3.1L (3100) And 3.4L (3400) PCM Operation

The PCM (Powertrain Control Module) constantly looks at the information from various sensors and other inputs and controls systems that affect vehicle performance and emissions. The PCM also performs diagnostic tests on various parts of the system. The PCM can recognize operational problems and alert the driver via the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL). When the PCM detects a malfunction, the PCM stores a diagnostic trouble code (DTC). The problem area is identified by the particular DTC that is set. The control module supplies a buffered voltage to various sensors and switches.

The input and output devices in the PCM include analog to digital converters, signal buffers, counters, and output drivers. The output drivers are electronic switches which complete a ground or voltage circuit when turned on. Most PCM controlled components are operated via output drivers. The PCM monitors these driver circuits for proper operation and, in most cases, can set a DTC corresponding to the controlled device if a problem is detected.

The PCM is programmed with test routines that test the operation of the various systems the PCM controls. Some tests monitor internal PCM functions. Many tests are run continuously. Other tests run only under specific conditions, referred to as Conditions for Running the DTC. When the vehicle is operating within the conditions for running a particular test, the PCM monitors certain parameters and determines whether or not the values are within an expected range.

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The parameters and values considered outside the range of normal operation are listed as Conditions for Setting the DTC. When the Conditions for Setting the DTC occur, the PCM executes the Action Taken When the DTC Sets. Some DTCs alert the driver via the MIL or a message. Other DTCs do not trigger a driver warning, but are stored in memory. Refer to the Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) Types for a complete list of PCM DTCs and the driver alerts the DTCs trigger. The PCM also saves data and input parameters when most DTCs are set. This data is stored in the Freeze Frame/Failure Records.

DTCs are categorized by type. The DTC type is determined by the MIL operation and the manner in which the fault data is stored when a particular DTC fails. In some cases there may be exceptions to this structure. Therefore, it is important to read the Action Taken When the DTC Sets and the Conditions for Clearing the MIL/DTC in the supporting text when diagnosing the system.

There are different types of DTCs and the action they take when set. Refer to Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) Type Definitions for a description of the general characteristics of each DTC type.

The PCM is designed to maintain exhaust emission levels to Federal/California/other standards while providing excellent driveability and fuel efficiency. Review the components and wiring diagrams in order to determine which systems are controlled by the PCM. The PCM monitors numerous engine and vehicle functions. The following are some of the functions that the PCM controls:

3.1L / 3.4L v6 engine data sensors and locations:

  • The Mass airfloww sensor (MAF)
  • The vehicle speed sensor (VSS)
  • The crankshaft position (CKP) sensor
  • The knock sensor (KS)
  • The throttle position sensor (TPS)
  • The engine coolant temperature sensor (ECT)
  • The camshaft position (CMP) sensor
  • The manifold absolute pressure sensor (MAP)
  • The Idle air control motor (IAC)
  • The EVAP purge solenoid
  • The electronic transmission controls
  • The A/C relay
  • The Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR)
  • The cooling fan relay
  • The VSS output
  • The MIL control
  • The cruise control inhibit

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