Most modern vehicles have what’s known as an engine control unit, or engine control module, right under the hood. This helps your vehicle “talk” to actuators and sensors inside your internal combustion engine and get the best performance out of your vehicle.
Actuators and Sensors? What are Those?
You may have just read that and thought, what the heck is an actuator? An actuator is simply a part in your engine controls that regulates the movement of one or more parts of your engine. So, a valve that responds to certain conditions and opens or closes might be an actuator working with your engine controls.
Before engine controls and actuators were a thing, you had to rely on the manufacturer and auto shops setting all of your systems the right way mechanically. That was an imperfect process that lead to a lot of problems.
Today, engine controls on your vehicle can automate a whole slew of functions so that you don’t have to worry about what’s going on under the hood as much. That said, engine controls are no excuse to ignore your vehicle’s routine maintenance schedule.
Routine Maintenance Still Really Important
The conventional wisdom used to be to follow the 30-60-90 rule when it came to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Some parts on your vehicle, the thinking went, would wear down at the 30,000-mile mark, the 60,000-mile mark, and the 90,000-mile mark.
In this area, too, things have gotten a lot smarter and most vehicles now have internal sensors that pop up on the dashboard to tell you to, for instance, get your brakes checked out immediately or take your engine in for a quick look by the trained mechanics at All Around Auto Repair.
Now, you should never ignore a flashing check engine light. When a dashboard indicator is flashing that usually means that the problem can’t wait. A check engine light that’s flashing on your dashboard means that an internal part of your engine is misfiring and you could be damaging your engine’s components.
It All Works Together to Help Your Vehicle
Your engine controls, actuators, vehicle maintenance schedule, and dashboard indicators are all meant to prevent these kinds of problems from arising in the first place. While it’s true that some things on your vehicle wear out at irregular intervals – e.g., pads, belts, tires, and wiper blades – that’s no reason to skip routine maintenance.
In fact, that’s more reason to stop inside All Around Auto Repair to have all of your systems inspected. As you get your oil changed and your tires rotated, the experienced mechanics at All Around Auto Repair will use diagnostic instruments to make sure everything is on the up-and-up.
You’ll also have certain systems flushed and topped off with new synthetic fluids, which are proven to extend the life of your engine and lead to more fuel economy and fewer breakdowns that keep you stranded on the side of the road. That’s a situation that nobody wants to be stuck in. Both routine maintenance and engine controls help keep you on the road for longer.
Engine controls, for instance, work with your vehicle’s fuel injectors to determine the amount of fuel to send over based on real-time sensor readings. When your engine is running too rich or too lean (determined by the oxygen-fuel ratios) then your engine controls automatically throttle things up or down to compensate. That’s cool.
Your vehicle’s engine controls also work with variable valve timing and electronic valve control to open or shut valves and make sure your vehicle is performing at its best whenever you’re behind the wheel. Contact us for more information.