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How Much Modern Cars Depend on Computer Chips

By this time, you’ve probably heard of the global computer chip supply shortage. The shortage has affected everything from smartphones to new car supplies. But why is there a shortage of computer chips, and what does that have to do with modern cars? Keep reading to find out. 

What Are Computer Chips?

Every modern car is equipped with a computer that requires a chip. Computer chips are tiny transistors made from silicon. These tiny devices allow computers, smartphones, appliances, and other electrical devices to function. Computer chips are often manufactured in Taiwan, China, and sometimes the United States. 

The Origins of Car Computer Chips

The first computer used in a car only controlled the engine. Automotive manufacturers first began introducing early versions of computer-controlled car systems to do one specific task. In the 1970s, however, computer chips were standardly used to operate a vehicle’s engine control system (ECU).

What Do They Control Now?

These days, computer chips are used to control a variety of functions for the vehicle. The chip in your vehicle’s computers tells it things like when and how to adjust your car’s timing, fuel-to-air ratio, turbo boost, and much more. The most strenuous job of a computer chip is controlling the vehicle’s engine. The engine control unit is the most powerful computer on most cars. It uses closed-loop control, a control scheme that monitors outputs of a system that control inputs to a system, and more. In essence, computer chips control a lot of the functions of your modern car.

How is the Computer Chip Shortage Affecting the Automotive Industry?

In March 2020, the global pandemic forced automakers, suppliers, and car dealerships to close down. As a result, automakers quickly canceled orders for arts with computer chips since they believed that sales would plummet. But, after an initial plummet in car sales, the demand for new cars quickly rebounded. When factories restarted, the unexpected increase in demand for new vehicles outpaced production and has yet to catch up.

Due to the low inventory of new cars, consumers have turned to keeping their current vehicle or buying a used car instead. That is why you have likely seen an increase in the price of used cars. It is unknown how long the computer chip shortage will last.

Here For Your Vehicle Throughout the Shortage

Thunderbird Automotive Specialists are here to repair and maintain your vehicle. We specialize in engine repair, transmission repair, electrical system repair, and more. No matter the problem with your current vehicle, we can help fix it and ensure that your car keeps running for a long time.

Click here to schedule an appointment. 

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Thunderbird Automotive Specialists will be closed on Friday, October 20th.

During this time, our team will be attending the memorial service for our late General Manager, Brock Lohman.

We appreciate your understanding and support as we gather as a Thunderbird Automotive Specialist family to honor Brock’s life and legacy.

We will be back open to serve you on Monday, October 23rd. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.