What to know about the Electronic Spark Control:
The ignition of the air/fuel mixture in the engine’s combustion chambers is minutely controlled by the engine timing. On the engine, there are one or more knock sensors – little piezoelectric sensors – that measure vibrations that the engine creates. If there are excessive vibrations, the powertrain control module uses the information from the knock sensors to decide how adjustments should be made.
These vibrations can usually be controlled by slight engine timing alterations. The powertrain control module communicates the adjustments that are required for the electronic spark control module to work correctly. These alterations advance or retard the timing ever-so-slightly to compensate for the engine vibration. The process occurs in the background while the engine is working, and you would never be able to sense the alterations unless there is a problem with the system. If the ESC module is defective, spark knock may occur from the engine with over-advanced timing. The engine light will light up, often with knock sensor codes or an ESC module code.
Facts to Note:
The electronic spark control module is isolated from the knock sensor but works closely with it. Similar symptoms can be produced by both parts, so proper diagnosis is important.
An ESC code in the powertrain control module means electronic spark control, not electronic stability control.
How to Fix:
The electronic spark control is confirmed it needs changed
The faulty electronic spark control module is detached
The new electronic spark control module is fixed and engine scanned for codes
The engine is started and the electronic spark control is tested for operation
The vehicle is road tested for proper operation of electronic spark control
There is no upkeep required for the electronic spark control module, however its operation can be checked any time a Check Engine light is being analyzed. If the engine’s electronic spark control module is defective, it will require one of your expert technicians to change it.
Common symptoms indicating you may need to change the Electronic Spark Control:
Check Engine light is on
Engine stumbles or stalls when accelerating from a stop
Knocking noise from the engine on acceleration from a stop
Importance of this service:
The electronic spark control system isn’t a safety issue; however, if left unattended, it can cause internal damage to your engine from prolonged advanced spark. A neglected repair can cost thousands of dollars down the road, and as such should be addressed as soon as possible.