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Old 07-08-2020, 09:42 PM   #1
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PCM Failure at 140k Miles?

Hello!

I've got a 2005 Ford 5.4l van with 150k miles. In June the van broke down on the side of the highway - lost power, spitting out black smoke, and had a fuel rail pressure sensor module error code.

We got it towed to a mechanic who replaced the fuel rail pressure sensor, fuel pump driver module, and put in new spark plugs to no avail. Got it towed from there to a dealership, which at first thought it was a short somewhere, and eventually settled on the issue being the power control module - which took a MONTH to get because of COVID.

We finally got it back, and it drove beautifully on the 6 hour drive back from Kentucky! But we're headed back out on the road tomorrow to finish out the last month of my vacation before law school and I'm terrified it'll break down!

My real concern is there's an underlying issue that would cause the PCM to crap out. I haven't been able to identify any leisure battery shorts, but would that potentially cause it? Any advice on what to check in advance or bring along?

Every thread I read on this forum I see someone who knows immensely more than any mechanic I've ever met, so I figured this would be the best place to check. Thank you!
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Old 07-09-2020, 09:30 AM   #2
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Van engine compartments are crowded and very hot. PCMs go through thousands of heat/cool cycles and eventually a circuit cracks or a component goes bad. Yours went 15 years. A pretty good lifespan.

Enjoy another few years until they quit making it altogether and you're forced into used junk or questionable rebuilds.

Bring along a used one you've tested in advance. Don't yell at it or swear in front of it. Keep the connection corrosion free.

Happy trails.
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Old 07-09-2020, 10:03 AM   #3
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Yours isn't the first 2005 I've heard of the PCM going bad. That was the first year CAN-BUS was fully implemented for the gas motors, so it was a first-year component. And there's refurbished units out there for sale, so there must be a market for them.

I have seen PCM issues caused by shorts to to signal V-ref. This is the 5+ circuit coming directly from the PCM. Usually caused by melted wiring to the 02 sensors. So it wouldn't hurt to visually inspect those wire harnesses for damaged. Or anywhere along the engine harness.

But it's also possible that a bad V-ref voltage is caused by broken strands in the V-ref wire, and this can act like a bad PCM. I think it's a good idea to ask the shop how they confirmed it was the PCM.
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Old 07-10-2020, 08:11 AM   #4
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You didn't specifically mention if your van is a camper. I went through three PCM's in the first 6000 miles of my van. Actually one of those was by the ford mechanic after replacing the first one, on the test drive. The third one took over two weeks to show up, and it was the same year (2004). Mine were bricks, they had would not communicate with then diagnostically. At the time they told me the failure rate was very low, and it is not something they find bad.

In the end I found out that it looked like the camper (sportsmobile) section had some input on the failure, so I started to look into what could cause that. I found a collection of issues that I believe led to the death of the PCM.

The first was the Surepower Separator was wired wrong, they were supposed to attach the start assist tab to the start circuit, they unfortunately used a start/run circuit, so the start assist circuit did not let the low voltage disconnect happen that the unit was supposed to provide.

Second issue, was some loose wiring to the starcool AC braker panel. There is an crucial line that goes to the relay panel to distinguish if the van is running. This connection was loose, as was the thermostat connections.

The next issue was that I was running the inverter while I was driving, and I did not turn the thermostat to off, and had left the starcool breaker in the on position.

My working theory was that Starcool unit was on, running in Van mode, the loose wire changed the relay panel to thinking it was parked and on shore power. The relay for the AC compressor turned on and sucked up the 2000 watt capability of the inverter.

I am not sure if it was a low voltage event, or swinging peak in the other direction that took out the PCM. Sportsmobile told me they did not think it could happen. I wasn't in the mood to blow another PCM to prove them wrong.

In any event, 98,000 miles later, I would say I was correct. So I would take a careful look at what if anything you have on your camper side of the van what you use for a ACR/Separator?

-greg
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Old 07-11-2020, 04:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb View Post
Yours isn't the first 2005 I've heard of the PCM going bad. That was the first year CAN-BUS was fully implemented for the gas motors, so it was a first-year component. And there's refurbished units out there for sale, so there must be a market for them.
Holy cripes---I'm driving an '05 gasser with just over 160K miles---wondering if my PCM is about to go bye bye on me? There's no RV or camper-type electrical systems on board but the fact this year has potential quality issues is troublesome.

Great info CarringB---thanks for sharing!
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Old 07-11-2020, 08:31 AM   #6
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Holy cripes---I'm driving an '05 gasser with just over 160K miles---wondering if my PCM is about to go bye bye on me?
You *probably* don't need to worry about it. I wasn't trying to imply it's likely to happen. And at least if it does go out, there's replacements available. The earlier V10s it's almost unheard of, but because of that, some years no longer have replacements available.
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Old 07-11-2020, 08:52 AM   #7
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You just replaced it. Good for some time now. Similarly, I had issues with the FICM on my 6.0L. Replaced it twice. Now I carry a spare and can do roadside swap.
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Old 07-11-2020, 04:56 PM   #8
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Thank you all for the tremendous advice! All these responses have given me great reassurances and areas for further investigation. I really canít thank you all enough!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pntyrmvr View Post
Enjoy another few years until they quit making it altogether and you're forced into used junk or questionable rebuilds.
Thanks for all the advice - kind of makes me want to go ahead and snag a new one while I still can!

Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb View Post
But it's also possible that a bad V-ref voltage is caused by broken strands in the V-ref wire, and this can act like a bad PCM. I think it's a good idea to ask the shop how they confirmed it was the PCM.
Definitely going to give the dealership a call to confirm how they diagnosed it. The wiring harness looks very sound, and weíve got about 2,000 miles on the new PCM as of right now - which is encouraging. Iíve also enabled the ďcontrol moduleĒ voltage monitor portion of my OBDII app, which Iím thinking will let me see if any funky voltage stuff is happening while driving?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scalf77 View Post
In any event, 98,000 miles later, I would say I was correct. So I would take a careful look at what if anything you have on your camper side of the van what you use for a ACR/Separator?
It is indeed a camper van, though self-built. You raise some really interesting points on the voltage-side of things. I have a voltage sensitive relay battery isolator for the leisure battery that cuts in at 13.3 volts and cuts out at 12.8 - currently this is disconnected (due to fear anything Iíve added could have caused the failure) and my OBDII control module voltage monitor shows the voltage of the PCM between 13.7 and 14 - I wonder if the voltage variations on then PCM caused by the isolator may have contributed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrey View Post
You just replaced it. Good for some time now. Similarly, I had issues with the FICM on my 6.0L. Replaced it twice. Now I carry a spare and can do roadside swap.
This is both reassuring, and convincing that I need to go ahead and get a backup!
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Old 07-16-2020, 11:27 AM   #9
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I went thru some supposed PCM failures w/a dealership - ended up sending mine out to supposedly get it rebuilt & and they inspected it & tested it. Sent it back to me and the van ran.

They had 2 technicians check it

They are knowledgeable & it was a 7 day turn around time.

Turned out it was a cam position sensor.

https://siaelec.com/

I considered getting a used spare refurbished but haven’t got around to it yet...
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Old 07-16-2020, 05:15 PM   #10
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I went through hell with my 2009 E-350 extended v10 former special operations border patrol with not even 30 k on it. At least 4 trips to dealer two of which were towed. Ford dealer kept blaming the government for messing with programming , they claimed the pats system was tampered with. turned out the vehicle came from factory with no pats. finally they said they would put a rebuilt pcm in because they did not know what was wrong with it. Had rebuilt one put in all is fine now. they even wanted to put in an instrument cluster, I am glad i didn't waste another thousand on that.
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