engine management systems - computer logic

by glenn brooks

The last thirty years has seen tremendous technological development of the motor car, to the point where all new vehicles are now equipped with some form of management system or 'electronic control unit' (ECU), which monitors and operates almost every function of a car's systems that include fuelling, ignition, the braking system, the transmission, suspension, steering and air conditioning to name but a few.

Today's vehicles have more on-board computing power than an Apollo space capsule. To keep a vehicle operating efficiently, they need to provide optimum power, economy, comfort and safety, coupled with a minimum of exhaust emissions. Many owners would be surprised to know that the electronic 'brain' in their car makes a desktop PC look like a pocket calculator.

Fault finding and the repair of these systems requires specialist expertise. There's also the requirement for repairers to stay abreast of new trends and technology developments. Hand in glove with this, goes what is often a substantial investment in dedicated test equipment, so if you're looking for a specialist repairer, bear in mind, they'll need to meet those requirements.

As more and more routine servicing operations and adjustments can only be carried out by linking electronically with the on-board computers of even the most basic of cars, many electronic-repair experts have seen their business grow significantly, in recent years.

With cars becoming increasingly complex in the next decade and beyond, the importance of finding a reliable and knowledgeable expert is becoming even more important. Who knows, as well as a regular oil change, your car's vital parts may one day need a regular brain scan?