Home > Blogs > Computer Service is Car Service Part 2

Eastern Tennessee is a long and lonely land, now made all that much lonelier as I tried to determine whether I should pull over and try to get help.  Was that a wolf I just heard howling???

My car is a few years old.  It has several computers that are a tightly coupled blend of hardened, environmentally resistant hardware and slim controller code that is profiled to run efficiently.  Providing input to the computers are a wide variety of sensors, transducers that express physical states as a digital signal.  The home computer ingests keystrokes; in my car, engine temperature, oxygen levels, etc are the meal of the moment.

And something was making my computers sick!  We may not think of it this way, but the radio is a computer.  Its ability to read MP3 files, to flow through a USB file system, to display the station's data; all these tasks are done with its computer logic.  There's another computer, and it works with the brakes and with certain motion dampers to provide stability control as this vehicle rounds a corner.  There's another computer, one controlling emissions; and I think it is this one that is flashing the alarm.

Brake light is on, crying for attention.  Yet the car stops well?  Cruise doesn't work, but the engine runs nicely, and the transmission shifts beautifully.  This is a computer acting as if it's locked in a loop, needing a reboot.  A reboot???

And that's when it hits me:  I need to reboot my car.  Much like other computers, cars sometimes get odd data and may react oddly.  Can it really be that easy?  Can the answer to my problems, spanning so many computers, be something as simple as the Windows three-finger salute?

It's on now.  I think I can continue on.  I have a plan.  I might even have a solution, now that I've extended my car repair experience with my computer experience.  This is the best time to be a nerd.