It is challenging to maintain today’s vehicles without a proper understanding of their computer systems. Setting your car’s fuel-to-air proportion and adjusting the timing belt are now things of the past. Currently, primary computers (PCM, TCM, and ECM) control such functions.
ECM (engine control module) is amongst the most significant components in nearly all contemporary vehicles. Other names of ECM include the engine control unit (ECU) and PCM (powertrain control module). Primarily, it functions as the primary computer for various car’s engine performance and drivability functions.
ECM uses the information from the vehicle’s engine sensors to compute and tune fuel as well as engine spark for optimum efficiency and power. It plays a vital role in newer cars- it controls most of their essential functions.
ECM manages various functions of your car. Some of the ECM failure symptoms can lead to a faulty wire or break a sensor, instead of affecting the ECM itself. Whether you have an illuminated check engine light or not here are some symptoms that can help you identify powertrain control module failures.
Abrupt loss of acceleration
Usually, the ECM works together with the transmission control module to ensure accurate adjustments for acceleration. The Transmission control module handles shifting while the engine computer regulates the throttle accordingly. All these lead to effortless and smooth shifting you anticipate from the mechanical transmission.
However, a bad ECM will not adjust the throttle correctly. Thus, shifting will not be smooth and effortless- it feels like you are in a vehicle with an inexperienced driver.
Irregular or rough shifting
It is an issue that happens when the ECM sends the wrong data to the TCM. In such a situation, the TCM will not get the right information it requires to shift at suitable times. This might make shifting feel clunky and rough. Also, shifting might happen at inappropriate times. Irregular or sough shifting will cause your engine to bog down or rev up.
The engine does not start
It is amongst the common reasons engine control module ecm might be bad. The engine control module ecm controls the ignition system, fuel system among other engine controlling functions of a car.
ECM failure will leave the whole engine management system without power thus cannot function as expected. A bad ECM relay might cause your car to crank, instead of starting. At times, the vehicle may not crank at all.
Lack of power when you insert the key
Amongst the first symptoms of an issue with ECU power relay is lack of power when you insert the key. Failure of the ECU power relay will hinder power transmission to other parts of a vehicle.
Therefore, it will deactivate your warning chimes and dash lights that typically illuminate when you insert the key for ignition.
ECM power relay failure might lead to a dead battery or battery drain. Relay shorts might leave power on the car’s computer even when you turn off the car. In doing so, it will lead to a battery drain, which can eventually lead to a dead battery.
Since the ECM power relay provides power for your car’s computer system, its failure will disable the engine management system, and your vehicle will not run. This situation might require you to jump-start the vehicle. However, it is prudent to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified technician.
The engine shuts off without a reason
It shows that the fuel-to-air proportion is incorrect. Usually, it happens when the car is idling since its engine is running slow and does not have the required vigor. Thus, have the car checked if it stalls when idling.
Bad fuel economy
When your vehicle’s ECM malfunctions, there will be poor fuel economy. The engine is not able to determine the exact amount of fuel to use during its in-house combustion. Therefore, the vehicle will use more fuel than usual for it to meet your driving needs. An increase in fuel consumption means you will spend more money on fuel.
Can the ECM be repaired?Yes, you can repair a bad ECM. Usually, repairing a bad ECM requires the services of a skilled electrician or mechanic. You can repair your ECM if there is an issue with the power supply.A bug in your ECM software can lead to most common ECM issues. Besides, lightning strikes, short circuits, and power surges can damage the circuit board. All these can cause physical damage to the ECM’s hardware, and repair can help solve such issues.What causes powertrain control module failure?The common reasons for PCM failure are:
High voltage – most cars’ engine computers are made to handle only a specific quantity of voltage. Thus, high voltage might burn out its circuit board, which leads to PCM failure.
Moisture and corrosion – corrosion might attack your PCM through its wiring harness while moisture might creep in due to a problem in the seals in the PCM itself. Both moisture and corrosion will lead to PCM failure.
Fuel solenoid – it might lead to a short in the powertrain control module. It happens because of corrosion in the solenoid. Fuel solenoid can also occur because of a wire running from the solenoid to your PCM harness.
Jump-start – jump-starting a vehicle with improper cable connection can lead to a spike in the PCM and cause such a PCM to short out. Therefore, if you recently jump-started your car with improper cable connection, there is a possibility of PCM failure.
Grounding problems – poor grounding might lead to PCM failure. It can be a result of a corroded or lose ground wires to your battery or the frame.
Dead battery cells – leaving your battery in the rig when the cells are dead can affect the grounding in your battery, which cause PCM failure.
What does ECM control? ECM is amongst the most critical elements of your vehicle. The ECM controls four primary parts of your car’s operating system. These are:
Variable valve timing
ECM plays a crucial role in your vehicle. Thus, take note of symptoms of its failure to ensure that your car is efficient and performs perfectly.It is also good news that you can repair a bad ECM. Fixing the problem ensures that the car runs fine. Before repairing or replacing ECM, do a thorough diagnosis of the problem.