Computer On Wheels

8 10 2015

Dale BertramYour car is really a computer on wheels these days.  They have up to 100 million lines of computer code and that is more than many jet fighters!  The most basic of vehicles have a minimum of 30 microprocessor-controlled devices.  We call these ECU’s (electronic control units). Luxury cars can have 100 ECU’s!

These processors make it difficult for the average person to work on their own vehicle but it makes it easier for auto repair shops as they have made an investment in the right equipment and diagnostic tools in order to translate trouble codes and determine what is actually wrong with your vehicle.

What do all these ECU’s do?  They help meet emissions and fuel-economy standards, do diagnostics, simplify design and manufacturing, reduce wiring, provide safety features, comfort and convenience.

Controlling your vehicle’s engine is the most processor-intensive job and the engine control unit is the most powerful computer in your vehicle. It gathers data from dozens of various sensors and knows all that is going on.  It performs millions of calculations per second.  The processor in your car runs more efficient code than that in your PC. Each module communicates problems to a central module.  The problem is stored and then a technician can read the code using an off-board diagnostic tool.

There seems to be more and more technology going into our vehicles each year so more and more computer code will be necessary.  This is all part of keeping our environment cleaner and reducing the amount of accidents.  As we are moving toward the commercialization of the self-driving car we will find this will increase a great deal.  Don’t worry though…we’ll keep up!


Fairway Auto Repair




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