The cost of replacing your car’s computer out of warranty.

What to expect if you have to replace your car’s computer out of warranty….

Remember the days when your biggest concern was whether or not your car’s engine or transmission would fail three days after the original warranty expired? Thankfully, engines and transmissions are now built to last for the long haul.

These days, if you’re likely to have a problem with your new car, chances are high that those problems will come from the massive computer network that runs the various systems in your vehicle.

It’s true that there are ancillary computer systems used to operate features, such as cross-traffic alerts, lane-keeping assist and advanced cruise control, as well as all of the sensors, software and hardware that keeps it functioning. There’s also the advanced computing that’s required to make your car run safely and efficiently.

What’s more, your car doesn’t have just one computer, it has dozens of modules that manage every single major system in your car. It’s all plugged into a network that constantly monitors performance. Everything from fuel mixture to engine temperature to engine timing is constantly monitored and adjusted.

Mopar Parts

The MOPAR parts catalog lists 44 different modules that control everything from the engine to the speed of the wipers. Individual modules and control units operate systems like the power steering — which often is electronically controlled, rather than operated with belts using the crankshaft as power. Variable suspension damping also has its own module.

So how much does it cost to replace your car’s computer? There’s no short answer to this question. Still, let’s take a look at two of the major modules of a vehicle’s computer network. Here’s what it would cost to replace each when your car is out of warranty:

  • The Engine Control Module (ECM), known as “the big one.” The replacement cost for the ECM of a 2018 Chrysler 300 with a 3.6-liter six-cylinder, costs $670. And that doesn’t include the labor required to diagnose and replace it. A V-8 ECM runs more than $700. Bottom line: you could easily spend more than $1,200 just to replace this one module.
  • The inflator module. This operates the vehicle’s airbags. For the same car model, a 2018 Chrysler, the cost is $917. The passenger inflator module is another $542. And that’s just for the parts. Factor in labor and your cost continues to climb.

It is expensive to replace any one of these items — which have to work all day, every day, every single time your car is running. The cost can easily equate to the price of a full brake replacement, a major air conditioning overhaul or a full suspension rebuild.

Compare that with the cost of a quality bumper-to-bumper extended warranty. A good bumper-to-bumper extended warranty covers parts and labor. Plus, the parts are replaced with original equipment from the manufacturer.

You’re left with a back-to-new vehicle that only costs you a deductible. Most extended warranties offer a range of deductibles — anywhere from $200 per repair visit, all the way down to zero.