We all know about showroom sticker shock.
But here's another side of the affordability problem: the hefty repair costs for minor accidents.
At least two factors are driving up the cost to fix vehicles: safety electronics and the way cars are built today.
Automakers save money on engineering, purchasing and manufacturing by building complex assemblies without replaceable parts. This also helps raise vehicle quality because fewer parts can be installed wrong on the assembly line.
Because of these two factors, the cost to repair what used to be inexpensive items -- headlights, taillights, bumpers and fascias -- has skyrocketed.
If you back into a fencepost with a 2000 Cadillac Escalade and break the taillight lens, you can visit the Cadillac dealer and replace it for $56.
Fast forward 15 years. On the 2015 Escalade, you can't replace just the taillight lens. It is no longer available as a separate part. Now, you'll need a whole new taillight unit. Cost: $795.
Headlights are even more expensive. Let's say a rock breaks a headlight on the 2015 Escalade. That'll be $1,650 to replace the entire unit, according to the price quoted by a Cadillac dealership parts department. On the 2000 model year Escalade, a GM replacement headlight unit costs $210.
With cameras and other equipment for adaptive cruise control installed in grilles and bumpers, the cost to fix what appears to be minor damage can be shocking.
When Edmunds.com recently whacked a 2015 F-150 with a sledgehammer to get an idea of how the aluminum-body repair process works, a taillight lens inadvertently cracked.
But it wasn't just a regular taillight. The unit housed the sensors for the optional blind-spot monitoring system. So instead of $106 for a new unit without the sensors, the cost jumped to $887.25, Edmunds reported.
Technology is great -- until you have to replace it.