Cool car technology is cool until it breaks

Ah, technology – the beautiful date that impresses all your friends but costs you a fortune to keep happy, up-to-date, and working. Automotive News puts some numbers to the economic toll we're paying to jockey this technological Trojan horse, an analysis it sums up with "Technology is great - until you have to replace it." Back in 2000, for instance, you could replace a Cadillac Escalade taillight lens for $56.08, or replace the entire unit for $220.49. Crack the rear lens on your 2015 Escalade and you have to buy a new unit for $795 - there's no such thing as just replacing a lens anymore. What about headlights? It was $210 for an Escalade headlight in 2000, it's $1,650 for the current unit (pictured).

This is nothing we didn't know, these are just hard numbers to demonstrate it. Edmunds recently provided the same with its sledgehammer-bashing of the 2015 Ford F-150, Tesla Model S buyers have been shrieking about repair costs to their electric sedan's all-aluminum bodywork, and used-car sites are full of articles about which expensive-to-repair features to steer clear of if you want to avoid big repair bills.

Those expensive bits increase the price of a car - Kelley Blue Book says the average price of a car is now more than $33,000 - and that raises rates for repairs and insurance. This comes in spite of some carmakers that have been collaborating with insurance companies and repair shops at the design stage in order to engineer parts that are easier and less expensive to replace.

But the tech can have its cost-saving benefits: a 2011 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that Volvos fitted with that company's City Safety feature " filed 27 percent fewer property-damage liability claims" than luxury SUVs without it, and just last month the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety called adaptive headlights one of the top four crash-preventing technologies on cars today (after coming out against them in 2006). So yes, the technology costs a mint when it needs to be fixed - but being able to avoid an accident in the first place might make it worth it.

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