong-Bong Motors down the road fitted a new one (well on reflection was it really new LOL!), only to find the maid has taken it out and has put it on one side. Sir, I kept it because maybe it can be used (translate into Pilipino can I have it so my brother can fix it and sell it) so of course I say OK.

Alright, bazaar economics, outdated economic models, marketing theory. I hear you.

Now, consider this. Factual example coming up. Holiday weekend, 5 days before anyone goes back to work (inc Honda factory). We took the Honda trailie up country. Broke down. 5 years old, oh well. Filipino roadside hospitality, sir, please take your seat, can we get you some cold drink, my cousin he has a bike shop.

Said cousin arrives, after albeit some considerable time, but we must reckon with the heat the flies and 100 years of American colonization.. He requires not unreasonably a certain amount of priming with San Miguel Beer in order to focus his attention and skills on our plight (Growlette is beginning to text most of the Philippines so that's a sign something needs to happen).

Having performed a series of arcane diagnostics, cousin Romy pronounces the bad news: CDI is stuffed, but then, and with that showman's grin which only professionals can conjure up to order, can be fixed, for a price naturally, which is of course in the circs (dark night, fractious Growlettle, Big G in need of a beer etc) a mere bagatelle.

And you know what. I still boggle. This guy takes the CDI, levers it apart, pulls out some scary looking parts, bends over his soldering iron, puts it all back together, hooks it back up on the Honda, gives us an evil grin, hits the starter, and it goes!

If I'm going to lose my electrics somewhere on a dark night a long way from home, I hope it's near Romy's cousin's house and not somewhere south of Junc 6 on the M1. And the beer comes with it.

The charges were most reasonable: Sir of course I am happy to help a traveller in need and I ask nothing myself but my daughter is getting married next week....

Me I support recycling.

Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - Baskerville
Me I support recycling.

Bravo Growler, you're quite right. Problem is we're a bit soft over here in the West. See a problem: chuck money at it until it goes away--this happens all the time in garages who just can't be bothered to diagnose properly largely because they couldn't fix whatever they found anyway and would have to fit a new part. We have blokes like your Romy's cousin of course but it's not part of our culture any more. Could this be a clash of cultures we'll be hearing more about I wonder?
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - Hugo {P}
I had a bit of luck with the ABS ECU on the Xantia I've just sold.

After being spoken down to by the main dealer in a "well if you will have problems with your car, expect to pay out" sort of tone, I spoke to the independent Citroen specialist, who suggested contacting one or two breakers.

After his contacts yielded nothing, I found a chap on the internet who recons them for £200 all in. He also offers a free diagnostic on it and if it is OK he returns it FOC.

I then started bashing the Yellow Pages and found - South West Renault Spares in Redruth, Cornwall - Phone Number 01209 314181.

A part that would have cost over £600 was now looking to cost £60 + VAT + P&P.

Duly parted with £80 by credit card over the phone and it arrived the next day. Weeks guarantee, so off to the Citroen Specialist - Richard Walke in Tavistock - 01822 616977, who fitted it and carried out an electronic diagnostic check on the system. AOK.

I then contacted the chappie on the Net who offered to BUY the duff one that came out. He offered £60 for it!

Well, it went straight off to him, but sadly that is where my luck ran out. Lost in the Post!

£30 compensation - better than a kick in the teeth I suppose!


"Forever indebted to experience of others"
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - nick
That was a good result, shows it can be done in the 'decadent west', it just takes a bit of effort. Having read all the replies here, I think that on balance, despite liking repairing rather than replacing, I like having the affluence so that I can throw it away and buy a new one if I wish. I'm thankful that I live in a country where most people have that luxury.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - No Do$h
Now did I say you can't have the part reconditioned?

If you search on this site you will find me singing the praises of "Best of British", a company specialising in reconditioning the fit-and-forget items, like ECUs, ABS pumps etc for Rovers (a car where any part more than 4 years old is impossible to source with any confidence based on my extensive experience of trying to keep a '96 400 on the road from '99 onwards).

Reconditioning is one thing, encouraging bored weekend spanner twiddler to dismantle is entirely another.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - Ian (Cape Town)
some fascinating replies ... gets me thinking, and going off on a tangent.
Here in the land of sunshine there is still an 'us and them' mentality, and in motoring terms it is justified.
The average whitey will pay through the nose for anything, as he always has ... other people make a plan. So in the case of exhaust pipes, for example, whitey will pay for a brand new factory-spec system, whereas all the old one needs is a touch of welding, or a 'made-up' generic piece.
Where do the wise guys go? off to the bloke in the grubby workshop with pipe-benders and rickety lifts, and pays a quarter of what the franchised 'your wheel, tyre, battry and exhaust specialists' charges.
Everybody's happy - the new made-up extension to the exhaust manifold comes with a 12month guarantee, the car runs quieter, the fitter/owner has made enough to cover his costs and make a decent profit, and his assitant, who runs and gets you a coke and a box of chesterields while you wait, gets a handsome tip.
The fitter/owner even gives you a guided tour under the car, and shows you what he is going to do, what he is going to replace, what he suggests you should have done at the same time, and then gives you a price. No "oh we had to do this as well, and that cost and extra $$$".
And while he's about it, his mate from next door (the tyre place) comes in and says "you alignment looks a bit suspect/that tyre is almost worn out. would you like me to check it for you/quote you for a new/secon-hand tyre that size?"
Then the bloke from the panel-shop pops over, and says "I see that there is a rust spot under your rear window. I can grind that out and tidy it up in an hour, with a guarantee..."
No hard-sell, just honest touting for business.
So what starts off as a trip to get an annoying buzz on the pipe fixed turns into a shopping trip, and the car looks, sounds, handles better, all for the price of the 'we'll have to order that as it isn't a standard part' exhaust manifold from the franchise boys.
Oh, and you wouldn't believe how quickly these guys can wash and polish a car! AND tidy and hoover the interior, plus clean the dash and glass (plus putting the right tapes, rewound, back into the correct boxes!). all part of the service.

Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - nick
Sounds good, but you can do similar here but perhaps without the touting. I had a '96 Jeep Cherokee which cracked its exhaust manifold. The manifold is made of welded steel tubing and one of the welds had cracked, a common fault. Mr Jeep dealer wanted £700 to fit a new one - 'we don't recommend repairing them, sir'. I went to my local one-man band, a good reputation working out of his garage at the back of his bungalow. He took off the old one, did a beautiful welding job, no pigeon-poo, refitted, all for £70 plus a few quid for a gasket from a specialist. He even apologised for it being a bit dearer than he estimated.
Same guy picked up my Moggie van from my house (6 miles each way), welded up a broken exhaust bracket, returned the van, cost £17.50.
And yes, he is a kosher business, VAT reg and all.
It can be done, you just need to ask around and keep your wits about you.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - J Bonington Jagworth
"we don't recommend repairing them, sir"

That encapsulates the problem. He probably even believes it.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - THe Growler
Lovely stuff Ian and aren't we glad we live where we do! Of course all the family has to have a piece of the action, this is (in my case anyway) Asia and is Confucianism 101! Wealth and income opportunities are shared as is the family obligation and thus the "touts" appear to "help" out. It is normal and it is expected. In the Philippines where the jeepney is the standard mode of transport, even used engine oil has a market. Now if that isn't recycling in the flesh as opposed to from some airbag pontificating in Brussels with false authority about something he wouldn't recognise even if he fell over it then I'll shout you the next round.

I will try and post a pic of this, but at the end of my road is a gleaming bright red 1966 Toyota Corolla shovel front pickup, 1966 I said, that was a heap of discombobulated bits 3 months ago that you would have gladly paid someone to relieve you of the pain of having to view across your verandah while enjoying your morning mango juice and over easies. Instead some dedicated chaps have painstakingly welded, repaired and overhauled everything on concrete blocks in the street during the rainy season, including miraculously predicting unerringly the 3 days since July when it hasn't rained in order that the paint can cure. Two hundred quid and its yours Guv wiv a munf's warranty (if you can find us).

Before I have I think mentioned Ferdie's Bikini Car wash with the young ladies frolicking around with hoses and suds, so I think we may have one up on you there Ian old sport. The local Feminist Mind Police has regular goes at shutting him down but old Ferdie pays off the Mayor and the girls have so much fun so not too much chance of that. What I really like is the air freshener they use (Beirut Nights) and the little card they leave on the driver's seat with a photo which says your car was valeted today by Marianne have a nice day and please call again! The recycling link here is that the customers keep coming back for more.

But we speak of recycling in its PC guise. I have Performance Machine 6 pots on the front of my Harley. PF no longer make the replacement pads and I've tried J & P Cycles in US and all the biggies to get them. Meanwhile I've been happily running on the re-bonds that Art's Brake Service did 11 months ago for about however little it was I can't recall. Just the other day I hauled that baby down from 145 kph very quickly without drama when a Victory Liner bus decided he wanted my lane and the hell with me.

It is easy to get sucked in by main dealers I guess and it pays to be a bit savvy.

Totally OT but I don't give a lot for the Springboks' chances in the next few weeks....
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - Ian (Cape Town)
Before I have I think mentioned Ferdie's Bikini Car wash with
the young ladies frolicking around with hoses and suds, so I
think we may have one up on you there Ian old

Aaah, but you will recall a local place I mentioned, where your car is taken in to the workshop for a 'service', and you are taken upstairs to a well-equipped waiting room, where YOU receive a similar treatment from a young lady! Plenty of Big-end trouble...
Totally OT but I don't give a lot for the Springboks'
chances in the next few weeks....

Neither do I. I suspect the red-and-yellow card attrition rate against Uruguay, Georgia and the stone-faced England will be high, and Samoa will fancy their chances in the last match...

My white jersey with rose is freshly cleaned ... never been a 'bok fan
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - THe Growler
Ian I can only repeat what I was always told: the customer comes first.

Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - Daz
HI VM, I had a tour round the visteon factory last year and they make parts for ford etc like radios, sealed component blocks etc.

They said the reason they switched to these was that it saved time in production and was easier to install a complete component.

They forgot to mention the fact it costs us more to replace them and that it's not environmentally friendly!
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - volvoman
Hi Daz - hope the Omega's going well ! BTW did you get over to Costco and, if so, how much did you spend :-) I bought a Braun saver over there last week for £30 inc VAT and then found out Argos were selling it at £165

Yes I can see there are cost savings to be made at the front end but we all wind up paying the price. Not long ago our AEG washing machine was leaking slightly. It was under guarantee so I called out the engineer who replaced the pump. I later discovered that the pump was fine and all
that needed doing was the 'O' ring seal replacing! I still have a perfectly good pump ready to reinstall should the replacement fail.
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - Daz
Hi VM, touch wood, ok at the mo bar intermittent gearbox problem still.

Will be visiting Costco in a few weeks to get some new tyres as mine are at the limit marks now.

Sounds like AEG are like Vauxhall and just replace the most common faulty component lol.

Just got a set of 4 mudflaps for the car for £40 (genuine vauxhall from ebay) as opposed to £140 fitted from dealer and fitted them myself!

Just praying it passes the mot with little trouble!
Sealed units, rip offs & the environment - volvoman
Yep - good luck with the MOT, Mrs V's is due in Nov. so we'll be keeping our fingers crossed too !

BTW if you've got kids get over to Costco sooner rather than later - they've got some really great toys etc. but tend to sell out well before Xmas. Regards.

Value my car