Technical newsletter

EureTechFlash aims to demystify new technologies and make them transparent, to stimulate You as a professional repairer to keep pace with technology.

State of the art Sensors and Actuators

The automotive industry undergoes constant technological development in order to produce more comfortable and higher performance vehicles, which are safer and more environmentally friendly at the same time. A large part of this evolution is achieved with incorporated electronics that improve the operation of traditionally mechanical systems and elements.
The interaction between the mechanical systems and the electronics is possible thanks to sensors, which are in charge of transforming all types of physical variables into electrical magnitudes, and actuators, which transform electrical magnitudes into physical work.
Electronic ignition and fuel injection systems were the first electronically controlled systems that were incorporated in automobiles in general. The work of both depends to a great extent on physical parameters that constantly vary (temperature, pressure, rpm, etc.), which have a direct influence on the operation and performance of the engine.
The traditional mechanical control systems are comparatively slow and not highly accurate, which results in variable, and sometimes ineffective, operation of the engine. The electronic control of the same functions increases both the speed of response and accuracy, and it also allows the construction of the mechanical elements to be simplified for greater reliability of the whole.
Furthermore, it reduces the need for joint work and interaction between purely mechanical components, which can be detrimental since the failure of one component can lead to others malfunctioning. Added to the above is the wear of certain mechanical components, which means that periodic adjustments must be made to maintain operation within acceptable limits.
In many cases, the use of electronic systems prevents the need for periodic adjustments, as they compensate for wear by means of continuous measuring and correction loops that compensate for wear and maladjustment throughout the useful life of the vehicles.
These systems also offer the intrinsic flexibility of the software, the programming of which allows the same control system to be applied in different vehicles, engines, etc. At more advanced levels, the logic functions and the self-diagnostic software report on possible component defects or poor performance of certain functions, and can even adapt in order to continue operating in an acceptable form until the fault is repaired.
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Cylinder Disconnect technology

At a moment during 2010, the number of cars on the road exceeded 1 billion units and it is calculated that, with production around 100 million units per year, this figure will be approximately 1.8 billion in 2035.
The car is the land transport means with greatest energy consumption per person and kilometre for actual and maximum occupancy rates. It is, therefore, the most inefficient and the most costly, both for the user and for society, and it also emits the highest levels of emissions to the atmosphere.
As regards the greenhouse effect and global warming, vehicles with lower capacity and driven by combustion engines produce the highest quantities of CO2 per passenger. Passenger cars are particularly to blame for this due to their high mass-performance ratio.
Emissions of polluting substances have, over recent years, become a public health problem that the authorities in different countries are attempting to solve by means of increasingly restrictive approval standards, more demanding periodic vehicle inspections and renewal policies for vehicles on the road.
The recent inclusion of limit values for CO2 emissions in the approval standards has necessitated the technical evolution of engines and the development of new technologies for the reduction of fuel consumption and, consequently, emissions. Innovations such as Start & Stop, electronically controlled hydraulic systems and smart alternators reduce the work and the subsidiary loads of the engine in order to increase its efficiency.
Thermal management of the engine and heat loss reduction is one of the most evolved features in recent times.
Selective cylinder deactivation is one of the measures adopted by manufacturers to further reduce emissions and consumption of their engines. It consists of disabling one or more engine cylinders in certain operating situations and increasing the work of the remaining cylinders, in order to make better use of the energy contained in the fuel. The deactivation of the cylinders reduces thermal losses at the same time as it improves the conversion of the combustion pressure into torque when the required power is low, a very common situation during urban journeys and extra-urban journeys at a moderate sustained speed.
Although the widespread implementation of this technology is relatively recent, the idea of selective cylinder deactivation has now been in development for several years and marketed by several brands under different names. For example, there is the ACT (Active Cylinder Technology) system from Volkswagen, and the ZAS (Zylinderabschaltung - cylinder active control system) from Mercedes, fitted in the V8 and V12 engines from the beginning of the century.
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Until relatively few years ago, the experience of mechanical technicians provided with a few basic tools was generally sufficient for a vehicle repair. However, the constant technical evolution of cars and the incorporation of new systems and components has increased the complexity of fault diagnosis, a task that can be erratic or ineffective without sufficient knowledge and the necessary resources.

A correct and orderly diagnostic protocol increases the chances of finding the source of the anomaly in the vehicle, as well as identifying the damaged parts of the system, to then carry out the repair or replacement in an efficient and successful way.

The logical guideline model or sequence to follow during the diagnostic process is essential for locating the fault and determining its possible solution while optimising both the resources available and repair times.

Following steps in an orderly manner will not be of much use if the technician lacks the necessary knowledge to carry out their work. The training of the repair professional and knowledge of the different vehicle systems and their components, both electrical and mechanical, is vitally important both when carrying out the diagnosis and the repair. The availability of tools and instruments is as necessary as the knowledge of the correct techniques for handling the various devices such as: OBD diagnostic tools, steering aligners, AC charging stations, wheel balancers, electronic testers, battery testers, oscilloscopes, beamsetters, etc.

Don’t forget that the diagnosis of a vehicle begins when it arrives in the workshop, with the asking of concise questions that can be understood by the customer. It is likely that the receptionist will have to convey the information received to the person responsible for the repair, and it is important that no information is lost in the process. After an accurate diagnosis and the efficient repair of the vehicle, the technician will be able to determine, in many cases, the customer’s satisfaction when the vehicle is handed back.
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Power Transmission

The determining factor for the creation of the car was, as strange as it may seem, the creation of the transmission system. The connecting of stationary internal combustion engines with the structures of already existing horse-drawn carriages only needed the invention of a system capable of transmitting the force and movement from its source, the engine, to the wheels. However, this was no easy task, and it gave rise to the development of an entire mechanical system that, after years of study and evolution, is capable of transmitting, interrupting and converting the force in order to adapt it to the driving needs of vehicles over the ground’s variable surface.
Today, the design of the transmission system is a key factor in the performance, consumption and dynamic quality of cars. Its study and development are as necessary as that of the engine itself. An exceptional engine is of little use if its potential cannot be fully transmitted to the wheels and converted into motion.
This article describes the origin of the transmission system, the physical phenomena related to force transmission in vehicles, as well as the various components that form the system responsible for this task, with special emphasis on the clutch system.
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Injection Systems with LPG and CNG

The increasingly restrictive anti-pollution standards are obliging car manufacturers to develop more efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles. One of the technologies recently promoted by manufacturers is the development of gas fuelled engines, a modification that has been applied for many years as an economic solution.
Bi-fuel vehicles are characterised by the use of internal combustion engines that can run on two different fuels, normally petrol and a compressed gas (LPG, CNG or LNG). Nevertheless, diesel engines can also be found (particularly in industrial vehicles) that work with diesel and some of the aforementioned gases.

The use of these gases provides the following advantages:
A cleaner fuel together with a notable reduction of CO2 and polluting emissions (NOx, CO, PM, etc.).
It is a more economic fuel than petrol.
The combustion engine suffers much less wear than one that uses solely petrol, as the gas leaves a lower quantity of residues and does not contaminate the oil.
The engine is quieter with lower vibrations when running on gas.
The great majority of petrol vehicles can be converted to LPG, as the operation is very similar and the installation of the necessary equipment is not very complicated.
A longer range can be achieved when using two fuels.

Nevertheless, there are some drawbacks:
The price of converting a vehicle to gas is high.
The consumption in mass of fuel is between 5 and 10% higher with gas with respect to running on petrol.
The engine power is reduced by up to 10%, depending on the gas.
The number of service stations for refuelling may be limited, depending on the country, especially for CNG and LNG.
Refuelling is slightly more complicated than the traditional refuelling of petrol and diesel vehicles.
In non-specific engines, the use of additives is necessary to prevent drying and premature wear of the valve seats.
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