9 Things That a Cummins ECM Controls



According to recent statistics, the use of the Electronic Control Module in automobiles is growing at a rapid annual rate of 6 percent. As a matter of fact, nearly all new vehicles have this device attached to them.

Two main factors drive the ECM market. They are emission control and better fuel efficiency. Yet, there are more factors than these two that are encouraging the use of the ECM.

There are many things a Cummins ECM controls in your diesel engine vehicle. What are they?

If you want to know the 9 functions of a Cummins ECM in your diesel engine, then keep reading.

What Is an ECM?

ECM stands for engine control module. It is an embedded system in automotive electronics. It controls one or more of the electrical and engine systems in a vehicle.

The development of a Cummins ECU involves software and hardware. This is required to carry out the functions expected from a specific module.

The ECM helps control emissions, variable cam timing, fuel mixture, and ignition timing. It monitors the emissions performance from the Onboard Diagnostics (OBD) frequently.

It interacts with the transmission controller and also oversees the operation of the engine cooling fan, fuel pump, and charging system.

You can imagine your Cummins ECM as the brain that has the ability to feel problems through its nerve-like sensors and wires.

These sensors are made to produce a particular range of voltage that changes in the presence of an electromagnetic field, temperature or pressure.

Each sensor signal feeds into a pin on the ECM with a single signal circuit. The ECM powers the sensors either via a sensor supply or sensor return circuit.

So what happens during engine operation?

The ECM monitors the signal wire of the sensor by monitoring the voltage range sent back by the sensor. If the voltage is too high or too low, the ECM will alert you by turning on the warning light.

Most of the time, these signals simply alert the ECM to adjust some parameters in the engine such as air supply or cam timing.

Now that you have a rough idea of what the Cummins ECM is, let's have a look at the nine things it controls.

9 Things the Cummins ECM controls in Your Diesel Vehicle

The Cummins ECM controls the following:

The Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor

It is necessary that a vehicle maintains a particular temperature to function properly. If your vehicle is too hot, the head gasket may leak. If it is too cold, the vehicle will consume too much fuel.

During operation, the vehicle maintains the required operating temperature using a coolant. This coolant runs in the radiator of the vehicle.

The engine coolant temperature sensor carries out the function of telling the Cummins ECU or ECM the current temperature of the vehicle.

If the temperature of the coolant ranges between 75 to 95 degrees, the ECM tells the radiator fan to come on and cool down the liquid.

The Air Temperature Sensor

The air temperature sensor informs the ECM about the temperature of the air that goes into the engine. If the air is cool, the performance of the engine will be good. This is because more air gets into the engine which translates to better efficiency.

The Manifold Absolute Pressure Sensor

This sensor measures the ambient air pressure. When it does this, it tells the Electronic Control Unit the current altitude of the vehicle.

For instance, if you are driving in the mountains, your vehicle will need less fuel. This is because the atmosphere has less oxygen. Thus, there is less oxygen in the engine cylinder as well.

When this happens, the manifold absolute pressure sensor identifies the vacuum pressure created in the intake manifold of the vehicle. It then proceeds to send the engine load information to the ECM.

The ECM then adjusts the fuel injectors pulse width accordingly.

The Mass Air Flow Sensor

The mass air flow sensor helps measure the volume of air entering the engine. This sensor consists of heated sensing elements. The temperature of these elements is usually kept constant.

This means that the mass air flow sensor varies the current to ensure the temperature is at the required level. In addition, there is a small computer in it that aids the calculation of internal current flow to heat the elements.

Using this figure, the mass air flow sensor can calculate the volume of air going to the engine, temperature, and air density.

The ECM uses this information from the mass air flow sensor to adjust the injector pulse width and ignition timing.

The Idle Air Controller

The function of the idle air controller is to keep the revolution per minute of the engine steady. The idle air controller works on the command of the ECM but does not supply readings to the ECM diesel engine.

Hence, it is an actuator.

The idle air controller has two coolant pipes that are connected to the housing. There is also a magnetic equator attached to the controller. It is responsible for the rotation of the valve shaft. This allows it to close and open as required by the engine control module.

When you start your car, the idle air controller increases the revolution per minute until the coolant temperature sensor informs the ECU that the temperature of the engine is up to specification.

Then, RPM falls to remain steady. If there is an extra load on the engine, the idle air controller adjusts and makes up for the load applied.

The Throttle Position Sensor

This sensor links the accelerator pedal to the throttle body. The throttle position sensor informs the ECM that the driver is pressing the accelerator pedal.

Then the ECM confirms the information gotten from the throttle position sensor with the manifold absolute pressure sensor or mass air flow sensor. This causes an increase in the injector pulse width and ignition timing.

The Knock Sensor

The knock sensor has a piezoelectric crystal in it. This crystal helps detect mechanical stress. It also produces a voltage when the car knocks.

If there is heavy acceleration, the knock sensor sends a signal to the ECM. The ECM, in turn, retards the ignition timing to make up for the knocking. This in effect, protects the rings and piston from damage.

The Camshaft Position Sensor

This sensor is electromagnetic. It also produces a voltage when a metallic object moves past it.

The camshaft position sensor is responsible for informing the ECM about the current position of the camshaft. With this information, the ECM calculates which valve is opened. When this is determined, the ECM throws fuel through the injector into that cylinder.

The Crankshaft Sensor

The crankshaft sensor tells the ECM where the crankshaft of the engine is located.

This information helps the ECM know where the pistons in the cylinders are located. The ECM uses the readings from this sensor and camshaft sensor to know the exact injector that needs activation.

The synchronization of the crankshaft and camshaft is known as engine timing. This is also the key to engine performance. With the correct timing, you can be sure that the spark and fuel will be delivered at the right time.

Controller Area Network

This is a digital computer network that exchanges data with various ECU nodes in the vehicle. The ECU node controls the data input and output. It also interfaces with the electric and mechanical components of the Cummins vehicle.

Inputs like coolant temperature, air flow, throttle position. and the ambient temperature is processed and become activated as ignition timing, turbo boost, fuel injection, etc. The Control Area Network thus generates a consistent feedback mechanism.

Each Control Area Network node is made up of a controller, a transceiver, and a microcontroller.

Wrapping Up

Having complete control over your Cummins engine will let you get the best performance from it. With your vehicle running at its best, your driving experience will improve. It will make you look forward to hitting the road every day.

If you are interested in getting your own Cummins ECM, contact us today.

Posted On: 13/06/2018

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