In general, there are two methods of remapping a vehicle: via OBD port connection or via an ECU removal process, also known as a ‘bench’ job. Both methods achieve the same end result, although OBD port connection is always preferred as removing/opening an ECU comes with its own potential risks. Due to the hundreds of different ECU variants from various manufacturers such as Bosch, Siemens, Delphi and Magneti Marelli, each and every vehicle has to be tuned using a slightly different process.
Although we always prefer tuning via the OBD port, there are still hundreds of vehicle models that cannot be tuned using this method because of a number of reasons. First of all, ECU removal has to be carried out if the ECU has Tricore protection (which cannot be bypassed by the flash tool) or to unlock certain ECU’s such as the PIR2.1 or the Siemens SIMOS 8.5/16.11, as commonly found in the Audi S4 2008-2015 models. In these instances the ECU (usually located in the engine bay, above the wheel arch or underneath the front windscreen) has to be physically removed from the vehicle so the Micro, Flash and EEPROM chips inside can be accessed directly. For all ECU removal work we use the very latest AlienTech K-Tag Master equipment as it is the fastest, safest and least intrusive tool on the market.
For most ECU removal jobs we are able to tune the ECU without having to open it up using a method called Tricore Service Mode, or TSM for short. For this method, we simply remove the ECU from the vehicle and connect our equipment to the edge connector. In some cases this can even be done without removing the ECU from the vehicle by just disconnecting the wiring looms. For example, on most Range Rover Sport and Vogue models the ECU is located in the engine bay above the passenger wheel, however it is semi-permanently installed using rivets. In this case we simply disconnect the wiring looms, connect to the ECU edge connectors whilst in situ and remap safely using the TSM method.
Where the TSM method is also not possible, on rare occasions we may have to remove and open up the ECU to gain direct access to the microchips, as shown. This is the most complex tuning method and is rarely required thanks to our advanced AlienTech equipment.