Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing ECM-Power Relay

ECM-power relay

The ECM, or electronic control module, is the computer responsible for controlling all of the engine management functions. It is the central control unit of most vehicles and controls a variety of functions, such as electrical system power distribution, emissions, ignition, and fuel systems. It is a very important, if not the most important component of a modern engine management system, and just the same as any other important electrical component it is powered through a relay.

The ECM power relay is the relay responsible for sending power to the ECM. If the relay fails, or has any issues, it can cause the vehicle to have all sorts of problems, and may even render it undriveable. Usually a problem with the ECM power relay will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a problem that should be serviced.

1. No power when the key is inserted

One of the first symptoms of a problem with the ECM power relay is no power when the key is inserted. If the ECM power relay fails it can cut off power to the entire vehicle. A failed relay will disable the dash lights and warning chimes that normally come on when the key is inserted into the ignition, and will probably be unable to start or turn over the vehicle.

2. Engine will not start

Another common symptom of a problem with the ECM power relay is an engine that will not start or turn over. The fuel and ignition systems, as well as several other engine management functions, of many vehicles are controlled by the ECM. If the ECM or it’s relay fail, the entire engine management system will be left without power and will not function as a result. A bad relay may cause the vehicle to crank, but not start, or sometimes not even crank at all.

3. Battery drain or dead battery

A failed ECM power relay can also cause a battery drain or dead battery. If the relay shorts it can leave power on to the computer, even when the vehicle is turned off. This will place a parasitic drain on the battery, which will eventually cause it to go dead.

The ECM power relay is one of the most important relays as it provides power for the vehicle’s computer system. Without it the entire engine management system will be disabled and the vehicle will not run. For this reason, if you suspect that your ECM power relay may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the relay should be replaced.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Still not sure about your car's issue?
Diagnose your car
What kind of issue are you experiencing?
Brakes are squeaking
Car is not starting
Car is overheating
Car is shaking (vibrating)
Fluids are leaking
Heating and A/C
Smoke or steam is coming out of the car
Warning light is on
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance Related Trouble Codes: P2158: Vehicle Speed Sensor B P2160: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Circuit Low P2161:...
P0608 OBD-II Trouble Code: Control Module VSS Output "A" Malfunction
P0608 means there is an malfunction in the vehicle speed sensor A control module often due too faulty speed sensor or shorted electrical wiring.
P0684 OBD-II Trouble Code: Glow Plug Control Module to PCM Communication Circuit Range/Performance
P0684 code means there is a failing connection within the Glow Plug Control Module often due too corroded wires and solenoid failures.


Related questions

Q: My 2010 kia blower fan stopped working but was fine last week. This occurred a few times in past. Works fine then stops blowing ag

The blower switch and the plug connection on the back of the switch, as well as a faulty blower motor are likely, too. I would check the blower motor first as you can easily power the motor directly to see...

Q: engine quits without warning

Alternators and fuel system issues are the most common causes of vehicles to die on the highway. The alternator failing basically causes the whole electrical system to quit working. This failure is usually accompanied by a red battery light illuminated...

Q: Heating and air problem

Hi. In your owner's manual, you should find a picture and the location of the fuse panel. The manual will also give you the location of the blower motor fuse and relay. First, check to see if the fuse is...