Car Brains with an Engine Control Module
When buying a new engine control module (ECM), it is important to understand what it exactly does. As the "brain" of the car, it analyzes information to automatically manage and control engine performance. This information comes from different sensors that send data to the ECM.
- Air/Fuel Ratio: An ECM measures the air and fuel mixture inside an engine cylinder during combustion. Depending on various factors such (gas pedal pressure, engine temperature, etc.), it automatically injects the right amount of fuel that will give enough power.
- Ignition Timing: In cases where the spark plugs ignite earlier or later during the compression stroke, the ECM automatically corrects the timing and sequencing right. This is done to avoid knocking which can badly hurt the engine.
- Idle Speed: During idling, when the engine is least needed, the ECM adjusts the power output so that fuel is not wasted.
- Valve Timing: For engines with variable valve timing, the ECM adjusts the opening of these valves to allow the right amount of air in depending on the car's speed.
With the many capabilities of an ECM, its accuracy can greatly affect the engine. While a stock ECM does those tasks well, an upgraded one does better in improving engine performance. Some aftermarket units are pre-programmed to fit certain models to bring out the best performance from its engine.
Programmable ECMs are for serious tuners, or those with highly tuned car. Using a spreadsheet program, a tuner can put more accurate engine settings to maximize the engine's potential. Some of the many areas programmable ECMs can control are the following: RPM limit, water temperature, gear control, transient fueling. It is advisable to buy this for a more customized, personalized setup for your car.
Make sure to buy only from a trusted and proven brand to ensure the quality of your purchase. Your car's engine is too valuable to risk being controlled by a faulty computer.