Drive By Cable: An Overview
Drive By Cable (DBC) is a term that you might have heard if you are a car enthusiast. This term refers to a type of throttle system that dates back to the early days of automobiles. DBC systems rely on a cable that physically connects the gas pedal to the throttle body or carburetor, opening and closing it as the driver presses and releases the pedal.
Despite being an older technology, DBC systems are still commonly used in a variety of vehicles, including many older and lower-end cars. They’re also popular in racing and performance applications. However, modern vehicles have mostly transitioned to newer technologies like Drive By Wire (DBW) systems, which use electronic signals instead of physical cables to control engine power.
In this article, we’ll dive into Drive By Cable systems and explore their advantages and disadvantages, as well as compare them to other throttle technologies.
Advantages of Drive By Cable
1. Cost-Effective: One of the biggest advantages of DBC systems is their low cost. Compared to newer technologies like DBW, DBC systems are relatively simple and inexpensive to produce. This makes them a popular choice for low-end or older vehicles that prioritize affordability over advanced technology.
2. Mechanical Connection: DBC systems rely on a physical cable to connect the gas pedal to the throttle body, which provides a direct mechanical link between the driver’s inputs and the engine’s output. This mechanical connection can provide a more “natural” driving experience and can make it easier for drivers to feel and control the vehicle’s power.
3. Racing Performance: DBC systems are very popular in the racing world due to their immediate response and quick throttle actuation. Drivers must be able to quickly adjust their engine power in order to navigate turns and straightaways. DBC systems are best suited for high-performance racing vehicles because they require less time to translate a driver’s input to engine speed.
Disadvantages of Drive By Cable
1. Limited Control: Unlike newer technologies like DBW, DBC systems are limited in their ability to adjust and control throttle outputs. The physical cable connection means that throttle response and range of motion are determined by the length and tension of the cable, which can be difficult to optimize. This can result in reduced fuel efficiency and increased engine wear.
2. Tendency to Wear Out: The physical connection between the gas pedal and the throttle body means that the cable can become stretched or damaged over time, leading to increased play and reduced throttle response. DBC systems may require regular maintenance and replacement to ensure proper performance over time.
3. Lack of Advanced Features: DBC systems lack the advanced features that newer technologies like DBW can offer. For example, DBW systems can incorporate features like launch control, cruise control, and traction control, while DBC systems are limited to basic throttle control.
Comparison with Other Throttle Systems
There are three main types of throttle systems: DBC, DBW, and Hybrids. Each technology has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, making them better suited for different types of vehicles and applications.
DBC systems are best suited for older vehicles, low-end models and for racing vehicles. They’re cost-effective and provide a direct mechanical connection between the driver’s input and the engine’s output, making them ideal for racing applications. However, they’re limited in their control and lack advanced features.
DBW systems are the most advanced and widespread technology, used in most modern vehicles. They provide fully electronic throttle control and offer advanced features like launch control, traction control, and adaptive cruise control. However, they’re expensive, complex and require regular reprogramming and calibration.
Hybrid systems combine both technologies, using a physical cable as a backup to electronic throttle control. They offer the advantages of both systems, providing a direct mechanical link in case of electronic failures, while also offering advanced features when the electronic throttle is active. However, they’re more expensive and complex than either DBC or DBW systems.
Q: Can you retrofit a DBW system onto a vehicle that originally had a DBC system?
A: It’s possible, but it can be quite challenging and expensive. A DBW system requires a considerable amount of wiring and additional sensors, and modifying the vehicle’s existing control system can be difficult. It’s generally not recommended unless you have significant mechanical and electrical expertise.
Q: Can a DBC system be upgraded with more advanced features like traction control or adaptive cruise control?
A: No. DBC systems are limited to basic throttle control and lack the advanced features of newer technologies. If you want advanced features like traction control or adaptive cruise control, you’ll need to upgrade to a DBW system.
Q: Are DBC systems more susceptible to mechanical failures than DBW systems?
A: Yes. DBC systems rely on a physical cable to control the throttle, which can become stretched or damaged over time. This can result in reduced throttle response and increased wear on the engine. DBW systems are more resistant to mechanical failures.
In conclusion, Drive By Cable systems provide a direct mechanical connection between the gas pedal and the throttle body, making them a popular choice for racing vehicles and low-end or older cars. While they lack the advanced features of newer technologies like Drive By Wire, they’re still a cost-effective and reliable choice for many applications. As with any technology, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider, and choosing the right system depends on your specific needs and use case.