Improved standardization needed in vehicle design?

I was investigating a fuel-injector tool the other day, a diagnostic tool called “noid light”, and discovered the package comes w/not one but six noid lights. A different noid light is needed for each fuel injection system design, for example

  • GM TBI
  • GM PFI
  • Ford TBI
  • Geo TBI
  • Bosch PFI

No telling how many sets or how many different types of noid lights there are. Apparently this is due to many different connector styles used by the manufacturers.

If all of these manufacturers agreed to use the same connectors for connections to their fuel injectors, would only one version of the noid light would be required? If so, that seems like it would make car diagnosis easier and less expensive. So why doesn’t this sort of standardization seem to ever happen?

A) I/we have been saying this about a lot of things on vehicles for a very long time now, basically the whole world would have to agree on one universal fuel injector plug, and as you can see, GM even show 3 different noid lights in that one kit… UK vs US household electrical receptacles ring a bell… lol

B) Money, most everything come down to money… lol

People replace head lights way more then need to use noid lights and look at how many head light numbers are out there in recent years, not to mention all the different part numbers for hrad lights…


Way back when standardization was not viewed as useful. Eventually standardized systems were shown to save enough money that some of the savings could be passed on to the customer. This is why the IBM PC system was so much less expensive than the Apple system. It caught in and is in use in many systems.

For instance, EV charging systems are standardized, if only for certain regions. The CHAdeMO system is used by some Japanese automakers. CCS is, or was, the standard for US and European manufacturers, but the Tesla system is becoming the standard as there are many more Tesla commercial chargers than CCS chargers. I bought a CCS plug adapter so that I can use a CCS charger near home; the closest Tesla Supercharger is about 20 minutes away.

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This is a great example but I think there is another angle. Both manufacturers had defined interfaces. The difference was, Apple wanted to control the manufacture of components to ensure they met all their quality standards. The PC was a published standard and invited many manufacturers to participate- the idea being, it would drive down cost. Which it did but along with it came the issue of reliability. Kind of like the software package Java- it was supposed to run seamlessly on many platforms but the inside joke was; write once, debug everywhere. These open systems are often plagued by hard to identify incompatibilities that end up affecting the quality at the user/owner expense.

So this is one of the reasons why it is often preferable to develop and control your own interface. The manufacturers can deliver a more robust, reliable system and also are not subject to the whims of a consortium that decides to change the specs at some point, forcing them to adapt their hardware and software to match.

And to the point often brought up, there can be an economic reason regarding captive revenue. If I own the company and I want recurring revenue from you- my customer, I need to keep you coming back to my service provider. If there is a standard interface, the customer can choose anyone… At some point, the marketing pressure may dictate a universal approach but in the early period of development and consumer acceptance, those are jealously guarded $$. Look to the iconic Gillette model developed to capture recurring revenue on razor blades…

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I noticed that George’s list had 4 GM products out of the 6 listed. It seems the biggest problem is GM itself.

Everyone likely has something more worthwhile than to read a rant from me re the benefits of standardization in automobile components…

My nomination for the #1 need in standardization: engine coolant. They all do the same thing, over the same range of temperatures, it should be easy to come up with a single agreed formulation. Forget injector plugs!


Every car maker has their experts and systems. Each expert has different ideas about what works best as a connector, in their assembly plants and lowest cost at the highest reliability. So each group comes up with what works best for them at the lowest cost. They have no incentive to standardize.

If the the design converges on to a “best” design for everyone, then standardization occurs. If not, the designs will be different.

The noid light manufacturer LOVES different connectors… because they make more money on the kits with all different lights. They have NO incentive to standardize.

So that’s why, IMHO, there is no standardization.


Exactly. It might be different if the injectors themselves were the same, car to car, but that’s not the case. Every engine needs its own specific injector, pretty much, so what (significant) benefit would there be to putting the same plug on all these different injectors? Verrrrry little.


In a typical engine assembly plant there IS a reason to use different injector plugs. You do not want those 22 lb/hr 4 cylinder injectors to find their way into the V8 engine built in the same plant that requires those 28 lb/hr injectors!


Or at least polarization- keeping the vast majority of the tooling & materials the same.

There is one caveat however- it’s fool proof; at least until a sufficiently foolish person comes along :wink:

We had these memory cards back in the day that the user could install. They had several polarization features making it “impossible” to install one incorrectly. I got a demo unit back from a show that was supposedly- no worky. Some salesperson had put one of those cards in upside down. How? Nobody knows. But it took a side cutter, vise grip and a lot of pulling force to remove it. It normally goes in with a finger push- what could possibly go wrong? :roll_eyes: :grinning:

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In the same vein, one of our satellite contractors needed to make a nitrogen purge connection in the thermal vacuum lab. All of the optical instruments used this purge to prevent contamination of the optics while at atmospheric pressure. The usual mechanical lead in charge of this was in Florida with me and their contamination control engineer. Someone completely unfamiliar with the system was in charge. It was foolproof because there were different connectors for the shop air and nitrogen purge lines on the walls throughout the plant. Not this fool. He demanded that the mechanical tech change the purge line connector to match the compressed air line. They discovered this after the guys that knew what they were doing returned home. I received a call late the afternoon after I got home asking me to fly to Cali ASAP to review the situation. I inspected the optical and they were clean. Then I concocted an excuse saying that the optics weren’t exposed long enough for this to be a problem. The verdict was use as-is since the optics would be cleaned in Florida before launch. Guess who got in trouble: the lead engineer in Florida who had no idea what the doofus back home was doing.


That’s a great story! Typical, the fool escapes any punishment…you have to wonder what in the heck he was thinking…then you had to stick your neck out as well- sounds all too familiar :wink:

Worse, every car manufacturer has groups within their organization who think they know best and won’t even try to standardize within the company, let alone between companies!


Heck, when I was in the military, every base had different technical equipment, took three months to train new arrivals. Worse yet, we were not allowed to know what equipment we would be using if deployed during a war.

I’m getting the feeling that significant improvements in vehicle design standardization for the purpose of ease of maintenance and repair won’t be occurring anytime soon … lol …

That’s weird. Surely you and your mates had sufficient clearance to know that. That smacks of poor planning by the officers.

Nope, that came directly from the 0-6. Of course as typical, during Desert Sheild/Desert Storm individuals previous identified were not sent. No wonder the British and French had full field kitchens while the US personnel ate MREs.
At least the correct vehicles were sent over. Vehicles, close enough to be CarTalk?

I think things are standardized enough as it is, automotive-wise. Most cars all have the same style window actuator buttons on their door arm rests. The newer, more “pedestrian-friendly” front grill now goes all the way down to one inch above the pavement, etc.

In fact, things are so standardized that I can’t tell a 2020 Accord from a 2020 Civic, unless the two were parked right next to each other.

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Now I want to bring the old days back when tires came in 14" and 15". Blow out a tire and any gas station had the right one in stock. Hatch struts were on the rack where the customer could pick one or the other before minivans and SUVs went crazy. Parts stores are crazy with variety now. Could you imagine Wal-Mart with the types of car parts that K-Mart used to carry? Volkswagen heads. Distributor caps. Golly!

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