Achieving Precision in Automobiles Using Actuators

Moving parts exist in nearly all mechanical systems. These systems have components that require maximum accuracy and precision to achieve optimum performances. That is why equipment and machinery like automobiles always count on linear actuators. 

Certain areas in an automobile require the utmost precision and accuracy levels. Among them are the mounting alignment, build tolerance, backlash, and application dynamics. These factors follow linear motion and therefore rely on electric linear actuators for accuracy and precision. Reading on, you discover how to achieve precision using these actuators in the mentioned areas above.

What is Actuator Accuracy and Precision?

Accuracy, in general, is the measure of deviation of the achieved position from the target position. Precision, on the other hand, is how far all the achieved positions have deviated from the intended position.

So actuator accuracy is simply the ability of the device to meet the intended target position. Meanwhile, actuator precision is the ability of the machine to reproduce a similar outcome at different times. 

In essence, the ideal linear actuator is able to combine high accuracy and precision. That means, it moves towards the target position and hits that same spot consistently. 

Why Your Automobiles Need Actuators 

Passenger vehicles and commercial cars are popular applications of the linear actuator. It helps them transform the electrical signals emitted from the electronic control system into actions. Moreover, several other reasons exist why your automobiles need these electric motor actuators.

Environmental protection

More drivers are becoming more aware of the environment. This is in due part to fuel price hikes. As a result, there is a demand for vehicles with low consumption of fuel and less pollutant emissions. However, there need not be a sacrifice of ride comfort and performance.

To meet the requirements for comfort and environmental safety, you need power actuators. These devices ensure fresh air and exhaust gas recirculate for optimal performance and reduce pollution. It also ensures an adequate supply of fuel to the car engine with precision. 


Actuators are vital to the functioning of several parts of the automobile. The electronic control systems, for example, are one of the many application areas of the linear actuator. They are responsible for converting electrical control signals to actions. And for that purpose, they utilize electromagnetic valves or electric motors. An instance is in the regulation of fluids to build pressure as seen in steering and braking systems. 

Other functions of the actuator in a car engine’s control system are:

  • Meter fuel (optimal combustion) 
  • Idle speed
  • Control air flaps (optimal power and torque)

In other systems, they are useful to unlock and lock car doors. They are also present in remote control applications that open boot lids, fuel cover flaps, engine bonnets, etc. 


Over time, the presence of powerful actuators has ensured the different automobile designs promoted safety. They assist drivers in critical moments and help them avert possible accidents. Other times, the accident is less severe because of a triggered safety mechanism. An example is the inflation of airbags during a collision.

Factors that Affect Accuracy and Precision in Actuators 

Actuator Build Tolerance 

An actuator’s build tolerance is one of the major contributing factors to its accuracy and precision when installed. Most general-purpose actuators’ build tolerance is  +/- 3mm. 

So, it is crucial to reach out to a product’s manufacturer if your purchased item is sensitive to accuracy and precision requirements. This is because, during manufacture, the mass production of items often leads to faults when trying to replicate their specifications.

It’s important to note that the accuracy and precision of linear actuators after installation also change. It is subject to several environmental conditions that may affect the unit such as temperature, pressure, etc. Other components that may introduce errors alongside the actuator in a system are:

  • Mounting brackets
  • Pulleys
  • Valves
  • Bearings
  • Framing materials 
  • Rods
  • Bushings 

Overall, avoid combining actuators with the above components in systems. That way you ensure their accuracy and precision are at optimum levels and steadily yield desired results. 

Actuator Backlash

A backlash is the clearance or lost motion in a mechanism. Also called a lash, slop, or play, it happens as a result of the gaps between the pieces of the mechanism. These gaps could be the mated gear teeth distance.

When rotating the gear in a reverse direction, you observe a slack. That is, it takes a while before the gears begin to respond. This is one of the more common occurrences of backlash in the internal gears of automobiles. Meanwhile, this phenomenon varies in range and depends on actuator models.

Positional Errors 

Errors like these are often a result of non-mechanical equipment. Such positional errors are common in motor drivers, hall sensors, and potentiometer feedback. 

Also, other timing delays and dead time need adequate consideration. This is because control systems are prone to time delays and affect applications needing accuracy and high precision. 

Framing and Mounting Brackets 

These components often follow a design that allows play for pivot points. This extra play or lash may add to the present actuator backlash. The outcome is an overall reduced precision and accuracy in the system.

Wear and Tear

As with every machine, wear and tear is a common occurrence with actuators. However, it is necessary to regularly inspect and make necessary adjustments in an automobile using actuators. Regular system maintenance helps account for wear and tear. Alongside finetuning, it also ensures long-term accuracy and precision. Lastly, understanding the actuator tolerance ranges helps you assess potential faults and keep the system at optimal levels.


Electric linear actuators are a great asset to automobile machines for their accuracy and precision features. They are of different types and each provides different levels of accuracy and precision. 

However, certain factors introduce errors and affect the overall efficiency of actuators. So it is important to note the right integration techniques to use and the suitable components when installing an actuator. This way you ensure the right levels of precision and accuracy for your automobile application. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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