I love cars, but I hate car dealers. Unfortunately, it seems that over-engineered, unreliable electronics are making us more reliant on dealer service than ever. That makes cars more costly than ever.
Our sports car recently suffered a blow to its stereo/navigation system. I stopped at the grocery store a couple miles from our house and the electronics didn’t turn on when I got back to the car. I took it into our local non-dealer car repair place and they diagnosed it as the CIC module. CIC stands for ‘Car Information Control’ and a replacement unit costs $2K.
That’s $2K, if you can get one.
The problem is that there are a limited number these CIC units available in the world (I was told that there are only 3 remaining for this vehicle). BMW apparently has them all in Germany and since there are so few of them, they will only make them available to their dealers. They won’t sell them to a third-party service garage.
When I took the car to our BMW dealer, the price for the CIC went up by another $1K to $3K. That apparently is the dealer mark-up, because when I asked why it was so much more, they just said “well, that’s the best price we can do”. In addition, there is another $500 for installation and ‘reprogramming’ the car to the new CIC, because every sensor in the car runs through this unit.
In the end, the repair will cost us almost $3.5K. Did I mention that the vehicle still has less than 30K miles? Unfortunately, the 5 year ‘bumper-to-bumper’ warranty is expired since it is a 2013. I should note that it has been extremely reliable until this point.
Still, I think there is an unholy alliance between car manufacturers and dealer service garages when it comes to shoddy electronics. In the past, cars became more affordable the longer you kept them as the ongoing price to repair them was less than the early depreciation. It seems those days may be over.
With electronics now comprising 40% of the cost of a new car, the need to bring them back to the dealer for expensive electronic fixes, may have shifted that paradigm. The more electronics are proprietary and require special programming, the more mark-up a dealer can apply.
Have Electronics Put You In The Dealer Service Bind?
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