VIDEO: How To Resolve DTC C1130 For Nissan Vehicles

Andrew Markel discusses how to resolve chassis DTC C1130 and how it might not be an issue with the ABS system, but the ECM. Sponsored by Nissan.

Video courtesy Underhood Service.


VIDEO: ECM Alternator Regulation; No More Full Field Testing

Andrew Markel explains how modern alternators are designed to have their loads regulated by the ECM, eliminating the need for full field testing. Sponsored by Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper.

Video courtesy Underhood Service.


Outsmarting The Smart Cars: ECM Replacement

The ECM’s (engine control computer) function is to control emissions, monitor and regulate engine functions as well as optimize engine performance and fuel consumption. Systems controlled by the ECM include: fuel injection, carburetion, EGR (exhaust gas recirculation), evaporative system, air management, TCC ( torque converter clutch) and spark timing.

The computer is constantly updated with data (voltage signals) from the sensors (input) about engine operation. Sensors are variable resistors which modify a voltage to or from the computer. Data is analyzed by the ECM and decision commands (usually ground signals) are sent to control devices (output) based upon inputs from the sensors and ECM preprogrammed memory.

There are 3 types of memory used in ECMs. They are ROM, RAM, and PROM. Read only memory (ROM) is a preprogrammed section of memory that can only be read by the computer. If the battery power is lost, ROM memory is not lost, and is retained. Random access memory (RAM) contains information that is moved into and out of the RAM and is constantly updated. Sensor information, diagnostic codes and calculation results are stored in the RAM. The loss of battery voltage will result in lost data. Programmable read only memory (PROM) is a factory programmed set of instructions containing the calibration data for the particular vehicles’ engine, transmission, body and axle ratio. This memory may or may not be removable depending upon the vehicle manufacturer. If this memory chip (PROM) is removable, it must be transferred to the replacement unit. If the memory is non-removable, the whole ECM must be replaced.

Failure of emission system components or connections will result in the illumination of the check engine light/SES (service engine soon) light on the dash and a “trouble code” being stored in the memory. Retrieval of the code(s) will identify the problem circuit. This allows the technician to concentrate on the specific circuit affected and perform repairs accordingly. Function tests are then performed to assure the repair is good and the system is functioning properly.

ECM’s rarely fail by themselves. Most ECM failures occur due to overloaded circuits caused by shorted solenoids and/or relays (outputs) that do not meet specified OHMS resistance. All ECM controlled components MUST be checked for proper resistance before the replacement unit is installed or premature failure will result. Bad ground circuits and improper voltages can also lead to erratic operation or damage to the ECM. Voltage supplies should be checked and verified. Grounds should be tested by performing a voltage drop test.

To perform a voltage drop test, switch the DVOM (digital volt, ohmmeter) to the low volts or millivolt setting and put the positive lead of the meter to the negative terminal of the battery and the other lead to the ground circuit at the ECM. The voltage reading should be less than .5 volts, check with the system under a load while wiggling the wires. Voltage over .5 needs to be repaired.

Defects in original equipment ECMs are identified and corrective action taken to upgrade and improve the units. CARDONE engine control computer upgrades include: upgraded components installed in critical circuits, installation of heavier injector transistors, circuit protected quad drivers, reflow of solder joints, and an upgraded power supply diode for the ignition circuit to improve durability.

Of the ECM units returned to the factory as defects, 80% test good, 15 % are customer induced failures (shorted solenoids, relays, burnt components), and 5% are alleged factory defects (check engine light bulb flickers). ECM market replacement percentages are as follows: 69% are GM, 16% are Ford, 13% are Chrysler and 2% are imports.

Courtesy of Cardone Industries.


VIDEO: Stop-Start System Service Opportunities

Andrew Markel discusses service opportunities for vehicle stop-start systems and how several modules are involved in the activation of the feature. Sponsored by Bosch Automotive Service Solutions.

Video courtesy Underhood Service.

Automotive Featured

Restoring Engine-Computer Communications

For this month’s Real World case, we will attempt to provide a plan of attack for communication issues on General Motors products with the Class 2 Protocol.





Our diagnostic journey begins with a 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe.

Figure 1


This vehicle was tested at the EPA test facility in our area and it was determined that there is no communication with the PCM.


Our subject vehicle is taken to a local repair facility to be evaluated. The first step there is to confirm the no communication issue.


The technician uses a Tech 2 scan tool to access data and the scan tool is able to communicate with the Tahoe without a problem.


So, he calls the EPA test facility to report that the vehicle does not have a communication problem.


The state responds in a very pleasant manner and advises the tech that the vehicle must communicate with their equipment in order to pass the emissions test.

Figure 2


It’s interesting to note at this time that the state communicates on a generic level.


The tech takes out his generic scan tool and finds that the vehicle does not communicate with it. The problem has been confirmed.


The first step in our ­diagnosis is to review schematics for the communication lines. Figure 1 denotes the circuitry.


The PCM is denoted in Figure 2.


Now we have a complete picture of what our testing will entail.


A comb device will be removed out of the splice pack to take all of the modules on the schematic offline momentarily.

See Figure 3.


Figure 3

The modules will then be placed back online one by one.


A lab scope is placed on the data line to view the quality of the signal.

A jumper wire will be used to place each module back online one by one to view the serial data quality for each one. The serial data line is a 0 to 7 volt pulse, which is pulse width modulated.


Figure 4 is an example of a known-good pattern for your review.


The jumper wire was used to bring each module back online one by one, a pattern showing 0-7 volts was seen by all of the modules except one.


If your guess was the PCM, you are incorrect!


An example of the bad pattern is shown in Figure 5 for your review and analysis.


Figure 4

This pattern showed a range of 0 to 5.8 volts, this was below the threshold needed in order for proper communication to take place on this vehicle.


The bad pattern occurred on the circuitry for the SDM or ­sensing and diagnostic module (airbag module). The airbag module circuitry was loading the circuit to this value, causing the PCM not to communicate with the generic scan tool.


The pin for the airbag ­module was taken off the bus and generic communication was restored.


The vehicle then passed the ­emissions test, and the repair shop was advised to repair the airbag circuit.

This Pulling Codes case is now closed.

Note: If you’re interested in reviewing websites that provide examples of known-good waveform libraries on a variety vehicles and vehicle systems, you can ­contact me at [email protected] and I will provide you additional information.

 – By Carlton Banks, contributor, Tech Shop magazine

Figure 5