Slightly OT- Car clock movements?

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  1. #1
    Member AndrewSo's Avatar
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    Off Topic post Slightly OT- Car clock movements?

    I own a 1994 Toyota Camry LE and over the past 6 months or so, my clock has gained ~5min. I found that to be outrageously inaccurate because I'm fairly certain it isn't a mechanical movement. It has gained about a minute a month and I can't think of a single quartz that would fluctuate so much. Are there any mechanics/engineers that know what's going on? Do temperature extremes affect accuracy? The curiosity is killing me...
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  2. #2
    Moderator Public Forum Eric L.'s Avatar
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    Re: Slightly OT- Car clock movements?

    Seeing how a Camry has a digital clock, which likely gets its signal from the ECU, my bet is that your ECU's clock frequency isn't exactly whatever its supposed to be. This is the same reason why a PC clock tends to waver too - on my Mac the clock updates everyday, and I pretty much have atomic time. On my overclocked PC, the clock varies wildly - sometimes it can be a minute slow or a minute fast, with no particular pattern. I just attribute this to variations in bus speed, clock speed, etc... (my CPU is overclocked from 2Ghz to 2.5Ghz, but its never 2.500Ghz - it varies from 2.490 to 2.510 or something like that because of subtle voltage differences. No big deal to me, and these small variations definitely would not affect the way your car would function since they would just default to map values if sensors detect some wild swing.

    One minute variation per month isn't a terrible thing for a car clock. Since it has no seconds readout, you can just reset the clock every few months and know its "accurate to within a minute" which is good enough for a car clock. Any more than that, thats what a wristwatch is for. Even my iPhone doesn't show the correct atomic time.
    Last edited by Eric L.; March 26th, 2010 at 23:11.
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  3. #3
    Member AndrewSo's Avatar
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    Re: Slightly OT- Car clock movements?

    Thanks for the prompt and informative reply! I did a quick search on some car-related forums about changing the ECU frequency but that would reap some catastrophic side-effects...
    I guess I'll just have to deal with it and stick to atomic watches.
    "...[A] watch isn’t about telling the time, it is about your relationship with time. A watch is about style, a story and the history of both your watch and your own life."
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  5. #4
    Moderator Public Forum Eric L.'s Avatar
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    Re: Slightly OT- Car clock movements?

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewSo View Post
    Thanks for the prompt and informative reply! I did a quick search on some car-related forums about changing the ECU frequency but that would reap some catastrophic side-effects...
    I guess I'll just have to deal with it and stick to atomic watches.
    We're not talking about wild swings in frequencies here. Take my PC cpu clock frequency for example. Its no big deal at all. Do you think the ECU is *always* getting 12.00000V as an input? Of course not - it will be 11.99, 11.98, 12.05, etc... - its close to 12V, but not exact. Those input variations will alter the clock frequency of the cpu in the ECU as well, probably just enough to throw off your clock by a few seconds a day.
    Lots of dive watches.

  6. #5
    lvt
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    Re: Slightly OT- Car clock movements?

    Electromagnetic fields generated from car's other electronic component might affect digital clock as well if it's not fully protected. Neither my car's digital clock nor dashboard DVD set's clock keeps good time comparing to atomic time, they often gain a dozen seconds per month, far out of range for today's quartz specs. Everytime I activate the rear electric mirrors while watching satellite TV, the monitor freezes until I stops the mirrors, automatic door locks and mobile phones also produce the same effect.
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    Member drickster's Avatar
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    Re: Slightly OT- Car clock movements?

    Interesting topic...

    I have a 2005 BMW 325i and within a few days after resetting the clock it drops to 4 minutes slow and stays there.

    I hadn't thought much about the why, but this stuff is cool to know. (I'm not sure it fits my issue though)

    Thanks!
    Dan

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    Re: Slightly OT- Car clock movements?

    OMG Unintended clock acceleration!!! Is this covered in the recall?

    Cheers,
    kev
    I just think that things should work the way I expect them to.
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  9. #8
    Member dalstott's Avatar
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    Re: Slightly OT- Car clock movements?

    You might consider getting some Rallye type mechanical adjustable clocks and mounting them on the dash. Way cool compared to the digits.






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