y2k compliant auto"s?

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Anyone know and what year automobiles might or might not run, I have heard autos after1986 will probably not be affected but chips controll everything in the newer ones ?

-- tim k miren (tkm@earthlink.net), January 14, 1999


Try http://www.2000amIsafe. com/wis/homepage

-- cruzin (Hope@itworks.com), January 14, 1999.

The web site given above has automobile references strictly to the company making its internal production/admin system Y2K compliant. None of the reports I checked on the site cover anything about specific vehicles.

-- Tod (muhgi@yahoo.com), January 15, 1999.

Tim, below is a message that I posted several months ago addressing this issue. Perhaps it will help. The original question had to do with when cars first got computer controlled engine systems so they could be avoided. Actually, it's nothing to worry about.....


The year that cars were first equipped with electronic engine control systems varies by model and manufacturer. The 1968 VW Squareback/Fastback had Bosch electronic fuel injection, but the control module used analog circuitry, not digital processing. By the mid '70s, many American vehicles were equipped with electronic ignitions (typically non-digital) even though many still had conventional carbs for fuel management. On the other hand, most mid- 70's German cars had fuel injection (often electronic), but generally old-style points/condenser ignition. By '79 to '80, most vehicles had some sort of electronic fuel controls, even if carburetor- equipped, to meet stricter emission requirements. The good news, though, is that you needn't worry about it, unless you just want a simpler vehicle that can be kept running with "shade tree" repair methods in case parts and service for the current electronic wonders become difficult to obtain.

I have been in the automotive industry for about three decades, focusing on electronics and engine control systems. I've diagnosed & repaired the onboard computers down to the component level (replacing individual parts on the circuit board), taught factory classes for years on the subject, and presently work as a product engineer, which sometimes brings me in direct contact with those who write the code for the control modules. I have also designed and programmed small 8- bit embedded systems for use as diagnostic devices and for other special applications. I'm presently employed by a well-known Japanese auto manufacturer, a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, and an ASE certified Master/L1 Technician.

I can tell you this: the Engine Control Module (ECM) in your car does not know, and does not care what the date is. Period. The onboard diagnostics on vehicles produced in the last few years keep track of things like how many seconds the engine has been running, certain things that took place during the last drive, etc. They have no need or ability to track the date. There are no clock/calendar chips with battery backup in the ECMs, as there are on PC motherboards, for example. When, your battery goes dead, or is replaced, do you have to take your car in to have a technician plug in the "scan tool" and reset the date in the ECM? Heck no! When the ECM is replaced at the repair shop, do they have to program the date into the new one that was pulled off the shelf? Absolutely not! Service technicians have no ability to set the date in the ECM -- just as you can't set the date on a typical kitchen timer. If you go to your favorite auto service establishment and ask them to set the date in the ECM up to 1/1/00 to see what will happen, they will just laugh. Either when you ask, or after you leave, depending on their mood. Their equipment has no ability to do that. You can't "set" something that doesn't exist.

I have seen concerns raised since some ECMs (or other related modules) track engine operation to illuminate "maintenance needed" indicators. These are based on mileage, or, in some cases, elapsed time and operating conditions. Again, no dates involved. Some Y2K speculation is that the maintenance tracking system could be date sensitive, and could shut down the engine if it thought maintenance had not been done for many years. This is pure uninformed and inaccurate speculation. Even if maintenance is ridiculously overdue, the engine is not shut down. Can you imagine the lawsuit if a family dies by being stranded in a blizzard because the ECM shut down the engine for overdue maintenance? The next of kin would own the company!! Car companies can sometimes be dumb, but not that dumb!

So, how come you can't get a written statement from your dealer or the manufacturer that your car is Y2K-OK? If you call the car manufacturer I work for, you will get a Customer Service rep. If he/she doesn't know the answer to a technical question, then they come to my group and ask the person responsible for the vehicle in question. So far, I've had one question from a CS rep for the particular model I handle. I told him to tell the customer that the vehicle is "absolutely, positively, without any question Y2K-OK." Worry about getting gas, not the ECM. If the caller asked for a written statement, as has been advocated in some Y2K books and articles, he would have been disappointed. I'm pretty sure we don't have an official statement yet. That will happen when there are enough inquiries to get the ball rolling for senior mgmt to have the legal department draft a statement. Until then, some may take the lack of an official written statement as a suspicious sign. Nope. It's just a "Dilbert" thing.

We have many things to concern ourselves with as we contemplate preparation for Y2K. I wonder if we will have enough electricity, food, water, etc. I do know that my computer controlled car will run if I am able to get gas....

-- Randy Jones (randyjones@techie.com), January 15, 1999.

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