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What is a powertrain control module?

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Quick Answer

Also referred to as an onboard computer, a powertrain control module (PCM) is a powerful computer that helps in managing and controlling emission systems, fuel injection and the ignition system. In some vehicles, the PCM might also be used to manage the anti-lock brake system and an automatic transmission.

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Full Answer

A powertrain control module has two operation modes: open loop and closed loop. Open loop becomes active when the engine is cool and runs on a preset program. Closed loop is active when the engine is running. It monitors the sensors in the system, then it makes any necessary adjustments.

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