Q: Need the ECU replaced in my car

asked by on March 30, 2018

I have a 2005 Pontiac Vibe. The ECU’s to these cars were manufactured faulty, and tend to fail anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 miles. A CEL code will pop up, and the transmission will start shifting very harshly and abruptly. A recall was issued back in 2011; stating that it was an ECU issue, not a transmission issue. Unfortunately the recall is no longer open as the previous owners had the repair already done. So my question is, can I get away with buying a used ECU same part number for my car, without having it reprogrammed? I’ve done some reading and saw that it would just cause the CEL to stay on all the time, due to the VIN numbers not matching.

My car has 133000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Anytime the CEL is allowed to be continuously on you will never be informed of any vehicle malfunctions if and as they arise and they will arise. That circumstance alone means any decision about re-programming is a moot issue (you need to do it), especially if you are in a state which has annual vehicle inspections. Due to the recall, you have to be careful with part numbers to be sure you get the correct unit. There were a blizzard of part numbers involved (I reviewed the recall notice you refer to). However, if the ECM has already been replaced on your vehicle under the recall, that introduces doubt that you presently have a faulty one. That is, the ECM’s installed during the recall campaign did NOT have the manufacturing defect that led to the recall and thus there is no particular reason to suspect it now unless you have actually obtained a conclusive diagnostic. If you would the issue you are having with the car investigated and resolved, please request a Check Engine Light diagnostic. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

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