Today’s vehicles are high-tech, and that means writing a lot of computer code. But this code is not cheap to develop and car manufacturers want to keep it out of the hands of their worldwide competition. This perceived security has implications for shops that have to service these vehicles, as it makes it frustrating and difficult to properly access information needed for repair. In this Tire Review Continental Tire Garage Studio video, we dig into a few ways you can make sure you properly connect with a car in your shop.
First up: scan tools. Scan tools can perform programming and reflashing, the process of replacing the existing software in a vehicle controller with new software. Some of these tools can save the firmware and calibrations from a module that needs replacement. When the new module is installed, the information can be reprogrammed into the memory.
Some scan tool platforms work with the original equipment manufacturer websites to allow you to access and program security-sensitive modules, like keyless entry, that operate using a secure gateway. Also, some can work with the price per VIN system used by some OE manufacturers.
Next is remote programming. The latest option offered by some companies is a box that can perform reflashing remotely. Instead of you pressing the buttons, a trained technician will control the process over an internet link. These devices can be a real timesaver from having to set up your own tools and subscriptions.
Of course, you won’t get too far without a good computer. Most OEMs require a Windows-based PC with specific hardware. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer, some specify the computer’s operating system uses a 32- or 64-bit version of Windows 10. Many manufacturers have indicated they will stop supporting Windows 7 at the end of this year. If you have questions about your PC, look at the documents on the OE’s website to guide you on what type of computer you will need. There are a few reasons why they advise this operating system. One is to help avoid the possibility that the PC has malware or bloatware. The other is the hard drive. Manufacturers including Honda and Ford require that the hard drive is solid-state. Pay attention to the type of USB connections on the machine: The type of port you need to look for is a Type-A port. This is the most common rectangular USB port. If the computer says it only has Type-C ports, it will not work with most reprogramming cables. This shouldn’t be a problem, though, unless your computer is very new.