Published: 18 October 2018

Today’s cars can have over 50 computer systems dedicated for monitoring and/or controlling everything from ride handling, to on-board entertainment and communication systems.

An engine control unit (ECU), also commonly called an engine control module (ECM), is a type of electronic control unit that controls a series of actuators on an internal combustion engine to ensure optimal engine performance. It does this by reading values from a multitude of sensors within the engine bay, interpreting the data using multidimensional performance maps (called look-up tables), and adjusting the engine actuators.

Before ECUs, air-fuel mixture, ignition timing, and idle speed were mechanically set and dynamically controlled by mechanical and pneumatic means.

If the ECU has control over the fuel lines, then it is referred to as an electronic engine management system (EEMS).

The fuel injection system has the major role to control the engine’s fuel supply. The whole mechanism of the EEMS is controlled by a stack of sensors and actuators.

This accuracy of measurement helps keep modern engines running efficiently with the lowest possible emissions.

The information which is fed back to the ECU also aids fault diagnosis pointing the technician directly to the problem.

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