In Car Electronics — Making the Car More Like the Computer

The majority of cars that are made today are already fitted out with a large number of gadgets, and the engine is controlled by a small computer. Sensors feed back to the computer to tell it how well the engine is running, and whether any problems are happening.

Outside of the engine, built into the dashboard may be a series of other items. A music player of some kind is standard, and perhaps even a DVD player or the ability to play MP3s, along with a navigation system. But if you bought a more basic car, or have an older model then you won’t have these gadgets. If you want to kit out your car with more fancy gadgetry, there is a lot available.

Car Electronics
by Adrian Nier under CC BY

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Older, and base model vehicles tend to come with simple music players. If your car is old enough it might even be just a radio cassette player. Replacing this is often a very simple job that you can do yourself if you have a DIY manual for your car, and if you are able to follow instructions and have a go.

The music players available today are far more fancy than those of old. Instead of a cassette player they normally have a CD player, but some go a step further, having either an SD card slot or a USB reader. With these, playing music is a simple task, requiring you to simply load your music onto an SD card or a USB drive, and plug it into your player. You then select the source that you wish to play from and away you go.

DVD players can be fitted to a car in several different ways. In dash set ups are by far the most professional looking, however these can be a distraction to the driver and may not be legal in all states. Not only that, fitting them tends to require professional help as many dash boards are not made to take them, meaning that there will be not slot for it to fit into.

Easier to fit alternatives include overhead DVD players, but these too will require that you do some work connecting the player to the car electrical systems. Headrest players are the easiest of all to physically install and are a perfect solution for back seat viewing, though again some electrical work will be required. There are remote controlled versions of both and even those that can be used to play video games.

Sat Nav systems are probably the easiest of all upgrades to make to your car. Most come with a simple suction fitting that attaches them to the wind shield, and they plug into your car cigarette lighter. Installation takes seconds, and there is a wide range to choose from.

Other gadgets for your car include satellite radio systems and even in car radar trap sensors. With varying degrees of installation required, these are a nice and easy first project for the person who wants to get to know the workings of their car a little better.

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