Oh sure, we all know about updates for computers. Updates for Windows, updates for OS X, updates for Linux and so on.

But how about a software upgrade for your car or truck?

General Motors cars have had PCMs (Powertrain Control Modules) for a very long time. In fact, the first GM car to get it was the 1990 Geo Storm (why they chose that car and not a Cadillac is anyone’s guess..) This is a programmable module that’s inside your vehicle.

If your GM car or truck is a 1996 or newer, you can easily check to see if there are available updates for the PCM at http://calid.gm.com. It costs nothing to check.

All you need is your VIN.

How to use:

  1. Enter your VIN and click the “Get CAL ID” button.
  2. From the next screen select “PCM/VCM Powertrain/Vehicle Control Module”, then click the Next button at the bottom right.

You will see any available updates for your GM vehicle. Each choice next to “Module:” is clickable. You only have to click once on each section to see what updates are there.

If you like, you can print out the pages, bring it to the dealership and have the updates applied. Cost varies greatly depending on what needs to be updated.

Can you apply these updates yourself?

Yes but it’s not recommended. While it’s true all you need is a laptop and an OBD-II connector cable, you will need to acquire the update and use special expensive software. Furthermore, if you fail to update properly, the vehicle will literally not start.

Updates of this type are best left to the dealership.