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Personal vehicles have become far too complicated. I make this statement as someone who is not a “car person.” I can appreciate, say, a Chevrolet Corvette as a fine piece of machinery and even a work of art. It is an iconic car, after all.

But why must everyday vehicles used for commuting and errand-running and social outings be ever more driven by and dependent on computers? Have we not reached a point of diminishing returns? Vehicles are fancier, but to what purpose? Some safety features might be helpful, but they can make drivers less attentive and more reckless.

Mechanics have to spend thousands of dollars on specialized computers which communicate with the on-board computers, and then the software on the diagnostic computers requires a monthly subscription so that it constantly downloads all of the latest information.

Right now there is an issue with one of the computer systems in my vehicle. According to the light on the dashboard, one or more of my tires has incorrect tire pressure. I have verified several times that the pressure is correct, and my mechanic agrees.

I suspected that there was an issue with a sensor in one of the tires and\or a communication issue. The problem is that the information coming from the sensors and the main computer don’t agree. The computer says that one of the sensors isn’t communicating. The sensors says that the computer isn’t listening. Also, the tire\wheel positions might not be correctly identified, which might be cause for confusion.

The codes have been cleared and the current wheel positions have been identified. Now I just drive until the light comes back on, and then I can go back and possibly actually have the problem fixed.

Now, as a non-car person who views the vehicle as a tool to get me to work and the grocery store and wherever else I might need or want to go, being alerted to tire pressure issues sounds like a good idea in theory, but so far it is becoming more of a hassle and an expense than a benefit.

I have similar feelings about power windows and locks. They are nice to be sure, but when those controls in the driver’s door fail, you can find yourself locked in or locked out until they can be (expensively) repaired. Ask me how I know.

At least the car doesn’t talk to me or try to drive for me, so I don’t have to worry about those systems failing. It’s all about perspective, right?

ETA: I realize that this is 100% a first-world problem of privilege not worth complaining about in the grand scheme of things, but I spend a lot of time thinking about how bigger issues break down into smaller ones and how smaller issues add up to being bigger ones. Today I decided to write about one of the smaller issues.

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