Flashing or reprogramming a car’s computer is one way to keep the vehicle’s engine control modules up to date. This is commonly done on vehicles 1996 and newer to make sure the microprocessors in the power train and fuel injectors are regulating the system properly. Cars tend to run better and more efficiently when their programming is optimized.
Reprograming the computer can also maximize power output, for those who are looking to get more performance from their engine. Much like the software of a desktop computer, software updates can make a big difference in the way your car functions. The computer may need to be reprogrammed if the factory settings become overly sensitive after years of operation or are affecting the drivability.
In some cases, the check engine light may be on due to a programming issue within the PCM (powertrain control module). For example, the PCM, which controls the ERG valve, may not be responding as it should. This can cause the check engine light to turn on. In this case, the computer may need to be reprogrammed to make it respond properly.
Some mechanics recommend reprogramming the computer every few years, but unless a problem or recall has been issued by the manufacturer, it’s not something you’ll need to worry about as part of routine maintenance – especially if your car isn’t having any problems.
What’s involved in reprogramming your computer?
To reprogram the computer, a scanner that’s connected to the internet is attached to the diagnostic port in the car. The location of the diagnostic port can vary according to your make and model, but it’s typically located beneath the steering wheel. Once the scanner is attached, the old programming is erased and replaced with the most up to date software provided by the manufacturer. It’s very similar to updating the software on your computer or phone. The process is fairly quick, but it can vary depending on the make and model. If the new software fails to install correctly, the process will need to be restarted.
The cost of reprogramming your computer depends on the type of vehicle you drive and how long the process takes. Some software may be larger than others, which would increase the length of time for the process. In general, it’s not uncommon for the process to take anywhere from 15 minutes to up to an hour.
Reprogramming your car’s computer is a great way to enhance or upgrade your car’s performance without buying a newer model. If you’d like to learn more or have your car’s computer reprogrammed, give us a call at 626-966-5212.