Posted in: PCM

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Powertrain Control Module

Inquire About This Car

A vehicle relies on the powertrain control module to function. This component is the central computer system that is in charge of the various functions of the internal components, such as the engine. If there is a problem with the control module it can affect the functions of the other parts and vice versa.

For example, the control module is also connected to the battery, the voltage regulator and the alternator, all of which are essential for a fully functioning engine. Therefore, any problems related to a component connected to the control module requires experts diagnosis and repair to ensure the problem is completely fixed and your vehicle runs properly again. Fortunately, there are four main symptoms that signal trouble with a PCM and alert you that maintenance is necessary.

The Vehicle Has Problems Starting

In some cases, you may be able to start the vehicle but it can be difficult to do or take a few tries. In other cases, you may not be able to crank the engine at all. Both are frustrating and are often signs that there is an internal problem with the main computer system. If you are experiencing this problem, you should take your vehicle into a mechanic shop to have the powertrain control module looked at.

Why? The computer provides essential inputs that help the car run, such as firing the spark plugs. Without those inputs you’re left with a car that has trouble starting, if it starts at all. Even if the root of the starting issues isn’t the control module, it still needs to be taken care of so your car runs well.

Check Engine Light Is Illuminated

One of the most obvious and helpful symptoms of a bad control module is that the check engine light comes on. Most drivers know this is something that can indicate a serious problem and will immediately take action. Generally, this light comes on when the car’s computer notices a problem or can’t fix something on its own and needs professional help. A mechanic knows to check the PCM in cases when this light illuminates and can use specialized equipment to determine the cause of the problem.

It may be that there is no issue with the control module, or it may be a sign that a part of the computer system is failing. Either way, leaving it alone and not addressing the concern can cause further and more costly damage to your vehicle. Therefore, taking your car to a mechanic as soon as the engine light comes on means you are being proactive in solving the issue.

The Engine Has Performance Problems

Problems with the powertrain control module often manifest as performance issues with your car’s engine. If the computer system doesn’t work the way it should, it can cause other issues with the engine components. For example, it can result in the car reducing the amount of acceleration, and therefore power, to use when you turn the car on. When this happens, you may also be left using more batter power than absolutely necessary to compensate.

One of the major indicators of an engine performance issue is poor fuel economy. This may not be an obvious sign of a failing powertrain control module, but it is an important symptom to consider. Why? Because poor fuel economy is often a sign that the engine is not performing as it should be because the computer cannot accurately read the fuel gage, which means you could be spending and buying more fuel than you need to. If you suspect your engine is not functioning properly, it is a good idea to take your car to have a mechanic look at it, as engine problems are notoriously difficult to diagnose.

The Engine Stalls or Misfires

Does your engine perform erratically? For example, have you noticed it misfiring or stalling on an intermittent basis for no reason? If so, there is a good chance that something may be wrong with the PCM.

The control module is hooked up to the engine components and allows for communication between the computer and engine parts. That means that these engine issues can either be caused by the control module or may be affecting how the control module runs, which can then lead to more troubles.

For example, the crankshaft position sensor is connected to the control module. So if there is a problem with the control module, the information that is relayed to the sensor can be misinformed. Thus, this can affect the fuel injector, engine timing and the ignition system. As a result of wrong information sent to this sensor, some cylinders can stop working properly and cause misfires or stalling.

Reasons These Symptoms Occur

There are two main reasons why your vehicle’s powertrain control module may be having issues. The first one is environmental factors. Water has a tendency to short-circuit computer systems, which means even a little bit of rain can cause problems if it enters the system. If the water doesn’t damage the system, it can lead to rust, which then causes the system to malfunction or stop working.

Extreme temperatures are another environmental factor that can disrupt the functionality of your vehicle’s control module. Fortunately, you can replace the system with new or used parts to rectify this situation.

The second reason why these symptoms occur is due to voltage. An overload to the actuator or solenoid can cause damage to your system and requires immediate attention. If any of these factors are causing noticeable symptoms of damage, it’s time to look for new parts or have a mechanic examine your vehicle to find the heart of the problem.

Repair Your Vehicle’s Powertrain Control Module For Better Functionality

The powertrain control module is a vital part of your vehicle and needs to be taken care of immediately. If you’re looking for the best used parts at reasonable price points, Import A Part offers services at locations around the world as the answer. Used parts are an affordable way to upgrade your vehicle and fix problems with the PCM to help your car run like new again.