What’s a Core Charge / Deposit When Buying an ECM?

Core Charge for ECM

If you’re shopping for an engine control module for your Dodge, Jeep, Ford, or some other make and model, then you’ve probably come across something called a “core deposit” or a “core charge.” You may have found a great deal on an ECM but this core fee is turning you off — what is it? Why do you have to be charged this fee?

What is an ECM Core Charge?

When buying an ECM, as well as some other types of car parts, you may notice that you are charged for something called a “core charge”. The easiest way to think about a core charge is as a deposit. If you’re from a state that has can and bottle deposits, then you are probably already very familiar with this.

Like with the deposit cost you pay on a bottle of Coke, a core charge is an extra cost included when you purchase an ECM. But just like with the bottle of Coke, you’re able to get that core charge amount back if your ECM fails or breaks and you send it in to exchange it for a new one.

The way it works with many car computer stores is simple; if you purchase a part, like a Dodge ECM for $475.00 for example, $100 of the cost is a Core Charge. When you receive your purchased part and send us back your used module, you typically will receive a refund of $100. At the end of the day, you actually paid $375.00 for the part.

Why Do Companies Want Your Old ECM?

You might be asking yourself, “why would anyone want a defective or malfunctioning ECM?” The answer is easy; engine control modules can be repaired, reprogrammed, and reused for vehicles in the future. If a component is able to be recycled, then there is no sense in just throwing it away.

Other car parts that often have core prices are batteries, brake shoes, brake master cylinders, water pumps, starters, alternators, and air conditioning compressors. It is the store’s way of ensuring (or encouraging) you to send the part back once you’re done with it or once it breaks if they are able to recycle and reuse it.