Planned Obsolescence

So… the passenger window on my car decided it wasn’t going to work anymore. Fixing it has been on my to do list for over a month. Yesterday morning I finally got around to attacking the problem. One of the things I learned as a kid is how to be mechanical. My Dad hated working on anything himself, and there were times when something just had to be fixed. I have torn down, fixed and re-assembled a lot of 3.5 through 9 horsepower engines, including replacing bearings and piston parts. Breaking down a car door seemed easy. The thing is, while I have torn apart car doors in the past, this was my first “power” door. The wires and speaker system make it a little more complex. I got to curse at my stupidity when I broke a plastic part. (Duct tape will fix it!)

When I got the door panel off, I figured the fix would be easy. Silly me. It seems that GM cars have a planned obsolescence built into the window assembly. The scissor lift that pulls the window down or pushes it up attaches to the base of the window with a ball joint that fits into a clip, (the socket) that is embedded into a runner that is pop-riveted to the frame holding the window glass. A really slick design for a big car window that uses curved glass. It can flex inside the door.

The thing is GM used a cheap plastic clip. And over time plastic gets brittle and then one day snap, the clip breaks and the window glass can fall inside the door frame. I guess I am going to have to buy a two clips and get it fixed right. For now, I just got the window into the top position with the ball joint locked into the runner where the broken clip is. As long as no on lowers the window, it won’t fall down. I immobilized the switches.

I was talking with my Dad yesterday afternoon. Two of his GM cars have the same problem. Looks like I’ll be buying a bag of clips and fixing the whole lot.

The warranty period on these cars has expired. Did GM use plastic instead of aluminum or some other light metal to save money, knowing that the warranty would be over before the plastic turned brittle?

Sure looks like planned obsolescence to me.


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