How Can I Tell if My Engine Control Unit Is Going Bad?

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The engine control unit (ECU) is also called the engine control module or ECM, but no matter what you call it, your vehicle cannot run without it. This unit is your automobile’s main computer. Sensors throughout your car, truck, or C/SUV send data to the ECU and it, in turn, keeps everything running smoothly. If the ECU cannot fix a problem, it will turn on a dashboard warning light. Padron Automotive explains below how you can tell that your engine control unit is going bad.

Check Engine Warning Light

The most common sign that you have a bad ECU is the check engine light. The ECU will turn it on if there is a real problem brewing underneath your hood, but it will also turn it on if it “thinks” there’s a problem when there actually isn’t. If a diagnostic check fails to reveal any error codes for any of your vehicle’s systems, chances are the ECU is malfunctioning and needs to be replaced.

Engine Trouble

In today’s automobiles, the ECU controls everything. It tells the spark plugs when to fire and makes adjustments to the air and fuel mixture in the combustion chamber based on sensor readings. If the ECU is malfunctioning, your engine will misfire, stall, or cut out completely and you won’t be able to get it started again. This can happen with a faulty ECU or another sensor.

You will also notice engine performance issues. As we said above, the ECU controls the air and fuel going into the combustion chamber as well as its detonation. If the ECU is pushing too much air or fuel into the mix because it isn’t reading the data correctly, your engine will stutter and your acceleration will lag. You may also notice power loss when you try to haul things.

Dead Car

Finally, if the ECU has died your car will die. This can happen while you’re driving, which is pretty inconvenient, or it can happen when you try to start your car. Although technical feats, these modules are the heart of your automobile, which means you’ll be dead in the water if anything goes wrong with the ECU. If you can’t get your car started, the ECU could be the problem.

Don’t worry. Padron Automotive in Topeka, KS, wants to be your hometown repair shop of choice, and we’d be happy to test your ECU to make sure it isn’t dying. If it is, we can replace it. If it’s fine, we isolate the cause of your automotive problems and fix it.

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