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How many years can we expect the electronics to work in our cars? Will the car function in 20, 30, 40, 50 years? I love all of the features my Scat Pack has...but I hate that, to me, it makes the car that much more vulnerable to failure in the future. I'm a commercial AC tech, and often see electronic component failure shut critical AC units down for non critical reasons. Its very common for boards to begin to go blind in a sense, losing the ability to accept data from various analog inputs.
If my grandkids were to end up with my car in 50 years let's say, would they be drilling the pushbutton ignition out to install a keyswitch? Screwing aftermarket gauge panels under the dash? A toggleswitch for the steering wheel heater? I'm joking but something would have to be done for the more critical functions....what do you think happens to a Challenger in 40 years? Future generations ever gonna witness the bee flash across your screen on startup?
 

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2016 Challenger R/T Scat Pack Pitch Black A8
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I figure when I get finished with my challenger I will be dead and gone and it will be about done as well. I'm not saving my car, Harley or guitars so the kids can enjoy them. They can look at all my stuff and see what a good time I had in life. Hopefully they will get to enjoy whats left but if not oh well.
As far as the electronics on these cars, in the future I personally think that it will be a problem but if gas is still flowing and self driving cars haven't taken over the roads I really think someone will step up and rebuild the components necessary to keep them on the road馃槈
 

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2020 Dodge Challenger Hellraisin Scat Pack
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4,230 Posts
How many years can we expect the electronics to work in our cars? Will the car function in 20, 30, 40, 50 years? I love all of the features my Scat Pack has...but I hate that, to me, it makes the car that much more vulnerable to failure in the future. I'm a commercial AC tech, and often see electronic component failure shut critical AC units down for non critical reasons. Its very common for boards to begin to go blind in a sense, losing the ability to accept data from various analog inputs.
If my grandkids were to end up with my car in 50 years let's say, would they be drilling the pushbutton ignition out to install a keyswitch? Screwing aftermarket gauge panels under the dash? A toggleswitch for the steering wheel heater? I'm joking but something would have to be done for the more critical functions....what do you think happens to a Challenger in 40 years? Future generations ever gonna witness the bee flash across your screen on startup?
Impossible to say. The car's electronics is only as good as its weakest part, so to speak. If an I/O pin dies that can render the engine controller bad.

One of my cars developed an always on ABS warning light. Long story short the tech identified the problem as a bad pin on the I/O chip in the gauge cluster circuit. When the vehicle is first turned on the I/O outputs of this chip are low. This ensures the ground circuit is closed and this causes the warning lights to all be on. They are all directly powered. To extinguish the light the associated controller must execute code to do some self test and then if all is well set the I/O to high to "break" ground and extinguish the warning light.

Eventually I "fixed" this by sourcing a used gauge cluster. The problem was the vehicle mileage was stored in the cluster and the "new" cluster had about 93K miles on it vs. the around 300K miles my vehicle actually had. The tech tried to change the mileage reading to make it reflect the actual vehicle mileage but the gauge cluster mileage storage area is only editable if the mileage is below a certain threshold and it is real low, essentially just a few miles. The idea is one buys a new cluster and then edits it to put in the vehicle's mileage.

A shop specializing in gauge cluster work told me it could get "around" this limitation but I had had the old cluster there at least once before and the place misdiagnosed the problem and I just decided to leave the wrong mileage in the cluster. I made a copy of the paperwork I got from the dealer when I had the cluster replaced which clearly stated the odometer reading was before the cluster change and what it was after and put this in the glove box in the owners manual. Also, in the owners manual I noted the change and the two readings so the next owner -- if I ever sold the car -- could know how many miles was on the car.

Besides the engine controller there are electronic wear items. I'm thinking about the various sensors: air temperature, coolant temperature, oil temperature and oil pressure and O2 sensors and at least in my other cars the mass air flow (MAF) sensor.

Over the years with various cars I replaced several sets of O2 sensors, a couple of MAFs, one coolant sensor, a variable valve timing solenoid and actuator and a converter. Oh, a couple of ignition switches and one head light switch. My 2018 Hellcat "lost" its NAV system at 2.5 years/approx. 25K miles which required a new uConnect radio. This was replaced under warranty.
 

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2015 Challenger R/T Plus 8 Speed
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The worst part is, no distributor provisions in our engines so you can't even rig it old school when stuff reaches end of life.
 

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2016 Challenger R/T Plus Shaker
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The worst part is, no distributor provisions in our engines so you can't even rig it old school when stuff reaches end of life.
There is an aftermarket timing cover that has provisions for a distributor for the GenIII Hemi. It is made for use in a racing series that doesn't allow modern electronics. I can't remember who makes it, but I don't think I would ever be willing to go back to distributor ignition systems and carburetors. Been there, done that.
 

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2016 Jazz Blue A8 Scat
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If the 80s cars are any indication, they're starting to have this problem with ecus. So from the 80s until now, that's about 40 years.

But I'm gonna guess they make better stuff that lasts a bit longer now.

How long does a carburetor last before needing overhauled and new bushings in the throttle shafts?

What happens if a carburetor sits for 10 years with fuel in it?

How long does a distributor last?
An ignition coil? And ignition module?

Everything wears out eventually, everything that has been made can be made again - if it is profitable.
 
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It is a good question, let alone the way technology is advancing. The interface in our phones alone will change in a much shorter time than that to a point that will not allow Apple Car Play or any smart phone features to work anymore with our vehicles. At some point much sooner than later, 鈥淒odge鈥 will stop providing software updates as our particular version of electronics age. So enjoy your advanced features with your phones while they are still working. I tend to keep cars at least 10 years so personally I鈥檓 glad that the most high tech feature I have on my 2016 car that connects to my phone is Siri Hands Free. I won鈥檛 really miss it when it stops working.

Unfortunately buying a car today is almost like buying a computer. Anyone who has purchased home computers for a while knows how quickly they go obsolete.

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2021 SPWB Shaker A8
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594 Posts
This has been in the back of my head for a while now, but I decided to just embrace the new technology. Yes it will break, but we get so much more out of our cars than we did when they were "simpler," I accept the trade-off. Yes I will have to spend $2k to replace my Bilsteins if I own this car long enough, but that's the price of admission. Performance Pages? Will never live without them again, and if I have to spend $2k at some point replacing my UConnect, then that's the price of admission. If it's in 20 years, I bet there will be some hot aftermarket upgrade for it.

If I wanted to protect myself from the cost of electronics, I'd have to go back to pretty little rattle traps that rode like hell most of the time and had no air conditioning. I got that out of my system in my teens and 20s. I'm personally all-in on modern muscle. I'll always love the cars of the original Muscle Car Era, and thankfully I can see as many as I want during car show season. Hell, I live in Detroit. You can't turn a corner around here in the summer without seeing a muscle car of one vintage or another.
 

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2016 Challenger R/T Plus Shaker
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If I wanted to protect myself from the cost of electronics, I'd have to go back to pretty little rattle traps that rode like hell most of the time and had no air conditioning. I got that out of my system in my teens and 20s. I'm personally all-in on modern muscle.
I'm with you. I learned to repair cars when I was a youth. Dad told me "There's a car, you want to drive it, then drive it. If you break it, you fix it." Doing dumb things in and to cars made me a mechanic. Back then the most complex things on cars were automatic transmissions and air conditioning. I was perfectly happy with that old technology, the Kettering ignition (points, sometimes dual points) and carburetors (in single, dual or triple units). But I am glad for what we have now, I don't want to go back to the old school technology. I will share that knowledge when asked, but it is obsolete to me.
 
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