The global pandemic has caused a lot of issues from the obvious health related ones to supply chain problems. As a result, it affected everything from computer chip shortages to limitations on the supply of cars.
New car prices have climbed almost eight per cent over last year and with factory shutdowns new car inventory is down 25%. A recent J.D. Power survey showed that people are also choosing more trucks and SUV’s with both higher price tags and higher trim levels. SUVs and pickup trucks make up about 80 per cent of all sales now. Some of that can be attributed to the desire of people to stay closer to home and tow a boat or a trailer and in other cases the new car market has both limited supply and limited incentives. Other consumers, realizing that travel may be limited for a while are looking to change vehicles or get that car they have always been thinking about.
As a result many Canadians are turning towards the used car market and the need for consumers to get a Pre Purchase Inspection has become more and more important. We specialize in repair and maintenance on Porsche, Mercedes, BMW and exotics like Ferrari and Lamborghini and we are seeing more and more people getting caught up in the bidding wars to get their ‘dream’ car and skipping the PPI. The housing market is a similar but much larger example of it. We have had a few cases where the consumer came to us after buying a used vehicle as they have discovered significant and expensive issues that would have been found had they invested the time in a PPI.
With COVID lockdowns many cars are being sold online and although there may be a huge number of pictures associated with the car being considered they really do not tell a full story. We’ve seen Ferrari’s with subframe issues, Bentleys with ECU issues, other brands with hidden oil leaks etc. that were only discovered after the used car was purchased. We aren’t suggesting that everyone selling a used car is hiding issues, but we are seeing much more people getting caught up in the ‘moment’ of buying the car and not getting the full potential out of it because they were missing that crucial step.
We get it – you’ve made your decision to buy the car of your dreams and its right there…in front of you, promising a summer of fun (whatever that looks like during the next few months) or a replacement for your current vehicle. You’ve seen a hundred online bids on the car and the low supply within the market and you make the purchase. That crucial missed step of the PPI can not only save you headaches but also money. The leverage you can get to negotiate a better price can be enormous with the assistance of any evidence gleaned out of a good PPI.
So what makes a good PPI?
First off let’s talk about what it is. A PPI is a vehicle inspection performed by a licensed technician who will give the vehicle a thorough review to determine its overall external, mechanical and safety condition. The technician will pinpoint any existing conditions and highlight potential issues that could arise in the future, and will investigate to make sure any previous damage has been properly repaired. By learning more about what’s happening before you buy, you could end up more confident that you’re buying the right car. Conversely, you can decide that it’s not the right one for you, or uncover some details to leverage in your price negotiations.
The choice is yours - but with low supplies and high demands for used cars, protect your potential purchase with a PPI. Ours start at $250 for a 43 point inspection and we can tailor that to even higher levels of detail depending on what the customer is looking for, like a much deeper dive into the vehicle and its systems.
Have you ever noticed that your headlights just aren't as bright anymore or that all the other oncoming cars seem to have much brighter headlights? Its easy to think, particularly with intermittent night driving, that it just might be your vision but often the solution is literally in front of you - your headlights are faded.
Anyone who remembers glass headlights, or at least the glass on headlight lenses, probably never had to deal with it. Although cracked headlights were a common sight in many repair shops.
As car manufacturers looked for more modern materials to replace the glass an obvious choice is plastics as they can be lighter and more break resistant, easily molded to complex shapes and quicker to manufacture. The challenge is that they do have a downslide and that is that the intense rays of the sun and the constant barrage of road grime and particles tend to fade them or sandblast them over time. Manufacturers do put a protective layer on them to mitigate the damage of UV rays but eventually that wears off.
In a previous article I talked about our fleet of Mercedes customer service vehicles and we do regular service on them here at RSP. Everything from oil changes to any maintenance required. Our fleet gets driven daily by a variety of customers all with different driving styles and regular maintenance is the key to the reason why our E class Mercedes is still running like new at 650,000 km's.
As part of the regular service, all of our courtesy car vehicles get a thorough going over, and Chino noticed the headlights could use some attention. I've got some before and after shots that give you some idea of how much they fade over time and the 'night and day' difference that a headlight polish and cleaning can do.
Although retail products are available that can help fix the issue the solution is usually not that long lasting as eventually the same process will repeat itself slowly over time. In our shop Chino does a multi step process that includes sanding all of the stone pits and cloudiness from the lens starting at a heavier grit of paper and working with finer and finer grit until the surface is flawless. That makes the lens as clear as new but the protective layer has to be added to keep it looking new. Chino uses multiple solutions for that depending on the level of protection needed. In some cases he applies a clear protective film to the lens, the same clear, UV blocking film we use when we protect the paint on a car. In other cases he uses a ceramic coating to the lens to add that extra protection and for the ultimate protection we can do a combination of both to help the lens stay clear for years.
The results - and the sudden ability to see better at night is clear.
Call us an book an appointment if you think you need better night vision.
Earlier I wrote about cars becoming more complex and the need for increasingly complex diagnostics.
I've said it before; while we specialize in European and exotics we have a love for all things cars, no matter what they are. We have a classic 1930's V8 Ford in the shop and I was struck by the beauty and simplicity of the flat top engine and the lack of a single 'electronic' system. Contrast that with a modern car and almost every system from the engine to the power windows is computer controlled.
Every computer system in a modern car is controlled by lines of code and I thought a small comparison of other vehicles and systems was in order.
Lets start with a vehicle that was part of one of the most complex undertaking ever - the Apollo moon landings guidance computer. It had somewhere around 40,000 lines of code and took the equivalent of almost a decade of 'person years' to develop. The famed error message that got Neil Armstrong to take over manually was actually the computer telling him it was doing its job and was overloaded and it would focus on the main task of landing. A quote from Margaret Hamilton, Director of Apollo Flight Computer Programming MIT Draper Laboratory adds a bit of perspective:
"Due to an error in the checklist manual, the rendezvous radar switch was placed in the wrong position. This caused it to send erroneous signals to the computer. The result was that the computer was being asked to perform all of its normal functions for landing while receiving an extra load of spurious data which used up 15% of its time. The computer (or rather the software in it) was smart enough to recognize that it was being asked to perform more tasks than it should be performing. It then sent out an alarm, which meant to the astronaut, I’m overloaded with more tasks than I should be doing at this time and I’m going to keep only the more important tasks; i.e., the ones needed for landing…"
As time progressed systems got more complex - the space shuttle contained about 4 hundred thousand lines of code. For comparison even in the 1990s Windows 3.1 had around 2.5 million lines. Yes, that included code later in 1996 that gave rise to one of the most awful things ever created - Clippy. The abominable Microsoft, 'helpful', paperclip that is a story all on its own as to what happens when engineers ignore focus groups, but I digress.
Almost every device you have used has some form of coding behind it and the chart below gives some idea of the growth and variety of devices that use it
I can hear you - many of you are asking what that has to do with modern cars? The truth is that average modern car software has well over 100 million lines of code, everything from closed source Windows mobile operating systems to (somewhat) open source Linux based code and Android. Much of that code goes into infotainment systems but a great deal of it is used in engine management, ABS, cruise control, and an endless list of systems and sensors.
To be fair - more code does not make something more efficient or even better (I'm looking at you clippy) but it does give some perspective about the amount of sophistication in a modern car compared to other systems around it.
So from the moon to modern cars, complex systems manage and guide modern vehicles with a level of sophistication that also requires extensive diagnostics and knowledge. We get all of the benefits and technology associated with the systems from horsepower to better fuel mileage. I haven't even gone into the next level depths of vehicles like Tesla or the all electric offerings of Mercedes and others but I can say this:
For us, we love all things cars, from the classic to the contemporary, but there are times when a 'launch' just feels better on something more analog, at least in a car.
That said, one of the things we often do here at RSP is take an analog engine (like an air cooled Porsche) and add systems that stay tucked out of the way but add to the efficiency, reliability and power of an engine while leaving its original 'personality' intact. Engine tuning and fuel map adjustment just isn't possible at the same level on earlier engines and we do love to wring extra power from a modern engine by adjusting the 'tune'.
What 'launches' you? Let us know what you prefer in the comments, modern all electronic, the analog 'purity' of a classic or a hybrid combination of the two.