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Reflash Computers


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5 replies to this topic

#1 Joe Marconi

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To answer Gonzo’s question. We don’t do nearly enough reflashes at present time, but we are finding that the number is increasing. We probably do a few per month.

We primarily do Toyota’s, GM and Fords. If you run a full service shop and want to compete with the dealer you will need to consider reflashing. We had a suburban the other day with a power seat problem that needed a reflash as the fix. If we did not have the equipment and GM subscription, we would have to send the car back to the dealer.

The money is made, however, when you promote reflashes, in other words; checking for vehicles that need updates as a routine service and looking for needed program updates when a car comes in with a driveablity, performance or emissions problem. It’s like anything else, if you invest the time, education and money to equip your shop with the ability for reflash cars and you let the tool sit in your tool box, it will never pay for itself.

Hope this helped…

#2 Gonzo

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That was perfect Joe, I just finished an article for Brake and Frontend magazine that will probably be out in the next couple of months. I said basically the same thing. I'll post the story here for all to read...

Read it and see what you think. Here's my take on what "the general public" and the magazine think of reflashing. "Reflashing will be big business in the near future... we should all prepare to be able to do these. "

My only point, and I briefly went over it in the article is that I don't think "they" (the general public) understand that because of the Federal Clean Air Act we as the independent market only can program drivablility parameters. That's the law, and unless the manufacturer wants to be "nice" they don't have to tell us how to reprogram power seats or the like. I had to invest into dealer level scanners for the airbag and seats stuff for the GM's because I do so much for bodyshops and ... quite frankly bodyshops aren't fixing 8 to 10 year old cars... there all newer cars.

One more interesting point, a few years ago I did my first Ford reflash. I used the J2534 "mongoose" cable and software. I had all the proper information, the proper software on my laptop, the proper laptop, the correct info etc... etc... etc.. it still took me all day to walk myself thru the whole process... only to find out that all I can do is the drivability stuff... it happened to be a 4WD vehicle... sorry charlie... that ain't part of the independent drivability package. All I could do was get it started and make it shift the tranny... it still had to go to the dealer for another reprogram... which, I don't know why, they couldn't do it either... they couldn't enter the info over top of what I downloaded... they had to replace the PCM with a blank one.

The problem I see is that IF we do not get the right to repair act... THIS IS THE AREA WHERE WE ARE ALL GOING TO GET SCREWED IN !!!

Enough said about that.


To answer Gonzo's question. We don't do nearly enough reflashes at present time, but we are finding that the number is increasing. We probably do a few per month.

We primarily do Toyota's, GM and Fords. If you run a full service shop and want to compete with the dealer you will need to consider reflashing. We had a suburban the other day with a power seat problem that needed a reflash as the fix. If we did not have the equipment and GM subscription, we would have to send the car back to the dealer.

The money is made, however, when you promote reflashes, in other words; checking for vehicles that need updates as a routine service and looking for needed program updates when a car comes in with a driveablity, performance or emissions problem. It's like anything else, if you invest the time, education and money to equip your shop with the ability for reflash cars and you let the tool sit in your tool box, it will never pay for itself.

Hope this helped…



#3 blown3qtr

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The money is made, however, when you promote reflashes, in other words; checking for vehicles that need updates as a routine service and looking for needed program updates when a car comes in with a driveablity, performance or emissions problem. It’s like anything else, if you invest the time, education and money to equip your shop with the ability for reflash cars and you let the tool sit in your tool box, it will never pay for itself.

Hope this helped…


That's some great advice. I've been looking into relfashing capabilities for awhile now. There are not many independent shops in my area that do it. I had been looking into the drew technologies mongoose cables or dardaq, but ended up with a BWD Iflash because I got a good deal on it.

I plan on offering this service to some of the other shops in my area as well. I feel there is enough work out there for all of us and by workin together we can all make a living.

I have also bought rebuilt ECM's from other suppliers, not the NAPA store I primarily buy from because they could not offer a flashed pcm in a cost effective timely manner. I have tried to approach one of the NAPA salesmen as well as the store owner about working with them to flash replacement computers but somewhere the communication didn't quite go through. They just didn't seem to understand that I was trying to help them recapture the ECM/PCM sales they had lost in the past by offering that service to them (or other shops by way of recommendation). Anyway now that I have the hardware I will try my approach again.

Edited by blown3qtr, January 30, 2011 - 10:17 PM.


#4 GeeZ

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You are speaking of a STOCK reflash and not performance reflash, right? A performance flash, will probably void the engine warranty.

#5 scantoolnut

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The money is made, however, when you promote reflashes, in other words; checking for vehicles that need updates as a routine service and looking for needed program updates when a car comes in with a driveablity, performance or emissions problem. It’s like anything else, if you invest the time, education and money to equip your shop with the ability for reflash cars and you let the tool sit in your tool box, it will never pay for itself.


What's your set up?

For example, we have a dedicated lap-top for reflashing. By the time you fire the thing up, remember the software, and etcetera, there's no way it is worth the time and effort unless you are doing a Mercedes/BMW service. Those are the only customers that would pay you for a preemptive reflash anyway.

#6 Gonzo

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The J2534 is the main reflash unit. Either with a mongoose cable or a J2534 box (tool) There are limitations. Some of those are that you only can flash transmission, engine, and security. (whatever fits the need to get it to start the car) You'll find all kinds of loopholes in the J2534, such as ... Chrysler... you have to have the part number off of the PCM (the part number is the "calibration" number.. (one in the same)) However you have to log onto Chrysler's site and check for the latest calibration update... (Checking the part number and any new revisions) These revisions are the last two digits of the part number (the suffix) If you don't have the latest software calibration downloaded into your PC and you try to download an old suffix calibration into the car... crash goes the computer... buy another PCM and start over, and if that happens you won't be able to install all the software, only the tranny, engine, and possibly the security, you'll still have to send it to the dealer. So make sure you have the latest at all times.
Ford has some similar issues, I do have a Mongoose cable (J2534) for Fords that plugs into my PC, but I also have the NGS and the IDS... The download on the Ford site is for J2534 applications ... nothing else is available for aftermarket.
I could go on about each site and the details... but it's pretty much the same thing... good, bad, and ugly...

Here's the one thing that NOBODY has mentioned in any of the classes I've attended, or lectures I've been to. YOUR PC HAS TO BE COMPATIBALE WITH THE MANUFACTURERS PROTOCALS. This IS the biggest pain in the ASS I deal with about getting onto the sites. One site will tell you that you have to have such and such pixel settings, with Java5, and then another has to have all of your security stuff (Norton etc...) off, and you have to have the start up reconfigured to allow certian popups while booting up. Some want all your screen savers off while others don't want any competitors software anywhere on your PC or it will corrupt each other to the point NOTHING works. Been there, done that.

I sometimes spend a day just getting the PC ready to accept the info to download from the manufacturer. AND, some of these issues require you to buy some special program to patch into your PC so the download will work... Example, you don't need to have Adobe 5 to get the 3 protocals and calibration files from Chrysler, however, if, ... a big if... you are instructed to view a TSB for the car you want to flash you got to have the Adobe 5... go find it.. yea, you'll shell out 1800 bucks to boot for it.

Look, I ain't the smartest socket jockey out there, I haven't a clue what have this crap is for when it comes to reflashing and why we have to do it... I think it's just the manufacturers way of making things more "self-protecting-of-their-own-products" I'm mean come on, do we really need to program a friggin drivers side window in a Mustang??? WTF is that all about. (yes I've had to do that to several) But I'm sure there's a whole bunch of techs out there that will tell me that they have a better way, well... damm it, quit hiding it A lot of this information I've learned the hard way and if there is more to the story then...tell the rest of ASO.. We are trying to work together here... If you have a better answer... and have experienced it... tell us... I'm all ears.

What's your set up?

For example, we have a dedicated lap-top for reflashing. By the time you fire the thing up, remember the software, and etcetera, there's no way it is worth the time and effort unless you are doing a Mercedes/BMW service. Those are the only customers that would pay you for a preemptive reflash anyway.







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