Why are There Computers in Cars?

Sherry Holetzky
Sherry Holetzky
Remote control car key.
Remote control car key.

The more skeptical vehicle owner may be inclined to think that manufacturers install computers in cars in order to ensure that the vehicle must be brought into the dealership for maintenance or repair. While computerized information in cars does make it more difficult for many people to work on their own vehicles, it actually makes service simpler and more efficient when you bring your car to a mechanic or technician.

A computer can alert a car own when an oil change is due.
A computer can alert a car own when an oil change is due.

Because cars today can basically tell the mechanic what is wrong with them in many areas, much of the guesswork has been removed. This could mean fewer repairs and lower bills, especially if vehicle owners act quickly when computers in cars warn of potential problems. When you bring your car in, there are codes the mechanic can review to determine what needs to be done.

The stereo inside a car may have its own computer.
The stereo inside a car may have its own computer.

Today, computers in cars are standard features. Every modern car has at least one and many have several. Computers in cars include on-board diagnosis, which can warn of issues before they become serious problems and they can also be used to indicate when a car needs maintenance. It is mandatory for computers in cars to give certain emissions information.

Computers can notify drivers of a transmission issue before it requires complete rebuilding.
Computers can notify drivers of a transmission issue before it requires complete rebuilding.

The downside to having computers in cars is that often times when they break down they can be very expensive to repair. There are also expense issues with computerized keys. You can’t simply stop at the hardware store to have a new key made for a just few dollars if you need an extra one. Computerized keys tend to be costly, and they can only be obtained from dealers or from someone who specializes in making them.

On the other hand, there are some convenient aspects of having computers in cars. If your car needs an oil change, it can probably alert you to that fact. Instead of just an oil light that does not explain the problem, computers in cars can indicate that it’s time for an oil change or that your pressure is low and the oil needs to be checked or filled.

Many high-end vehicles are computerized to the hilt. Many monitor nearly every aspect of the vehicle and report on everything from the door being unlocked to the transmission needing service. Computers in cars are also responsible for the operation of the brakes, electric windows and door locks, heated mirrors or seats, air bags, keyless entry, keyless ignition, and much more. Even the stereo may have its own computer system.

Discussion Comments

anon116281

I change the oil at the recommended interval why do I need a computer to tell me that? All the problems diagnosed by the computer are ones caused by it in the first place!and incidentally servicing is not cheaper.

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    • Remote control car key.
      Remote control car key.
    • A computer can alert a car own when an oil change is due.
      By: uwimages
      A computer can alert a car own when an oil change is due.
    • The stereo inside a car may have its own computer.
      By: eldadcarin
      The stereo inside a car may have its own computer.
    • Computers can notify drivers of a transmission issue before it requires complete rebuilding.
      By: ashadrov
      Computers can notify drivers of a transmission issue before it requires complete rebuilding.