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Electronic Control Unit- Functionality of Car Computer Systems

Electronic Control Unit- Functionality of Car Computer Systems

Cars have evolved over the years and modern versions consist of unprecedented technology due to the inclusion of the ECU. The electronic control unit that is commonly referred to as the ECU or computer box is more efficient and much safer than ever.

The ECU serves as the car’s brain as it makes sure that the vehicle functions optimally throughout. The ECU or computer box manages or computes various things. It is responsible for virtually everything that a vehicle does.

The Mechanical Era

During the mechanical era of cars, things such as electronic fuel sensors did not exist. In the past drivers depended on their mechanics, screwdrivers and wrenches for their cars to run smoothly. Rather than direct injection or fuel injection that is typically found in cars today, engines had carburetors for the purpose of fine-tuning the mixture of air and fuel.

No electronics or computers were used to control these features. Aside from the mechanical engine, various vehicle functions also relied on basic electrical contacts and vacuum hoses to make different things work. Although modern car electronics seems complex, wires are not as cumbersome as hydraulic lines and vacuum hoses.

Computers and Engines

An engine that had a carburetor required a qualified and skilled mechanic to fine tune it and keeping it running at optimal levels. Good senses and tools were used to determine whether the engine was running well.

  • Computer controlled engines did away with the carburetor and mechanics. The duties of a carburetor were taken over by a computerized system. Manufacturers began to use computer boxes that replaced carburetors with the EFI or electronic fuel injection system. Click here for Mercedes ECU.
  • When computer boxes were initially introduced, they mainly regulated fuel junction and the air and fuel mixture that are necessary to get the engine going. Technology limitations at that time prevented complexities and some engines combined analog features like the distributor for running purposes.
  • ECUs eventually became more prevalent as time went on wit stringent emission regulations. More manufacturers began to use ECUs as carburetors were not as reliable as fuel injection.
  • Computers and chips were more capable and smaller, which enabled advanced engine monitoring like closed-loop systems. The closed-loop system ensures that the engine gets the required amount of fuel when the sensors are read within the system. 

Electronic Boost for Safety

Along with the engine, anti-lock braking systems also became electronically controlled. Modern ABS features sensors to prevent lock-ups that may restrict the driver’s steering control during emergency maneuvers.

Traction control system is yet another feature that depends on the ECU. In this case, rather than controlling the brakes, the engine cuts power and the ECU activates when loss of control is about to happen. Electronics take over the engine and brakes and allow the car to stay on course.

Advances in technology have made it possible for ECU to handle more complicated features such as adaptive cruise control, independent emergency braking and more. The ECU plays the crucial role of monitoring car sensors and changing the relevant system as required. With the progress of technology, ECUs control a range of electrical processes with sensors installed all over the car and enhancing the monitoring system.



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