The other day I called on my friend, who's a real mechanic. He had a lovely Porsche Panamera in the yard, he told me the Porsche was in to have a permanently raised rear spoiler repaired. The raised wind deflector was a problem, but worse was the 'bong' and spoken warning every 5 seconds, driving the owner mad! By coincidence, the same day at Tesco's, me and Mrs.I parked next to another Panamera with its spoiler stuck up.
Back at the yard, Dave will have to remove the tailgate trim and check the rams and connections. If no fault is found it could be an electronic module at fault, this will be very expensive to diagnose and replace.
Dave said these fancy modern cars make a Lancia Delta look reliable! He said in 10 years this Porsche would be unsaleable, because faulty electronics will make it too expensive to fix.
This got me thinking about collector's cars of the future. In 20 years time how will it be possible for an enthusiast to keep a car such as a Panamera running?
Our Deltas have a one wire-one job system which allows for logical
fault firing and repair.
A stuck up Panamera spoiler
A modern car's electrical system is now a self contained computer network. This electronics network is known as the Controller Area Network, CAN. The system of links and connections is called the CANbus.
Electronic Control Units, ECUs, are located all over the modern car, these listen to each other and to the function sensors constantly.
Streams of data pass down the CANbus between the ECUs.
Function rich Panamera interior
Take for instance a power tailgate, this is controlled by an ECU, sensors constantly report if the door is open or closed. When the button is pressed to open the door, the signal from that switch is sent all around the car's network. Before acting on the 'open' command, the ECU checks around the network to see if the car is stopped, not in gear etc., if all is ok, it opens the door.
While the door motor is running sensors check for voltage and load spikes, which could be caused by a bag or arm being caught,
then it would reverse the door direction. When the door closes properly, it latches the door shut.
The large number of electrical functions in a modern car would need a very fat bunch of wires, but with CAN the individual components can energise themselves from a power source, by a signal to its own ECU, without direct power from the driver's switch.
This has made wiring systems much lighter, but it means repair to a system malfunction is almost impossible without access to a main dealer OBD reader.
But... on the other hand, perhaps the stories of a doom-laden future are overstated by oldsters like myself, as young enthusiasts who already understand the world of electronics, can adapt their skills to auto
diagnostics and repair.
These youngsters are already able to snap up exciting and previously expensive cars that the likes of me wouldn't risk, because I wouldn't understand how they work. They'll use aftermarket diagnostic readers, and fully understand what's required to salvage a troublesome luxury auto.
I say well done to them, and good luck!
My idea of a running repair! I love this picture, a co-driver bravely
keeping the Delta's engine running in a hands on style!