Yesterday while driving I was thinking about how much cars have changed over the years since I was a kid, and how different we viewed things prior to the time they started to producing ‘safe cars’. The days of the backyard auto mechanic when one could tune up their own car with simple tools prior to going computerized. Open the hood on most new vehicles and your lucky you can find the oil dipstick let alone where the spark plugs are located.

Which, being the curious soul that I am, I wondered how many computer chips a new vehicle comes with? So I took a spin over to How Stuff Works. A new vehicle can have up to 50 computer chips. Our vehicle engines, emission controls, climate controls, air bags, braking control, vehicle stability control, instrument panels, door locks, transmission controllers, plus more are all computer chip controlled.

On the How Stuff Works web site they state:

Each year, cars seem to get more and more complicated. Cars today might have as many as 50 microprocessors on them. Although these microprocessors make it more difficult for you to work on your own car, some of them actually make your car easier to service.

Some of the reasons for this increase in the number of microprocessors are:

    • The need for sophisticated engine controls to meet emissions and fuel-economy standards
    • Advanced diagnostics
    • Simplification of the manufacture and design of cars
    • Reduction of the amount of wiring in cars
    • New safety features
    • New comfort and convenience features

I than recalled last year when we have moved finding a tune-up analyzer at the bottom of my tool cabinet I must of purchased back in the late 70’s. Why was I keeping it? Someday I’m going to take on the challenge of rebuilding an old muscle car and I just may need it. Even if this doesn’t happen it is just nice to recall a time when I was able to tune up my car which not only gave me a sense of satisfaction but also was a heck of a lot cheaper. 🙂

Comments welcome.

The complete How Stuff Works article can be found here.

[tags]cars, computer, chips, system, [/tags]