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Business

January 13, 2013

Tinkering could fix Lexus locks

(Continued)

Component integration has become a widespread practice on modern automobiles. What used to be perhaps three or four individual components are often combined into a single assembly. This makes sense from a manufacturing standpoint as it saves weight, space, assembly time and cost, and often improves reliability.

An assembly’s replacement price can be tough to swallow as a consumer when service is needed, but I try to remember to look at the whole car. Integration and cost savings in one place allows money to be better spent in other places, giving us some amazingly safe, efficient and gadget-filled cars at only a slight premium in inflation-adjusted dollars over cars of the past.

One might criticize the idea of modifying such an exquisite car with a home-generated solution, but if it’s done safely and effectively and is invisible to the eye, it beats paying about five times what the original part is worth. Also, it feels really good to fix something, as opposed to just replacing parts.

Brad Bergholdt is an automotive technology instructor at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, Calif. Readers may send him email at under-the-hood@earthlink.net; he cannot make personal replies.

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