Dodge Ram 1500 PCM Problems

The Powertrain Control Module, or PCM, is the main computer of a vehicle that manages and controls the engine, transmission, and other powertrain components. The PCM receives data from several sensors, analyzes it, and controls the vehicle’s performance and efficiency.

Some people think the PCM and ECM are similar. But it’s not; the ECM controls the electrical units, engine timing, air-fuel ratios, cooling, and exhaust system. On the other hand, the PCM controls all the functions of the ECM, sensors, and transmission.

The air intake sensors (MAF, MAP, and TPS sensors), engine performance sensors (ECT, Knock, and Oxygen sensors), emission control sensors (EGT, BARO sensor), transmission sensors, and some other sensors are connected with the PCM.

PCM receives data from these sensors, analyzes it, and sends commands to adjust the vehicle’s operation and performance. Therefore, problems in the PCM system cause several other problems. You will experience some common symptoms when your Ram 1500 PCM starts to malfunction.

The common symptoms of a faulty Ram 1500 PCM are:

  • Check engine light
  • Poor engine performance
  • Starting problems
  • Decreased fuel economy
  • Increased emissions
  • Shifting problems

Each of the symptoms is actually a problem that makes the driving experience worse. That’s why it is necessary to fix the PCM problems to get an enjoyable riding. In this article, I have discussed the main causes of Ram 1500 PCM problems and their solutions.

Dodge Ram 1500 PCM has 8 common problems, including software issues, not recognizing new equipment, engine stalls, poor performance, shifting issues, check engine warning lights, reduced fuel economy, and increased emissions.

1. Software Issues

Some Ram 1500 has software issues, especially the 2021 model year. Ram recalls around 131,700 trucks from the 2021 Ram 1500 model year because of software issues. In this problem, the truck suddenly stalls while driving, which increases the chances of accidents.

The problem persists on the 2021 Ram 1500 equipped with 5.7L V8 eTorque Hybrid engines. So, only the 2021 Ram 1500 trucks equipped with 5.7 Hybrid engines are covered by this recall. This model year, PCM has software issues that send incorrect data to the engine.

As a result, the incorrect air-fuel mixture enters the engine and causes a stalling issue. Ram offers new software to fix the problem. Under this recall, the dealership will provide software updates to vehicles free of cost.

The recall applies to Ram 1500 trucks equipped with 5.7L V8 eTorque Hybrid engines manufactured between June 3, 2020, and September 12, 2021. If you have any queries related to the recalls, you can contact Ram at 800-853-1403.

2. PCM not Recognizing New Equipment

Some owners have this problem in their Ram 1500 pickup trucks. The problem mainly happens when someone installs or modifies their truck with the latest equipment and sensor units, but the truck was manufactured from 1993 to 2003 model year.

In that case, the truck PCM may not recognize the latest sensors. Because the newer sensors send digitally encoded information, the old PCM may not decode it. The problem can be resolved by replacing or reflashing the PCM.

In some cases, the Ram 1500 PCM shows erratic responses after reprogramming. In this case, hire a technician to properly fix the issue.

3. Check Engine Warning Light

The check engine light indicates that there is a problem with the vehicle engine. However, this warning light often appears because of PCM software issues. Therefore, the warning light is also related to the PCM problems. Updating the software to the latest compatible version will generally reset this warning light.

If the warning light does not reset even after updating the software, it means the problem is in the sensors. Replacing faulty sensors is the proper solution to this problem. However, note that software issues or sensor problems are normal cases of warning lights.

There is a critical side of this warning light, which is a serious issue in the engine. So, if the PCM triggers “Check Engine Light,” take it seriously and fix the problem as soon as possible. If the Ram 1500 PCM triggers the warning light, use an OBD-II scanner to identify the error codes and specific problems.

Some common error codes triggered by PCM are:

  • P0300: Random or multiple cylinder misfires
  • P0420: Catalyst system efficiency below threshold bank1
  • P0171: System mixture is too lean
  • P0174: System too lean bank 2
  • P0430: Catalyst system issue bank 2

4. Engine Stalls

Engine stalling is a primary indication of PMC malfunctions. Generally, if the Ram 1500 stalls suddenly while driving, it means the PCM is malfunctioning. Meanwhile, a malfunctioning PCM causes the engine to misfire.

This is because a faulty PCM fails to manage ignition timing properly. Reprogramming the faulty PCM is the primary solution to this problem. In severe cases, replace the PCM of the Ram 1500.

5. Poor Engine Performance

If the Ram 1500 PCM is problematic, it decreases engine performance. The PCM controls all the major sensors and ensures the vehicle’s optimal performance. In normal situations, a faulty PCM causes truck acceleration problems.

Your truck fails to achieve proper speed when you try to accelerate it. PCM ensures the air-fuel mixture is in the correct amount. Faulty PCM causes improper air-fuel mixture and engine stalling problems. The Ram 1500 starting problems are also directly related to the PCM problems.

6. Reduced Fuel Economy

As the PCM controls the vehicle’s performance, it also controls fuel efficiency. Faulty PCM effect on the fuel injection and ignition timing.

As a result, the vehicle’s fuel economy suddenly drops. Proper maintenance and replacing faulty parts will improve the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

7. Increased Emissions

PCM problems often cause high vibration, corrosion, and thermal stress. As a result, the engine burns excess fuel unnecessarily and increases emissions.

When an engine burns excess fuel, most of the toxic gases are unfiltered and released into the environment. The exhaust emits a lot of black smoke, which affects the environment, too.

Ultimately, a bad PCM causes incorrect ignition timing, excessive fuel burning, and increased emissions. Poor engine performance and engine misfires also occur because of these problems.

8. Shifting Issues

Transmission issues affect many Ram 1500 model years. Several factors are responsible for transmission problems, but PCM failure is one of the main reasons. The PCM controls the Ram 1500 transmission shifting timing, engaging the clutch and shifting feel.

That’s why it is a major PCM failure symptom if you notice the transmission shifting issue. Faulty sensors can also cause shifting issues, so there is no need to be directly concerned about PCM failure.

However, it is necessary to inspect PCM and sensors properly to identify the culprit and fix the problem.

Causes of PCM Failure in Ram 1500

A Ram 1500 PCM can malfunction for some major reasons, including:

  • Software issues
  • Worn installation
  • Electrical malfunction
  • Short circuit issues
  • Excessive corrosion, vibration, or thermal stress
  • Manufacturing defects, etc.

Most of the time, the PCM starts malfunctioning because of software issues. If there is any bug in any version, it may cause PCM problems. On the other hand, some owners want to install the latest software version on their old models. But if the new version is incompatible with the old Ram 1500 model, it causes several problems.

Another common reason for PCM failure is an electrical short circuit or unstable voltage. Electrical short circuits cause excessive heat that affects circuit boards and other components of the PCM.

The unstable voltage causes memory glitches, erratic engine operation, and stalling. If you change PCM for any reason, you must install it properly. Worn installation, such as physical damage, incorrect wiring, software mismatch, or grounding issues, caused the PCM failure. These are the main problems that cause Ram 1500’s PCM failure.

How to Fix Ram 1500 PCM Problems

The PCM is a very important component of Ram 1500 pickup trucks. Therefore, the optimum and efficient performance from the PCM is necessary. However, if the PCM is severely damaged or causes a lot of trouble, replacing it is a good solution.

But before replacing PCM, one must identify the underlying problem. Because replacing the PCM is an unnecessary expense without fixing the underlying problem. Note that replacing PCM is not an easy task because the PCM is a complex component. I always recommend consulting with a professional technician in case of PCM problems. Sometimes, an easy trick can fix the PCM problem, but we may overlook that.

As a result, we make the simple problem a serious one by adopting unnecessary actions. That’s why I advise you to hire a mechanic to fix PCM problems or replace the PCM. Sometimes, depending on the problem, adjusting the ignition timing, reprogramming the PCM, or resetting the PCM can fix the PCM problems.

A professional mechanic can make the right decision depending on the PCM problem type. If you wonder about the cost of fixing Ram 1500 PCM problems, it typically ranges from $200 to $1200. However, the exact amount depends on the severity of the problem.

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