How crucial is your vehicle to how you run your life? If you own a car, then odds are your vehicle is a huge part of your everyday life. So, what do you do if it isn’t working properly? Modern cars are most likely to have a powertrain control module or the brain of the engine. This is a computer that controls a variety of crucial functions in your vehicle. Your vehicle has sensors that send data to the PCM. The engine control system controls a variety of settings in your vehicle. How do you know if it’s time to replace your PCM? Here is what you need to know.
How to Identify the Right PCM
When it comes time to replace a PCM, it is crucial to have the correct replacement. Many engine control units look the same. They may even have the same connectors. This doesn’t mean that they are the same, however. Instead, when you install the wrong PCM, your vehicle may not run. Some may run, however, but they will not run very well. You have to have the exact PCM for your vehicle. In order to identify the correct PCM, you have to have the vehicle year, make and model. In addition, you will need the engine size and the OEM part number. For some repairs, you can use parts that are similar to your vehicle. This is not the case here. A close part will not work.
How to Identify Problems With PCM
One of the first signs that there is something with the PCM has everything to do with how well your vehicle runs. If your vehicle suddenly runs poorly, then odds are the fuel mixture is off. It could be receiving too little fuel or in some cases, too much fuel. In these cases, your vehicle may begin to stall or stutter. In other cases, your car may no run at all. The PCM controls the ignition spark and timing. The vehicle cannot run if there are problems. In fact, it could wind up with more damage if you don’t do anything as soon as possible.
One fool-proof way to figure out if anything is wrong with your vehicle is to pay attention to the dashboard error lights. Look for the check engine light, for instance. The PCM interprets sensor readings and so if it cannot do this correctly, then you are bound to see a number of different lights flash on and off.
Another sign may be with the emissions. If your car is not functioning correctly then it may fail the emissions test. The vehicle may emit too much exhaust, the wrong color exhaust or it may smell strongly of fuel. If your car is not behaving properly, then odds are, you have a problem. It’s important to pay close attention to your car. It is true that all cars have their share of quirks. When you know your vehicle, you can that something is wrong with it so that you can visit a mechanic.
How Mechanics Use Remanufactured PCMs
While there are some car repairs that you could probably do on your own, you should not attempt to replace the PCM unless you are a professional. While it is always tempting to do your own work, you have to have specialized tools and knowledge to be able to work with the vehicle’s computer. The PCM is usually buried beneath other components. It will require you to remove other parts to locate what you are looking for.
Installers will install and reconnect the new powertrain control module. Once reconnected, the computer has to relearn its procedures. Some PCMS have a procedure for base idle speed, whereas others, you may have to test drive afterwards. The mechanic should know how to reprogram the computer. This is also something that will be listed in the owner’s manual.
As the vehicle acclimates, it will relearn the fuel mixture and other adjustments. It may not shift how it used to before the installation, but over time the transmission will relearn the driver’s habits and adjust to it.
Now, if you install a new PCM, but you still have the check engine light on, then odds are there is something else wrong with your vehicle. You can’t expect the computer to operate properly until you fix this issue. This could be a problem with the sensors. The powertrain control module PCM may not work if there is a problem with the coolant sensor or any of the other sensors. It relies on the sensor inputs, good ground and proper battery voltage.
If you choose to replace your PCM, then odds are you are going to receive a remanufactured unit. When it comes to a powertrain control module, there are no parts that are going to wear down over time. To remanufacturer the part, technicians test the computer, isolate the faults and repair them. Then, they will test the computer to ensure that it is in working order.
If you have difficulty finding the correct PCM or if you do not want to replace your unit, then you can also send in yours to a remanufacturer. Then, you can have your unit completely repaired. Now, there are some instances where this won’t work. For instance, if your vehicle was flooded, you cannot repair the PCM.
How Mechanics Replace PCMs
Your vehicle is a huge part of your life. It can be what ferries you back and forth to work, how you transport your kids or how you complete important errands. No matter what you use your car for, the last thing that you need is for the vehicle to fail entirely. Most people dread car problems and unfortunately, they tend to occur when you need your car the most.
Discovering a problem with the vehicle never comes at a convenient time. When it comes to the powertrain control module, it is common for issues to spring up over time. Before you replace your ECM or PCM, have a mechanic check your engine control system to keep your vehicle running efficiently.