Smart Cars, Smarter Diagnostics

With the average car now composed of about six to 20 computers, it is safe to say that the cars we have today are smarter than ever. The sophisticated computers they are fitted with help manage everything from the electronically controlled transmission to the sunroof. But no matter how smart your car is, you can be sure that it will suffer from computer-related problems at some point.

Automotive computers run on a powertrain control module (PCM) and like any computer, it executes complex math formulae to perform certain functions. The processor turns on electrical input into electrical output then into system actuators.

When you turn on your ignition, the powertrain control module utilizes coolant and ambient temperatures and barometric pressure inputs to establish the right air-fuel ratio to start the engine. As one can imagine, the PCM is responsible for many functions and also tells you if there is something wrong by turning the check engine light on. It must be noted that other computers are also present in some cars aside from the PCM. In Chryslers, for example, there’s the Body Control Module and the Transmission Control Unit.

While the cars we drive are now smarter than the ones from the ‘90s or a few years back, the computers inside our cars need to be monitored by technicians who know how these computers work. Smart cars need smarter diagnostics and by extension, smart technicians.

The question is, do these computers ever really fail? Yes, sometimes they do and when this happens, computers inside cars are tested by technicians through the process of elimination. First they see if there’s a faulty power supply or if some of the connections are grounded among other things and then they move on to the next item on their checklist.

If you think your car is having computer problems, it is best to take it to an auto repair shop near you and you should do this as soon as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need your car checked. Our friendly personnel will gladly schedule an appointment for you and answer all your questions if you have any.