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Engine Control Module (ECM) Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

Engine Control Module (ECM) Replacement
The average cost for an engine control module (ECM) replacement is between $885 and $966. Labor costs are estimated between $85 and $108 while parts are priced between $800 and $858. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.

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What is an engine computer module (ECM)?

The engine control module (ECM), also sometimes called the engine control unit (ECU) or powertrain control module (PCM), is essentially the computer that directs your engine. It receives information from nearly every system on the vehicle, and uses that information to deliver the right engine power for the operating conditions.

How does the ECM work?

The ECM draws power from the car's battery and sends that electricity to engine sensors, along with every system in the vehicle that it controls. Information is simultaneously passed back into the ECM from all of these locations, allowing the computer to monitor conditions.

What are the symptoms of a bad ECM?

When the ECM fails, it will cause constant malfunctions in most of the car's systems. This will trigger the check engine light, for starters. The exact symptoms will vary, but most often the car won't start. If it does start, it will likely run terribly or frequently stall out.

Can I drive with an ECM problem?

In most cases, driving a vehicle with a failed ECM is impossible. When this computer is sending erroneous signals, the car most likely won't start, or the engine will randomly shut off. If a vehicle is responding very strangely to driver inputs, the vehicle should be towed to a repair shop.

How often do engine computers need to be replaced?

The ECM will usually last the lifetime of the car, though it can go bad. In fact, the computer can fail as early as 75,000 miles, and around 125,000 miles is the most common range for ECM replacement.

How are ECM issues diagnosed?

When the ECM is suspected of failure, the mechanic will have to look up the computer's technical specifications and compare them to the actual readings to specified readings. Other causes for a specific symptom will also have to be ruled out.

How is the ECM replaced?

Replacing the ECM is normally easy, since the computer first has to be accessed for diagnostic testing. In most vehicles, the ECM is in the engine bay, but a few manufacturers place the ECM inside the vehicle. If the ECM fails diagnostic testing, it will be unplugged and replaced.

RepairPal recommendations for ECM issues

The battery connects directly to the engine, meaning it's grounded to the same point as many engine sensors. So, if the battery is incorrectly installed in a vehicle, the ECM can be destroyed, along with some sensors and wiring.

Electrical diagnostics can be tricky, and there are many variables to account for. When electrical problems arise, diagnostics may take several hours to complete, or just a few minutes. The longer it takes, the higher the cost of repairs.

Choosing a facility with proper equipment and training for their staff may significantly reduce the diagnostic time needed. RepairPal makes sure its certified shops have this equipment and training.

Can I replace the ECM myself?

Diagnosis and calibration are the trickiest parts of dealing with a faulty ECM. If you have experience with these types of computers, and have access to the correct specifications for the ECM, replacement can be fairly easy. Otherwise, this repair is best left to a professional.

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