Send in the Clones

Michael Mobile Technician Clinton, Utah Posted   Latest   Edited  

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article on fixing the VIN on KIA and Hyundai vehicles. A week later an article on an attempt to clone a Chrysler vehicle that ended up causing a P1400 code "Aftermarket Software Detected". This week the victim is a 2006 Audi. The customer has determined that the ECU is bad. They purchased a wrecking yard ECU with all the same numbers as the original. They soon found out that the cluster displayed "safe" and the engine would not start. The ECU is a Bosch 9.1 Encrypted ECU. Pre 2004 VW and Audi vehicles used a code similar to the SKIM code that Chrysler uses. If you had the code the swap was easy with the Ross-Tech VCDS. Newer generation VW and Audi ECUs have become more and more difficult to address. My understanding is that with the newer vehicles even VW/Audi dealers are not able to use a second hand part due to the component protection protocols. The protocols are designed to prevent chop shops from selling harvested parts. The result of this is millions of electronic parts that are not able to be recycled. Way to be Green folks....

The first attempt on-site was to use the Abrites tool to adapt the replacement ECU to the vehicle. The software froze and eventually caused the Audi system to lock us out. It was not happening on-site. I took the two ECUs back to the shop to see what I could do.

The original ECU was connected via the breakout box over OBDII. I was able to read the flash file with FG Tech and KESS. When the donor was connected both devices failed to program the ECU's due to the security protocols. After trying multiple drivers it was evident that it was not going to go over the OBDII port. This is a different result than Bosch 9.1 ECUs in VW vehicles. They can be programmed over OBDII. This ECU required removing the cover. These covers are glued on pretty tight. I broke a screwdriver and a knife attempting to lift the cover. I used the hot air workstation to heat the edges of the case. This allowed the sealer to break free. The cover came off. I used the KTAG and BDM system to read the memory and transfer it to the replacement ECU. After confirming the VIN, hardware and software numbers were the same, a thin film of O2 safe silicone was used on the cover to make sure the case is water tight.

Once back at the customer's shop the new (donor) ECU was installed. The vehicle started right up with no codes or issues. The advantage of a clone vs. adaption is that the clones can be swapped with each other for testing purposes. The vehicle does not know the difference. Some customers will have one ECU tuned for the track and another that will pass emissions tests for street use. With the security and VIN data cloned, the MAPs can be changed to increase performance. The attached picture shows the BDM system at work. The system accesses the memory from the same pads used to program the ECU when programmed at the factory. 

Unlike the experience with the Pacifica, this one went well and we can call a WIN!

-Mike

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Brin Diagnostician
Melbourne, Florida
Brin Default
 

That's cool stuff Mike! Thank you for sharing.

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Chris Technician
Bryans Road, Maryland
Chris Default
 

Great stuff! I would love to be a fly on the wall seeing all the action for something like this. Chris

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Dean Owner
Albany, New York
Dean Default
 

Mike, your a very talented individual. We can all learn from you. Good Stuff!! Thanks, Dean

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Zachary Mobile Technician
Austin, Texas
Zachary Default
 

That's slick Mike. Way to think outside the box and hit a home run! Cool to know this is possible even on one of the Euros.

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Florin Technician
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Florin Default
 

That is so cool but I have a question. Where can someone find this kind of tools?

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael Default
 

Hi Florin, The FGTech tool comes from Italy. You can find BDM frames on the internet. The Alientech tools (KTAG / Kess) are sold domestically. The BDM connectors can be found on eBay.

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Florin Technician
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Florin Default
 

Thank you for the info good to know. I appreciate the information and good luck further!

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Matthew Instructor
Staunton, Virginia
Matthew Default
 

Great info Mike. Thank you for sharing...

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Marlin Technician
Estacada, Oregon
Marlin Default
 

That is fantastic! However, being an ESO and all, I am left wondering- was this job economically profitable? Will this capability be generally viable in the future?

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Jaime Diagnostician
Ocala, Florida
Jaime Default
 

Yeah! How much DID that broken screwdriver cost??? lol

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Marlin Technician
Estacada, Oregon
Marlin Default
 

You really do have something with broken things, don't you? ;)

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael Default
   

Hi Marlin, The payback for tooling is way out there. It to me is like having an alignment rack in a tire shop. If you spend $80K on a rack and machine, do you ever make that back on alignments alone? The more you can keep your customer from going to the competitor the better. I will say 1 charge 3X what I do for normal programming. On a $1200 BMW, Audi or VW replacement ECU, it is way worth it

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Marlin Technician
Estacada, Oregon
Marlin Default
 

I understand your position. What is your $1,200 figure regarding? It doesn't make sense as written. I really wonder about what we will doing about these issues 5-10 years from now. The OEM's could arbitrarily lower ECM prices to the point that repairs or used parts are not viable. Take the redesigned RAV4 PCM's, for instance. Of course, they might go the other way, or just randomly be priced

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael Default
 

Marlin, I should have proofread better. I have corrected it to make sense. Not sure what will happen in the future. Talk is of super fast networks like you find at home or business. This would require much faster and more intelligent processing.

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Jaime Diagnostician
Ocala, Florida
Jaime Default
 

Good job Mike! Marlin asked a few of the questions I was about to but I have two more... Is what you did "legal"? I mean, I think it doesn't violate any emission laws but what about Intellectual Property? If in doubt, I'd vouch your intellect is far superior to the manufacturer's - considering they built the faulty module in the first place <grin>. Also, did you perform an autopsy on

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael Default
 

Jaime, As far as the legal aspect I am not a lawyer. I do remember back in the 1980s there being a ton of fuss over people copying their floppy discs. The courts ruled that a backup disc was acceptable in case the original went bad. I gave the original ECU to the customer. There was no evidence of a burn so I would guess it was just a driver issue.

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Paul Technical Support Specialist
Lefkosia, Cyprus
Paul Default
   

Cloning is always a handy way for you to quickly verify if the control unit is bad. The only issue is when the software in the original control unit, is the faulty "part". Still though, is a good way to verify that the software of the control unit, is the source of all nightmares you were having the past few nights. May i add MagicMotorSport in the list of companies? This company has a very

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael Default
 

Hi Paul, Thanks for the information. It is always good to have more sources.

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