Failed or Damaged ECU’s | The basics

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Failed or Damaged ECU’s | The basics

The ever changing of technology over the years has made companies be able to keep up with consumers’ demand for more advanced products leading to what we now know as today’s modern car. All modern vehicles are fitted with a series of ECU’s (Electronic control units)  that are designed to optimize your car’s performance and fuel economy. It has only been the last few decades that engineers have found new ways to accommodate our preference for cars with power and speed while also remaining environmentally friendly and cost efficient. Once controlled manually vehicles are now managed more by computers and companies are relying more on electronics to control a lot of aspects within the car, all the computers and modules in your vehicle, your vehicle’s engine control unit (or ECU) is the most important.

The engine computer controls your vehicle’s engine performance and efficiency and is responsible for aspects like fuel economy. If the engine computer begins to fail, it will put the performance of your car at risk. This will also take effect on the environment, the way you drive, and how you handle maintenance on your vehicle, these are all factors that could contribute to pressure put on your engine computer. The chances of having an ECU failures is much more greater than you might have previously thought, despite how advanced these engine control units are, they are still subject to wear and tear over time like any other component. Even tho they don’t require regular maintenance, there are certain warnings that all car owners should be aware of so as not to harm the ECU and to avoid making the replacement cost twice the price.

Symptoms of a Failing or Failed ECU

A failing ECM can cause a numerous of different issues within your car making diagnosis difficult.There are a few common problems that are typically attributed to a failing engine computer and making yourself aware of these common symptoms is usually the first step when diagnosing your ECM ( Engine control Modules).

Intermittent Misfires

Indications of a failing ECM may be intermittent; intermittent misfires or the engine stalling intermittently are both signs of a failing ECM and a constant warning light / check engine light on the dashboard.

Poor Engine Performance

Your vehicle may also begin to not perform as well as time goes on- you may experience rough idling or sudden loss of power during acceleration. The check engine light remains on the dashboard even though you do not have any trouble codes showing on your diagnostic tool.

Running Too Rich or Lean

Your vehicle also may run too rich or too lean which is due to the fact that the ECM controls the fuel injectors.

Car Failed to Start

Finally, your car can also experience fail-to-start problems so that your car will not start when it’s cold or it may not start altogether even though your vehicle will crank.
While these indications normally show themselves when an engine control unit is failing, they are also indications of many other failing components. It’s important to remember that these indications alone will not always give an accurate diagnosis- knowing these indications is just the first step in what should be a complete and thorough diagnostic process.

The main causes of ECU Faults / |ECU Failures

Environmental Factors

Like any other part on your car, the environment plays a massive role in the condition of your control modules. Corrosion and heat can also cause irreparable damage to your engine computer leading to costly replacements. Although the computer is covered by a sealant it can begin to wear over time causing moisture to reach around the plugs or get into the computer causing the circuit board to short. It’s important to take measures to ensure that your car is protected from moisture. To much heat can also cause damage to electrical components. While these are not an immediate cause for concern, exposure over a long period of time can cause irreversible damage so it’s always best to store your vehicle in an place where it’s sheltered from the heat.

High Voltage

Engine computers are made to handle only a certain amount of voltage, so if the amount of voltage goes beyond that limit, then it will completely burn out the circuit board. There are a few ways this can happen and, fortunately, voltage overloads can be prevented. When your vehicle is running, the alternator gives power to your vehicle’s electrical components and charges the battery which means that, in order for your vehicle to run, the alternator must constantly give off electricity. When everything is working correctly, the voltage regulator keeps a steady output of electricity, however, if there is a problem anywhere in the charging system, that can cause big problems for the engine computer in its inability to handle high surges of voltage. This can occur as a result of loose or faulty wiring in the charging system, a faulty alternator, or an overcharged battery.

You will always want to make sure that there are no short solenoids or relays, by performing a voltage drop test and making sure that all the readings are less than 5 volts you will have the best chance of confirming the condition of your vehicle’s electrical components. You will also want to bypass aftermarket sensors that can overload the Engine control modules. On some vehicles, aftermarket coils and plugs are known to cause shortages.

Constantly Jump Starting Your Vehicle

If you don’t Jump starting your vehicle the correct way this will short circuit your engine computer. When you jump start your vehicle you are generating a lot of power in a short amount of time, so it is crucial to jump start your vehicle correctly. You always want to take the keys out of the ignition before connecting the cables and you should connect the positive lead first to soften the flow of electricity. Jumping your vehicle may seem like a straightforward task, connecting the jumper cables incorrectly is a common mistake that can lead to very expensive repairs.

The engine computer is a very powerful control unit that is able of monitoring hundreds of sensors at a time, guaranteeing that you take the time to follow certain precautions could save you hundreds, sometimes thousands, in car repairs or replacements if anything went wrong. Since the ECU is linked to so many different modules and areas within your vehicle, if you are experiencing ECU failures, it will also have an effect on those other components. Making yourself aware of the different circumstances that cause harm to the engine computer is an important part of ensuring the quality of your vehicle stays in order.

ECU Testing in Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk

GEL automotive provide an ECU testing service in suffolk, essex and norfolk. Depending on your ECU and the particular fault we are able to test some units on site with our mobile service. We are able to test most ecus in house most ECU’s can be repaired within just 72 hours. We can provide a ECU removal and an ECU fitting service as well as a used ECU coding and programming service for those customers who have purchased a used ECU.