Check Engine Light - Multiple Codes (codes are in details section) - Possible ECM Issue

Tiny
D115511
  • MEMBER
  • 2008 PONTIAC TORRENT
  • 2WD
  • 120,000 MILES
2008 Pontiac Torrent
Check engine light came on earlier today. Had the codes read on it ant got several codes back. All of which are regrading the ECM system or some part of them. The codes are below. Most of them indicate that the ECM is not programed. What does this mean? Does the ECM need replaced or can it possibly be reprogrammed? How much does this generally cost?
Also, replaced battery in the vehicle 2 weeks ago. It was totally out. Could the loss of battery connection in that time caused something in the ECM to become un-configured and un-programmed some how? Could this possibly resolve it's self?
Would it be smart to disconnect the battery for a while a reconnect it so the check engine light will reset an see if the codes pop back up again?
There are no symptoms at all with the car aside the check engine light. Drives as usual. No decreased power or odd noises of any kind. The car starts right up just fine with no hesitation or delay.
The codes,
P2610
P0602
P0513
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Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 AT 9:48 PM

1 Reply

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
The problem is you do NOT want to disconnect the battery or let it run dead. This is a new trick designed in to some cars to force you to go back to the dealership. Disconnecting the battery on some VWs and a few other European cars will result in numerous computers locking up and the car having to be trucked to the dealer. You can't even get them out of "park" so they have to be skidded onto the truck. Simply replacing the battery yourself can result in a thousand dollar repair bill. Nice way to treat customers, huh?

You don't reset anything by disconnecting the battery. What you do is erase any diagnostic fault codes, then that valuable information is lost, unless, like you did, those codes are read and recorded first. Fuel trim data is lost too but you won't notice that. That data will be relearned very quickly as you drive the car.

I don't have a listing for codes 513 and 2610, so they are most likely manufacturer-specific, meaning only GM uses them. Partly in an effort to build and stock fewer computer part numbers, and partly to allow updates and fixes to the software if necessary, that vehicle-specific software was installed at the factory, but it can be reinstalled and / or updated by the dealer. Another one of GM's many dirty tricks is they don't allow independent shops to do that. This is done over an internet connection that only the dealers have access to.

Now, this I don't know to be true, but I've heard this in some classes I attended a few years ago. There are some cars that will lock up computers shortly after the battery was disconnected, but not right away. The story went that this was to allow owners time to get to the dealer and to be able to drive there without needing a tow truck. Locking up the computers is still the theft deterrent but it doesn't happen right away. (It also gives the thief time to drive away, but the computers have no value to a different car). Personally, I have only one car with an anti-theft system but it has been in storage for 20 years. I'll never have a daily driver with it and I'll never have to worry about being locked out of driving my own car as I read here quite often.

I don't want to say it will resolve itself, as you asked, but in the past, diagnostic fault codes commonly were erased automatically after restarting the engine about 50 times, AND the problem did not occur again. If you have your own code reader, you can check them periodically to see if any went away. To be safe though, I would call or visit the dealer to get some free information from the people at the service desk. Whatever you present, they will have heard it before and will usually have an answer right away. If they assure you there's nothing to worry about, keep driving. If they tell you a problem is going to develop soon, kindly post that here in a followup reply so I can add it to MY memory.

When the Check Engine light turns on, it means one of the fault codes refers to something that could adversely affect emissions.

P0602 - Control Module Programming Error

I can see two possibilities here. That programming might refer to incorrect "look-up tables" where the computer finds fuel metering calculations for this moment's batch of sensor readings, (in other words, some generic software is in use as a backup strategy, but it's not the software specific to your vehicle), or it might mean the computer is not programmed to your vehicle's ID number. This involves another sore point with GM vehicles where you don't want to mess with the radio as there's the potential to make two or three dozen computer modules worthless, and replacing them costs more than the vehicle is worth, but that doesn't apply to just the lowly Engine Computer.

If the software is wrong, it's pretty easy to use anything to make an engine run right but under certain conditions the emissions may go out of the acceptable limits.

I don't like the idea of driving with the Check Engine light on so try to not do that for too long. Right now you have three fault codes and at least the one I can interpret is relatively not serious, but if a new, totally unrelated problem develops that could lead to something expensive if it's ignored, you'll never know because the light is already on. You can get an idea of the severity of a fault code by when the light comes on after restarting the engine or whether it goes off while you're driving. You have the second most severe case now where the light is on anytime the engine is running. The only worse case is when the light starts flashing. That means stop the engine as soon as you can safely because too much raw fuel is going into the exhaust system where it can overheat and damage the expensive catalytic converter.

Also, when a fault code is set, anything it refers to that is compared to other things, those other things may be ignored. The computer constantly runs many self-tests and monitors a number of operating conditions. Some problems are detected by comparing one thing to another. As a quick example, the computer knows when the engine is idling, so it knows the throttle position sensor had better not be reading "wide-open-throttle". When a circuit used for reference sets a fault code, it can't be used for that comparison so some of those tests will be suspended. Those tests will resume once the problem is fixed. At that time, if another problem had developed recently, it will be detected now, and the Check Engine light might turn right back on again, but for that different problem. This is frustrating for mechanics and owners, and is a common reason mechanics are blamed unfairly for not diagnosing the problem correctly.

Since I don't know the description of the other two codes, I could see that a manufacturer might use the Check Engine light to get you to the dealer before time runs out and a computer locks up. Again, the light means a fault code refers to a potential increase in emissions, but if the dealer said a time-related problem was about to develop, I'd have no reason to doubt them.

A GM trainer told us the biggest reason for having to program their computer modules was so they could never be used on another car. That means you can't buy a good used one from a salvage yard, and you have to buy a new one from the dealer and pay them to program it before it would work. There are people who will tell you that is either propaganda or simply not true, and used computers can be used, but they still have to be programmed by the dealer. You know the dealer isn't going to appreciate making someone else's product work in your car, but if that is true, it's only a matter of time before the aftermarket industry will make scanners available to independent shops so they can do it for you too.
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Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 AT 11:42 PM

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