Q: How Does Your ECU Use Sensor Data?

asked by on

How does your ECU use sensor data?

Today’s modern vehicles are made up of anywhere from one to seven computers that assist with the car’s day to day functions. An engine control unit (ECU), is a computer that similar to that of a laptop or smartphone in terms of responsibility. The ECU has the important job of processing all of the data that is sent by the sensors throughout the vehicle. It “uses” the sensor data that is being sent to help read the messages revealed by the vehicle on its current status. Different sensors perform different operations, therefore the software in the ECU has to be able to process all of the different information from the variety of sensors and not only determine what each sensor is doing but also respond accordingly.

One such sensor that the ECU helps to monitor is the Mass Air Flow sensor. While the engine is running, the ECU uses this sensor to read how much air is entering the engine. At the same time the ECU is also reading the position of the gas pedal through the throttle position sensor. While this is going on, the oxygen sensor takes readings from the exhaust gases to determine how much fuel to add with the fuel injectors into the combustion chamber. The ECU uses the camshaft and crankshaft position sensors to determine where the pistons and valves in the engine are at any given time.

The ECU uses all of this information to start and keep the engine running. Quite a task for these computers to handle. It is important to keep up with routine maintenance to ensure that all of the ECUs and the sensors continue to work in harmony together and keep the vehicle running efficiently and safely.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. How Does Your ECU Use Sensor Data?

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: P0107 MAP Sensor OBD code

Hello - if this condition came on slowly - period of weeks or months - I would be checking for low compression and/or a clogged catalytic converter (especially if this is the original converter). Low airflow under a load may...

Q: I got a 1999 Ford Windstar LX. It is jerking when I go over 45 or 50.

Hi there. Either the EGR - Exhaust Gas Recirculation - has been plugged up or the MAF - Mass Air Flow - sensor is dirty or damaged. Try removing the vacuum line to the EGR and test driving the vehicle...

Q: o2 sensor reads 0 volts.

You may need to look at the code P0122 since it pertains to the throttle position sensor and this can affect all the drive symptoms you are having. The O2 sensor readings seem to be normal and you are not...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...