Common Reasons Why Your ECM Diesel Engine is Failing



Automotive and engine experts agree that nearly 50% of issues with any vehicle can be linked to electrical problems.

If you're having trouble with your ECM diesel engine, the computer, electrical system, or a simple relay could be keeping your engine from running. Understanding what common issues are can help you to diagnose your problem.

Your ECM is a standard part of your engine's system. It's not usually considered exceptional unless it's been specially modified to regulate or control systems connected to engine's normal functions. Even in these cases, the ECM itself isn't something that would sell you on the engine.

Standard components fail for standard reasons. Look for these 8 problems if you're experiencing trouble with your ECM diesel engine.

1. Watch For Grounding Issues

The power system in your car is grounded in various locations. Grounding creates an alternate way for power to return to the circuit in case of any kind of shortage. A short circuit can overload your ECM or even cause an electrical shock to you.

A loose wire could be the cause of a grounding issue. If a wire is meant to be grounded but is rattling around, sending electrical current everywhere, it could be the source of an ECM issue.

A corroded wire could be just as bad. Corrosion can cause the fibers of a wire to become weak and could disrupt the flow of power to the source it's connected to.

Check for corrosion and loose wires at any power terminals.

2. ECMs Need Compatible Starters

Adding the wrong starter to your ECM diesel engine will cause compatibility issues when you try to connect them. When your starter is rebuilt, sometimes the override sensor that's a part of your starter will end up being bypassed.

In this case, the sensor isn't monitoring and regulating the voltage that's going into your ECM. When you have voltage problems, you can end up triggering a fault code or even overloading the system. Inadequate voltage could cause the ECM to try to start and burn out certain internal elements.

If you noticed your problems with your ECM diesel engine immediately following the installation of a new starter, that could be your issue. If you have your old starter around, see what happens when you swap them out.

3. Dead Batteries

If the battery cells in your diesel engine haven't been changed in a while, they could be dead. If you got your engine second hand, you might not realize the battery cells were past their prime.

It's pretty common to find long dead battery cells left in a rig. While this might seem obvious when you find it, it's an often overlooked issue.

Your dead battery cells could affect the grounding in your battery and those power issues could cause electrical elements to try to overcompensate.

4. Check For Corrosion or Moisture Damage

Probably the most common reason for the failure of your ECM is the corrosion caused by moisture. Over time, humidity or liquid near your electrical elements or battery cells could create corrosion.

Whether it enters through the wiring harness or via a failure in the seals of the ECM, when moisture gets in, it can wreak havoc. Over the course of several years, exposure to the elements will take its toll and cause issues that require you to replace your ECM.

5. Keep An Eye On Your Solenoid

The electronic fuel solenoid is a component of your ECM that's often a culprit for failure. Corrosion can cause shortages in the solenoid itself or the connecting wires. Keep an eye on the wire running between the ECM harness and the solenoid.

Your solenoid will be at the top of your fuel pump and should be fairly conspicuous. Look for external corrosion visible without dismantling anything.

Your solenoid corrosion issue is just as likely as an issue as corrosion inside your ECM. If you notice your truck will run without issue but is hard to restart, the starter might be shorting out the ECM. Be sure your fuel solenoid isn't the cause of your headaches.

6. Manage Your Wiring Harness

Your ECM has a sensor or an injector wiring harness that can be fairly susceptible to problems.

As is a running theme between these many issues, corrosion can be the culprit. Breaks in the injector wiring harness or in the internal wiring will cause a shorted circuit. Corrosion that's entered the system through the wiring harness will lead to shorts as well.

Your engine needs to be protected from the elements whenever possible. Exposure is the leading cause of corrosion.

7. Did You Get a Jump Start Recently?

It's important to manage the amount of voltage that goes into your system. Sudden spikes in power sent to your ECM will lead to shorts.

If you've recently jump-started your engine, you could have sent too much voltage through a given component and shorted it out. An improperly executed jump will blow out the amps that rest between your ECM and the firewall of your diesel engine.

8. Avoid Lightning

While it's pretty unlikely that you've been struck by lightning lately, if your car is hit with lightning, it could cause issues with your ECM. Just like the jump start, that sudden burst of power, unregulated, will fry your ECM.

If you've been hit by lighting, let your engine specialist know. Then on your way back from the mechanic, stop and pick up a lottery ticket.

ECM Diesel Engines Need To Be Cared For

With proper care, your ECM diesel engine could last for decades. Regular maintenance and protection from the elements are essential to its survival. Look out for corrosion or loose wires and you can save yourself from dealing with issues later.

If you have more questions about your ECM engine, contact us for more tips and troubleshooting.

Posted On: 17/05/2018

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