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Fuel delivery, emission systems, and spark timing are some of the tasks that make a car work and run efficiently. However, few people are aware these processes are controlled by some sort of a powerful computer. Well, this sort of computer system is called “the ECM” and is the “brain” that controls your car engine.

What is an ECM?

By definition, Electrical Control Module (ECM) is a computer system that monitors various engine parameters in your car such as, air, fuel, temperatures, and speed. It is programmed to keep fueling and horsepower in check.

It also designed to alert the operator in case of any loop errors, for instance, low pressures or catalytic malfunctions. In a nutshell, the ECM coordinates with the car sensors to maximize the car’s operating efficiency and to control emissions.

When Did Vehicle ECM First Come Into Use?

The history of ECM can be traced to mid-1980s when hybrid Engine Control Units (ECUs) became more popular. These mainly used analog techniques to determine process inputs and yield output values in vehicles.

With the enactment of more stringent emission rules in the later years, more sophisticated ECM systems were developed to regulate the ratio of air and fuel to enable the catalytic converter to eliminate the EPA regulated byproducts from the exhaust. ECM were also developed to economize fuel consumption in cars and to increase the general safety of consumers.

What Happens When The ECM Goes Bad?

As aforementioned, the ECM is the brain of your car. It receives and transmits signals to various sensors in the car. Therefore, when it goes bad, it makes the car to run erratically.

Sometimes this can make your mechanic diagnose other parts such as the TPS switch, distributor, ISC motor, battery, and various sensors instead of the ECM itself.

As such, it is important to see highly qualified auto mechanics because special diagnostic tools are needed to read the signals in the car components and to trace the different codes in the ECM. You can also eliminate ECM related problems by ensuring that your car gets regular checkups as recommended by the owner’s manual.