Has your car taken on a mind of its own? You may have noticed some very strange behaviour in the past few weeks and are finding it difficult to pinpoint the cause. One minute you seem to have an issue with your transmission and the next, the problem seems to be electrical. Sometimes you think that the battery has failed, while at other times the car appears to be very sluggish during an overtaking manoeuvre. Common sense would dictate that these are all separate problems, but that would mean that your car is simply falling apart. Is there a more logical reason?
The modern-day automobile relies on a complex set of electronics in order to function correctly. There are hundreds of sensors attached to individual components and each one of these is meant to send a signal back to the 'brain'.
Unlike the human brain, the engine control unit or ECU is a relatively straightforward part. Certainly, it's a significant component within your car's onboard computer system, but in its simplest form, it uses a trigger from one component to activate another in a logical sequence.
The ECU is normally a reliable component, but like anything else in your vehicle, it may sometimes fail. Given the array of symptoms you seem to be experiencing, you should certainly get somebody to check the functionality of this part.
Check Engine or ECU?
Sometimes, the 'check engine' light will illuminate on your dashboard and will remain on, no matter what you do. While this could be linked to a specific problem elsewhere, it is more often than not linked to an issue with the ECU.
If the car fails to start one morning then you may check the alternator, starter motor and battery and they all appear to be okay. In this case, the ECU could be the culprit and it could also be the root cause if you are experiencing an unexplained drop in fuel efficiency.
Transmission and Performance
Furthermore, the ECU is in charge of your automatic transmission and may be behind your performance issues when you're on the road. If the car appears to be jumping out of gear for no reason or fails to accelerate when called to do so, have somebody check the engine control unit carefully.
Checking the Unit
In order to achieve peace of mind, you will need to take the vehicle into a vehicle repair shop, where a technician can use special diagnostic equipment to give you the full story.