Electronic Control Unit (ECU) Repair Costs

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Your car is what you depend on every day. We become so accustomed to them consistently working so well, that we often get lulled into thinking they always will…no matter what. But then the check engine light comes on. Or we start to hear an odd sound.

Then the thoughts start racing about what the problem may be, when we will even find the time to take care of it, and, most importantly, how much is this going to end up costing us.

Do I Need My ECU Repaired?

Your check engine light is usually triggered by the car’s engine control module (ECM). It uses an expansive network of sensors to monitor and regulate all the parts of your engine. When it discovers a problem with a component, it triggers the light and produces an error code to let you know what the issue is.

But sometimes the engine control module itself is the problem. This can be a headache because your car is almost completely dependent on the ECM to function properly. Think of it as your vehicle’s central computer—or even central nervous system. A faulty ECM can cause damage to other components over time, or you may not even be able to start your car.

The bottom line? If you discover a problem with your engine control module you have replace it as soon as possible. The problem is, the ECM is one of the most advanced and expensive engine components in modern vehicles.

Engine Computer Unit Repair Costs

The cost of replacing an ECM can vary widely. A new ECM can cost anywhere between $400 and $2,200 depending on factors like your car’s make and model, and where you purchase it from. I know what you are thinking, “that’s a lot of money for a single car part.”

What’s more is that these prices are typically only for the part itself and do not include the additional cost of labor if you choose to have the part installed by a mechanic. Estimated average labor costs for replacing an ECM are between $85 and $108, but can run up to hundreds of dollars depending on where you go to have it replaced. For example, you’re easily looking at a $1,000+ job (including parts, labor, taxes, and fees) if you have an ECM repaired at a dealer.

The cheaper option is purchasing a remanufactured ECM. These typically cost somewhere in the ballpark of $200-$400. Again, the actual cost of repairing and replacing the ECM will depend on the make and model of your car. If the engine control module just needs to be tested, analyzed, and reprogrammed, it should cost you between $150 and $300.

As with buying new, if you have someone else install your replacement remanufactured ECM, you could be looking at additional hundreds of dollars of labor costs.

How Long Does It Take to Repair an ECM?

Actually physically replacing an engine control module can be done in minutes. It is simply a matter of swapping out the faulty ECM for the repaired ECM. You can usually find the exact location of your car’s computer module in the owner’s manual and from there you basically unplug the old and plug in the new.

If you take your car into a dealer to replace the ECM, it will usually take about an hour or two. This time includes running diagnostics to ensure your ECM needs to repaired or replaced, actually replacing the computer, reprogramming the new module once it is installed, and then testing everything to make sure it is working properly with your vehicle. The cost of these couple hours of labor add to the total cost of replacing an ECM.

Repairing an ECM, on the other hand, is highly precise and technical work. Remember, the engine control module is your car’s central computer and repairing it is similar to working on the motherboard in a desktop computer. It involves running diagnostics, disassembling the module itself, and performing precision-critical electronics and circuitry work. This is not the job of your average mechanic and should be performed by a specially trained technician.

Depending on what is wrong with the unit, repairing an ECM can take quite a bit of time. This is why in almost every instance it is recommended to replace a faulty engine control module rather than attempt to have it repaired.

Cheapest ECM Replacements

There are several things you can do to reduce ECM repair and replacement costs so your wallet doesn’t take as much of a hit. Since this component is one of the most expensive, you’ll want to take the most cost effective route.

First, you’ll drastically reduce the cost of an ECM if you purchase a remanufactured unit instead of a new unit. I know what you may be thinking, “I don’t want a used ECM that someone else might have trashed.” The good news, however, is that remanufactured engine computers are completely reprogrammed, reflashed, and tested extensively to make sure they are in top working order.

This way, you’ll receive an engine computer that has all the latest OEM software and updates but will save significantly over buying a new ECM.

Second, replace the module yourself. Obviously, you can significantly reduce the cost of ECM replacement if you don’t have to pay for labor. That being said, you most likely do not have the skills and equipment necessary to reprogram an ECM and code it properly so it can communicate with all your other engine components.

But not to worry!

At Car Computer Exchange, we program and match the ECM to work with your specific vehicle. Using your car’s VIN number, we can ensure the ECM you purchase from us has all the latest software from your car’s manufacturer, and we guarantee it will work with your exact model. This means that you can simply “plug and play” and avoid high labor costs and expensive dealer fees.

A faulty ECM is annoying, but it is not the end of the world. If you rely on dealers and mechanics, then the odds are you are going to be shelling out more money. Although the costs may be on the high side, there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount you spend, replace your ECM, and get your car back out on the road running at peak performance.

The good news is, you can easily order an engine computer from us and save yourself some headache and reduce the replacement costs. We send you a remanufactured unit, and all you have to do is a take a couple minutes out of your day to replace your faulty computer. Save hundreds of dollars and multiple trips to the dealership.