Fault Diagnostics for Internal Combustion Engines – Current and Future Techniques

N. McDowell, G. McCullough, X. Wang, U. Kruger, G.W. Irwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The adoption of each new level of automotive emissions legislation often requires the introduction of additional emissions reduction techniques or the development of existing emissions control systems. This, in turn, usually requires the implementation of new sensors and hardware which must subsequently be monitored by the on-board fault detection systems. The reliable detection and diagnosis of faults in these systems or sensors, which result in the tailpipe emissions rising above the progressively lower failure thresholds, provides enormous challenges for OBD engineers. This paper gives a review of the field of fault detection and diagnostics as used in the automotive industry. Previous work is discussed and particular emphasis is placed on the various strategies and techniques employed. Methodologies such as state estimation, parity equations and parameter estimation are explained with their application within a physical model diagnostic structure. The utilization of symptoms and residuals in the diagnostic process is also discussed. These traditional physical model based diagnostics are investigated in terms of their limitations. The requirements from the OBD legislation are also addressed. Additionally, novel diagnostic techniques, such as principal component analysis (PCA) are also presented as a potential method of achieving the monitoring requirements of current and future OBD legislation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-564
Number of pages12
JournalSAE Transactions Journal of Passenger Cars: Electronic and Electrical Systems
Issue numbernull
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventSAE 2007, World Congress and Exhibition - Detriot, United States
Duration: 16 Apr 200719 Apr 2007


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