In the past it was possible for technicians to work their entire careers and be able to almost completely avoid the vehicle’s electrical systems. They would specialize in engines, steering/suspension, or brakes. Today there is not a system on the vehicle that is immune to the role of electrical circuits. Engine controls, electronic suspension systems, and antilock brakes are common on today’s vehicles. Even electrical systems that were once thought of as being simple have evolved to computer controls. Headlights are now pulse-width modulated using highside drivers and will automatically brighten and dim based on the light intensity of oncoming traffic. Today’s vehicles are equipped with twenty or more computers, laser-guided cruise control, sonar park assist, infrared climate control, fiber optics, and radio frequency transponders and decoders. Simple systems have become more computer reliant. For example, the horn circuit on the 2008 Chrysler 300C involves three separate control modules to function. Even the tires have computers involved, with the addition of tire pressure monitoring systems!
Today’s technician must possess a full and complete electrical background to be able to succeed. The future will provide great opportunities for those technicians who have prepared themselves properly.