A basic guide to the computer in your car

Day by day cars are getting difficult to understand but they are now easy to manufacture and service. Why? This is because of the number of microprocessors added to your car system. This makes understanding your own car difficult because everything is so small and integrated that it’s hard to know how it functions. Here is a guide that will make things little easier by describing how every part is connected to the computer in your car.

Sophisticated Engine Control

Engine Control Unit (ECU) is the most important and powerful computer in your car, it collects values from different sensors (such as coolant temperature, amount of oxygen etc.) and performs millions of calculations a second. It monitors the output and on its basis controls the input, hence following a closed-control loop. ECU ensures that the car has lowest emission and best possible mileage.

The ECU performs these task with many components present on the processor such as the analog to digital converters that help analog output of sensors to be input digitally to processor, digital to analog converters for inputting digital output of processor to an analog device, signal conditioners and communication chips.

Enhancing diagnosis capabilities

A communication bus is used that sends the faults of individual components to a central diagnostic tool. This makes it easier for mechanics to fix your car as they won’t have to look where the problem is. Also an instrument cluster is a part of your cars now that collects and displays data from different sensors in car.


The probability of getting confused with car wiring increases as the number of components in car increases and previously a wire went from switch to each component but with multiplexing this can be controlled and the inputs and outputs of an area in car are governed by one module having one microprocessor.

Comfort and convenience

Another important aspect of computer in cars is for the sake of comfort and convenience. Now, for a decade cars have various safety systems such as anti-lock braking system (ABS) and air bag systems installed. Traction and stability systems are also becoming common now. Each of these systems require a number of microprocessor to make them functional. Day by day numerous features and modules are being added to cars for the sake of convenience each of these modules require more and more processing power and are packaged into separate electronic modules.

The above guide tells that in coming years all cars will be fully equipped and controlled by modules made of numerous of microprocessors, although it is going make things complex and hard to understand but will greatly add to convenience and ease of people. The design of car these days are such that every part is equipped with sensors that sends signals to ECU or other modules and using these sensor values many calculations per second are made to make the design more reliable, feasible and secure. Hence, it is really important to have a basic understanding of your car computer system.