All vehicles reflashed by Craig Truglia and Adam Varney. Contributions made by Kevin Quinlan and Alex Portillo.
There are a lot of myths out there regarding reprogramming modules on today’s vehicles.
It’s easy! No it’s not.
J2534 reflashers can reprogram all manufacturers’ modules and easily work as the factory scan tool for Toyota, Volvo, BMW, etc. Not exactly.
It’s a low-risk, high-profit proposition. No.
30% of vehicles require a reflash! Not really....
Out of every 100 drivability problems we get in our shop, maybe one out of that 100 is fixed by a module reflash. In the real world, you probably are just like us. We rarely need a reflash for anything, but we do run into it.
So, we cannot avoid reflashing. This begs the question: what are you going to do about it? Send it to the dealer or mobile tech? Do it on your own?
Here we are going to cover three things so that you can take the best course of action for your business.
1. Making reflashing profitable.
2. Buying the right tools.
3. How to actually reflash, step-by-step.
Before you spend all the money on the tools and hours frustrating yourself, take a few moments to take in what we will cover here.
Making reflashing profitable. Most shops send the car to the dealer. They have it towed or have “the kid” drive it there. This is certainly a workable system. It requires no investment in tools and has no liability. Most dealers charge $50 to $100 to a shop. I know shops that get it for free, which makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong... no dealer bends over backwards to give me anything for free; but I digress.
The cost of having reflashing done this way is threefold. First, the tow or the kid’s time is not free, and the cost goes up with the distance to the dealership. Second, you are now working around the schedule of the dealer, which makes the process less timely. Third, this long process has its expense passed onto the customer, who is not impressed by the delay and your lack of ability in this department.
To me, perception is everything. I like to be the bakery where I bake my own bread. So, we find it more cost effective to pay a mobile tech or reflash on our own. We use an Autologic on European vehicles (and that’s so easy, you can do it without any training) and a Drewtech Cardaq-Plus on American and Asian vehicles. The mobile tech fills in any other gaps where the J2534 box does not lend itself well to reflashing (Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, etc.). [See Figure 1.]
So, the logic behind why you should do your own reflashing is simple enough, but do you have the two key ingredients: (1) $2,500 for tooling and, (2) the right tech-savvy technician to do the reflash.
Those two ingredients also need to be profitable for you. If not, venture no farther into the world of reflashing and revisit the topic when the equation works in your favor.
Buying the right tools. This is absolutely essential, but this is not going to be an advertisement for any tool company. We are going to cover what you absolutely need to get started.