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When programming, reprogramming is more than just plug and play

Saturday, July 1, 2017 - 06:00
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Sometimes no matter how experienced you are, programming and reprogramming is not just plug and play. There are a few things that rather than making your day, will totally break your day. My intention in this article is not to scare you, but rather make you aware of some of the things that you need to know rather than wasting time.

Start with the laptop

 Let’s start out with the laptop that you are going to use. Do you know if it’s a 32 or 64 bit? If your lost already don’t panic because it’s usually easy enough to figure out. Right click on the Windows start menu at the left lower side of the screen, then a menu will appear, select System by left clicking to see your computer information. The reason that you need to know this is that some companies (such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Range Rover) all need to use a 32-bit processor in order for their SDD (Symptom Driven Diagnostics) scan tool to operate properly. I was asked by one of my students that works on those vehicle lines to setup his new laptop so he could use the SDD scan tool. Since there are functions in an OE tool that aftermarket tools do not have he would be able to more effectively diagnosis and program those vehicles.

You can find all the information resources you need if you start off at the National Automotive Service Task Force’s web site. Do your homework first, especially if it’s your first time.

In his case, the next step was to proceed to the (National Automotive Service Task Force) website, where I can access all the OEM service sites from one place. From there, I select the Jaguar website and go to so I could download the latest version of the software. It seemed that all was going well including the software registering, so all I had to do is follow the screen prompts to complete the SDD install. The SDD install went well as it had done for me on my own shop 32-bit laptop so I thought I was good to go. When everything was completed I connected the laptop to a Land Rover that I had in the shop but could not communicate with the vehicle. The first thing I did was double check the hardware installation of the Drew Tech Cardaq M interface that I was using as the SDD approved interface. The Drew Tech software “Tool Box” allows the user to check the connection of the laptop to the Cardaq M hardware as well as checking the connection to the vehicle to ensure that the hardware is functioning properly. There are also helpful videos and other information such as pitfalls on manufacturers installs. So before installing any OE software, be sure to RTFB (Read The Frickin’ Book!) or in this case the computer screen before performing any installs.

Many OEMs allow for J2534 reprogramming of modules related to emissions, and others even allow access to body and chassis modules. The Drew Tech Tool Box helps make any of these jobs easier.

After using the Drew Tech software to confirm if the hardware was in fact connected to the laptop and communicated with the OBD II side of the vehicle, I was able to rule out the problem with hardware. After reading the hardware requirement as it pertained to the computer carefully on the OE site, I checked the computer information as I described previously. What I found was that the laptop my student had purchased was a 64 bit, which is the more common, rather than the 32 bit required by the Jaguar group. (Their computer requirements are the following; minimum PC specs: Intel® Core I5-2520M 2.5GHz processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz, 4GB SDRAM 1333MHz expandable to 8GB, 320GB (7200 RPM) HD, that must be running IE8 (internet explorer) and WIN7, 32Bit for SDD to operate).

I had to reinstall Windows 7 Professional and select 32 Bit followed by reinstalling the Drew Tech and SDD software again so I could communicate with the Land Rover. The moral of this story is to make sure before you install any OE software, be sure and carefully read the computer requirements and know your computer specifications.

We may live in the age of Windows 10, but that doesn’t mean the OEM model you want to flash does. Be sure to check the OEM’s requirements for using their software.

When Normally OK Turns Abnormally Not OK

My next example is one that recently occurred while I was teaching a reprogramming class. Now I have been teaching this same class for years and it usual goes well without any glitches. It was going to be a different story this time since it was the class from hell on the software side. Everything seemed to be going well until we went out to the shop and downloaded the software we needed from the GM website.

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