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How Automobile Computers Work

March 30, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 207

Auto computers are found in nearly all cars on the road. They are imperative for controlling the inner workings of the car, and they can even be useful for helping mechanics to diagnose what's wrong with a car when one needs repairing. So many people have car computers and yet they have no idea how any of them work.

To Begin

It's important to understand that a car will have at least one computer, and maybe even more. The most widely used computers in cars, though, are the Engine Control Module (ECM), the ABS computer, a climate control computer, and a body ride control unit. Some vehicles may have all of these and some may have only one of these, but it depends entirely on the make and model of the vehicle itself.


The ECM will be found on the large majority of cars and acts as the main computer for the car; it may also be referred to as the programmable control module. The role of the ECM is to process the inputs and outputs which come through the sensors on a vehicle. Some sensors are designed to provide information for the computer and the computer will then send this information to the engine through the output sensors.


There are lots of sensors on a vehicle and some vehicles may have more sensors than others, depending on how many additional features it has. Just some of the available sensors include: the coolant sensor, crank sensor, knock sensor, EGR valve, and a mass air flow sensor. The sensor's job is to feed information about its "area" back to the computer. The computer can then make changes to each area as the information comes in from each sensor.

Sensors are essentially the eyes and ears of auto computers everywhere.

Technical Diagnostics

Diagnosis in a vehicle is when the computer tells the driver that something is wrong with it. The ECM will alert the driver that something is wrong by turning on the "check engine" light. To do this, the ECM works in conjunction with a scanner which is connected to the port under the dashboard. The scanner will then read the codes coming from the ECM. This is usually designed to inform the driver that a sensor isn't working properly.

However, what happens if the ECM stops working? This is an unfortunate situation because the ECM doesn't have the capability to diagnose itself. In this case, the car may simply begin to decline in its performance or breakdown. If the scanner is connected and it isn't reading any codes or the codes are not making sense then the ECM is probably broken and may need to be replaced.


For most modern vehicles, auto computers are usually pre-programmed for that specific vehicle because it's a very delicate process. If a driver wants to attempt to connect a car computer by themselves then they must be careful because even the slightest shock can damage the computer beyond repair.

A wide range of auto computers can be found at

Source: EzineArticles
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