Vehicles produced over the last several years have become very complex. Just looking under the hood of a vehicle from the 60’s or early 70’s and a vehicle manufactured over the last 10 or so years is a fantastic demonstration of how far technology has taken us. The advantages of this technology are improved fuel economy, improved emissions, enhanced drive-ability and better performance.
Above – an engine from a 1970’s era Chevrolet. Fuel metered by a carburetor, a single ignition coil was triggered by a set of points and a condenser inside the distributor – distributor cap, ignition rotor, and wires send electricity to the spark plugs. No computers, no sensors, and the vehicle required constant adjustments to run at peak performance.
As with everything else however, there is a trade off. The more complex a system is, the more things can go wrong, and sometimes diagnosing the problem properly can be difficult. Specialized interfaces and software to access these systems are very expensive and require significant training to read and properly interpret the information.
Above – an engine from a 2008 BMW 325i. Fuel injection, no distributor, cap, rotor or wires, completely computer controlled with sensors and direct coil-over-plug ignition. The computers monitor sensors to fire the spark plugs, provide just the proper amount of fuel, and make other engine settings thousands of times per minute to provide a proper balance of performance and fuel economy.
The following sections are designed to provide our customers with a working knowledge of these systems to make it easier to understand how your vehicle is designed to work, as well as the diagnostic processes required when things go wrong. Simply select one of the links under the Repair 411 menu item.