Why doesn't anyone want to FIX anything?

orchidnickSeptember 26, 2009

Radiator is leaking, fan is not blowing. Estimates for new radiator and new fan system range from $350 at a local radiator shop to over $600 at Dodge dealer.

I go to the Alameda corridor in Huntington Park (not to be confused with the upscale Huntington Beach) which is densely populated with Hispanic repair shops. They pulled the radiator apart and even though it is a plastic radiator which the others declared not repairable, resealed it, then fiddled with the fan motor and got it going. Out the door for $90.00.

I have been driving with only one headlight for a few weeks as its not the bulb that's blown but something is wrong with the wire connection. If you wiggle it at the right place, the light goes on. Again the quote for a new wire from relay to headlight was well over $100, parts and labor. At the radiator shop I told them about this and asked: "How do you fix this in Mexico?" They laughed and then did what I had been tempted to do, cut the offending piece of wire off, splice the ends together, wrap it with electrician's tape and bingo, for $15.00 the problem is fixed.

Even though their 'waiting room' consisted of a few chairs with cracked vinyl leaning against the building in the shade of a couple of palm trees and their rest room had no paper, I really enjoyed the experience. Great bunch of people. I have had things repaired like this for many years and find their work as good as anybody's.

We have become a nation of replacers, if something does not work, replace it. No one would dream of fixing anything, what a shame. One has to dive into another culture to get things fixed, at least that's how it is in LA. Maybe things are different in other parts of the country, but here all they want to do is replace things at tremendous cost. I think that's a shame and battle it every step of the way.


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xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)

It is a shame. What's even more of a shame is that because of this culture of 'replace when broke,' the quality of things just isn't the same anymore. Things aren't built to last - they're built to look shiny and pretty for a while, and then disintegrate within 5 years. And now everyone wants something new instead of fixing what they have already.

We're generating more and more waste, and it's terrible cycle. Glad to hear about your positive experiences, Nick.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 1:50AM
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What do you do with orchids that are just suffering? Do you nurse them along for two years and then another to get them to bloom?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 4:08AM
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Depends upon how much space you have and if you suspect virus. No sign of virus and lots of space then the answer is yes. With limited space, every plant probably must be productive.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 9:00AM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Calvin, i thought you were a young guy. "the quality of things just isn't the same anymore. Things aren't built to last - they're built to look shiny and pretty for a while, .... " only us old guys make statements like that.

Take my, sorry the dragon woman's car. It will last and last and not fall to pieces with rust like cars did in the good old days. It is also less likely to break down somewhere because the points got dirty or the distributer cracked or a spark plug failed and so on.
If it does break down it is a call the tow truck deal.

As for fixing things. I buy fan heaters made in China for $20. They run continuously for a year or two and then fail. Who is going to bother trying to fix a $20 fan heater?

Of course there is a problem and that is the worlds economy is based on buying and selling stuff. Not good, but what system do you propose to replace buying and selling stuff?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 8:46PM
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I guess the fan motor is as good as any to discuss the problem. The one on my car is the original one from Dodge and has lasted 19 years and 220,000 miles. I buy my cars new and keep them until they die. This one is a 1990 Dodge caravan where all the seats except the front 2 have been removed making it ideal for transporting orchids to shows and meetings. To get a replacement from the Dodge dealer is $160, just for the stupid little motor. The car parts dealers have fan motors for about $25 to $35 but not my particular one which is a 'Dealer only' item what ever the H--- that means. It means officially sanctioned rip-off.

By fixing mine they saved me way over $100. If I could get a Chinese one for $20 like you Arthurm, I would, for my car that just did not work out. My main complaint is about the radiator which was declared 'non-repairable' because it has a plastic top part. New radiators (probably made in China) were pushed on me for $100 to $150 plus $70 plus for labor. The fix it guys solved everything for $90 out the door by FIXING the existing parts. That's what I would like to see more of.

A much more egrarious example was a repair I had on a Mercedes 500 SEL, about 10 years old. That car has since died and is in Mercedes heaven (Junk yard). About 10 years ago it failed smog and was declared to need a new catalytic converter. The big V8 has 2 exhaust pipes, connected in 2 places which each have 3 chambers for the exhaust treatment. From the engine backwards it starts with a pre-muffler, then the muffler and last the catalytic converter. That's a total of 6 units, one of which needed to be replaced. I went to the Mercedes dealer and asked for the needed part. They told me that the entire exhaust system is sold as one unit, both pipes with their 6 chambers for $1,800 plus about $500 for labor! Again off to Alameda street where with a hack saw they cut off the catalytic converter and welded an after market unit in place for a total cost of $120. Now it was no longer a Mercedes parts only car but who cares, it passed smog and my wallet did not take a major hit. I just simply won't stand for the kind of rip off the car dealers consider 'normal business practice'.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 9:32PM
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I think one the answers is: because people are not trained for fixing.
Also, if you come from a society where to fix: 20 US$. To replace: 200 US$., the answer is obvious, especially if 200 US$ is one month's paycheck.
Companies do not make allowances for repair, hence people cannot find spare parts, even though they want to repair.
Here in the Philippines, old cars and appliances can have their parts salvaged, and their usable parts are used for repairs. Most people who receive salvaged parts know about it and many times actually prefer it, so no one is ripped off.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 10:06PM
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xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)

Arthur - I'm an old soul trapped in a youthful body...but I think my soul is reverse aging so with luck, by the time I'm 60, I'll have youthful insides.

Growing up in China, I witnessed first hand the stream of disgusting mass-produced low quality goods that come out of the country and flood the rest of the world market. It's wasteful, and I have lost faith in any product I buy. I automatically assume it will break in less than 5 years.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 11:24AM
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Have you considered running for Guv'nor of Calif? Mebbe, your State wouldn't have the severe financial crisis if people "fixed" things rather than replacing everything with something new?

Nope, that won't work. The State would become the target of lawyers with clients eager to "earn" income through the lawsuit. Oh, that's right. It's already happening.

God forbid! People might have to make money the old-fashioned way -- they earn it.

Naah, simpleminded thinking.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 9:16AM
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That would not work in California, they watched 'Groundhog Day' too many times. Nothing will get fixed and the future will hold nothing new. Ahnuld will make 'Terminator 4' in a couple of years and life will go on.

The real problem in California is:

1) Gerrymandering district lines which cannot and will not be changed resulting in an identical make-up of the state legislature indefinitely.

2) The requirement of a 2/3 majority for any vote that has financial significance for the state resulting in nothing ever getting done. I believe only 2 other states have that idiotic requirement.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 12:11PM
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lunaticvulpine(socal 9-10)


oh course the work ethic with my generation has also gone, down and in that of my two younger brothers even more so. As well as some general knowledge of how to fix things

last year I taught my girlfriend what I thought was standard knowledge. Apparently aside from changing a flat tire, none of the mechanical knowledge that my grandfather knew is considered to be of standard. (of course me teaching her this means nothing because she just went right back to the mechanics who are still charging her $$$ for what should only cost $)

My suggestion would to purchase a chiltons or similar for what ever models you may have and a decent tool set, and only look for a mechanic when things go way beyond your level of comfort.

I can normally save my self over 300$ with doing stuff myself, the internet like for orchids is also great for finding quality repair parts.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 2:03PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Only the young and fit can change a tyre these days with the tool kit provided by the car manufacturer. That is because the nuts are put on by a machine rather than a human.

Oh Dear, here we have the younger generation going to the dogs again.

People have been saying that since recorded history began.

In the good old days when the car broke down i might have had a go at fixing something simple but not now. It is all a mystery under the bonnet.

If something goes wrong with this Computer, I'll call one of my children for help.

My wife has just bought two bathroom mirrors from Ikea. Read the instructions and there is no way i'm going to even try and put them up. I'm going to get a retired tradesman to do the job.

OK, i'll admit it. I'm useless.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 4:11PM
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