What’s Going On Under the Hood? Deciphering Your Car’s Computer System

We have smart TVs, smartphones, and smart cars are on the horizon.

Not many areas of today’s world remain untouched by technology.

While it’s not to Jetson’s level yet, the latest vehicles are equipped with a variety of computer systems.

Let’s take a look at what’s going on under the hood and behind the screens in today’s cars.


The vehicles currently being manufactured have at least one computer.

The computer works by receiving information from these various sensors:

  • Oxygen
  • Air pressure
  • Air temperature
  • Engine temperature
  • Throttle position
  • Knock

With the information gathered from these sensors, your vehicle’s computer can control fuel injectors, spark plugs, idle speed, and more to make sure your car is running at optimum levels and to control the emissions.

Check Engine light

At some point or another, you’ve probably seen this indicator light up on your dashboard.

This is your vehicle computer’s way of alerting you to a problem.

The computer will generate a diagnostic code that your mechanic can use to fix the issue.

Additional computer systems

Depending on the vehicle you have, there are probably other computers at work.

Some of these include:

  • A computer controlling the automatic transmission.
  • Anti-lock brakes.
  • Airbag systems.
  • Cars with keyless entries.
  • Vehicles with built-in security systems.
  • Advanced climate controls.
  • Motorized seats and mirrors.
  • The digital display for the radio or other entertainment systems.
  • Cruise control.

Fixing a computerized vehicle

Cars that are equipped with the latest technology make it a little bit more difficult for you to tinker around with it yourself.

But, these same advances make it much easier for a mechanic to pinpoint the problem, eliminating much of the guessing games of the past.

Leave it to Conrad’s

When your Check Engine light comes on, visit your local Conrad’s store and leave the diagnosis to one of our expertly trained and ASE certified technicians.

We have state of the art equipment and each of our technicians stays up-to-date with technical training, ensuring they have the skills to fix your car.

You can trust us with all of your automotive tire, maintenance, and repair needs.

Get in touch with us today.

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