I’ve been driving since I was 15, legally since I was 16, and I’m generally of the opinion cars are better than ever.
I don’t recall cars, in my lifetime, ever being hard to drive. Even though 15 for me was a long time ago (never you mind how long), there was already power steering, automatic transmissions were taking over and anti-lock brakes were on the horizon.
Still, things are a lot better now, mainly due to technology. And they have perfected the engine and transmission to such a degree that most car manufacturers offer warranties that go way past a mileage mark that used to signal the end of the road for cars.
Merle Haggard once sang he wished Ford and Chevy would make a car that would last 10 years like it should. Now, at 10 years, most people consider a car to just be starting out.
Once upon a time, a 10-year-old, used car would run you between $500-$1,000. I once bought a 12-year-old car for $800 way back when. It wasn’t worth half that. Now, you got people out here trying to sell a 15- or 16-year-old car for $7,000.
Cars are very computerized today. In exchange for having the dealer take care of your motor and transmission for 200,000 or more miles, you have to pay for any computer-related repairs and those parts, which are usually tiny, can cost as much or more than an engine or transmission problem ever cost you.
Now it turns out there is another problem associated with computerized cars. People with unwholesome intentions can hack your car. This means they could, potentially, take control of everything in your car, including the steering and brakes.
The odds that your car is going to be hacked isn’t great, no matter how fancy it is. It takes a lot of computer knowledge to hack a car and that knowledge probably isn’t widespread. So, you can still hook up your phone and wreck your car while texting before anybody gets a chance to hack it.
There were 150 reports of cars being hacked in 2019 and, considering how many cars there are, you probably think you shouldn’t worry at all. But that was a 99% increase over 2018 and, while people didn’t drive as much in 2020, we’re back out on the road now in huge numbers.
But somebody suddenly locking your car down while you’re doing 65 in a 45 isn’t the number one thing to worry about. If this becomes a big thing over the years, your car becoming a victim of ransomware is much more likely than having it driven into a tree.
In other words, you go out one morning and your car won’t do anything, much less start. Unless you have an extended warranty (you should be getting a call about one any day now), you figure something has gone wrong computer wise.
But as you’re sobbing against the steering wheel, you get a message. Maybe on your phone, maybe on the radio screen of your seemingly dead car, saying if you wire $5,000 to a bank account in a country you never heard of, your car will work again. If you don’t, the car becomes a $35,000, gigantic paper weight.
This is still such a new thing, most people aren’t quite sure how to combat it. Computers have been hacked since day one and people still get cyber attacked, though that usually comes with the added threat of exposing what you search for on Google. And I’m guessing most of you wouldn’t like that exposed.
The point being that computers, after decades, still aren’t safe from hackers. Sure, security measures have been put in place and you’re urged not click on the links your Google searches turn up, but the bad guys find ways around everything put in their path.
And as bad as getting your computer hacked would be, I can’t imagine the car suddenly refusing to start because somebody else had control of it. In a world where it seems like more and more people aren’t interested in driving, the car is still the number one way we have of getting things done.
Losing your car would be worse than losing your phone and most people would kill you without remorse if you tried to take their phone.
Who would have thought we’d ever reach a point where a 1980 Chevette would have an advantage over a 2021 Cadillac?