Increasingly, it appears that no seemingly small fix-it job is a simple task any more. Thanks for sharing your story and lucky that you have the diligence and patience to stick it out despite running into some bumps along the way. Definitely would have been a sizeable repair bill had you relied on the shop to do the mirror replacement.
So, it seems that the author, who likely paid more to have an adjustable side view mirror in his vehicle, is being put out because the complicated fix was caused by the stationary (read cheap) version of the same mirror. Is that what this problem comes down to?
The on line purchased mirror was the exact Nissan part number (verified at the dealer) and it came in a Nissan labeled box. On line it was about 40% less than at the dealer even with shipping. My job was in every way exactly the job that the Nissan service technician would have done except he would have had a couple of special tools to remove panels a bit easier than I did. I still think the designer traded manufacturability for serviceability.
I think you raise a good point about the inclination to make design decisions that trade up serviceability for manufacturability. Manufacturing and engineering have traditionally been more closely linked in terms of collaboration around design, although that's not to say they haven't had their struggles. The service department and service engineers, however, are definitely traditionally working in different systems from the engineering group, with a very different set of goals. To date, there hasn't been a seamless workflow or flow of communications between those two groups in any kind of widespread or sustainable manner. PLM vendors are definitely trying to change that story and PTC, specifically, is really starting to play that hand.
Obviously the designers' chief concern is to design a a door that is cheap and FAST to assemble in the factory, and hung on the vehicle body with the mirror in place and electrically connected. Can you think of a method whereby a) the door would be easier to assemble from its' component parts and b) as many parts as possible (mirror, cable harness etc) would be common to other models? The time saved in assembly is initial purchase money saved. Of course, the design assumes that the mirror will last the life of the vehicle - which in most cases is not unreasonable. Bet you broke some of those snap filt one-time-use plastic clips.
I mentioned it before, but my most recent vehicle rant has to be the brake lines on my 2000 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. The brakes lines rusted out! I've never had a vehicle with that problem, but apparently, the GM supplier from 1999-2003 used some inferior steel and many people are having this problem, and there are talks of a possible recall. See here:
I have to say that it's a very scary feeling to push the brake pedal down and have no braking power! One of my front lines burst a year ago, and I spliced in a new piece of line, but this time they really failed and I knew they all needed to be replaced.
I'm cheap, and I'm a car guy, so I decided to replace the brake lines myself with pre-bent, stainless steel lines that I bought from Inline Tube.
Wow! What a job! When assembling the truck, General Motors obviously installed the brake lines onto the frame before putting the body (cab and bed) onto the truck. This means that there is next to no room to fish new, up to eight feet long brake lines into position. I had to unbolt the bed of the truck and jack it up to get access in the back. For the front, I unbolted the body to frame mounts on the driver's side and was able to jack up the body about two or three inches to get a little more clearance. Luckily I have other vehicles to drive, as this driveway project has taken me several weeks to finish (haven't had much time to work on it) and I'm still not done. I finally got all of the lines on last weekend and when I went to bleed the front brakes, one of the bleeder screws was totally corroded to the point that there weren't even flat sides to put a wrench on. And it was so frozen, even drilling and using an extractor failed to get it out, so I had to spend $52 on a new caliper.
I've replaced motors, transmissions, rear ends, clutches, and have done almost everything to a vehicle, but this has been one of the worst things that I've ever had to do....
The root cause is similar to the posting earlier this month about why the heater core is lurking deep inside the car's dashboard. It's just cheaper and faster to assemble the car that way. The higher the volume the more important assembly is and serviceability simply falls to the wayside.
This is not unique to the newer vehicles. I have had to replace the entire brakelines front to back on a 1968 GTO. The only wat to do this is to raise the body off of the frame!
Complex designs are a trade off. As stated earlier, the consumers want more features and options at a lower cost. That means designers have to design for assembly to lower unit costs and less concerned about service costs. Other than recalls or warrenty claims, service costs are born by the owner. Reduced vehicle costs with more 'standard' features is a marketing ploy to sell more vehicles (increase market share).
Couldn't you have left the old brake lines in place and re-routed new ones point-to-point? That's what plumbers do when they replace corroded water piped buried inside walls. Of course, it's easy for me to say. I would never attempt a do-it-yourself job on a safety critical componnent. Not just because of the 3 boys in the back seat, but because of the liability issues if someone else gets hurt due to ANY future mechanical malfunction in the vehicle.
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