What Is An Engine Control Module (ECM) and How Much Do They Cost To Replace?

One of the most expensive repairs you could have to make on your car is to the ECM. Problems with the ECM, or engine control module, can be especially frustrating because it is a specialized electronic component. That means that unlike other types of mechanical issues that can build up because of regular wear and get resolved when you start to see small symptoms, ECM problems can happen quite suddenly. To make matters worse, when these problems do happen, it can be difficult to have them repaired since few repair shops are capable of working on the sensitive electronics.

As car experts, we’ll give you all the information you’ll need to know what symptoms to look out for and what repair options may be best for you.

What Is An ECM?

The ECM or engine control module is exactly what it sounds like, it helps control the engine. It’s a type of ECU, or engine control unit. There are a number of ECU’s throughout your vehicle that regulate how different components work, they can be found regulating your car’s air and heating systems, transmission, sliding doors, and body controls. If something has an electrical component it likely has an ECU involved.

The ECM itself is a circuit board that can control power and the direction that electricity flows. It is basically a computer that takes into account information from all the other systems to make sure the right amount of power is being delivered to the engine. It does this by drawing power from the car battery and then sending electricity to engine sensors and other systems throughout the car. Those sensors send information back so the module can monitor the rest of the car. So as you can see, the module is vital for the car’s ability to function.

Signs You Have A Broken ECM

If you have a problem with your car’s ECM, you’ll know it. A failing ECM will cause constant problems across the car’s systems. The check engine light will go on and the car will often sputter out or not start at all. Even if the problems aren’t quite as dire, they’ll be straightforward. The engine may just be running rough due to a misfire when starting, the transmission may not shift correctly and make a grinding metallic sound, or the car may stall out occasionally for seemingly no reason.

Repairing A Broken ECM

Having an ECM repaired can be difficult because they’re so complex. Most repair shops aren’t equipped with the tools to properly fix them so to get your module repaired you’ll most likely have to ship it to a location that has the capability of repairing it. Because getting an existing module repaired is so convoluted, more often than not people prefer to opt for a full ECM replacement.

For an ECM replacement, you’ll have to bring in the car to a repair shop where a new ECM has been ordered. Replacing the ECM should be fairly simple because they’re usually placed in the engine bay, which is easy to access.

The biggest obstacle with an ECM replacement is the cost. The cost for the new ECM will typically be around $800, with labor around $100, bringing the average total expense for an ECM replacement to approximately $900 before taxes and fees.This can increase depending on the shop you go to or the type of car you, running as high as $2,000.

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