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: it idles fines in park, but cuts out in gear.

It sounds like you may have a faulty MAP sensor. The Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor senses engine load and generates a signal that is proportional to the amount of vacuum in the intake manifold. The engine computer then uses...

Q: MAF wires eaten

Hi. Rodents do find their way into the engine compartment occasionally and cause havoc. A trained professional can fix your problem either by soldering/crimping the wires, or by replacing the harness. They can also inspect for other electrical problems present...

Q: My car is lean on bank one and two. Are the oxygen sensors bad?

It is certainly possible that the (pre-cat) O2 sensors were leaning the engine out. It is also possible there is a fuel supply issue: clogged fuel filter, weak fuel pump, fuel pump relay with burned contacts, or a fuel pressure...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
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...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...