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What does an electronic control module do?

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Quick Answer

An electronic control module is a small electrical component that controls and monitors a number of actuators inside a vehicle's engine. It is often referred to as the brain of an engine, and it dynamically regulates air and fuel mixture, idling speed and ignition timing to ensure ideal engine operation.

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Full Answer

Also called the engine computer, an electronic control unit consists of a 32-bit microprocessor, a programmable flash memory module with embedded software and a circuit board that holds other components, such as diodes, capacitors and connectors. This automotive component also records readings from sensors inside an engine and transmits a message to the driver via a "Check Engine" warning light located on a vehicle's dashboard if a problem comes up. The registered data can then be retrieved and analyzed by a trained mechanic using specialized software to diagnose the problem.

For modern car models, the electronic control module is responsible for regulating a vehicle's fuel mixture to ensure that the car meets current emission standards set by governing bodies. It automatically adjusts the air and fuel mixture ratio used in hot or cold climates to minimize fuel wastage. Additionally, it also keeps track of scheduled routine vehicle maintenance to ensure trouble-free operation of the vehicle.

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