I believe that my cars ECU has gone bad due to a constant engine light being on as well as getting codes back from a code reader pointing to it being out. My main question is will a ECU that is "programmable" be able to plug straight into my car and run it, or will I have to take it into a shop for it to be programmed due to vin number specifics and all?
My car has 72111 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.
Your ECU would have to be programmed. Although it is possible nowadays for consumers to download the software from the OEM for a fee, you need an interface cable and knowledge of the programming steps. Once you add up the software cost, the cable, and so forth, so it may be cheaper to have a mechanic come to take care of it. It can easily be performed as a mobile service.
Note that ECU failure is unusual though. It has been estimated that fully fifty percent of all ECU’s returned for warranty exchange have absolutely nothing wrong with them. There are some past cases where electrolytic capacitors in ECU’s used in a model year fail systematically. Yours is not one of them. Furthermore, you car is fairly new. You should have a professional diagnose your Check Engine Light issue just to be sure.