Sunday, October 6, 2013

To program or not to program

Part of my service is module programming or flashing some people call it. Module programming is steadily increasing as more and more modules show up in todays vehicles. Reprogramming can fix many issues but reprogramming should not take the place of good diagnostics. When I am called in to do a reprogramming I always want to know why does the shop want to do a reprogram. Many times I am called in to a shop who thinks there has to be a reprogram for the problem they are experiencing because they have exhausted all other avenues. They have changed parts-sometimes many times, checked wiring, and now they are at wits end. Here is an example. This shop has a 2004 Toyota Rav4 with 131,629 miles on it. The vehicle flagged a P2238 code related to the Air Fuel Ratio Sensor. The shop diagnosed a bad A/F ratio sensor and did a TSB search and noticed there was a PCM upgrade for that code. Toyota like most manufacturers has specific TSB's for reprogramming. In other words reprogramming is TSB driven.

Here is the aforementioned TSB. I always review TSB's thoroughly. I always make it a point to try whenever possible to get the TSB from the manufacturers website as well. Reason for this is they have the latest information. Maybe, there was a change in procedure, etc. Using the manufacturers website information assures me of the latest and greatest information. I also scan the vehicle as well with my tooling. It is not that I do not trust my customers. It is just assurance that we are going in the right direction. It also gives me an opportunity to see if we have other issues.

Ok, here we have it. The next procedure is to see what calibration is currently in the module. Then compare it to the TSB information.

It is the old calibration that needs updating. Normally, I use Toyota Techstream to program. This shop had sketchy internet and the calibration I needed I had on a Toyota Calibration CD. Toyota no longer uses Calibration CD's. Like most manufacturers it is all web driven. I will have to get out my J2534 reprogramming equipment. I am not a big fan of J2534 programming. I like to use factory tooling. In this case I felt confident using it.

Here is a laptop with proper software loaded on it and the J2534 interface. It is important to use an approved interface. All manufacturers will list them on their websites.

Here is another essential tool for programming whether it be J2534 or factory tooling. A battery maintainer. This one is the Midtronics PSC-550. It is pretty much the industry standard. It carefully maintains battery voltage at 13.4 volts with no ripple that you would get from a regular battery charger. The process of programming is menu driven. You have to pay attention! Key cycles have to be done in the allotted time. Let's begin. This flash took about 14 minutes.

   This is the after screen showing the previous calibration and the new calibration. It also shows that it was successful. Like anyone in my business it is not successful until it starts and runs. Most importantly it solves the concern.

 I check for codes after we start and run the vehicle. Looking good so far.


 I always check if the calibration was really updated.