How To Test a PCM on a Ford In 3 Simple Steps

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If your Ford car is being difficult to start you might want to learn how to test a pcm on a ford. Powertrain control module otherwise know as powertrain control unit is an in built electronic system that controls the TCM and ECM.

Go are does days when all parks of the car is manually checked and operated. In most modern day vehicles, everything ranging from air intake and setting of timing is all carried out by one system which is the Powertrain control module.

Because of the much importance of the powertrain control module, when its faulty you car might be showing some misbehavior or might not even start at all. In this article you will learn how to text a PCM on a ford car or any other car just as mentioned here on Cookip.

How to test a PCM on cars


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Just like every job has the right tools to get it done testing PCM also has to be done with some specific tools. Below are a number tools needed to get started with testing you powertrain control unit

  1. Flashlight
  2. Standard and Philips screwdriver
  3. OBD or OBD II code scanner
  4. Multimeter
  5. A new PCM (if replacing)

Other Means to Test PCM On Car

Due to daily usage, shaking, rough road and vibrations of the engine some things tend to loose grip and fall of there positions, this happens well with wires and connectors. Your PCM might be proving to be faulty all because of a weak connection of loose wire.

  • Visual checking and observation

Visual inspection should always come first whenever you want to fix a faulty part of your vehicle. The same visual inspection and checking rule should be applied when you want to test you PCM.

A quick visual inspection before you start loosing the screws and getting it open might just do the work and everything would be back in other. Make sure that your PCM is connected to your battery, and that there’s no rust on the PCM itself or on the battery wiring.

Reconnect any loose wires if necessary. If your PCM has experienced corrosion, you’ll have to skip to step 5 to see if it’s failed.

  • Measure battery voltage

A weak battery is enough to stop your car from starting, yes you read it right a weak battery would not let your engine run. Generally, the engine depends greatly on the battery to run thereby making you vehicle drive.

In general sense, when the ignition switch is turned on, it sends a signal to the motor starter to crank the engine. The starter depends on the current from the battery to turn and crank the engine.

Its almost the same in and automatic car with PCM, except that in an automatic vehicle, when the ignition is turned on the PCM read the signal and send our to different sensors to start the engine. After a visual inspection, take a multimeter to measure your battery to make sure is not weak.

A good and properly charged battery should read at least 12.6 volts with the engine off, or 13.7 volts with the engine running. If it’s showing less than that, fully charge your battery and re-test.

  • Scan for trouble codes

After you might have checked that you battery is carrying the right voltage and there are not physical misplacement and rust code scanning is the next in line. This is where it become a little technical and you will need and OBD reader to connect to the car computer to read the error if there is any.

An OBD-II is is enough to get the code scanning job done nice and easy. If you have and OBD code scanner go ahead and plug it into the car computer to check for error codes.

Plug the OBD scanner in, if you have the basic code know knowledge you can easily just read it yourself. If you do not understand what the code means go ahead and search it on google or click here to check through a list of OBD Engine codes our experts have put together.

If you cannot find the error code on our OBD code list you can go ahead and look it up on google. OBD scanner can be very handful for detecting both mechanical and electrical problems since the codes can help localize what ever might be causing your car a PCM problem.

  • Consider replacement

After you might have carried out visual inspection, battery voltage measurement and OBD scan and everything checks out to be fine, then replacement is the only choice you are left with. The PCM might be fried, at this point you should try and get a new powertrain control module to get your car back and running.

When buying, ensure that the PCM is the correct version not just for your make and model, but for the same year as well. If it turns out that your PCM was faulty, you’ll immediately notice an improvement in performance.

Ensure that the PCM is the correct version not just for your make and model, but for the same year as well. If it turns out that your PCM was faulty, you’ll immediately notice an improvement in performance.

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How do you know if your PCM is bad?

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Remember, the powertrain control module is generally a combined controller consisting of the engine control unit (ECU) and the transmission control unit (TCU). The PCM commonly controls more than 100 factors in a car or truck.

When the PCM fails to preform any of this functions it is responsible for, then it is faulty and needs to be checked. Below are some signs that indicate a bad PCM

  • Check engine light on
  • Other warning lights on, on the dashboard
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Difficulty in starting
  • Inability to shift between gears
  • Erratic movement
  • Car stutters when starting
  • Stalling
  • Rough idling

The powertrain control module literarily controls ignition timing, fuel delivery, valve timing in engines with Variable Valve Timing). The emissions functions, turbo boost pressure in turbocharged engines, idle speed, throttle position and cruise control are not left out either.

If you car is suffering from any of the above mentioned symptoms, your PCM might be faulty and if you know how to test PCM it will be a good advantage to you. Well if you done have the knowledge visiting a professional for checks is a good decision.

Common PCM Error Codes

The codes P0174, P0175 and P0176 are associated with the vehicle’s emission control system. In order to diagnose the problem, a scan tool is required as well as access to a diagnostic procedure for 1996-2000 gas engines.

In conclusion, the codes P0174, P0175 and 0176 represent emission control system problems that require a scan tool and diagnostic procedures for 1996-2000 gas engines.

  • P0174: The powertrain control system is not in a PON (Power On/Off) state
  • P0175: The PON module has detected an internal fault with the powertrain control unit
  • P0176: A significant hardware problem has been detected in the powertrain control system

What happens if PCM goes bad?

If PCM goes bad a lot of other things in the vehicle will malfunction as well because the PCM is not able to coordinate the components it should. For example, the Powertrain control module is responsible for measuring the amount of air taken in then provide the right ratio of fuel to archive a complete combustion.

Continuing to run a vehicle with a bad PCM could cause further damage. Because the PCM controls the emissions of your car, a failed emissions test or the presence of oddly-colored or foul smelling exhaust may be a sign that your PCM is going bad. A malfunctioning PCM will activate dashboard error lights.

Can you fix a PCM?

Unlike the alternator, fuel pump, filter, radiator and motor starter, Powertrain control module is not a mechanically built component. The PCM is and electronically operating computer chip.

Remanufacturing in this case usually means testing the computer, isolating and repairing any faults that may be found, then retesting the computer to make sure everything works correctly.

Is a PCM and ECM the same thing?

The terms PCM (Powertrain Control Module), ECU (Engine Control Unit) and ECM (Engine Control Module) can sometimes be used as interchangeable generic phrases for the same thing – a control unit for the engine/transmission system.

So the answer to the question is PCM and ECM the same thing is NO. they are two different components but are interdependent.


Modern computer vehicles are more reliable and effective that old automobiles are. When computer failure occurs it can impact multiple aspects of vehicles at once.

This article will review the Common PCM Failure symptoms and what it means for your vehicle. Powertrain Control Module PCMs are mainly operated by one Computer.

The system controls engine control and transmission control modules. The PCM module is responsible for its engine transmission controlling module.

A failure in the PCM can be attributed to engine or transmission issues in your vehicle. Other very obvious pcm failure symptoms include Code Scanning, Inspect wiring and sensors, Check your battery and Try a replacement.

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