Over the years ECU remapping/tuning as remained the same in principle but the way it is carried out has gone through several changes. At Blue Flash Tuning we cater for all types. For those who would like to know a little more about it please see below for a brief description of each type.
During the 1980’s when electronic fuel injection and ignition was growing in popularity, especially amongst the performance and premium level vehicles, chip tuning became the means of improving performance.
This method of tuning or remapping involves removing and opening the ECU, then removing or de-soldering the microchip containing the mapping tables and either replacing the microchip with a pre-sourced and programmed microchip or by placing the microchip in a read/writer and programming new data to it.
This was the main method used up until around 2000 for petrol cars, 2004 for diesel cars and 2006 for commercial vehicles when they became OBD compliant.
OBD is short for On-Board Diagnostics. EOBD (European On-Board Diagnostics) is the EU derived version of the Americans called OBD2. Without going into too much detail it’s all about exhaust emission laws and all vehicle manufacturers using a universal 16 pin diagnostic connector and a selection of communication protocols to allow universal (EOBD) diagnostic tools to be used in order to diagnose emission related faults. Most manufactures decided to use this connector for all vehicle diagnostics rather than keep their own connecter design as well.
The 16 pin diagnostic connector allows us, in most cases to read and write new data to the ECU by connection to a computer via an interface. This is by far the quickest, easiest and most popular way of tuning / remapping.
This method albeit quite rare is used when the vehicle wiring harness doesn’t make all of the connections from the ECU to the diagnostic socket. The ECU is either disconnected or fully removed from the vehicle then the tuning interface is connected directly to the ECU multiplug. This involves connecting a selection of wires such as power supplies, grounds, K-Line and CAN lines in order to read and write to the ECU.
BDM – short for Background Debug Module is a method used similar to Boot Mode / Boot ST but for when the required connections are not all available at the diagnostic socket or the ECU connector. It involves opening the ECU, positioning it on frame to clamp it in a fixed position and then lowering a specific adapter containing spring-loaded pins onto 2 rows of pads on the circuit board. This then allows the reading and writing of the data to take place. Due to the nature of this type of tuning, extreme care must always be taken and naturally it is slightly more expensive to carry out. Also, when an ECU has had a bad file written to it or has suffered a software failure, this can be the only means of recovering the ECU. It is vital for any vehicle tuner or remapper to be able to do this to cover all eventualities, sadly many so called remappers don’t have the knowledge or equipment for this. Rest assured, at Blue Flash Tuning, we do!
Tri-Core is the type of processor the ECU is equipped with. They were first seen in 2008 and are now extremely popular. They are commonly seen in the Bosch EDC 17 ECU’s. In March 2008 for diesel vehicles and March 2009 for petrol vehicles, manufacturers started to include and encryption known as “Anti-Tune” to prevent remapping taking place. It’s worth noting that encryption was added in some software updates to vehicles manufactured before these dates. The data can be read but if a file in any way different is written back to the vehicle it will not start. The method for tuning this ECU type is very similar to BDM tuning (see previous paragraph) but involves making a few extra connections to the circuit board using specialised probes. Again, due to the nature of this type of tuning, extreme care must always be taken and naturally it is slightly more expensive to carry out. Also, when an ECU has had a bad file written to it or has suffered a software failure, this can be the only means of recovering the ECU. It is vital for any vehicle tuner or “remapper” to be able to do this to cover all eventualities, sadly many so called “remappers” don’t have the knowledge or equipment for this. Rest assured, at Blue Flash Tuning, we do!
In recent months, apart from a few exceptions it has now become possible to tune / remap most 2008/2009 to current Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda ECUs via the OBD socket thus preventing the need to open the ECU which makes it quicker, safer and cheaper to carry out. This is all down to a major break-through in the technology involved in the development of the high quality equipment and software we use at Blue Flash Tuning.
Vehicles today are fitted with many systems that are controlled by an ECU (Electronic control unit) – basically a computer. Even the most basic vehicles have an Engine Management System to control the running of the engine, Anti-lock braking, Traction control and SRS or Airbag systems. Some of the more prestige vehicles have in excess of 80 ECU’s controlling functions such as electric seats, adaptive cruise control and much more. Most of these systems communicate with each other on various networks in order to share information. Unfortunately with all of these systems faults can occur and diagnosing the cause can be extremely difficult and very costly to the customer, especially if not diagnosed correctly.
When a fault occurs in most cases a light or warning appears on the instrument panel and a fault code is logged in the computer’s memory. To diagnose the fault, a technician will connect diagnostic equipment to the vehicle diagnostic socket/port and which then can interrogate the ECU for a fault code. Sometimes the fault code description will pinpoint the component or circuit at fault, but in most cases it merely gives a hint as to what the ECU thinks the fault may be. In a lot of cases the ECU sees the symptom rather than the cause. This is where it is imperative that the Technician carries out diagnosis using a planned procedure. This is achieved by studying the data the ECU is receiving, and testing circuits and components accordingly to find the fault and it is at this point where the skill and knowledge of how to carry out these tests is absolutely vital.