The national cost for a powertrain control system diagnosis & testing with CarAdvise in 2024 is between $68 and $272 with an average of $143.

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What is powertrain control system diagnosis & testing?

Nearly every one of the thousands of parts that make up a modern vehicle is monitored and/or controlled by way of electrical circuits connected to on-board computer control modules. Each control module is responsible for various vehicle systems, such as the supplemental restraint system, lighting, fuel delivery, and more. There are approximately one hundred control modules in a vehicle.

One such control module and the system that it oversees is the engine control module, or ECM. This device is used by many vehicle manufacturers to monitor and control just about anything that relates to the engine. The air/fuel mixture, ignition timing, exhaust temperature, and dozens more activities.

On some vehicles, engine functions are grouped with others. The powertrain of a vehicle refers to essentially everything that has to do with moving your vehicle - the engine, transmission, axles, wheels, and more. Most of these components are equipped with sensors that help the powertrain control module (PCM) monitor and control vehicle functions that range from vibration levels, pressure, temperature, distance, intake, exhaust, and a host of other features. The PCM also monitors the integrity of the system itself.

Powertrain control system diagnosis and testing is a set of procedures that a technician would follow to investigate any problems that might be present in the powertrain electrical system and associated components. This includes investigation as to why your check engine light comes on.


How is a a Powertrain Control System Diagnosis & Testing done?

Powertrain control system diagnosis and testing includes a diagnostic scan with a special computer, a scan tool, followed by a series of “pinpoint” tests aimed at narrowing down the source of a problem. To complete a powertrain control system diagnosis & test, a technician will connect the scan tool to your vehicle’s data port and perform any or all of the following actions:

  • Access the PCM through the scan tool and read the codes that were stored as a result of a vehicle fault
  • Using the scan tool, perform function tests of any system causing problems
  • View live data via the scan tool to ensure proper feedback is being transmitted from various sensors and actuators. This action confirms that individual electrical circuits are functional
  • Disconnect any actuators or sensors suspected of being faulty and test with a handheld electrical meter
  • Inspect wiring harnesses and associated connectors relating to any system where a fault is suspected

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National average cost of a a Powertrain Control System Diagnosis & Testing
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How do I know if my vehicle needs powertrain control system diagnosis & testing?

You can suspect that your vehicle needs powertrain control system diagnosis and testing if you notice any of the following signs:

The check engine light comes on

Your engine runs roughly, shakes, or stalls

Loss of engine power

Fuel economy drops

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Other questions customers ask

What are the signs of a failing PCM?
Since the powertrain control module, or PCM, is responsible not only for monitoring but also controlling many vehicle functions, a failing PCM can lead to any number of problems, including a check engine light, an engine that runs erratically, your engine failing to start, stalling, or a lack of power. Transmission function can also be affected, causing it to shift poorly, at the wrong time, or not at all.
What is a PCM issue on a car?
A powertrain control module issue (or “PCM” issue) includes any problem related to the communication of or control of the electrical systems of the engine or transmission and their related components. This could be anything from a bad connection in a wiring harness to a faulty engine control module.
What are the main components of the powertrain?
The main components of the powertrain are the engine, transmission, driveshaft, drive axle(s), and transfer case (if your vehicle is so equipped).

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