Niagara Gazette

Features

September 12, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: The evolution of the ignition system

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

Today the average automobile has more computing power in it than Apollo13 did.

Here’s how the drivability system works in an average computer controlled car today. For arguments sake, let’s say that we have components A, B, C, D, and E. Component A is the computer, and B & C are sensors gathering information from various sources within the engine (water temperature, amount of oxygen in the exhaust, etc). The sensors send the information in the form of electrical impulses to the computer, which it reads and then makes the necessary adjustments based on the pre-set parameters from the factory (taking into consideration performance, emissions, shift points, etc) to insure that your car is running correctly. The adjustments are then translated into commands to the engine controls, which in this example are D & E. These components could be controls for electronic fuel injection or maybe ignition timing. All components work in concert with one another to make sure that your car delivers optimum performance and efficiency.

Problems start when a glitch is introduced into the system such as a broken wire or a bad component. Then, what I call the “Domino Effect,” takes flight. Since the computer only knows a certain parameter within which to work and can only read what is fed to it by the sensors, it will tax itself and any other component within the system to do what it has to do to achieve its goal of operating within factory-set parameters. It will over or under compensate the adjustments of other systems and components (over and over), sometimes to their demise. The only problem with this scenario is that, more often than not, other components within the system suffer as a result of the computer taxing everything else to achieve its objectives. This is why it’s so important to keep you car maintained according to factory specifications in an effort to achieve automotive synergy, harmony, peace, and balance within your car.

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