Yesterday, I changed a headlight bulb on my car. It took me one hour and included a visit to the car brand’s local garage.
Don’t get me wrong; I pride myself of having some technical skill, especially in the field of cables and connectors, being an ex-radio reporter and all. I have changed more lightbulbs than I can remember on various cars, and have indeed done far more complicated maintenance jobs than that. But it seems that my capacity for do-it-yourself maintenance is coming to an abrupt end as cars are so rapidly becoming so advanced that even simple tasks become a challenge.
Indeed, there are already cars on the market where you literally cannot change a headlight bulb yourself; only the garage has the necessary tools and skills. On my particular car, it is technically possible, but you almost have to detach the battery first, which means that you have to re-program the radio afterwards, and who knows what else. And then its only a 2001. On the newest model of the same car, I was told at the garage which helped me with the embarrassingly simple task, you must lift the battery out first.
It reminds me of a car I had once, where, in order to replace the fan belt, you were required to first lift the whole engine out. No kidding.
On the horizon are cars where the whole engine compartment is sealed, and where you can only reach nozzles for topping up various fluids. But while we let ourselves be lulled into this state of comfortable numbness of having Mr Expert et consortes taking care of all the routine tasks for us, the obvious question arises: What if you need to fix something by the roadside, late at night, in the dark and perhaps cold, while your exhausted and hungry kids are crying inside because we never seem to get to where we’re going? And Mr Expert is closed for the day, the weekend, the week, the holidays, or the season? Or miles and miles away?
I would be less worried if this development was accompanied by a corresponding increase in quality, so that you didn’t have to fix things… but let’s just say that there is somewhat of a discrepancy between the two and leave it at that.