What is CAN bus?

CAN bus is a vehicle bus standard system that enables the commu­nic­ation between multiple vehicle electronic control units. CAN stands for Controller Area Network. Electronic control units (ECUs) are parts of a vehicle that contain information and can sense and share information from other parts of the vehicle.

CAN bus is standard in all vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses, ships, EV batteries, machinery and more.

How do CAN bus systems work?

How do CAN bus systems work?

CAN bus systems act as the nervous system in the human body. ECUs are like the parts of the body and inter­con­nected in a vehicle. Various ECUs may have information that needs to be shared with other parts of the network. It enables each ECU such as engines, antilock braking/ABS, airbags, cruise control, electronic fuel injection, automatic gearbox, and battery systems, to communicate with each other without a central computer.

Essentially, it prepares and broadcasts information, like sensor data, over the CAN bus network. The data is then accepted by all ECUs – then the ECUs decide whether to receive the data or ignore it.

What is a CAN frame?

What is a CAN frame?

The commu­nic­ation between the ECUs over the CAN network happens via CAN frames. There are four types of CAN frames:

  • Data frame – the only frame for actual data trans­mission
  • Error frame – contains nodes to detect errors
  • Overload frame – injects when there is a delay between data and remote frame
  • Remote frame – a frame that requests information from a specific identifier

Typical applic­a­tions for CAN data

Typical applic­a­tions for CAN data

CAN bus data frames can be used in several use cases. For example, for fleet managers, logging vehicle data is essential to make informed decisions that reduce fuel costs and improve driver performance. For construction companies that operate with heavy-duty fleet telematics, data from tractors or trucks can be analysed to improve safety and lower costs. For profes­sional service companies that make many deliveries in a day, can help predict and avoid breakdowns by logging CAN data to the cloud. These are just a few cases of logging CAN data.

What are the benefits of CAN bus?

Low costs and straight­forward

Because ECUs can communicate on a single CAN system, instead of complex dedicated wiring, it reduces weight, errors and costs.


It enables central diagnostics, config­ur­ation and data logging on one point of entry through the CAN network.


Not easily impacted by electric disturb­ances or electro­mag­netic inter­ference. The CAN bus standard is ideal for safety-critical applic­a­tions (e.g. drivers in transport).


Data is prioritised without causing inter­ruption to other frames.

Webfleet and CAN bus

Webfleet and CAN bus

At Webfleet, we understand the power of using data to optimise performance. That’s why we offer solutions equipped with CAN bus connectivity to help you take your fleet management to the next level.

Interested in how to stay connected to your business with valuable insight that help you boost productivity and improve efficiency? Get in touch with one of our experts today or check out our Webfleet fleet management software.

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