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Practical Reflash Tuning: Reflashing Precautions

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Reflashing Precautions


00:00 - When tuning an engine, there's always the risk of damage to the actual engine.
00:05 And most tuners can understand this risk.
00:08 With reflashing however, a new risk is introduced, and that it's possible under certain conditions to irreversibly damage the ECU, requiring replacement.
00:20 Obviously, if you're dealing with a sophisticated late model vehicle, this could come at a high price, so some caution is required.
00:30 Typically the situations where you may get into trouble, is if the battery voltage in the vehicle drops too low during the flash process, the interface is disconnected partway through a reflash, or your laptop runs flat or suffers a failure.
00:48 In any of these situations, it is possible for the ECU to become unresponsive.
00:54 Even if this does happen, all is not necessarily lost, as often attempting to reflash the ECU again will recover it.
01:03 But of course, if we can avoid the situation entirely, then it's going to involve a lot less stress, and potential expense.
01:12 The first piece of advice here is to make yourself familiar with the specific reflashing instructions for the particular product you're using.
01:22 The required procedures differ slightly from one manufacturer to the next.
01:27 And if there's anything specific that you need to be aware of, this is likely to be listed in the instructions.
01:35 Secondly, always make sure your laptop is fully charged if you're going to be tuning without mains power connected, and it pays to get into the habit of checking your battery level prior to beginning the flash procedure.
01:49 If you're tuning on a dyno, then it makes sense to have your laptop connected to mains power.
01:56 However, the likes of HP tuners specifically advise against this, as it can cause a voltage offset between the laptop and the tuning module, and this could potentially damage the ECU.
02:10 Again, this is why it's so important to follow the specific instructions from the product manufacturer.
02:16 Most reflash procedures are completed in less than two minutes, however in some vehicles, this may take 15 minutes or more.
02:25 In addition to this, in some vehicles while the reflash is in progress, the cooling fans or other ancillary devices may be run, and this puts a reasonable current draw on the vehicle's battery.
02:38 If the battery voltage drops too low, this can interrupt the flash procedure.
02:44 To reduce the risk of the battery voltage dropping too low, it can be advisable to connect your car battery to a high-current charger, while the reflash is in progress.
02:56 If this is advisable for your particular vehicle, the manufacturer of the reflash software would suggest this in their instructions.
03:06 While damaging an ECU is a very real possibility, in my own career I've reflashed literally hundreds of ECUs from a wide range of manufacturers, and never suffered a single unrecoverable failure.
03:21 The key is to understanding the risks, and applying suitable strategies to managing these risks.

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