Does a Faulty Engine Control Module Mean I Bought a Lemon? 

So you have a car. Great! Getting a car is a great experience, especially if it is your first. The unfortunate part of getting a new or used car is that you may just get a lemon. But not everyone is going to fully understand what a lemon even entails. For example, one question that may come up is whether a faulty engine control module could mean that the car you purchased was actually a lemon.

Does a Faulty Engine Control Module Make a Car a Lemon?

Figuring out what constitutes a lemon vehicle is a bit of a challenge in and of itself. After all, most people are not mechanics, and most people do not have the expertise necessary to identify whether a vehicle meets the standard of a lemon vehicle. There are a lot of subtle things that can be done to examine a vehicle for flaws, such as using magnets to detect body filler, checking the difference in quality between the exterior and interior, checking for odd paint jobs, etc. In this situation, however, we are going to operate on the assumption that you already know that the vehicle has one or more problems to it, particularly the existence of a faulty engine control module. The engine control module is responsible for controlling a series of actuators on the vehicle’s internal combustion engine and is also responsible for ensuring that the engine performs optimally.

To many, a faulty engine control module may come off as a sure-fire piece of evidence that the vehicle it belongs to is a lemon. But is it? When you find a faulty aspect of the vehicle like this, your first response may be to consult your state’s lemon laws in order for you to get this lemon vehicle dealt with. But not so fast — just because the vehicle has an issue does not necessarily mean that it is a lemon. The first thing you need to do is actually to get in contact with the dealer or the manufacturer in order to try to deal with whatever flaws may be present. Furthermore, whatever flaw that you are struggling with will have to be covered by a warranty that the vehicle comes with. If you bought the vehicle ‘as is’ — a sale that is not even legal in certain states — you may find yourself dealing with more difficulties than you would like in handling the defective vehicle, as getting repairs covered may be difficult to accomplish.

After the substantial performance or safety flaws are discovered to exist, the next step, obviously, is to try to get this repaired. If the problem is fixed after only one repair, then it is not considered to be a lemon vehicle, as the vehicle now works as it should. However, if after the first repair the problem persists or at least eventually returns at a later date, and further repairs prove insufficient to fix the problem, your vehicle will likely qualify as a lemon. After all, no one wants to have to worry about their engine control module not working properly, which can have consequences. Once it’s been determined that you have a lemon vehicle, you may begin pursuing a Lemon Law claim.

How to Tell Whether Your Engine Control Module is Malfunctioning

The engine control module behaving inappropriately can result in your vehicle misfiring or stalling, neither of which are exactly desirable. This happens as a result of the engine control module controls the fuel pump, fuel injector, spark plugs, and transmission. Even if the vehicle is only experiencing minor issues, you should still be mindful, just in case it gets even worse. The longer you take to get this problem fixed, the more damage it may cause in the long run. One of the first red flags of an issue with your engine control module is that the check engine light is on, especially if it has been on for an extended period of time and has yet to be properly addressed. You may also experience your vehicle reducing in power, to where it will be less able to reach higher speeds and accelerate as quickly as it was once able. With an engine control module not operating properly, you may find yourself not able to put your pedal to the metal adequately. At times, it can even result in your vehicle being unable to start. Which, while not dangerous in and of itself, is a major consequence if you need to be able to use your car to get to your job or any other location. A poor engine control module can even cost you money at the pump, as it may end up reducing the fuel economy of your vehicle.

There are different things you can do to test to see how your engine control module is performing, such as running diagnostics on it to try to rule out all other possible problems with the vehicle. Testing the engine control module to see if it brings back any error codes for things other than itself is valuable, though if everything else appears to be working as intended, the problem may indeed be with the engine control module. Unless you are experienced with this kind of thing, you should make sure that you have this done by a trained professional to ensure that it is done right.