CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Powertrain Control Module

I have a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with just under 67,000 miles. Several times last year my vehicle would randomly shut off while driving. It would happen intermittently and would always immediately start right up with no hesitation. After this happened on the highway and my steering wheel locked, I took it in to the dealership to figure out the problem. Let me add that I religiously take my car in for service every 3,000. I just do. At any rate, the diagnosis was that I needed to replace the powertrain control module to the tune of $1,000. This all happened around the same time Chrysler was going through the ignition switch issues and was wondering if it could somehow be related. I recently received a recall notice for something related to the ignition switch. Is the powertrain control module something that would normally be replaced after nine years? Just curious if this is “normal” wear and tear.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.

A PCM failure at 67K is not normal, just like the torque converter failure on my Civic at 48K. Stuff happens. A three-times-per-year intermittent failure is usually very difficult to diagnose. See if they’ll include a one year warranty with the new PCM.

So did changing out the PCM fix the shut-off problem? If so, they must have nailed it, and a replacement module was needed. It’s not normal, no. Not at all.

Electronic modules in an ideal world would last the life of the car. There’s no moving parts in them, right? But the heating cycles in cars are way more than in say your home compute, parts contract and expand each time, and this is really tough on the electronic parts, especially the printed circuit board traces. Sometimes it is possible to repair these modules. It could be for example if the solder points were simply re-soldered it might have fixed it. But very few shops have techs trained enough to do that job. This is a common enough problem there are some companies that do this as their business model, Google “Automobile electronic module repair” for example.