Today’s automobiles are packed with so much technology that frankly it’s a bit overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all wonderful stuff, but man oh man are our cars becoming advanced. In fact our cars are so complicated now that basic tinkering is almost impossible. I remember a time when you could open a cars hood and know immediately what everything did. Things like the alternator, power steering pump, brake booster, plug wires… these were all things that could be fixed and or dealt with in ones own garage. Nowadays though even something as simple as an oil change or brake job can be a hassle. Hell, the only reason to open the hood now is just to make sure the engine didn’t fall out. These are no longer fully mechanical machines like their predecessors were, and as such, they require very special equipment when it comes to diagnosing and fixing any issues. Technicians nowadays are not what most would consider the typical “grease monkey”, but highly skilled individuals who operate multi-million dollar equipment on a daily basis.
Just think about this for a moment – a basic modern car has at least 30 ECU’s which control the different functions of the automobile. Things like remote start, power door locks and alarm systems all have separate modules. Now bring into the mix advanced braking and ignition systems, throttle-by-wire and computer controlled suspension and well, you can see how things can get complicated very quickly. Many drivers take these things for granted as most of these systems are transparent. For those of us that are into the technology though, lets just say that watching the automobile evolve is simply extraordinary. I look at my old hot rods that are now ancient relics with their old school carburetors and distributors. Then I think of new cars like the Chevrolet Volt and wonder how much farther are we going to go. What will cars look like in 40 or 100 years and how will our modern infrastructure have to change to accommodate them. This is an exciting time to be a car enthusiast, because right now the automobile is going through a renaissance, it’s just that you have to look very closely to catch it.