COMPUTERS AND MODULES
ABOUT USED CAR COMPUTERS AND USED ELECTRONIC MODULES
WHAT IS A COMPUTER OR MODULE?
A computer or Electronic Control Module (ECU) is a part of a vehicle that is responsible for monitoring and regulating certain parts of the vehicle.
WHAT DOES THE PART DO?
The computer or ECU will take information from sensors located around the vehicle and process that information. The sensors can monitor the following information:
- Oxygen levels
- Air pressure
- Air temperature
- Engine temperature
- Throttle position
The computer will then determine what actions to take to regulate the control and performance of the vehicle.
WHAT DOES THE PART LOOK LIKE?
The car computer will look like a hard drive that is encased in a protective covering, typical stainless steel.
WHERE IS THERE PART TYPICALLY LOCATED ON THE VEHICLE?
There are several locations where a car computer can be located. In some cases, the computer will be located under the hood of the vehicle. In other cases, the computer can be located at the base of the windshield. The ECM can also be located under the driver’s or passenger’s seat or under the kickboard. Consult the owner’s manual to find the exact location.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A USED COMPUTER OR MODULE?
You will want to make sure that the computer or the ECU has been refurbished, reprogrammed and repaired. Also, you will want to check that the ECU has received the latest software updates to ensure that it will work properly with your vehicle. What else should I know about a computer or module before I purchase one?
A quality, used ECM is usually received from a vehicle that has been total. However, the ECU itself was not damaged. The ECM is then wiped of its previous data, reprogrammed and updated with the latest software.
Also a computer or ECU is classified by its function. Here’s a look at the types of ECUs in your vehicle and their associated classifications:
- Engine control module (ECM)
- Body control module (BCM)
- Electronic brake control module (EECM)
- Powertrain control module (PCM)
- Transmission control module (TCM)
- Suspension control module (SCM)
- Door control module (DCM)
- Battery management system (BMS)
WHAT OTHER PARTS ARE CONNECTED OR THAT I MAY NEED FOR THIS PART?
Most ECMs are “plug and play” which means that you simply need to connect it to the docking area. You may need tools to access the ECM docking area. Tools may include a screwdriver, wrench set, jacks and a ratchet.
WHAT SIGNS OF WEAR SHOULD I LOOK AT WHEN BUYING A USED COMPUTER OR MODULE?
Be sure to look for any physical damage on the ECM. Also check to see if the computer or ECM has been reconditioned. You do not want to buy an ECM that has not been reconditioned or reprogrammed since it will not work on your vehicle.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE LIFESPAN OF A COMPUTER OR MODULE?
A computer or ECM can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years.
WHEN SHOULD THE PART BE REPLACED?
Some signs of a bad computer or ECM include the check engine light coming on, engine misfiring, engine performance issues, and the car not starting.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DISTRIBUTORS
CAN YOU STILL DRIVE A CAR WITH A BAD ECU?
It is not recommended that you drive a car with a bad ECU. That’s because the ECU is responsible for monitoring important parts of your vehicle including the water pump, brakes and the engine.
CAN A WATER DAMAGED ECU BE REPAIRED?
Yes, a water damaged ECU can be repaired, reprogrammed and reinstalled into a vehicle.
WHAT CAUSES ECU FAILURE?
The two biggest causes of ECU failure is moisture and corrosion.