The need for emission control from automobiles gave rise to the computerization of the automobile. Hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen are created during the combustion process and are emitted into the atmosphere from the tailpipe. There are also hydrocarbons emitted as a result of vaporization of gasoline and from the crankcase of the automobile.
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The manufacturers answer was the addition of certain pollution control devices and the creation of a self adjusting engine. They were called feedback fuel control systems.
An oxygen sensor was installed in the exhaust system and would measure the fuel content of the exhaust stream. It then would send a signal to a microprocessor, which would analyze the reading and operate a fuel mixture or air mixture device to create the proper air/fuel ratio. As computer systems progressed, they were able to adjust ignition spark timing as well as operate the other emission control that were installed on the vehicle.
The computer is also capable of monitoring and diagnosing itself. If a fault is seen, the computer will alert the vehicle operator by illuminating a malfunction indicator lamp. The computer will at the same time record the fault in it’s memory, so that a technician can at a later date retrieve that fault in the form of a code which will help them determine the proper repair.