Advancements aren’t always advancements

Published 2:11 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2019

I’m beginning to wonder if all the technology that has been put into today’s (or since the mid-1980s) vehicles is really a good thing.

The auto manufacturers will, of course, argue that all these computers, wires, junctions and relay switches are what help our cars perform better on the road, reduce emissions and make the cars safer.

It’s obvious none of them have had a car go from 60-0 on Interstate 20 like my truck did several years ago when its computer, which was on recall, decided to stop working between the East Clay Street and Clay Street exits. That was a real thrill. And I didn’t know the computer was on recall until I went online to check.

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And they probably haven’t had their cars stall on them while leaving a parking lot because a part controlled by a computer was malfunctioning with no indication of a problem (like a gauge or idiot light).

Or maybe they never tangled with the problem of the ESP malfunctioning like it did on my wife’s SUV, causing it to die in traffic and having to use some imagination to keep it from dying. I have no idea what ESP stands for, but after learning what it does, I believe the name is “Extremely Stupid Part.” Fortunately, we have a good mechanic who was able to diagnose the problem and correct it.

There once was a time when the only electronic parts on a car were the starter, ignition, battery, distributor, air conditioner (if you had one) and the radio.

There are times when I look under the hood of my truck and I wish I still had my great-aunt’s 1968 Nova. This is no knock on my truck. She has taken my abuse and served me faithfully for almost 15 years and more than 200,000 miles. My only wish is that I could afford to put her back in the condition she was when I bought her — no dents, no dings and purring like a kitten.

But that ’68 Nova was basic. It had a Chevy 307-cubic inch engine and enough room under the hood to get to anything. The only thing I wished it had was an air conditioner. I could work on her, just like I could work on the 1978 Malibu that served as our family car and the 1974 Impala I inherited from my mother. I was even able to do some maintenance work on my 1994 Ford F-150 that I lost to Katrina’s storm surge.

I no longer work on our cars, in part because of the technology and in part because my hands, affected by delayed action to rectify carpal tunnel syndrome and the onset of arthritis, just can’t do it anymore.

But I still wish for a car as simple as those from the 60s, 70s and early 80s.

Perhaps the auto manufacturers should rethink their ideas for technology. Sometimes technology and innovation are a real pain in the derriere.


John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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