Technology within cars is growing at a massive rate. Modern cars have multiple computers and modules that receive data from over a hundred sensors and input devices. The computers then send signals to actuators, motors, solenoids and to other computers.
How is data shared within the car?
Within the automotive world, canbus is the common communication protocol that allows all these electronic systems to communicate and work together. Wifi, Bluetooth, USB and HDMI are other communication systems that we use in our lives everyday. Canbus used to be a single platform where all systems could and would share data at the same time and speeds. Engine management, SRS (airbag), traction control and ABS (brakes) now need to transfer data at incredible speeds to ensure performance and safety. To do so, there are now multiple levels of canbus protocols within cars. This keeps essential systems and their data separate from less critical aspects such as auto lights or rain sensing wipers.
We’re all used to Bluetooth in our cars and many in car entertainment systems have USB or other connectivity. Telematics is a general term to describe how the car can share its internal data with external systems such as GPS tracking or remote diagnostics – more on this in a future article.
How does this help my mechanic fix my car?
Most workshops will have multiple scantools that can either be plugged into a diagnostic port or receive data remotely (if the vehicle is equipped to do this). Scantools interrogate the canbus system, decipher the digital code and display it in a language that technicians understand. Fault codes and live data either direct or assist technicians to accurately diagnose the car.
When new components are installed, the car needs to know this. It maybe for security, safety or operational reasons that these new parts are introduced to the car’s systems. New keys and remotes need to be programmed to the car, even fitting new batteries and replacement light globes can require the car to be informed.
As part of the A Grade Automotive Network certification, it is a prerequisite of participating workshops to own scantools and to regularly update them. If you have a warning light on the dash, chances are your car needs to be scanned.
Find your closest A Grade workshop